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'Feathers And Flesh'
(Another Century)
Release Date: 13th May 2016

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland


Theatrical Swedish Metallers Avatar have never lacked ambition. They have always been pushing the boundaries of the use of their inner thespian matched to their patented sub-death groove Metal style. On their last album, 2014's 'Hail The Apocalypse', they ramped up their carnival of madness image into a rollicking circus freak Metal rollercoaster. Now with that album's follow up. 'Feathers And Flesh'. they seem to have found the confidence to really crank the creativity into overdrive and to hell with the consequences.

Avatar have bowed to the inevitable and made a concept album. In the words of singer and frontman extraordinaire Johannes Eckerstrom it is "...a fable about an owl who goes to war to stop the sun from rising." Yes really! This a hugely complex and multi layered morality tale about the human condition told through a traditional kind of fable with talking animals and a host of other quirks.

If this sounds mad, it kind of is but personally I love that they have taken to territory which would make even psychedelic prog and power Metal bands hesitate and totally gone for it. If you doubt their commitment (which I didn't) they have decided that the tale told by the album is too complicated to fit into a CD cover and they are releasing a book of the story alongside the album.

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All this lyrical focus is fine and dandy but what makes this album really something special is that the music matches the theme in scope and aspiration. There are so many musical styles given an outing here it's astonishing. 'Regret' has classic era Alice Cooper groove all over it but follow up track 'House Of Eternal Hunt' has melodic power Metal twin lead guitar and double bass drums aplenty. Meanwhile 'The Eagle Has Landed' has an unbelievably catchy jaunty circus Metal vibe but the frantic 'For The Swarm' is the band showcasing that they can do madness just as well as System Of A Down can.

Their death Metal roots haven't been abandoned entirely and Eckerstrom can still growl with the best of them behind a crushing riff on 'Raven Wine' but he can really sing in an interesting theatrical style too and atmospheric moments like in the laid back 'Fiddler's Farewell' are a worthy edition to their repertoire.


The concept and the multi-layered styles of music could have made the album a disjointed mess but what keeps it all together is that the song writing is excellent. This is a band that really can write a memorable metal tune and 'Feathers And Flesh' is them absolutely on top form.

Avatar are a cracking live band and in Eckerstrom they have the real deal, a proper old fashioned frontman with charisma and presence. For me the music has only occasionally matched that talent on album up to now but no more. Avatar have stepped things up a few gears and the result is extraordinarily good. Park any reservations about the madcap story or their death Metal roots and check out an album which could do for them what 'Operation Mindcrime' did for Queensryche.

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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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