In all honesty, Avatar’s ‘Feathers & Flesh’ surely is something I’ve been looking forward to for months now. The songs they had released before the release of their album kept making me crave for more, and hearing about the concept made me curious as well. So, when the day finally came, and I could hold the album within my hands, and listen to it, I couldn’t be happier. And so I write this review, after having heard the album, and read the fable which belongs to the concept of this album.
The concept is about the Owl, who goes to war with the Eagle, and believes that, would she defeat the Eagle, the sun would not rise again. During her journey, she meets several creatures, such as the Grasshopper, the Bees, the Pike and the Wolf, among several others. The album tells the story of the Owl, though the songs could be listened to separately as well.
The first song, ‘Regret’ is a brilliant opening to both the fable and the album. It’s a nice opening, somewhat calm, but it immediately grabs your attention. As the song progresses, which is mostly instrumental, it picks up the pace, and we get welcomed by brilliant guitar solos, which fluently flows into the next song, ‘House of Eternal Hunt’. Quickly, the double bass kicks in, as we get welcomed by brilliant guitar play and fitting solos, following the melody. The song is not exactly full of screams, I would say. It’s a mixture between both screaming and clean, though deep, and truly fitting with the ambiance of the tune. The story it tells completely fits in with the fable, but on its own it’s a brilliant piece as well.
We then come upon ‘The Eagle Has Landed’, which is an important part in the story, as here we meet the Owl’s opponent. I must say that this song is my favorite, as it feels quite different to most of the songs on the album. It sounds pleasant, the lyrics are fitting and the melody is catchy. The chorus is something that easily gets stuck in my head, something I find myself singing along to with ease. This tune clearly has the Avatar vibe, and yet it is different to their older work. Simply amazing!
The next part of the story brings us to ‘New Land’. The guitar play was quite surprising, but not something that would put me off. It was a nice kind of change when it comes to the previous songs. The chorus is calming compared to the remainder of the song, something which truly stands out in this tune. All together, is simply fits. It’s a brilliant song, something new, but truly something I like. However, I can’t say it belongs to my favorite songs just yet.
‘Tooth, Beak & Claw’ is something that I would put up there among my favorites. The music truly is something that I enjoy, as well as the vocal abilities of Johannes. Both the vocals, the music and the lyrics make this a brilliant piece. The moment it begins, we get welcomed by a rather creepy voice of Johannes, something which immediately sets the ambiance. The part of the story it portrays here, is rather important to the plot as well, which shows in the lyrics. Another brilliant piece on the album!
The shortest song belonging to this concept album is the next song, ‘For The Swarm’. However, it being the shortest song truly fits to the part of the story it portrays, and the characters which are addressed by this song. Despite the song being rather specific, it still is a great song on its own. It’s fast paced, even the lyrics are something that slip by quickly, but it doesn’t feel rushed.
The most touching song, and the most touching part of the story – at least to me – is ‘Fiddler’s Farewell’. Even without knowing the story behind it, it’s a rather sad song, already turned sad using the intro. The music and the lyrics fit perfectly, as well as the pace of the song. It’s soft compared to the remainder of the album, but that doesn’t make this a horrible song, or something not fitting to Avatar. Instead, I believe that this song is one of the best of the album.
The next song truly picks up the pace again. The guitar play during the intro of ‘One More Hill’ is something which reminds me of ‘Let it Burn’, and immediately I believe that this song is a great one. Though the guitar riff reminded me of one of their older riffs, everything else is completely different. Once again the music, the vocals and the lyrics fit perfectly. The chorus is something in which Johannes’ vocals continue to impress me. Simply brilliant!
Another song which is different and unique is the song ‘Black Waters’. The eerie ambiance truly fits the piece, as well as the chapter in the story. What makes it unique is that it’s something they haven’t done yet on other albums, as the song is rather slow, but still dark. It still has an Avatar vibe to it, yet it’s something new. Truly a surprise to hear on the album, and not a bad one at all!
From an eerie tune we move on to a more uplifting tune, ‘Night Never Ending’. It’s a song which makes me wants to dance more so than headbang to it, however I wouldn’t say it’s not possible. The chanting during the chorus is something I expect to become a big thing when this song would be played live. It truly is a tune with a more ‘happier’ vibe to it than the previous song. The music is more cheerful, as well as the melody. It quickly makes this a pleasant piece to listen to.
The showdown of the story is portrayed in the track ‘Pray The Sun Away’, in which the Owl and the Eagle meet again. The song portrays the aggression perfectly, which is also shown in the story. The vocals sound a lot more aggressive than the previous song, which gives us a perfect ambiance when it comes to the showdown. However, it’s not too aggressive, not something that I would call ‘too much’. No, it’s ‘just right’!
‘When The Snow Lies Red’ is a tune I truly enjoy, however I had to listen to it twice before I could truly say that. Not because it’s a bad song or something, but simply because of the contrast within the song. The chorus is soft and clean, slow and beautiful, while the remainder of the song is a lot heavier. It’s what makes this song great, I would say, as the words within the chorus are truly heartfelt, something which touched me, even before I had read the chapter of the fable which this song features in.
The song which comes after is ‘Raven Wine’, once again something different, however the music nicely moves into this tune from the last. The vocals are a lot more creepy and eerie than in the previous song, and a lot less touching. Nevertheless it’s a brilliant track, something which once again perfectly portrays the ambiance as told in the fable. As a stand alone track, it works perfectly as well, however I again would say this is not among my favorites just yet.
The last track is simply a beautiful one. ‘Sky Burial’ begins by repeating the verse of the intro. The music is moving, starting slow, but truly taking me on a journey. When I listen to the song, I want to close my eyes, letting it move me. Most of it is instrumental, in which pipe organs, bells and a choir appears, yet it fits the song and fits the ambiance. It truly is a track fitting as the last song of the concept album, and the ending to the fable, concluding both a beautiful story and a magnificent album, a masterpiece added to the collection.
To complete this review, I have nothing but good words for this album. It’s brilliant, not only the songs, but the story which comes with it as well. The lyrics are brilliant, the music is brilliant, the vocals are brilliant. Every songs fits the story which it tries to tell, but is amazing on its own as well. Avatar has tried something different, and in my opinion, it has worked brilliantly. A concept album is either a hit or a miss, but in the case of Avatar’s ‘Feathers & Flesh’, it was a perfect hit, a bull’s eye! I am a complete fan of this album, and will have it on repeat for weeks for sure!