‘Hail the Apocalypse’ is the fifth album from Swedish five piece Avatar. Formed in 2000 the group have acted as a regular support act for established heavyweights like Avenged Sevenfold and Helloween and are ever-present on the festival circuit.
Like their contemporaries and doyennes of the scene Rammstein these songs signal doom, gloom and end of days, it’s Armageddon-time. The album was recorded in Karma Sound Studios, Thailand and it is impossible to picture the band sunning themselves on sandy beaches supping cocktails in their Bermuda shorts; an image at odds with the feel and tone of the album. More likely rising at dusk and utilising the night’s powers. With former song titles such as ‘Pigfucker’ and ‘Queen of Blades’ this new album continue in the same (burst) vein, (‘Murderer’, ‘Get in Line’). Make sure you’re psychically armed; the ride’s likely to be tumultuous.
Title track ‘Hail The Apocalypse’ opens proceedings, a falling wall of noise and spleen-delving words. At least I think they’re words, singer Eckerström’s delivery evoking Batman nemesis Bane coughing up a cheese grater. ‘What I Don’t Know’ teases with a softer introduction before the sound of fear crashes in. For all I know he could be reciting the football results until the lovely chorus, that’s more like it! Oh wait …
‘Death Of Sound’ is more like the sound of death. I can picture the knife plunging, twisting, gouging, curdling, prolonging, an aural SAW film. ‘Vultures Fly’ has more intelligible lyrics, the scene one of a Spartan being carried across Elysian fields upon a shield; I’m guessing someone’s head rather than offering a lift. This sure isn’t The Hollies’ ‘He aint heavy he’s my brother’. ‘Bloody Angel’ is like trying to reason with the ultimate fallen angel Lucifer, the schizophrenic voices and music creating an air of outright terror.
‘Tsar Bomba’ is in German and has a chorus of ‘Pharao, Kaiser ; Herr über Leichen’ which translates as ‘Pharaoh, Emperor; dominate over compensate’; a mood of divine rule, subservience and submission. ‘Puppet Show’ surprises with its uplifting fairground-ska beat before the inevitable hall of mirrors with no escape heart-thumping noise cacophony.
Standout ‘Get In Line’ is a diatribe about our place with and within technology; its benefits a salve to allow our consumption and complete control by the machine: ‘Reproduce. Reconnect. Realize nothing changes. You are part of a piece of a fucking machine’.
The penultimate track is a surprising (yet tepid by their standards) cover of Nirvana’s tender ‘Something in the Way.
By the end I want to buy the singer some lozenges and tell him it’s not ALL bad whilst I lie down and process it all. This is not my usual cup of tea, this is more a cinque-espresso injection, a shock to the body, a sonic assault on my internal organs, sensibility and well-being. However, I am sure fans of this sound will lap it up. Lyrically fascinating this album achieves what it sets out to do, unsettle and startle. This is foreground music; in your face, in your psyche, turning your dreams into nightmares … forever.