"Let me tell you now, Avatar is classic stuff, very different than their previous recordings; as it eschews more of a classic rock sound, and is very much in thrall to earlier exponents of the space rock genre."
Comets on Fire – Avatar (Sub Pop/ http://www.konkurrent.nl/)
Yes I know I'm late on reviewing this. But hey, that shouldn't stop me from singing it's praises, in fact a late review allows a more introspective, more detailed look at an album, by simple virtue of you the reviewer being able to play said record more often than you would have allowed yourself if you had been a bit more prompt and reliable. And I don't have to waffle on, coming straight to the point of the argument instead. Oofph...
Let me tell you now, Avatar is classic stuff, very different than their previous recordings; as it eschews more of a classic rock sound, and is very much in thrall to earlier exponents of the space rock genre. Their debt to Amon Duul 2 is very noticeable, especially on the epic opener Dogwood Rust; the vocals don't half sound like the Duul's Lothar Meid is guest singing. Still I'm not complaining. The guitars crash in at odd times and there's a lot of fussing with cymbals and unnecessary drum fills, all very much in the Yeti-era Amon Duul 2 tradition. There are nods too to Split-era Groundhogs, especially with the key and tempo changes. Jaybird is a dizzy, jazzy number that forsakes the obvious heavy metal/Deep Purple leanings of the bass line melody to fiddle around in an acoustic manner, almost in a McGuinn Chestnut Mare style. Obviously this can't continue and things become very loud and intense after a while. This intensity and clarity of purpose are the main reasons this LP never descends into imitation or laziness.
Lucifer's Memory again begins in a very lazy, distracted manner; toying with obvious rock structures, but the music is always confident in manner, never hung up about re-treading old ground. Somehow the band create a great track out of a tired formula, and sonic breathing space on an album that is cluttered with a great deal of rock-isms. The song's ending is a great, cascading collection of notes and noises that somehow justifies the whole thing. The Swallow's Eye is a wrapped up in its own fantasies; again tipping the hat to Amon Duul 2. The guitar line is particularly reminiscent of the krautrockers. By contrast Holy Teeth is a quick, sharp blast with screeching vocals. Sour Smoke is a long, reflective tub thump, a country rumble, a meditational work-out lasting over eight minutes. Again their clarity of purpose prevents this track becoming too flabby. The last track, Hatched Upon the Age, is a great lazy preacher style song, as poppy and melodic as the Comets get with a great, lazy, early seventies structure to it.
In short I highly recommend this LP. Alongside The Archie Bronson's Derdang Derdang, it's the guitar-jam LP of the year.
Words: Richard Foster.