Jori : Avatar is one of those bands that always manages to pull off a surprise by doing musical things nobody expected from them. The latest album ‘Feathers & Flesh’ was even based on a fable that the band made from scratch, giving the album a completely different vibe than cult classic ‘Hail The Apocalypse’. When looking upon the details of this new record, my eyebrows frowned for the first time with this band. ‘Avatar Country’ as quite uninspiring title, a quite uninspiring piece of artwork and a very uninspiring tracklist (all songs have the word “king” in them in some way), I must say I have seen things more… inspired.
Avatar still uses their entertaining horror-esque modern metal as base for their music, in combination with the unique vocals of professional terror clown Johannes Eckerström this is still unmistakably Avatar. With the epic ‘Legend Of The King’ the album also opens in a spectacular way, a song of this length going full metal, that is a first for Avatar! Also ‘The King Bids You Welcome’, that can be regarded as the title track because of its recurrent shouting of “Avatar country!”, is as surprising as one can expect of this group. Yet then we get to two songs that are a bit too modest to the high standards that can be expected of these gifted musicians. To add to the disaster, there is a three minute spoken interlude breaking the CD apart, a duration that really eats away at the play time of this already short album. Gentlemen, thou art not Manowar! ‘A Statue Of The King’ that served for the video clip makes up for a lot. In the chorus it somehow reminds of ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ of the previous album. By way of the fine ‘King After King’ we get to the closing twin songs ‘Silent Songs Of The King’, of which part one sounds ambient and part two more metal, though both parts are instrumental.
What to say of this album? Once you get rid of all the intros, instrumentals and speeches you have six songs left with barely half an hour play time, which is meagre especially for these days. But then most of those songs are as good as Avatar has ever been and they hide some juicy surprises here and there. Avatar has only known the way upwards from the beginning, but it seems that the creative engines of the band propelling this movement were low on fuel this time. ‘Avatar Country’ is a very decent album, but for a band like Avatar this is not above mediocre. Also you buy very little music for your euro, pound, dollar or bitcoin.