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Avenger are one of the Black/Death Metal bands which seem to settle every release exactly on the fine line where it is impossible to categorize them as Black or Death Metal. I remember this great band from the Czech Republic from their early years when they released “Shadows of the Damned” . I think it was the "Top album of the issue" in an early issue of Misanthropic and I realized exactly the same above mentioned phenomena already on their first full-length.
Now they are back with “Feast of Anger – Joy of Despair” after 2 previous full-length records since “Shadows…” plus some live releases. My first impression was that they more turned into Death Metal than on their earlier releases, but after I listened to the album a few times I am not so sure about it anymore, it might be just the sound that became much more fat and compact. The title “Ritual of Wrath” for example reminds a lot to the good old Norwegian and eastern European old-school Black/Death Metal legends and after that “Unable” seems to be a real outstanding hymn. The first time I listened to this album I could not really connect it to the older Avenger material, but in the end the record seems to develop after a few times listening and gets better and better for each time you hear it and you will find more and more details and passages that are typical for earlier Avenger releases while listening, embedded in fat guitar riffings.
Compared to the earlier releases the music got somehow more compact and “full”, which makes the whole more atmospheric, it might be this "little Hypocrisy styled" atmosphere which first got me to think of Death Metal… Speaking about the lyrics, unfortunately only the titles are translated into English on this record, so what they deal about is hard to find out if you are not able to understand the Czech language (on the other hand I think it is right to have lyrics written in the language of the bands origin). They all seem to deal about Antichristian subjects and the fight against Christianity as on the previous releases.
All in all “Feast of Anger – Joy of Despair” is a very strong record, containing mighty Black/Death Metal. You will have to listen a few times to it to get all details into your mind and see the complete mightiness of this masterpiece, but then you will adore it!
They've really outdone themselves this time. I think that hiatus was just what Honza needed to bring Avenger to that next level. I got into them when I hear their album, "The Fall of..." and later on, through various connections I have, acquired their other two albums at the time. I saw how they had evolved and grown from "Shadows..." and I liked the progression they had made, but then "Godless" was a bit of a disappointment after hearing how they had come along. So then we don't hear much of anything out of the Avenger camp, until now...
This album takes that same dark, organic tone and feel that I described a while back on my review of "The Fall of..." and improves on it with more clarity, and a much stronger tone with more crunch to it, while still maintaining that dark, organic sound and feel. This gives the album more punch and drive than the previous ones did, and also makes it a little more harsh and abrasive, and a little less smooth. Imagine that "The Fall of..." was a moss covered rock. This album is a rough sandstone with very little moss.
Not only has the tone much improved, but so has the writing. The riffs are catchier while still clinging to those unique melodies, arpeggios, and styles that we're used to from Honza. Probably what any fan of Avenger will notice the most is Honza's vocals. They've gotten much more powerful than what they were on "Godless" and before. You might also notice some more atmosphere, thanks to the addition of the timpani here and there, along with that awesome interlude on "Hlasy deliria" (Voices of Delirium) that actually kind of puts you in a mood or feeling like you're delirious. They really nailed it this time.
I can only hope that this album brings them the success and recognition they've deserve and worked to hard to achieve. I recommend any fan of black/death metal to get this album. It's about the farthest you can get from the generic black/death plague that seems to be unending now, what with bands like Archgoat pumping out the same tired old material that's been done a million times before by others, and done much better might I add. Still, Avenger brings out a glimmer of hope for black/death with this release.