For almost 20 years of existence Avatar deservedly achieved a lot. The thoughtful concept, great albums and stunning shows, as a result of long and hard work, brought fame, relevance and lots of fans from all over the world. Well, they even established their own country, “Avatar Country”. But here comes the disgusting 2020 and we have a new album from Avatar, named Hunter Gatherer, which fits our dark times.
Hunter Gatherer is probably the heaviest and for sure the most somber Avatar‘s album thus far. It’s like the band built their own little world “Avatar Country” for years and when the building and settlement were finished, the band decided to step out of the gates and take a look around. “There is no joking around with this, and it pulls us back into reality, – tells vocalist Johannes Eckerström, – It deals more with darkness, sadness, detachment, alienation and the anxiety of thinking of the world at large. It’s all these things that don’t necessarily fit into the ‘let’s write this love letter to heavy metal and share our inside joke that we call Jonas The King.'”
Avatar‘s music was never light – their Goteborg roots were always felt, but it seems that in a new album everything is heavier and tougher. “Silence In The Age Of Apes”, which opens the album, leaves no doubt: it’s Avatar! Avantgarde Metal with fast riffs and melodic solos; guitarists Jonas Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström’s talents and teamwork can’t be denied. In its turn, “Scream Until You Wake” is more Melodic Death Metal. Johannes delivers some high pitch but in the same time there are plenty of his harsh vocals. Also it must be said that the mood of the song is quite tragic, nevertheless the music is quite rushing here. And the shortest songs in the album is “When All But Force Has Failed” – just a solid, fast paced clot of aggression and heaviness with drummer (and one of the band’s founder) John Alfredsson’s really good work; Johannes even doesn’t sing here but spit the words like a machine gun.
Let’s not forget that Avatar is also a theatrical band where the appearance, the outfit and the show itself plays the big role also, together with the lyrics and the music. Obviously, the change of a concept affected the visual image of the band: in the album’s teaser Avatar implies unequivocally that everything will be in another way now. The best way to see it is to watch the video for “Colossus” – a dismal warning for thoughtless using of technology and slipping into a technogenic abyss. Deliberate pace, hammering riff and Henrik Sandelin’s pumping bass together create some real oppressiveness. I think that new live shows will be not less impressive.
The ballad “Gun” shows another side of Johannes Eckerström as a vocalist: on this song his clean vocal is a main instrument with some piano accompaniment. The sadness and the sorrow, expressed in lyrics (“You give a boy a gun that’s how the story ends”) transmitted greatly by Johannes’ voice. But the most outstanding song here is “A Secret Door”: deceptively relaxing motive, whistled by Corey Taylor in the beginning, goes through all the song and stucks in your head for a long time. The music passes from aggression to melancholy and back several times, vocals change from clean to extreme and in the end there some double pedals before everything is tailing away and goes to the beginning of the song. Diverse and heavy in every aspect “Wormhole” ends Hunter Gatherer. Pace changings, clean guitars with solid riffs, various solos – in a word, there is a place for each musician here.
I really liked the concept of “Avatar Country”, to be honest, as an album and as “the country where Heavy Metal supreme” – some kind of Metal-Neverland. But in the same time nobody can get out of maturity, even Avatar. They became older and when they leaved their country, they saw the world around: imperfect, frightening and even horrid in some way. Nevertheless, they didn’t go back and didn’t lock themselves in their imaginary world. They sing about things they see and what do they feel about it. That’s why Hunter Gatherer became such dark and tough but still interesting and exciting. And it hardly means that Avatar leaved their country forever because, unlike Neverland, you can return there even when you grown-up.
Hunter Gatherer will be released on August, 7 via Century Media Records.
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- Review: Avatar “Hunter Gatherer” [Century Media Records] - July 31, 2020
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