Avatar | Entertainment One/Century Media | 1/18 | Score: 9/10
▣ By Anthony Coy
Avatar’s seventh studio album, Avatar Country, moves away from the concept of their previous release, Feathers and Flesh, in more ways than one. F&F was the story of an owl queen whose reign was threatened by an eagle king. The album is told from the perspectives of the creatures themselves and musically, was the most diverse album for the group of 5 from Gothenburg, Sweden. Looking back to the bands 2004 Ep releases, Personal Observations, and 4 Reasons to Die, the band is now almost unrecognizable from that time both on stage and in the studio.
The roots of Avatar are knockdown, drag-out fight, metal. 2012 saw the release of the fourth studio album, Black Waltz, which was where the Avatar we know today arguably began. The in your face metal became more melodic and the spirit of the ringleader was born in vocalist Johannes. The new release, Avatar Country, is another evolution in the sound and story of Avatar. The concept behind the tour and album has become a fictitious country where founding member and guitar god Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby is the king. The band has become his royal orchestra and everything is now branded with the country’s coat of arms.
This is by far the most rock album the band has released to date. The metal roots are present but tracks off this album could be played on rock radio where Avatar is reserved for Sirius XM Octane. The album begins with the national anthem of Avatar Country “Glory To Our King” and bleeds right into the 8 minute “Legend Of The King” which has over a minute of shredding in the intro. Live, The King shreds from his golden throne fully adorned in cape and crown.
“The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country” breaks into the first of many departures from the soundscape one might expect on an Avatar release. Pop-country in the vein of “Let it Burn” until Johannes belts out his best Brian Johnson impression for the verse. “King’s Harvest” hits hard like old Avatar and the mood is lightened again for the anthemic “The King Wants You.” A hilarious interlude, “The King Speaks”, follows and features Kungen addressing the crowd. “A Statue of the King” begins amidst cheers from the crowd. In my opinion, this song is the most Avatar track on the album. Very melodic, very heavy hitting, and very energetic. A metal ballad as only Avatar can provide comes next in “King After King”. The album rounds out with a 2 part instrumental. “Silent Songs of the King, Pt. 1: Winter Comes When the King Dreams of Snow” is silent to start. Very ethereal and adds rich new melodies and sounds as it progresses. “Silent Songs of the King, Pt. 2: The King’s Palace” kicks off instantly with syncopated toms and palm muted strums. The direction is similar to the part 1 but this section adds the guitars, bass, and drums though still instrumental.
Avatar Country is going to get a solid 9/10 from me. Why is it a point away from perfect you may ask? 10 songs are simply not enough of the awesome this album was. They are currently out on tour with the psychobilly trio The Brains and the traveling circus freak show Hellzapoppin. Do yourself 2 favors for me. Pick up or stream this album ASAP and get yourself a ticket for their show local to you. Will not be sorry. Promise.
02. Legend of the King
03. The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country
04. King’s Harvest
05. The King Wants You
06. The King Speaks
07. A Statue of the King
08. King After King
09. Silent Songs of the King Pt 1 – Winter Comes When the King Dreams of Snow
10. Silent Songs of the King Pt 1 – The King’s Palace
Also, check out their new video for The King Wants You directed by Johan Carlén.