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ROCKET REVIEW: AVATAR – “Hail The Apocalypse” (CD)


Sweden’s AVATAR have released “Hail The Apocalypse” in 2014 via eOne Music, and they deliver a totally crushing melodic groove metal assault with elements of death and industrial that I am afraid few in the game today can match. The band is led by vocalist Johannes Eckerström, also known as “The Clown”. At times he hits the microphone with frightening growls that are reminiscent of Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe at his most vicious, to be followed by deranged, clean singing that for me is haunting on so many different levels. Eckerström comes off sounding like a wicked cross between Blythe and David Byrne of Talking Heads. The immediate vibe I get from “Hail The Apocalypse” album is as if the world’s most twisted circus has come to town to jam some scary heavy metal music for all the rejects and misfits to enjoy. Since donning makeup, Eckerström has now entered into the epic horror realm of legendary rock music greats like Alice Cooper, and despite the fact that some will view it all as just that, a gimmick to sell albums and concert tickets, for me, I think Avatar’s highly impressive musical prowess rises above all of that, and I feel that fans need to be more concerned with the way the music actually sounds than with what the peformer is wearing. That is what needs to be remembered above all else when trying to criticize a band that relies so heavily on theatrics.

Eckerström truly morphs into ‘The Clown’ character. So if putting on a mask or creating a ‘stage persona’ helps a performer ‘go deeper into what they are doing’ I say go for it. Putting on makeup is one hell of a commitment and a major pain in the ass. Instead of complain we should really all applaud anyone with that kind of conviction for their craft. And it obviously has done well to inspire this band to rise to the next level. With the team of Jonas Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström on guitars the band proves they are capable of heavy rock brilliance, turning in some fantastic musicianship and mosh starting riffs that would make even Dimebag Darrell proud.

The album kicks off with the absolutely slamming opening track “Hail The Apocalypse” that finds Eckerström screaming out “You better put on your war paint!”. You had damn better well “Hail” the modern metal genius that is on display here for it will shoot adrenaline through your veins at 100 MPH and make you want to start slam dancing on your front lawn for all the neighbors to see. Next up is the rocking “What I Don’t Know”, the unrelenting “Death Of Sound”, next followed by the pure pandemonium of “Vultures Fly”.

The momentum of the album actually picks up with the maniacal “Bloody Angel”, reaching a peak of literal rock perfection with the tune “Murderer”, that starts off with a killer bass line thanks to Henrik Sandelin. However, my personal favorite comes next in the form of the beast called “Tsar Bomba”. This is some of the most explosive metal music I have heard in the past decade. The listener will no doubt get caught up in the out of this world sound of Avatar. And holy shit, the guitar solo unleashed on this track is the best one I have heard in at least the past few years. Let me not forget to point out the very solid drumming by John Alfredsson. The twisted rock circus culminates with the songs “Puppet Show”, the brutal as it gets “Get In Line”, a more than adequate cover of Nirvana’s “Something In The Way” and the slowed down “Tower”. The only major criticism I would have overall is that I would like to see the band get even darker, heavier and faster in the future, with maybe a few more extended guitar solos included and continue to focus on writing metal that both totally grooves and is not looking to become just another over polished radio rock darling.


[starreview tpl=16]
AVATAR – “Hail The Apocalypse” (CD)

(eOne Music/2014)

1. Hail The Apocalypse
2. What I Don’t Know
3. Death Of Sound
4. Vultures Fly
5. Bloody Angel
6. Murderer
7. Tsar Bomba
8. Puppet Show
9. Get In Line
10. Something In The Way
11. Tower