The modus operandi of Comets On Fire has always been the creation of volcanic energy through all-encompassing guitar combustion. Though Avatar sees the group branching out into piano-driven ballads (“Lucifer’s Memory,” “Hatched Upon the Age”), the band is still at its best when their songs are surging forth on a typhoon of overdriven guitars. Kick Out The Jams-era MC5 is the most pronounced influence on the relentless propulsion of “Jaybird” and “Holy Teeth,” though the skittering rhythms and intricate undercurrents of these songs owe as much to John McLaughlin’s playing with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Tony Williams Lifetime. For a band that has made a mission out of creating walls of sound in perpetual climax, a piece like “Dogwood Rust” still manages to up the ante. As the sound pours from the speakers in proportions that are astoundingly — even comically — huge, the music still feels like a hilarious celebration of hairy-chest rock ’n’ roll even as it threatens to incinerate itself.

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