January 26, 2012

Review: Avatar – Black Waltz

Brutal Tunes


Black Waltz, the forth full-length album from Swedish metallers Avatar, releases on the US on Feb 14 2012. Don’t let the Valentine’s Day release date fool you – this is no soppy power metal lovefest, but a solid, catchy, almost industrial-style album that will probably launch Avatar into the mainstream market.

Produced by Tobias Lindell (Europe, Hardcore Superstar), Black Waltz has all the qualities of a chart-topper. It’s catchy as all hell, dark enough and heavy enough to appeal to misunderstood teens, and packs enough punch to be favorites at the local goth club. The opener, “Let Us Die” has a pounding, tom-and-bass drum beat that is going to make a murder of PVC-clad goths (yes, that is the collective term for goths. I looked it up) go crazy on the dance floor. For us metalheads, there’s songs like “Blod” and “Black Waltz”, which are never going to replace Fleshgod Apocalypse as the melodeth masters, but have enough fast drumming, clever riffing and heavy power to be enjoyable.

Avatar have a very polished, highly commercial sound, that at times steps on the wrong side of nu metal – the riffs and arrangements in “Torn Apart” being an example of this. The vocal switch between a deeper, death metal growl, a higher hardcore shout and a clean style that brings to mind Marilyn Manson. However, what they lose in tr00 metal scene points they more than make up for in tight, solid writing and some killer riffs. I love the overall sound – especially the way they use the acoustic drums and repeating riffs to produce industrial passages. Although it’s slow to start, the ending of “In Napalm” really does it for me, as does the Entirely of “Blot”. The Rob Zombie, country rock style on “Let it Burn” and “Black Waltz” is going to be HUGE in the US.

Since their formation in 2001, Avatar have been busy – appearing on numerous European tours in support of bands like Impaled Nazarene, Evergrey, In Flames, Obituary, Helloween, Warrior Soul, and Dark Tranquility. They’ve also performed at Sweden Rock Festival, Arvikafestivalen and Storsjöyran in Sweden, and they teamed up with circus sideshow act Hellzapoppin to release this, quite interesting video for “Black Waltz”. Featuring an act by Zamora the Torture King, this is NOT safe for work, or anything at all.

With Black Waltz, Avatar aim to crush the US market, and I reckon they’ve got a serious shot. The entire album is available for steaming on Spotify, or you can check out the Avatar Myspace Page or Avatar website.