Avatar, Dance Devil Dance (Black Waltz 2023)

The dark circus comes back to town – Avatar has a new album out: Dance Devil Dance.

I first noticed Avatar just a few years ago on the festival circuit in the US. They have been producing fascinating metal albums since 2006’s Thoughts of No Tomorrow, and the band formed five years before that. Clearly, I was seriously out of the loop. I have been doing some catching up in the past couple of years, and every time I see them perform live, I am even more intrigued. Avatar is Johannes Eckerström (vocals), John Alfredsson (drums), Jonas Jarlsby (guitar), Henrik Sandelin (bass), and Tim Öhrström (guitar).

Appropriately, “Dance Devil Dance” kicks off the set. I immediately see the band on stage in my mind when the first tones drop. Avatar is known for their stage show, and they have said that they write their music for performance. I think that comes through in audio-only experience as well (although, of course, I can’t unsee them now, can I). The song has a great clip to it, and the expected satiric creepiness. I can imagine this on the radio, and I can see fans singing along at a festival, too. The music has broad appeal in the heavy music community, and that is one of its strengths.

“Chimp Mosh Pit” follows and is more directly active, almost chatty in a way. There is a great hook in there, and Eckerström’s talkative approach to the vocals on this one is engaging. It has a crisp snap. “Valley Of Disease” is more serious in tone, and heavier. It is a face-in-the-dirt kind of metal song with melodic choruses. “On The Beach” takes an aerobic approach, and when you add up these opening tracks you notice that Avatar is going to put you through the paces on this record. There is always a riff or melody or trap in every song that grabs you, no matter what the surrounding compositional structure might signal. It is a distinctive feature of their music.

If you like your metal a half-bubble or so off, this record is for you. Fans of Avatar are going to get what they are looking for. I especially like “Gotta Wanna Riot” for its joyous destructive energy. And then there is “The Dirt I’m Buried In,” which is almost a club song, and “Train,” a gloomy western gothic folk tale that erupts halfway through before returning to its essence. This is a wild album. Highly recommended.

Dance Devil Dance is out now through Black Waltz. Hit up the band’s store at the link below to see what’s what.

Live performance photos by Wayne Edwards.


Avatar website, https://avatarmetal.com/

Avatar store, https://usa.avatarmetal.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Avatar, Dance Devil Dance (Black Waltz 2023)