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Avatar
Hail the Apocalypse

Company: Entertainment One
Release: 2014
Genre: Heavy, metalcore, gothic
Reviewer: EC

  • Pushes the envelope further



  • Sweden's rising force, Avatar, are now thirteen years in the business. Dyed-in-the-wool fans remember the band's early melodic death characteristics on fine staples like "Thoughts of No Tomorrow" (2006) and "Schlacht" (2007), however it was the voluminous grooves of "Black Waltz" (2012) that brought the Gothenburg natives to prominence. After prosperous tours with Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch the group reportedly "found their voice" with new release "Hail the Apocalypse".

    The album is produced by two-time Grammy nominee Tobias Lindell (Mustasch, Hardcore Superstar), mixed by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther) and mastered by Paul Logus (Stone Sour, Adrenaline Mob). The veterans have certainly partnered with enough successful professionals to make "Hail the Apocalypse" their crowning achievement. While many of the band's kith may find some semblance of the prior Avatar sound, this new record is one of alteration and refinement. Tidying up with the same rumblings of infectious grooves and melodies, this 2014 chapter pushes the envelope further with a cavalcade of arrangements and sounds. Influences ranging from Marilyn Manson to Lamb of God help define a record that is dauntless in its attempts at perfection. While many bands steer for the safer middle of the road, this group swerves wider to proselytize for diversity and innovation.

    The album's title track and "Bloody Angel" were both lead off singles that showcased two very different aspects of the band. The title track is a resounding opening statement built on robust riffs and vocalist Johannes Eckerstrom's signature growls and screeches. It is songs like this one and "Tsar Bomba" that prove Avatar still have aggressive "melodic death" tendencies albeit different and less complex than the first three records. Tracks like the Goth tinged "Bloody Angel" and the haunting "Something in the Way" (dedicated to chills) are exhibits of angularity. Saturating doomy riffs sweep behind Eckerstrom's clean vocal chants to create a sense of atmosphere and isolation. The same can be said for "out of the box" elements like "Puppet Show", complete with macabre carnival themes, and the wickedly delightful "Tower".

    "Hail the Apocalypse" is definitely the devil in the details. There are so many aspects to the band's approach and delivery that it is uncanny. This is an act that embellishes the primal instincts of Gothenburg, Sweden's historic past yet is extremely comfortable providing abstract melodies that are anything but safe. It is bands like Blue Oyster Cult, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson that remain seminal and timeless. If Avatar continues that trend then they certainly could be just as relevant. "Hail the Apocalypse" or "Hail the Beginning"?


    About this Writer:
    Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.

    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: AVATAR
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Hail the ApocalypseAvatar
    2014
    Eric Compton5/14/2014
    The Black WaltzAvatar
    2012
    Greg Watson3/15/2013


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: AVATAR

    No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: AVATAR
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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