AVATAR are a more than interesting presence that recently emerged into the metal community. Their dark, twisted circus sideshow built around grooving melodic death metal and their engaging live shows have gained them a large fan base over the past decade.
The latest addition to their list of tales, a.k.a. their discography, is a fable about an owl that goes to war to stop the sun from rising. It’s the first AVATAR record to come with a book as vocalist Johannes Eckerström admits there were just too many words for a normal CD booklet. The natural nature of fables is that you learn lessons but in AVATAR’s own fable titled Feathers and Flesh it’s anything but a happy ending is in store and it tells the tragic side of people perhaps not learning their lessons when they should through a story of talking animals.
The album itself is an incredibly intricate yet marvellous piece of work; from the first few seconds you are first under the impression that it will be a more radio friendly piece. However as the listener delves deeper into the record they will find it’s anything but. Yes it might be a little less brutal to what they have produced previously but fans will be reassured that there is still the tints of AVATAR that make them stand out from them rest. It can be believed the lighter sense comes from the fact it is a concept album and they had a much wider pallet to work with, giving the tracks a great variety of sound.
This album contains many highlights; one of which being the incredible visionary that comes with the songs on this record. Some of the best examples of this come from the tracks For The Swarm, The Eagle Has Landed and Fiddler’s Farewell.
The line ‘gotta go to work work work go to work’ from the song For The Swarm will be swimming around in the minds for days after you hear the song for the very first time. This song tells the tale of the Owl’s first encounter with a beehive. The intention to portray the machine like precision of the hive mind working as one alongside the short sharp melody with the many voices is done superbly.
The Eagle Has Landed is an incredibly showy track; the circus type melody at the beginning allows the listener to envision the Eagle into the tale landing grandly with open wings and a proud look on his face. “Ladies and gentlemen” immediately draws attention to the vision if the listener isn’t paying attention.
Fiddler’s Farewell is a twist on the classic fable The Grasshopper And The Ant; in the original tale the ant is collecting food for winter during the summer whereas the grasshopper is hopping around and playing his fiddle. Despite warnings from the ant to prepare for the coming winter, the grasshopper takes no notice. Winter comes round and the grasshopper is starving because he didn’t gather food, the ant lets him in. In that tale he learns his lesson. Fiddler’s Farewell shows us if the grasshopper didn’t learn his lesson and the ant somehow passes away. Once the tale behind the song comes known it really tugs on the heart strings.
Surprises on this record including the CLUTCH induced Black Waters that gives a very groovy, doom vibe to this tale. The other is concluding track Sky Burial, which is a beautifully stripped down track that soothes things over after being blown away the grand climax of Raven Wine. This is truly a tale of tragedy, sorrow, despair and lessons; the metal fable everyone should listen to and experience.
Feathers & Flesh is set for release on May 13th via Another Century.
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