Dance Devil Dance

Black Watz / Thirty Tigers
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. "Dance Devil Dance"
02. "Chimp Mosh Pit"
03. "Valley Of Disease"
04. "On The Beach"
05. "Do You Feel In Control"
06. "Gotta Wanna Riot"
07. "The Dirt I'm Buried In"
08. "Clouds Dipped In Chrome"
09. "Hazmat Suit"
10. "Train"
11. "Violence No Matter What" (Duet w/ Lzzy Hale)

AVATAR say they're on a mission to save heavy metal, and that's apparent on the band's ninth studio effort, "Dance Devil Dance". The Swedish metal outfit have come a long way from their early days, when vocalist Johannes Eckerström and drummer John Alfredsson started the band as teenagers, and "Dance Devil Dance" proves to be their most mature and skilled collection yet.

For "Dance Devil Dance", the band tucked themselves away in the Swedish wilderness to record with renowned metal producer Jay Ruston, who has worked with names such as ANTHRAX and AMON AMARTH. Both the serenity of the environment and the experience of working with a heavy metal music producer come through on the record.

"Dance Devil Dance" begins with the set's title track, a fast-paced, crunchy metal anthem that finds Eckerström delivering growling vocals in the verses, followed by some staccato singing and operatic vocals in the chorus. "Chimp Mosh Pit" follows, another raging track with sharp guitars and angsty vocals. From there, AVATAR only get more menacing, as "Valley of Disease" is the heaviest song on the set. The track begins with unforgiving drums and riffs, leading way for Eckerström to launch in with intense death metal vocals. For those who wrote AVATAR off as only a radio band, "Valley of Disease" shows they can be more niche than often given credit. Groove-metal rules on "On the Beach", with rhythmic lines that hit you in the gut. Here, AVATAR sound like they could fit along with MASTODON or GOJIRA. Next, guitars take the spotlight on "Do You Feel in Control", with Jonas Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström showing off their chops.

An album called "Dance Devil Dance" should have some dance-worthy, groove-oriented tracks, and "The Dirt I'm Buried In" brings it. With 1980s electronic beats and catchy vocals, this song is a no-brainer single for AVATAR, and they'd be foolish not to release it as a proper single at some point. Eckerström channels Iggy Pop on "Train", which is the only "soft" song on the set. His raw, raspy, close-to-the-mic vocals really do sound like the punk icon, as Eckerström tells a twisted tale about a man riding a train with a cat amid a jazzy background. Things pick back up with "Violence No Matter What", a duet with HALESTORM vocalist Lzzy Hale, which ends the album on a furious note.

"Dance Devil Dance" is an album meant to be listened to from front to back, which is refreshing in 2023. Both rock and metal fans will find something to like on here, as the record offers some straight-ahead hard rock and a bounty of heavy metal. Saving heavy metal might be a bit hyperbolic, but AVATAR certainly aren't hurting the game.

Author: Anne Erickson
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