Released by: Entertainment One
Release Date: January 12th, 2018
Johannes Michael Gustaf Eckerström – Vocals
John Alfredsson – Drums
Kungen – Guitars
Tim Öhrström – Guitars
Henrik Sandelin – Bass
01. Glory To Our King
02. Legend Of The King
03. The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country
04. King’s Harvest
05. The King Wants You
06. The King Speaks
07. A Statue Of The King
08. King After King
09. Silent Songs Of The King Pt. 1 – Winter Comes When The King Dreams Of Snow
10. Silent Songs Of The King Pt. 2 – The King’s Palace
‘Avatar Country’ the second concept album by the Swedish melodic death act has arrived on January 12th via eOne. It’s a follow-up to their debut concept record 2016’s ‘Feathers and Flesh,’ and overall seventh full-length studio effort. The group is well-known for their circus performances, which they engage the audience by tormenting their fans with dark and enjoyable humor. Their creativity and unpredictable presentation are what makes many wonder what they will present next.
When the listener hears ‘Avatar Country’ for the first time, they will most likely feel a bit disappointed and confused. However, after giving it a few spins and an understanding of the concept, they will have more of an understanding of the song structure while appreciating the excessive style changes.
Avatar takes the listener to a nation that used to be a terrain similar to the Badlands in South Dakota. It is a challenging area that makes it nearly impossible to have a surviving civilization. For those who dared to live there, were considered doomed. However, once the first king arrived, who is known as a man clad in a red cloak that had an oddly shaped axe with sick strings tied around his back, changed their lives forever. The king preached, “Where there is silence, there shall be sound, and it shall be LOUD!” Followed by his comment, he raised his axe in the air, which eventually the land changed for the better. He demanded that the land was no longer a wasteland and that the people are now citizens in ‘Avatar Country.’
The album begins with what sounds like a National Anthem for the country with “Glory To Our King.” Following the chanting introduction, “Legend Of The King” heavily cuts in with a more power-heavy metal style. It focuses on heavy guitar work and it is over eight minutes long, making it the longest track of the record. The song does move towards their traditional melodeath style but, it continues to create a visual landscape. It’s difficult to define the next song, “The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country,” which has a handful of experimentations. When it first opens up, you briefly think you are listening to a Tom Waits track, then while it moves in a folk-country direction, there are a few Soundgarden-like elements. The differentiation is what makes it one of the strongest songs on the album while highlighting Johannes Eckerström’s vocal capabilities.
At this point, the musical direction is unpredictable as it picks back to a heavy groove along with their melodeath roots with “King’s Harvest.” Guitar riffery enters the spotlight once again with “The King Wants You,” while the pace slows down towards a more hard rock effort. While the album is short as it is, “The King Speaks,” is more of an intermission/filler track. There’s no music, and you are taken to the country where similar to Groundhog Day, the king’s mustache can determine if it will be an early spring.
Before the album closes, the music intensifies with “A Statue of the King” and “King After King.” Both tracks help the record regain its strength by re-introducing catchy hooks and revving up engaging guitar riffs. Unfortunately, the album ends with two silent instrumental tracks, that could make one wonder if this should have been an EP or if they had enough in them to add a few more songs. “Silent Songs of the King Pt. 1 – Winter Comes When the King Dreams of Snow” is nearly completely silent while “Silent Songs of the King Pt. 2 – The King’s Palace” is executed with powerful instrumentations.
‘Avatar Country’ is hysterical but, it includes an ample amount of musical experiments along with being highly guitar-driven. For those who expected less hilarity and more abrasive technicalities, will be disappointed. ‘Avatar Country’ does follow the concept, and if you understand the story, it will be a delightful journey.
Zenae D. Zukowski