Review: “Dance Devil Dance” by Avatar

“I woke up to the truth one day. With my heart pounding, and a heavy breath, I knew for sure. I am Satan. The snake and forbidden fruit with a longing for knowledge, freedom and agency. My feet were moving. I thought I was running, but I was dancing. A celebration. Yes, I am the Devil, and I believe that one day you can be the Devil too. It is my hope and ambition that this album will help you find your way there. As such, it’s a celebration of love, lust and democracy.” ~ Johannes Eckerström

“You always hear bands say, ‘This is our best album yet.’ This is our best album yet. It is AVATAR at our most laser-focused, at our most razor sharp. There’s no BS, no extra fat. Every track is a weapon and has a purpose. It’s all in the title, as this album is our angriest, horniest, and most spiritual release, all at once. It’s a must-hear,” confesses the band.

Swedish Heavy Metal masters Avatar have been going from strength to strength over the duration of their illustrious career it seems, breaking new ground and reaching new milestones with each passing year. After 2020 saw the release of their final album with Century Media in “Hunter Gatherer” the band went independent creating Black Waltz Records, releasing a trail of breadcrumbs in the form of no less than five stand alone singles to bring us to their latest burnt offering “Dance Devil Dance“. They enjoyed a headlining tour of North America last summer followed by a stadium tour of Brazil in support of Iron Maiden, an arena run with Sabaton and some major festivals including Summer Breeze and Bloodstock the band once again recorded in the Swedish wilderness. Far away from all the perceived glamour of the big city and modern studios, the band were joined by long time collaborator and producer Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Stone Sour, Amon Amarth) for a month to do the Devils work…

Blending Heavy Metal with Hard Rock influences this journey down the yellow brick road to Hell begins with the title track and then “Chimp Mosh Pit“, a prize pair of punchy numbers that have a little bit of Queen or The Darkness flare to it as Eckerström reaches into his magic hat and pulls forth an improved vocal range, especially in the clean department. That helps drive an even more eclectic and eccentric sound as the band are able to bounce around between a broader range of sounds as the extremes push out that much further. There is no doubt that the pair of cuts give the band a broader appeal and on first listen they offer intrigue to older fans as well. Avatar keep us on our toes with “Valley Of Disease“, dialling back some of the higher pitched warbling’s of that opening pair in favour of a crushing marching styled cut with a couple of Industrial moments and a brutal Death Metal roar thrown in for good measure. If that wasn’t enough, the sheer groove of “On The Beach” serves to confirm that the band still have a bitter black heart of pure Heavy Metal even if they float off into a world of their own by the end. The journey is magical and if you pardon the pun, very much what the edge of the seat was made for with more twists and turns than a well written thriller. What sound like slide guitars give “Do You Feel In Control” a space age feel while the rhythmic battery ensures the band have a mosh pit starter on their hands as we reach the middle of the album in style even if lyrically it is not as unhinged as perhaps the cover art depicts.

Going full circle in style back to what the opening pair of cuts offered “Gotta Wanna Riot” takes that arena filling Hard Rock sound and beefs it up while Eckerström gives us moments of catchy vocal that feel like they’re straight out of the 70’s playbook, a clear departure from the Melodic Death Metal roots of the band. Perhaps built on the foundation of moments that were heard in cuts like “Scream Until You Wake” from “Hunter Gatherer“, this takes those ideas and makes them a new bedrock. “The Dirt I’m Buried In” continues the narrative with dare we say it, a more commercial sound. Less of the dark devilry of the bands previous works and instead a sing-a-long style that will please the masses at the festivals, it lacks the punch or emotive quality in the introspective lyric to really convey the sentiment. But all hope is not lost and “Clouds Dipped In Chrome” brings back the heavier riffs and darker vocals to give us something with less experimentation and more of a satisfying crunch. The solo is a classic face melter and the lyrics are out there bizarre making this one nothing short of a classic Avatar cut. “Hazmat Suit” feels like the concept of the dance, scumbag! moment in 1987’s Blind Date as Bruce Willis fires a revolver at the ground taken to a whole new level before the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds inspired introduction to “Train” gets wrecked in the mid section by some Heavy Metal violence. Fortunately Avatar save one of the albums finer cuts until last with “Violence No Matter What” which sees Eckerström go toe to toe with Lzzy Hale of Halestorm fame. The pair avoid the obvious love sick ballad and instead allow their vocals to intertwine, layering up in the chorus with Hale demonstrating that she’s got an unclean vocal range that no one gives her credit for. All in all a real mixed bag of an album that feels more experimental than usual and has something of a soft centre… [7/10]

Track Listing

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
10. Train
11. Violence No Matter What (Ft. Lzzy Hale of Halestorm)

Dance Devil Dance” by Avatar is out 13th February 2023 via Black Waltz Records

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *