In contrast to the more bombastic Hurricanes and Halos, Avatarium’s fourth album, The Fire I Long For sees a return to the subtler dusky doom seen on their first two efforts. The guitar tone has more fuzz in its crunch, the keyboards help shape an abstract atmosphere, and there’s a sense of restraint in the downtempo pacing. Even the comparably speedy “Shake That Demon” isn’t as in your face as the upbeat groove would suggest.
This setup does make for a noticeably lethargic package, but the musicians know how to keep things from getting too dull. The drums might’ve benefitted from some extra punch, but the guitars and bass work well to create a swirling but weighty tone. The vocals continue to be the band’s strongest asset, sitting prominently in the mix regardless of the mood but showing a healthy mix of power and dexterity.
In fact, the album may be at its best during the softer segments. “Lay Me Down” makes for an immediate standout thanks to a pleasant refrain supplemented by acoustic strums and gentle fuzz. Later on, the title track puts in a bluesy bent, and “Stars They Move” closes things out with gorgeous vocal and piano-driven balladry. Thankfully the heavier tracks also manage to be solid; “Rubicon” works in a strong hook, and doom-minded listeners should gravitate to “Porcelain Skull” and “Epitaph of Heroes” in particular.
As much as I preferred the style on Hurricanes and Halos, Avatarium’s signature style is still put to great use on The Fire I Long For. The laid-back execution and subtle songwriting take some time to get used to, but the psychedelic elements are still tastefully implemented, and the vocal prowess is as undeniable as ever. 2015’s The Girl with the Raven Mask may be the best representation of this psych-doom style at work, but fans will find this to be just as worthwhile.
“Lay Me Down”
“The Fire I Long For”
“Stars They Move”