REVIEW: Hunter Gatherer or the new weapon of destruction, signed AVATAR
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Already two years have passed since the release of Avatar Country (2018 eOne Music), and the Swedish quintuor re-engages hostilities on August 7 with its new album entitled Hunter Gatherer (eOne Music)! Since their formation in 2000, and the release of the first albums of a pure and hard Death Metal: Thoughts Of No Tomorrow (2006 Gain Records) and Schlacht (2007 Gain Records), AVATAR has not stopped evolving by reinventing itself musically. Offering tracks as powerful as melodious (“Bloody Angel”, “Paint me red”, “Revolution of Two”… to name just a few because there are so many of them…). But also by reinventing a scenic image, worthy of a freakshow: an image that would instantly send us back to AVATAR [the era Black Waltz (2012 eOne), Hail the Apocalypse (2014 Gain Records), Feathers and Flesh (2016 eOne)]. And more recently a troop of troubadours playing for the king of Avatar Country played by Jonas Jarlsby (guitar).
After the announcement of their next album Hunter Gatherer (eOne), the fans of the band were already wildly impatient. But since the launch of their teaser on May 5, 2020, AVATAR has shown us all the darkness and maturity of the theme that awaited us: an uncertain future, the doubt about the direction of our evolution and our technologies. Even more supported with the recent releases of the singles “Silence in the Age of Apes”, “God of Sick Dreams” and “Colossus”, where AVATAR had really achieved a powerful demonstration of their next opus through these titles. We also learned from the social networks that Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), was going to appear in the titles “Colossus” and “A Secret Door”, enough to cheer this little world even more!
Here is the tracklist of the album:
Tracklist: AVATAR Hunter Gatherer (August 7th, 2020 eOne Music)
- Silence in the Age of Apes (4:21)
- Colossus (4:01)
- A Secret Door (6:06)
- God of Sick Dreams (3:57)
- Scream Until You Wake (4:10)
- Child (5:33)
- Justice (4:41)
- Gun (4:31)
- When All But Force Has Failed (2:48)
- Wormhole (5:20)
[The album has 10 tracks, lasting about 45 minutes, produced by Jay Ruston (Slipknot, Anthrax, Stone Sour).]
Little question: The cover of the album, does it not remind you of the awful and exciting clown from “IT”? When he opens his mouth to show the “dead lights” to his victims? Anyway, enough chatter, are you ready? Let’s get right to the Hunter Gatherer review on SKULL NEWS !
This new opus starts really strong, ladies and gentlemen, make way for “Silence in the Age of Apes”, the first single unveiled by AVATAR. There are literally 7 seconds of tranquility before the group takes you back to reality. The music will immediately put you in the heart of things, a very sustained drum rhythm accompanied by a constant guttural singing and an aggressive guitar riff, imagined in the first years of AVATAR, according to the words of the singer Johannes Eckerström. The chorus is really the strong point of the song, with a feeling of acceleration thanks to the “tremolo picking” of the guitars, supported by John Alfredsson’s (drums) double kick. This sensation is even more remarkable with the images of the clip that I greatly invite you to watch.
We go straight on with “Colossus”. This title has a quite simple structure and expresses a very modern consonance, in which AVATAR explores another style through this piece: industrial metal. Synthetic sounds, a very simple but very heavy guitar riff, a big “Room” effect on the drums that rise crescendo during the intro. The whole fits with the subject, very well put forward by the meaning behind the lyrics of the chorus and verses, associated with images in the videoclip. With this piece we go straight ahead without thinking! You really feel the effect of a machine moving forward and crushing everything in its path. Sometimes simple things must be done to make the message even better!
The third title of this album is called “A Secret Door”. Like “Bloody Angel” on Hail The Apocalypse (Gain Records), it is the most accessible of all to discover AVATAR. A very effective composition, with moments of distortion that make you want to break everything, intertwined with light and relaxing “clean” verses. A chorus that, I swear, gets stuck in your mind. In my opinion one of the best of the album, the drum parts, the guitars, bass, the whole makes the rhythm and melody completely epic at these moments. Not to mention the vibrato of the voice of Eckerström… This chorus really gives you goosebumps!
“God of Sick Dreams” is the second play unveiled by AVATAR on YouTube on June 12, 2020, a very good title that like “Justice” has really aggressive and sustained verses. But these two tracks remain behind what the other tracks of the album offer. Although, it is very pleasant to listen to ; note the melodic choruses typical of AVATAR, as well as an instrumental part that hits hard.
It’s the time of “Scream Until You Wake”, this music is very motivating, slender and has a big “heavy metal” side (though still keeping an AVATAR style of course). The voice is powerful on the chorus as well as the verses: (note that Johannes sings in “clean” most of the time on this track, and that there is a very interesting “bridge” towards the end of the track before the second guitar solo is launched!).
“Child” is an original title in itself. We find a very modern main guitar riff “djent-like” or “core”, may I say, associated with verses that refer to the “freakshow” aspect of AVATAR: a festive atmosphere/ circus emanates from these here. In addition to the chorus that completely breaks the rhythm of the song. It’s really interesting to listen to, I will let you discover it!
We are almost at the end of the album with “Gun”, which is really unexpected on this record. I do not tell you more to keep the effect of surprise, but the singer shows us another facet of his voice. I will just say that it is the emotional moment of the album, a beautifully interpreted title, which shocks at first listening!
“When All But Force Has Failed”: This title will give you a Machiavellian smile, do you know why? Because it instantly plunges you back into the younger years of AVATAR: pure violence, a very fast tempo, a well-tuned solo and that doesn’t go overboard, and a bass/drums game at the top. And the high-pitched screams at certain moments that we could find in the first albums! Although this title is short it sends the right hit to give us an adrenaline rush before the very end of the album.
“Wormhole”, and yes, that’s the end, I know, don’t cry, you won’t be able to in any case haha! There is so much to say about “Wormhole”. You really feel something malevolent/eerie from the first second. The “bends” on the guitar, the bass line and it’s stairway to the apocalypse. We don’t understand what is happening to us. The *whammy bar* makes us lose all our landmarks, the sounds become more and more serious, everything is completely distorted. It’s a bit as if AVATAR had broken the notion of space-time on this piece. The structure is very original, we have these moments of intense distortion, interrupted when the group restores several times the balance of the song abruptly with the chorus. Even the guitar solo has something dismal in it, it’s the most expressive of the album in my humble opinion. The last opus ends with this title, AVATAR slaps us a huge one and leaves us there, it’s destabilizing but exciting at the same time!
What we have to remember is that we have a radical change between the previous “concept albums” of AVATAR and Hunter Gatherer. The people most attached to the concepts of the precedents may find it difficult to reconcile with the new. Because of its versatility in terms of musical influences: one often passes from one title to another by changing the register, but that’s what makes Hunter Gatherer’s originality and soul.
A particularly important change with regards to the maturity you need to grasp the topics covered in this eighth album. It impels us to reflect on our world as it is and as it will be. AVATAR implements very well its theme of album focused on evolution, an uncertain future for our species, and therefore of the time that passes. Not only thanks to the lyrics but also through the instruments. Throughout Hunter Gatherer there are powerful accelerations, sudden stops, slowing effects…
The musicians play with the tempo, master the time and model it at their will, in order to transmit the message through the sound. The structure and the order of the songs are great, we start the album very well with a show of force, and we end it completely disoriented by the final slap that is “Wormhole”. AVATAR makes us experience a rollercoaster with the sequence of the three tracks “Justice” “Gun” and “When All But Force Has Failed”. It’s really a very special moment within the album.
We really feel that the members of AVATAR are made to be together, there is a great cohesion between them and what they compose, which is felt throughout the album. We recognize the game of Tim Öhrström and Jonas Jarlsby (guitars), their powerful and catchy riffs, and their solos recognizable by their harmonization, “bends” and other “tapping”. Henrik Sandelin (bass) has this ability to always fit in with the drums, adding to the different tracks an aggressiveness specific to AVATAR, thanks to the tonality of its bass.
John Alfredsson (drums) plays his part very well, he brings a huge power of striking, velocity, and transmits a lot of feelings and emotions: (special mention to his solo on “When All But Force Has Failed” and to his drums on the chorus of “A Secret Door”, which contribute a lot to this epic effect.). As for Johannes Eckerström (vocals), he will not cease to impress us with his vibrato and all its different tones of voice. A vocalist with many facets that has clearly managed to make a place for himself in the world of singing.
AVATAR is like the colossus that holds us in its hand, throws us into the air to make us live moments of lightness, to then better catch us in flight, and propel us towards the ground, in its moments of the most extreme violence.
Hunter Gatherer is a unique experience for you to discover on August 7th.
See you soon on SKULL NEWS !
The last article on AVATAR by SKULL NEWS here
You can buy the album there