Avatar: Feathers & Flesh

Virtuoso avian antics from Sweden’s madcap metallers

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“It’s a fable about an owl who goes to war to stop the sun from rising,” says Avatar vocalist Johannes Eckerström of Feathers & Flesh, the theatrical Swedish crew’s sixth album.

As the tale unfolds, our beaky friend tries to convince a swarm of bees to help her and encounters an evil eagle who doesn’t know that he’s actually the bad guy. The music is fittingly burlesque, and after the organ-heavy intro of Regret, a confident, Dream Theater-esque riff marches in on House Of Eternal Hunt.

There’s a lot packed in here, from madcap, System Of A Down-style art metal to virtuoso riffs, circus jingles and the signature dark growls of Swedish melodic death metal. There’s even a nod to black metal on the distorted staccato picking of For The Swarm, before the mood drops with a proggy minor riff on Fiddler’s Farewell.

It’s overblown at times, but combining such a range of influences into a sharp and credible record is more than impressive.