As a music writer I am able to discover a TON of bands that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about or necessarily given the time of day. Whenever something shows up in my inbox or mailbox that I’m unfamiliar with I race to press PLAY and take my 50/50 gamble. And in the case of AVATAR that gamble has paid off. This is an excerpt from the band’s bio that came with my promo and it could not be more accurate: “AVATAR’S music is challenging, daring, but altogether captivating, boasting Charlie Chaplin’s winking silent movie flair for the dramatic and MARILYN MANSON’S dark merging of the commercial and the macabre, but still rooted in heavy music for its own sake.” Add in some elements of ROB ZOMBIE and what you’ve got is a band who knows what the hell they’re doing. Hail the Apocalypse is available everywhere now via eOne Music so let’s see what we can see.
Opener and title track “Hail the Apocalypse" is EXACTLY how a record should start off. The riff is in one of the most weird keys and tones I’ve ever heard but it’s compelling and I have to hear the song at least once a day ever since. “What I Don’t Know” has an almost danceable groove to it while remaining heavy with a circus-like feel. Another real heavy number is the full-on metal assault of “Death of Sound” It throws everything but the kitchen sink at you. The most MANSON-esque tune also features a dash of RAMMSTEIN in “Vultures Fly”, vocalist Johannes Michael Gustaf Eckerström utilizing more of his cleans while still screaming where needed.
The first chance to catch our breath occurs with the soft intro to “Bloody Angel” but our respite only lasts for a minute before the guitars of Kungen and Tim Öhrstrom bear down on us and the chaos ensues. John Alfredsson opts for a more traditional drum sound on yet another MANSON-flavored song “Murderer” and bassist Henrik Sandelin matches him stride for stride. This was definitely one that I enjoyed more so than others. Another bizarro riff anchors “Tsar Bomba” and should have necks snapping at shows all summer. I gotta find out what tunings and settings these guys use, it’s really unique. There’s some more circus calliope music going on during “Puppet Show” and quite frankly the song had to grow on me. Still don’t love it, but it’s not like I hate it, so there’s that.
“Get In Line” is another cog in the cool riffs machine with a nice big hook as well. The first slowed-down song comes almost at the very end with “Something In the Way” and while it’s not BAD, it’s not great. I think these guys are better when they’re rockin’ out, personally because there are quite a few ass-kickers on this disc. And just when you think they have no new tricks to show you along comes the dark and mysterious closer “Tower”. Sounding like it’s part nursery rhyme and part ghost story, the music doesn’t kick in till the three minute mark and it’s very dark and haunting indeed. All told, I highly enjoyed my first go-round with AVATAR, and I am VERY curious to see what they have in store for their live audiences on tour.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Hail the Apocalypse”, “Get In Line”, “Murderer”, “Tsar Bomba”, “Death of Sound”