Avatar return with their seventh studio release, Avatar Country, and their second straight concept album. While 2016’s Feathers & Flesh centered around an owl bent on world vengeance, Avatar Country is the story of a stranger wielding a six-string axe who emerges as the leader of a once barren wasteland, and brings new life and prosperity to those who had gone so long without.
“Glory to the King” is a 52-second, majestic choral opening that sets the tone for the rest of the album, leading into the first track proper, “Legend of the King.” Largely instrumental, “Legend of the King” showcases technical guitar riffs on top of a steady, driving rhythm. The tempo slows down only to ramp up to high gear again with Johannes Eckstrom‘s vocals. He showcases both clean and edgy, raw vocals.
“The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country” is perhaps the catchiest track on the record. A rollicking, honky-tonk rhythm is a nice change of pace, and Eckstrom channels his inner Brian Johnson, adding some grit to the proceedings.
“King’s Harvest” has the makings of a live show staple. Kungen and Tim Öhrström continue with their brilliant guitar work, while the rhythm section of Henrik Sandelin (bass) and John Alfredsson (drums) builds a deep groove that is sure to get heads banging! “A Statue of The King,” the first track released in advance of the album, is another high-tempo shredder with catchy lyrics that have the makings of a crowd favorite. The album begins to wind down with “King After King,” a mid-tempo track (in relation to the previous few). Sandelin‘s bass is more prominent here, adding another layer to the mood of the song.
The guitar work shines bright on Avatar Country, making it an enjoyable listen. Avatar again deliver an entertaining and engaging conceptual story, complete with twists and turns through their use of varying vocal styles and tempo changes.
Avatar Country is out January 12 on eOne Music. Buy it here!