Avatar returns in 2020 with a bold manifesto called Hunter Gatherer. The band’s eighth album is an unflinchingly ruthless study of a clueless humankind’s ever-increasing velocity into an uncertain future, furthering the reach of the band’s always expanding dark roots. Out on August 7th 2020 via Century Media Records.
I’m not alone in having my mind changed about Avatar completely and I’m also not alone in wanting to crow about the quality of the Swedish heavyweights output in recent years.
They’re a band on an upward trajectory, the kind of trajectory that can see then go from supporting ‘bigger’ bands to being the headliner of those same venues. It’s not just on record they’re killing it though. Live they’re also a genuine pleasure to watch.
After the resounding success of Avatar Country, it’s time for the 5-piece to take things up that extra notch. Hunter Gatherer doesn’t necessarily bring pressure but it does bring fan expectation. Does it match it?
Kicking of with heavy energy, in that unimaginable Avatar way with Silence in the Age of Apes. An eruption of heavy drumming (always a highlight of any Avatar release) and frenetic riffing. The tempo switches and deep, guttural vocals make this an early bar setter.
However, it pales in comparison to the following highlight, Colossus. One of, if not the best, tracks on the album. A track that is everything great about Avatar. From the warning alarm and crunchy electronica intro that leads into a head-banger of a beat. It immediately gets the blood pumping. The quiet clean vocals that lead into the humongous chorus is one of the most memorable things you’ll hear throughout Hunter Gatherer. A track that’s a little bit sexy, a little bit sleazy and a one hell of a sing-along. It’s a track you know that is going to absolutely slay live.
Heading off in a different, yet intriguing direction with A Secret Door. The more mellow tone, the whistling and soft vocals are cool. Where it really excels though is when it goes from the bursts of speed back to the mellow sound.
Keeping things interesting and varied, it’s a forceful return to the chuggy riffing and a bit more savagery with God of Sick Dreams. Followed quickly by a future Avatar classic in the form of the excitable and catchy Scream Until You Wake. The latter, one of those wild Avatar tracks that could be used over a montage of the band to great effect.
Passing the halfway point, there’s no disputing the variety on show. Avatar have always been an eclectic bunch with a hell of a lot of imagination. They can deliver thumping metal head-bangers blended with incredibly memorable choruses and exciting melodies. Which exactly describes Child and Justice. An absolutely wicked pairing.
Even at their most mellow, Avatar are killing it. Gun is just vocals and a piano, a thought-provoking ballad and is simply wonderful. Emotive and imaginative, it will put the biggest smile on the face even if its lyrical content and tone is designed to cause tears to fall.
Rarely does it fail to land but if there’s one track where it maybe doesn’t catch, it’s the penultimate offering, When All But Force Has Failed. Coming off the back of Gun, the fast-paced groove is fine but it seems more likely many will be still trying to dismantle the former track in their heads all the way through the latter.
It’s a strange complaint. Avatar did such a great job with one track that it affects the next. However, it’s a valid one that is thankfully corrected for the finale, Wormhole. A absolute beast that abolishes any hangover and fully drawing the attention to it. Avatar at their heaviest? The guitar/drum combo is pretty damn phenomenal.
They’ve done it again. Hunter Gatherer is a brilliant release. If this doesn’t catapult this band to the top, nothing will.
Avatar – Hunter Gatherer Full Track Listing:
1. Silence in the Age of Apes
3. A Secret Door
4. God of Sick Dreams
5. Scream Until You Wake
9. When All But Force Has Failed
Avatar - Hunter Gatherer (Century Media Records)