Review Summary: Avatar have evolved into something special
Avatar have seemingly transformed into what can only be described as a technical, melodic death 'n' roll unit. Regardless of how one wishes to classify them now, their new album is one interesting metal piece well worth anyone’s time. Starting out as a rather traditional melodic death metal band back in 2001, Avatar have worked and tweaked their sound up to quite a unique level. Welding hard rock and minor electronic influences to their melodeath base has proven to be a great idea and Black Waltz
is most definitely the band's most exciting release to date. Smoothly transitioning from rockin' guitar riffs to more death metal orientated sections, all the while keeping an undercurrent of melody and maintaining a degree of technicality, Black Waltz contains something for everyone.
Technically, one could even go as far as to call this avant-garde metal, since there’s no denying that Black Waltz
is special compared to its peers. It doesn’t sound like Wolverine Blues
with more melody, nor does it act like Dark Tranquillity with added hard rock riffs and grooves. No, this is something entirely different. No two songs sound the same on this album and the listener is constantly greeted with engaging dynamics (whether it be on the face of unexpected guitar gears kicking in, the bass coming into play more vividly, or untraditional instruments, like flutes, popping up). Better yet, the album is incredibly cohesive, with every dynamic, part and song seamlessly flowing right into the next one, making Black Waltz
an addictive listen.
The biggest strength of the album is how it is able to be experimental, yet feel perfectly designed. It already sounds challenging to mix together hard rock, melodeath and experimental metal to successful results, but Avatar have clearly mastered the technique, seeing as, for example, placing a proper stoner rock cut ("Let It Burn") right in the middle of the album proves to be of no challenge to them. Better still, they move on with chugging riffs and ferocious screams opening up the following track, "One Touch", like nothing had happened in between the aggressive "Blod" and it. Doesn’t matter whether Avatar are playing more death metal influenced tunes (the title track, "Blod"), rockers ("In Napalm", "Let It Burn") or avant-garde stuff ("Smells Like A Freak Show", "Use Your Tongue"), they are equally adept at them all. On Black Waltz
, Avatar sounds like a band that is completely in peace with itself and whatever it sets out to do/try.
, for me, is the first really positive surprise of 2012. The songs on here are diverse, addictive, full of crafty guitar- and vocal work and defined by focused songwriting. If there is one thing that could be complained about, it’s that the production is a bit too clean (a little fuzz or grime would not have hurt), but that is a minor gripe. The band has managed to build an impressive and riveting structure of sound on top of its melodeath base. Avatar clearly decided to break the mold, refusing to merely stay as yet another melodic death metal band from Sweden, and you can tell. On Black Waltz
, they manage to be experimental without sacrificing any cohesion and the result is an engaging metal album that succeeds in every field.