Avatarium – Hurricanes and Halos (2017)

Reviews

Avatarium – Hurricanes and Halos
May 26th, 2017 (Sweden); Nuclear Blast Records
LP (45 min.)
Doom Metal

Lineup:
Lars Sköld – Drums
Marcus Jidell – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Carl Westholm – Keyboards
Jennie-Ann Smith – Vocals
Mats Rydström – Bass

Track list:
01. Into the Fire / Into the Storm
02. The Starless Sleep
03. Road to Jerusalem
04. Medusa Child
05. The Sky at the Bottom of the Sea
06. When Breath Turns to Air
07. A Kiss (From the End of the World)
08. Hurricanes and Halos


After listening to this album once I had already written quite a long review in which I described how disappointed I was by it. Well, I listened to it again. And I realized that it actually is an album that at least for me grows with each listen. I’m still not fully satisfied with the album and think it’s the band’s weakest record so far, but I definitely can’t say that it is a bad album.

The songwriting and some stylistic decisions seem a bit “off” to me sometimes (e. g. the incorporation of child vocals on “Medusa Child”, which might sound like a good idea but doesn’t work very well, in my opinion), but these flaws are more or less evened out by great riffs, cool solos and of course fantastic vocals. Also, the title track! Such a beautiful instrumental piece…

Stylistically, Avatarium have moved even further away from their original sound than they did with their second album. Gone is the dark and heavy Doom Metal of the self titled debut album. Instead, Avatarium play faster, more psychedelic, “brighter” sounding 70s-ish Blues Rock/Heavy Metal on “Hurricanes and Halos”, sometimes reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, sometimes Sabbathy and sometimes just like something new and fresh. I am not completely in favor of this stylistic change because I LOVE the style of their debut album, but that’s just a matter of taste.

If you like Blues/Doom/Psychedelic Rock or old school Heavy Metal, you should definitely give this a spin.

A few words about the artwork:
While the artwork in and of itself isn’t all that special, it’s interesting to see the stylistic change of the band’s music reflected in their artwork. The cover of the debut album and this one are similarly designed but while the cover of their debut is all grey and drab, “Hurricanes and Halos” is more colorful and playful. I like the cover art of the debut better. The same thing can be said about the music.


Listen to the album on Spotify.

Visit the band’s official website.


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Attalus – Into the Sea (2015)

Reviews

Attalus – Into the Sea
June 2nd, 2015 (USA); Facedown Records
LP (78 min.)
Alternative Rock, Post-Rock, Progressive Rock, Post-Hardcore Punk

Lineup:
Evan King – Guitar/Vocals/Bass/Additional Keys & Instruments
Seth Davey – Lead Vocals/Keys
Chris Sierra – Drums/Vocals
John Sierra – Guitar

Track list:
01. The Ancient Mariner
02. This Ship is Going Down
03. Sirens
04. Desolate Isle
05. Man, O Shipwreck
06. Step Out
07. Albatross
08. The Breath Before the Plunge
09. Into the Sea
10. Coming Clean
11. O the Depths
12. Voices from the Shore
13. Safe
14. The Greater Tide
15. Death Be Not Proud
16. Message in a Bottle


“Into the Sea” by US-American Christian Rock band Attalus is one of my favorite albums of all time. Period.

Both lyrically and musically, there are only a few albums that never cease to amaze me, no matter how many times I listen to them. To achieve that, an album has to be diverse but coherent, emotionally touching, and musically interesting. If the album is a concept album, that’s always a plus.
This album has all of this.

“Into the Sea” is a 78 minute/16 track concept piece about the relationship between God and man, about His grace and mercy, about life and death. The overall theme is the metaphor of the seemingly endless and deep ocean.
Musically, Attalus play a highly versatile blend of Alternative/Post-Rock with influences of Post-Hardcore Punk, Progressive Rock and a little bit of chamber music. The vocals range from beautiful clean singing to shouted parts and sometimes even Sprechgesang (“spoken singing”, don’t know if that’s an accurate term in English).

The album is like the ocean – sometimes calm and harmonic, sometimes raw and raging, but always in motion. Attalus‘ music is also a prime example of “epic” music in the true sense of the word: it’s telling a story. The music is not just a background soundtrack for the story told by the lyrics, it is a part of the narration, it corresponds perfectly with the lyrical content and gives it depth and weight.

While quantity isn’t always a good thing in albums (Metallica‘s latest LP, for example, is far too long for what it has to offer, in my opinion), in the case of “Into the Sea” the almost 80 minutes feel like half of the time and are absolutely appropriate for the depth of the album’s content, in my opinion.

As with all concept albums, the best way of listening to it is doing it in one sitting from start to finish, but the songs also work perfectly on their own.

If I was sent to a lonely island today and were allowed to take only one album with me, I think it’d be this one.


You can listen to this album on Spotify.

band homepage: Attalus


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