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Have Avatar just written 2016's freakiest metal album?

Wolves, owls, ravens and, er, grasshoppers. It's all here.

'Sit down by the fire, I’ll tell you a spell. An ancient old tale of travels through Hell… We’ll learn far too little and still leave unwise, just jesters in tears when the stone walls arise.' Open Avatar’s new book – yes, book – and these spellbinding words will stir to life as the first notes of its accompanying album, Feathers & Flesh, dance dramatically, tempting you to leave the daily humdrum and run away with the heavy metal circus. They have a tale to tell, the latest step on a journey that, despite the band being in its 10th year, you somehow feel the young Swedes have only just begun. Onstage, frontman Johannes Eckerström makes a big impression, crackling like a bolt of electricity, his maniacal grin plastered across a jester’s face that transfixes you with piercing eyes. Waiting for his call, we don’t know what to expect.

“How are you? I’m doing very well,” he purrs enigmatically, a hint of a croak creasing the edges of his Scandinavian baritone. “I’m sitting in Berlin feeling interesting and famous like you get to pretend you are when doing press, rubbing the ego the right way!” We can’t help but enquire if he’s in full circus garb.

“No, I get to be my old lame self here!” he chuckles, self-deprecatingly. Slowly, we get to know the warmly sincere and intelligent man behind a mask which outwardly reflects an exuberant inner persona. “That is pretty much it,” Johannes confirms, “which is why it struck such a nerve with us. We’d finally found the proper visualisation of the music and what we were about.”

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