Avatar: Black Waltz

An exclectic Scandinavian metal symphony

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For several years, Avatar have been trying to push the boundaries of melodic death metal. After a lot of teasing they’ve finally cracked their soundtrack to the apocalypse with the monstrous Black Waltz.

It’s an unhinged symphony of epic proportions with production skills from Tobias Lindell (Hardcore Superstar/Crash Diet). Despite his gothic clown make-up, growling vocalist Johannes Eckerström just can’t be compared to Alice Cooper, besides his band are far more focused on channelling Devin Townsend.

No two songs are the same and although Avatar thrive off this unstructured approach, it’s not always convincing. The simplistic opener Let Us Die does them no favours compared to the black metal rollercoaster that is Ready For The Ride; then there’s the bonkers single Let It Burn, with its country-on-speed guitars.

But it’s their quirky progressive finale that’s pure genius. Use Your Tongue mixes Americana, bhangra and farmyard noises – it’s enough to make any Devin fan smirk.

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.