Avatar: Dance Devil Dance. Album Review3rd February 2023
Ladies, Gentlemen, gender nonconformists, and children of all ages, behold. The Circus is back in town, the animals are bipedal, mostly humanoid in shape, unquestionably Swedish, and wafting the unmistakable smell of a freak show, with some new exciting audible exhibits. In other words, there’s a new Avatar album about to be released to the largely suspecting public but that doesn’t make it any less exciting.
February 17th opens its big top tent flaps to unveil Avatar’s latest album Dance Devil Dance, an album which this reviewer has been looking forward to immensely. I was very late to the Avatar party, admittedly, and now ashamedly writing them off as another makeup-caked fad band. It was by chance that I stumbled across a live version of Hail the Apocalypse from the album of the same name, which grabbed me and sent me tumbling down a scarily fun, eclectic rabbit hole. So now I’m a huge fan. Avatar was the only band I managed to stay for the whole set at last year’s brutally scorching Bloodstock festival.
With the way new music is released through streaming platforms these days, it’s impossible to experience the buzz of a brand-new album drop unless you actively ignore the tracks which are dripped out weekly. Sadly my ADHD brain does not afford me that level of self-control or restraint, so I’m already four tracks deep in Dance Devil Dance before even downloading the album for review. Now on to my totally objective opinion of this album. I will say in advance that I don’t believe you can fully appreciate Avatar without first seeing them live to get a feel of their vision and delivery of a track.
Title track Dance Devil Dance slams in with a clanging bell, heavy, groovy, and hard with a country twang to the guitar melody, which later in the track morphs into a hypnotic background drone. It’s all very clever and has me hooked. The chorus on this track is massive, with vibrant frontman Johannes Eckerström hitting highs that would have Rob Halford squeezing his own sack to help match the pitch. Dance Devil Dance is both a kicking introduction and a journey in itself.
Track two, Chimp Mosh Pit wastes no time in continuing the heavy, with big riffs and those quirky time signatures which make them a clever off-kilter mini Messugah of sorts. There’s something about the vocal patterns of this track that reminds me of Nine in Nails and I’m here for it.
The current highlight of Dance Devil Dance for me is the brilliant, pumping, frenetic Violence No Matter What, featuring the incomparable Lzzy Hale. Lzzy and Johannes’ voices meld and compliment each other to goosebumps-inducing gorgeousness, pushing each of the vocalists to reach higher and angrier with every aggressively chanted VIOLENCE NO MATTER WHAT. Even in the absence of Lzzy in the live environment, this is sure to be a live fan favorite. The Line “NO ONE GETS TO BE A F*CKING FASCIST”, needs to be screamed until your lungs give out.
What makes Avatar stand out is much the same outlandish experimentation as the likes of Devin Townsend. Never a band to take themselves too seriously, tracks like Gotta Wanna Riot, bring fun and amusing storytelling amongst the abundance of heaviness. There are so many stand-out tracks on this album that it’s hard to choose a favorite outside of the aforementioned Violence No Matter What. Valley of Disease is a straight-up banger, The Dirt I’m Buried in, is Avatar sounding like Frans Ferdinand, in a good way and Clouds Dipped in Chrome is blast beat central with a chorus that sounds like John Bush Era Anthrax with Geoff Tate of Queensrÿche singing. It’s fucking epic!
Special mention to Train, for sounding like Nick Cave and Johnny Cash made a musical baby.In conclusion, I perhaps wasn’t the least bit impartial but that doesn’t mean that Violence No Matter What isn’t a complete and utter triumph of twisted heavy fun. Be sure to check Avatar on their upcoming tour, If you like this album without seeing them live, your enjoyment will be elevated by seeing how they perform the tracks on stage.
1 Dance Devil Dance
2 Chimp Mosh Pit
3 Valley Of Disease
4 On The Beach
5 Do You Feel In Control
6 Gotta Wanna Riot
7 The Dirt I’m Buried In
8 Clouds Dipped In Chrome
9 Hazmat Suit
11 Violence No Matter What (Duet w/ Lzzy Hale)
Release – 17th February 2023
Label – Century Media Records