I love Avatar. This review is really that simple. If that’s enough for you to stop reading this and start listening to Avatar, perfect. But if you’re still reading this, I’m going to admit that this band could release a three-song, Limp Bizkit cover album that didn’t include “Faith” and only used a flute and a wooden block as instrumentation, and I bet it would still end up in the top five releases for the year. Actually, that would be amazing. Set for release Friday August 7, 2020 via eOne, Hunter Gatherer is the next entry in Avatar’s discography.
Avatar is larger-than-life, have an amazing presence and are so creative and unique. Look no further for evidence than the opening of “Silence in the Age of Apes.” Whatever that eerie, out of place sound is that opens the record catches my attention and is followed by one of, if not the heaviest songs the band has ever released. The riff is feverish and when that double-time drum line hits, it’s hard not to break your neck head banging. Even with all that said, the highlight for me is the guitar solo. From the lead-in, I knew it was going to be epic.
The aptly titled “Colossus” follows the opener with the same heavy feel and deep undertones. The biggest difference between the first two tracks is the chorus, with signature Ozzy-esque clean vocals that make Avatar stand out. Another ripping guitar solo drives this one home. “A Secret Door” opens with a whistle that repeats throughout the song. The riff that follows is intense and one of my favorites. This song is a technical masterpiece. There are tempo and time signature changes seemingly every 30 seconds in this 6 minute track. The vocals go from clean and harmonic, to heavy and distorted screams and back on a dime.
“God of Sick Dreams” is my favorite on the record. It starts with a relentless fever and slows down for some cool guitar riffs before taking back off with a heavy, driving beat. I could tell from the drum intro that “Scream Until You Wake” was going to be a lot of fun and was going to be a track that didn’t disappoint. The chorus is upbeat, catchy and the dueling guitar solos are enjoyable with a beat continues to pick up and drive the track along. This one has a lot of star power.
“Child” showcases Avatar’s penchant for storytelling and theatrics. It’s such a brutal, heavy introduction with verses that are fun and unique, almost fast-talking and tell a solid story. The chorus goes into half-time to give the story a different feel and that brutal, heavy riff fills in the transitions. “Justice” makes use of a unique beat signature and feel. It has one of the most engaging choruses on the effort and a guitar solo that might be the best on a stacked record. The theatrics of the spoken breakdown go a long way too. This is a track that is sure to see airwaves.
The soft-spoken piano melodies in “Gun” are absolutely incredible. It’s a powerful message and is highlighted by such a soft melodic separation from the rest of the album. Johannes Michael Gustaf Eckerström’s vocals gave me chills throughout. Slow tracks don’t usually make my highlights, but this song is so powerful and it sets up the insanity of “When All but Force Has Failed.” This song is a manic ball of aggression, is mind-numbingly fast and thrashy. The guitar riffs and echoes are reminiscent of early Metallica and the solo work (both guitar and drum) is tremendous. This song is over before you know it but is definitely a track that stands out.
The album’s final track, “Wormhole” kicks off with an eerie, slow-clashing wall of sound. The vocals are big in the chorus and have nice dissonant harmony with a standstill in the background that feels like a throwback to “Tom Sawyer” era Rush. The album ends with an absolute wall of sound that just stops into static and background noise that have been prevalent throughout the record.
Hunter Gatherer is an evolution for Avatar and may be their heaviest work ever. This album is instantly a favorite of mine and this definitely won’t be the last time I talk about it! Make sure to pre-order Hunter Gatherer before it drops this Friday!