Avatarium - LIVE: The Underworld, London 2015

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The Girl With The Raven Mask Tour
November 22 (21:20 - 22:40)
Capacity 500

Swedish doom metal doesn't often get the chance to come to the UK. Touring costs, and the genre's underground following, often mean it's not financially viable to cross over from mainland Europe, but with Avatarium's stock on the rise, and the important advantage they hold over Candlemass, the chance for one show arose.

Avatarium started a few years ago as a side project for Candlemass leader Leif Edling, but in that time his health has meant he can't tour. Avatarium's advantage is they can tour without him. It's not really feasible for Candlemass to play without him, having been his band since 1983, but at the time he became unable to do live shows, Avatarium had engagements booked and had to get a stand-in (Tiamat's Anders Ewers), so to carry on in that way wasn't a problem. Maybe eventually Leif will tour with them, but for now everyone is used to the band with Anders on bass, so why not continue?

Opening with back-to-back new songs, the classic doom of Ghostlight and the album's title track, it's immediately obvious that the new material is going to sound much better than they do on record due entirely to being given the correct guitar sound. On the album Jidell's guitars are weak, with a quiet, fuzzy sound, but naturally on stage everything benefits from the same ultra-heavy doom sound all of their songs do. So when popular debut album track Bird of Prey follows straight after, it doesn't jar at all, and they're through the brilliant The January Sea before they really pause for breath.

It could be argued that songs from the first album have been abandoned a little too readily for a headline show, especially their first ever in the UK, as a chunk of five songs from the All I Want EP and the new album follow before debut single Moonhorse closed the main set. As the band were never able to tour the self-titled album when it was released, having only three songs from it in the set was a bit disproportionate, but that didn't stop the reasonably-sized crowd from getting behind every crushing moment of the show. Jennie-Ann Smith is getting better and better as a doom front-woman (even if she did leave her wonderful feather collared outfit at home) as time goes by, and the rest of the band somehow manage to form a terrifyingly tight, heavy sound while still maintaining the clarity necessary for Carl Westholm's keyboards to play their part, when most bands simply drown them out.

Avatarium's reception was way above what it was reasonable to expect. After all, Candlemass struggle to get appropriate show offers in the UK and the attendance at their last couple of London shows was poor. Their performance as good as they always are - they're an excellent live band - so the two combined should be enough to get them some thoroughly deserved return visits and perhaps some shows in other cities as well.

“ ultra-heavy doom sound ”

Setlist: Ghostlight / Girl With The Raven Mask / Bird of Prey / The January Sea / All I Want / Pearls And Coffins / The Master Thief / Run Killer Run / Deep Well / Moonhorse // Avatarium

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2015, Doom Metal, Gigs,

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