Reviewed: August 2020
Released: August 7th 2020, Century Media
Reviewer: Rebecca Bush
Bringing us their eagerly anticipated eighth studio album are Swedish metal dandies, Avatar!
‘Hunter Gatherer’ takes us into new depths for easily the darkest, most malevolent offering yet from the band.
Taking no prisoners from the get go is opening track ‘Silence in the Age of Apes’ – a heavy hitting, full throttle track that grabs on and doesn’t let go. One thing is for sure we are not in Avatar country any more, rather we are hurtling through uncharted territory. Avatar are visionaries it would seem with regards to the content of this album, it speaks to the chaos we are dealing with globally, pitching uncertainty and unrest. The essence of past material is here and it has evolved and contorted into a horse of a different colour. ‘Colossus’ conjures images of suiting up and marching into battle, Johannes’ vocals sinister and hypnotic, John Alfredsson’s drumming is heavy and foreboding and there is some wonderfully intricate guitar work from Jonas Jarlsby and Tim Ohrstrom.
Although this is a step away from what we are used to from these guys it’s not jarring, in fact it feels like a natural progression and they haven’t completely abandoned their brand of theatrics; amongst the heavy bass lines, pounding drums and seething guitars there are anthemic melodies, quirks and even delicate soft moments that blend the two worlds – Avatar Country has gone to war.
The fact that the band recorded this performing together in the studio much as they would on stage gives it a real vibrance and authenticity, the energy really translates well throughout and enables you to go on a real journey. Following the harrowing theme of humanity’s failures and the influences around us all that serve to cause destruction, coupled with a desire to find meaning and hope and to fight back, is the pulse that runs through the whole album and it couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.
‘A Secret Door’ entices you in with a lullaby and becomes a rollercoaster, transitioning between fast and furious and soft and melodic before trailing off into the sunset with a cinematic ending.
Each song very much stands firm in its own right , although at times it can be a little confused – but perhaps that is in keeping with the chaotic theme – after all who knows what’s coming these days and when!?
The band are known for their dramatic flair and ability to create vivid imagery and their aesthetic requires power to back it up and this album provides plenty of that.
‘Gun’ provides a lull with poignant lyrics and a slow, beautifully haunting melody. It’s a pause from the pounding hard hitting earlier tracks but it doesn’t ruin the flow, it’s well placed and a welcome ‘breather’.
Rounding off the album is ‘Wormhole’, which brings it to a full close completing the message of rebellion with its riffs of doom and ominous lyrics matched perfectly with Johannes’ low foreboding tones. The album is cinematic and glorious, full of darkness and depth. The album is a different angle but it has the heart of Avatar at the centre of it.
There certainly is plenty to get your teeth into with this album, it illustrates perfectly their many facets and their ability to evolve and go to new depths whilst maintaining what makes them unique.