Nails everything, yet feels a little empty

Avatar has always been a difficult band to nail down into any one specific genre. That has always been one of their charms, mixing elements of nearly every spice available to the modern metal palette and adding a large chunk of theatricality to the whole ceremony. This of course came full circle with the band’s last, and completely bonkers, in retrospect, album Avatar Country.

So it is with some welcome that first cab off the rank Silence in the Age of Apes comes barrelling out like a rather standard modern metal track with little to no fanfare as Avatar get to setting themselves musically straight, with a return to some of the heaviest material they have laid down.

Colossus is a sharp 180, showing they aren’t done with experimenting and taking the listener on a journey of some kind. Its heavy Sabbathian stomp driving a rhythm the band has not really investigated before, but as with most things they attempt, hits the mark on the head.

That’s the best summary for this album, it really nails everything it attempts – and yet it feels a little empty. There is no denying this is the heaviest album Avatar has done, musically and lyrically, but something is missing. It’s hard to pin down, even after several listens. Every track has stand out moments. Child flits back and forth with a story of domestic violence, clean singing to throaty roar with their distinctive bass line keeping everything moving along but once it’s over it is barely memorable. The biggest takeaway moments come early with A Secret Door that comes complete with a Corey Taylor cameo whistling a musical refrain that leads into the most memorable riff on the album. It’s a truly madcap moment that only this band could come up with, using one of the most recognisable people in heavy music at the moment and not asking him to sing. The other is the ballad Gun a powerful piano led piece showing off how far Johannes Eckerström has come as a clean vocalist. Gone are the nasally tones and obvious unwillingness to push into melody as he lets out his most emotional performance in one of Hunter Gatherer’s truly memorable moments.

Avatar have always been good for something different to listen to, and perhaps with more time it will get more memorable. Hunter Gatherer isn’t bad, but it’s just not the same kind of madcap fun a fan may be used to getting from the.

1. Silence in the Age of Apes
2. Colossus
3. A Secret Door
4. God of Sick Dreams
5. Scream Until You Wake
6. Child
7. Justice
8. Gun
9. When All But Force Has Failed
10. Wormhole