ALBUM REVIEW: Avatar – Hunter Gatherer

The pride of Sweden’s elite metal scene, Avatar has returned to open a new chapter in their storybook. After bidding a final goodbye to Avatar Country, guitarist Jonas Jarlsby hung up his crown in exchange for leather gauntlets. And so, the Hunter Gatherer (eOne Records) era has begun.

Entering Avatar’s discography as their 8th studio album, Hunter-Gatherer continues the band’s trend of highly conceptual records. Frankly, their ability to world-build and paint a cohesive tale surpasses many authors (check out our recent interview with the band where we discussed this). From the haunting whistling in “A Secret Door” to the dystopian static and sirens heard in “Silence in the Age of Apes” and “Colossus,” the depiction of a savage hunting ground is built through ambiance and emphasized by their lyrical content.

The themes of sickness and depravity are well explored throughout the record, particularly highlighted in “Child,” a song that tells the tale of a mother buried alive. Following a trend seen throughout Avatar’s albums, we’re also given songs performed from the perspective of a particular character, helping to further bring life to the universe. “God of Sick Dreams” harkens back to the fast, heavy sound and horrific lyrics that created Avatar’s reputation as a freakshow. Poetically, the very next song on the record was named “Scream Until You Wake.” This track sees the return of the band’s twisted yet beautiful love songs. While it isn’t the slow melody that “Tower” is, Hunter Gatherer isn’t without a ballad. Frontman Johannes Eckerström allows his breathtaking vocals to shine in “Gun,” his emotions incredibly palpable in his voice and working in harmony with a piano and heart-wrenching lyrics to create yet another memorable ballad in the band’s library.

Once again, this track is harshly contrasted by the following “When All But Force Has Failed.” Throughout this record, Avatar manages to balance sharp juxtapositions that make for a dynamic listening experience. Of course, it is nearly impossible to speak of these five men without mentioning their insane live shows. A huge contributor to their shows’ accolades and praise can be accredited to their sound design. They clearly write music with the live experience in mind, a fact that continues to be evident in this record as it was in previous albums. The intros of their songs are built to hype a crowd, the chanting in choruses and fast pace of many songs lend themselves to the moshers and headbangers’ delight, and the uniquely intricate work of their guitarists ensures the solos won’t be like any show you’ve been to.

If there was any complaint to be given to this record, both in the tracklist and runtime, it’s short. While it’s definitely an improvement on Avatar Country, which in total only contained six full songs, it certainly doesn’t reach the longer runtime of older albums like Hail the Apocalypse and Feathers & Flesh. However, Avatar is no stranger to the concept of quality over quantity. There isn’t a single flop on this record. It’s exactly the masterful work we’ve come to accept from Avatar.Purchase it here.

9 / 10

LJ DEWITT