Album Review: Avatar – Hunter Gatherer

Swedish circus-metallers Avatar take a mad look into the future on Hunter Gatherer...

Album Review: Avatar – Hunter Gatherer
Nick Ruskell

It’s impossible that Avatar intended for their eighth album to arrive with quite the air of relevance that it does. A band who thrive in the live arena, a theatrical, harlequin-faced thrill that owes as much to the extravagance of Broadway as to the energised sweat of CBGBs, it’s sadly currently only possible to get half the picture they’re painting on Hunter Gatherer, with both venues and theatres out of bounds. And yet, this problem actually feeds ironically well into the album’s concept of the human race gormlessly and ignorantly hurtling towards a future in which the only certainty appears to be darkness.

By accident rather than design, it’s a very 2020 theme, but though they plumb and explore terrifying portents of the horrors to come, Avatar aren’t weighed down by this load. Neither are they overtly angered by it. Songs like A Secret Door and the heavy, stomping Colossus are bombast and big riffs straight from the Avatar playbook, as shades of Rammstein, Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold coalesce with the flair and flamboyant dramatics of Tim Minchin. Opener Silence In The Age Of Apes, meanwhile, manages to invoke the imagery of the start of 2001: A Space Odyssey, despite being anything but silent. Really, though, a better comparison isn’t to that Stanley Kubrick nightmare, or 1984’s future of “a boot stamping on a human face forever”, but something more in the vein of Starship Troopers: a tale of future dread played out through knowing humour and OTT pyrotechnics.

However, coming into this record with no idea of when or how it will be presented live does mean that Hunter Gatherer appears under a slightly stronger spotlight than normal, which highlights what a crucial element such, admittedly masterful, spectacle is for this band. That said, when that time does come, Avatar have built a sturdy vessel on which to fully explode. And then, we’ll see the true vision at play here.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans Of: Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Avenged Sevenfold

Avatar's Hunter Gatherer is out August 7 via eOne.

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