Avatar – Hunter Gatherer (Album Review)

Out of Gothenburg, Sweden, Avatar is a band from a distant realm all their own. A unique entity, they play to both Rock and Metal audiences, making their appeal broad and fascinating to explore. With a history that dates back further than most people realize, they released their debut album Thoughts of No Tomorrow independently in 2006, before following it up with the Top 30 Swedish charted LP Schlacht in 2007.

It was shortly thereafter that the band quickly became known by as larger audience thanks to their dramatic and larger than life persona. Extending their reach even further, 2014 marked a breakout for Avatar with the release of Hail the Apocalypse before they reached even steeper heights with 2018’s Avatar Country. Now they return with their newest creation, Hunter Gatherer, on Friday, August 7th via eOne Music.

An ambitious effort, Hunter Gatherer was recorded with all five members live in-studio, and on two inch tape, bringing the essence of the Avatar to a new level. Ten tracks in total, it all starts out with the carnival like feel of “Silence in the Age of Apes.” The guitars, matched with the drums, play in a wild, hammering pattern in companion to the booming, fast-paced vocals of Johannes Eckerström. Following next, “A Secret Door” brings an airy atmosphere that lends itself to swift, sleek drumming. It is here Eckerström’s vocals are both bright and pointed, all while he evokes a folk sensibility within the verses, as well as the final chorus.

Then they up the intensity and drama on “God of Sick Dreams” where the guitars are darker, but also more robust. Additionally, the vocals are barbarous and bestial as a tale weaved with the lyrics, making for a wickedly entertaining ride. Next, “Scream Until You Wake” is an awakening piece with subtle elements of beautiful piano and a catchy hook. Yet again Eckerström vocal performance is unyielding and furious, but is further fueled by the rapid bursts of guitar buildup plus immense, hot drums. 

Keeping the journey moving forward, “Child” offers a torrent of guitars along with interchanges of a mild flow of plucking and melodic bass. Like waves on a choppy sea the track raises and crashes, all the while Eckerström sings and whispers of unknown places, as well as motherless kin. This is before the soft-spoken and even-paced “Gun” filled with a cadence of melancholy piano and the gentle hum of strings. Which leads us to the album’s conclusive moments hear within the epic “Wormhole.” Fiery, the drums work at a thundering pace behind the wall of the guitars which transport you through space and time. 

Overall, Hunter Gatherer is teemed with superb singing and roaring growls. Adding to it all, the percussive elements twist and turn from hammering to frantic, but also from crashing to soaring during softer moments. Furthermore, much of the guitar work is epic and full, but is provided more depth thanks to the bass work. With the instrumentation solidified, the lyrical approach is the next key element here, and it best described as simplistic, symbolic, but also effective. However, while Hunter Gatherer is a poignant voice on the struggles of the world, some might say it lacks some edge in its overall execution. This in mind, the general feat of Avatar is to be build a world for their fans and other prospective listeners that is not only auditory, but cinematic in nature. For that, they deserve a job well done, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives Hunter Gatherer 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

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