ALBUM REVIEW: AVATAR – Hunter Gatherer
Photo Credit: Johan Carlén
Sweden is a country that has provided the world with many wonders: from IKEA and Spotify, to the pop legends of ABBA, the passionate metal historians in Sabaton, the theatrical rockers in Ghost, and many more. AVATAR are yet another of Sweden’s finest musical exports, with their journey of 15+ years having brought them out of the underground and onto the world’s biggest stages. Their newest album, Hunter Gatherer, looks to continue their legacy of heaviness, while also pushing their sound forward, with one of their most sensitive moments to date – let’s begin.
Where Avatar Country, their previous studio offering, highlighted the humorous side of AVATAR, Hunter Gatherer instead turns back to their more serious side, with the songs being effectively devoid of humour. One other aspect in which they differ is that the latter is much heavier than the former. Two words: CRUSHING. RIFFS.
From the moment you press play and Silence in the Age of Apes starts, it only takes seven seconds for Tim Öhrström and Jonas Jarlsby’s guitars to blast straight into your eardrums. With its anthemic chorus and endless barrage of riffs, this is definitely one of the strongest opening songs they’ve ever had.
This is generally the sonic theme for this record, as both Colossus (also featuring Corey Taylor of Slipknot & Stone Sour), God of Sick Dreams and Justice continue what Silence… established, while also showing off vocalist Johannes Eckerström’s deep croons, soaring highs and punchy gutturals. Scream Until You Wake opens with John Alfredsson’s drums, which quickly escalate from steady pounding to barrelling double-bass, ultimately culminating in one of the most infectious choruses on display.
When All But Force Has Failed and Wormhole, the last two songs, end the ten-song package in the same way as it started, with plenty of distortion, chaos and dissonance to go around. If we were to nit-pick, these last two songs aren’t that memorable compared to the others, but that’s just a subjective opinion – they’re not bad songs by any stretch of the imagination. Where Hunter Gatherer really shines, to these ears, though, is in the three songs that we have yet to talk about.
The first song to really be more than the headbang fest (which isn’t a bad thing, by all means) provided by the previously mentioned works is A Secret Door. When you first hear those whistles (which may or may not be another one of Corey Taylor’s cameos), you’re definitely going to be surprised. Being influenced more by Swedish indie pop artist Björn Olson than other metal artists such as System of a Down or Amon Amarth, Eckerström confirmed this was one of the harder songs to piece together, as was another rollercoaster of a song named Child (read all about it in our recent interview HERE). While it also starts with a crushingly heavy guitar riff, it quickly turns into something that can only be described as a cross between the Mob Song in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and a swing song, before going back into that heaviness just as quickly.
The biggest surprise on the album is, without a doubt, Gun. Much darker, sombre and tragic than Hail the Apocalypse’s Tower, this piano ballad is definitely one of AVATAR’s most sonically light songs ever. It’s the song Eckerström is looking forward to playing the most (and is learning to play the piano for that purpose), and it will surely collect a few tears from the audience when concerts can commence once again – it didn’t take seven years to write for nothing, after all!
Finally, was this new album worth the wait? In one word, certainly. With almost twenty years of experience these Swedes are on top of their game here, and it’s as clear as day that they’re here to stay. Now that Avatar Country has come and gone, and we’ve heard the brilliant album that is Hunter Gatherer, we can only imagine and wait with baited breath to see what AVATAR will come up with next.
Standout Tracks: A Secret Door, Child, Scream Until You Wake, Colossus
For Fans Of: In Flames, Amon Amarth, Insomnium
Written by: Florin Petrut