Review Summary: Theatricality and Deception are powerful agents…
As expected from the track-listing and album title, this album revolves around The King and a setting that The King reigns over; simply named Avatar Country. Tonnes of unique metal is exported from unique mines with equally unique mining technology out of the country and around the globe, pronouncing Avatar Country as a place of “Pure metal bliss”, as the brains behind it all say. Documented in musical format, it is never explicitly revealed through the story of Avatar Country whether The King is an actual entity or a mythical mystical figure drawn from legend whose name evokes absolute power and respect throughout hundreds of generations. Furthermore, time in this metal utopia is different from normal standards; every year is The Year of The King. A benevolent leader, the will of the King is the will of his people, and his county, his people, his beliefs are a true union of all things metal.
In short, the concept behind “Avatar Country”
Impressively, “Avatar Country”
is the band’s seventh album since they took to the stage in 2001. Since then, Avatar has been performing their jovial take on melodic metal, shrouding their music in fanaticism and casting a dramatic refraction of the present world and society. Extravaganza and theatricality have always been a prominent theme in Avatar’s career, however, their latest album unequivocally announces their mission statement. To discover what that is, Avatar takes you on the scenic route around a world of pure imagination that is “Avatar Country”
Rapturous guitars energetically dance around Johannes Eckerstrom’s amorphous vocals during “Legend of the King”. Whether they are twirling slowly or gallivanting about at the forefront of the production, they are always moving, giving songs such as “King’s Harvest” and “A Statue of The King” a sense of wonder and power, particularly in the latter. Alongside bombast, Avatar is renowned for their crazy shifts in style and “The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country” upholds that title as guitars strut across the dusty borders of Country, Blues and balls-out Rock ‘n’ Roll. Much of this album owes thanks to the rodeo of riffs it contains and how they are so bluntly performed.
Occasionally, Avatar pushes their ambition a tad too far over the line, seemingly aiming to mimic the fickleness of System of a Down, the bombast of Dream Theater and the eccentricity of Devin Townsend, yet, ultimately forgetting the actual music these bands produce carries more weight than their concepts. “The King Speaks” is a spoken word interlude that proclaims The King is no longer constipated before he tells his audience about the satisfactory bath he took… Meanwhile, “Glory to our King” is a simple intro featuring adoring proclamations to their leader. Considering how frequently the band jumps from genre to genre, “Avatar Country”
” as a whole also feels repetitious. Perhaps it’s the constant bombardment of ‘the king this’ and ‘the king that’ throughout the album but tracks such as “The King Wants You” and “King after King” lack identity due to their familiar structuring and how the band’s bizarre shifts in tone become more of an expectancy than a surprise.
Over the top-ness can be traced back to the origins of heavy music: corpse paint, glam rock itself, Manowar showing off their bodies, Slipknot’s masks- to name a few. To be seen as bigger and better than the rest, some bands physically illustrate the nature of their music. Undoubtedly, Avatar is such a band, and while “Avatar Country”
demonstrates the bands aesthetic perfectly, it focuses too strongly on the concept behind the music than the music itself. By the end of the album, it’s difficult to tell whether The King is actually as splendorous as Avatar say, or simply a Big Brother symbol going by how much the band rams The King down our throats.