Like old-timey carnival ringmasters, AVATAR invites miscreants, tattooed ladies, blue-collar workers, metalheads, rock fanatics and listeners of all stripes to their party. The theatrical metal-n'-roll vaudevillian visionaries have infiltrated Rock Radio and the hearts and minds of those thirsty for creative innovation, inescapable melodic hooks and a sense of dangerous revelry all wrapped up in deliciously subversive hit songs.
The eleven tracks on HAIL THE APOCALYPSE join a rich catalog filled with cred-building artistic peaks and commercial breakthroughs alike, following in the tradition of larger-than-life bands like Rammstein, System of a Down and Rob Zombie who have conquered the airwaves without sacrificing their brilliant uniqueness and unfettered expressionism. Working from the playbook of Alice Cooper, Kiss and like minded phantoms of rock, Avatar delivers a postmodern party, electrifying the mainstream and underground alike.
Produced by longtime collaborator and two-time Grammy nominee Tobias Lindell, mixed by Jay Ruston, and mastered by Paul Logus. Hail the Apocalypse serves as ample evidence why Avatar is welcomed at Download UK, Rock on the Range and on tour with rock radio hitmakers, like label mates Pop Evil.
"Bloody Angel" and "Hail the Apocalypse" are new anthems for the ages, precision heat-seeking missiles targeting a cultural landscape primed and ready for fresh songs to champion from a band with a giant persona to rally behind. Breaking into America on tour with Sevendust, conquering their native Europe in arenas with Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch, Avatar shocked the world with the Top 30 commercial rock radio success of "Smells Like a Freakshow" and "Let it Burn."
Nobody was more amazed when Avatar devilishly polluted the commercial airwaves with their last album, Black Waltz, than band cofounder Johannes Eckerström. "Sweden is a smaller country. In terms of airplay, there isn't much room for heavier stuff and we aren't typical radio material. So, to me, with all due respect, isn't radio where you go to hear Lady Gaga songs? To hear we were Top 30 in America, it was like, 'Say what?!'"
Avatar puts equal emphasis on their visual presentation, stage presence and overall creative coherence, giving fans more than a killer live show and hit songs. Avatar is a work of art.
Hail the Apocalypse was recorded live at Karma Sound Studios in Bang Saray, Thailand. Bands like Bullet For My Valentine have made records there, enveloped in a trippy/exotic locale not unlike Killing Joke making a record inside an Egyptian pyramid back in the day. The band then went on to Tobias Lindells' studio in Patong, also in Thailand to record vocals and guitar solos. The studio is located in a house owned by a horror movie buff that includes a swimming pool decorated like Castle Grayskull.
The plane ride over inspired an unexpected turn in the creation of Hail the Apocalypse. After they had become sufficiently buzzed from the plane's bar, the band synched up their video screens to take in "Sound City," Dave Grohl's documentary love letter to the famed studio where seminal albums from the likes of Nirvana, Metallica, and Slipknot were made.
"After the documentary was over, we looked at each other and said, 'We should totally record this album live.' We were planning to do it in a more modern way, track-by-track, to a click track. But we said, 'Screw it! Let's do this live, the old-fashioned studio way.'"
Avatar didn't see much sunlight while in Thailand, opting instead to put their collective nose to the grindstone and work hard on what has become a hard rock masterpiece.
"The band was in a room staring at each other instead of staring at the floor. It was a great experience. Our producer rents a house from a guy who is a big horror movie fanatic. So when I did my vocals, I had big statues of Leatherface and Predator starring me down. And then there was that skull fountain in the pool! It was the perfecting setting. Here we were in this tropical environment, and yet death was everywhere."
Black Waltz began a momentous climb for Avatar both in terms of their career and in terms of their evolving sound. Hail the Apocalypse follows suit, building on the strengths of the last album while blowing down the doors off even the highest of expectations.
"When we did that music video for the title track on the last album, that's where we came up with the face paint and everything around it," the band's frontman explains.
"Something really clicked on a much deeper plane than we expected when I got my face paint. I saw myself in the mirror and I was awakened. We've been riding on that ever since. It's hard to even put it into words. We've played together for ten years; we've started to evolve a certain groove together, while still rooted in extreme metal."
Avatar came together at a young age, wrapping their heads around the New Wave of Swedish Death Metal that surrounded them in their native country and sharpening their chops. In short order, the technical melodic death metal of Thoughts of No Tomorrow (2006) and the even more intense Schlacht (2007) gave way to the classic rock n' roll and traditional heavy metal style of their self-titled third album, which demonstrated Avatar's ability to craft catchy songs with memorable hooks was equal to their technical proficiency. The group toured with metal luminaries In Flames, Dark Tranquility and Helloween, among others, as they steadily built a profile in the worldwide underground.
The ensuing word of mouth success around Black Waltz brought an increasingly diverse swath of newcomers to Avatar's shows, as they toured the U.S. supporting gold-selling rockers Sevendust and fellow Europeans Lacuna Coil. That tour included the band's first ever casino gig. "We had always said, if we ever play in a casino, we are going to take the payment for the show and put it on red at the roulette table," Eckerström says, laughing. "We finally got an opportunity to do that and guess what? We actually won!"
The string of good fortune continues, as Avatar gears up to conquer the world with Hail the Apocalypse. The virtuoso side of their earliest rumblings remains intact, enhanced with momentous strength by songwriting chops, gigantic hooks and a sense of groove. Hail the Apocalypse is not only the best album in the Avatar catalog, it's one of the most diverse hard rock records of the modern age, catapulting Avatar above the pack.
Avatar's music is challenging, daring, but altogether captivating, boasting Charlie Chaplin's winking silent movie flair for the dramatic and Marilyn Manson's dark merging of the commercial and the macabre, but still rooted in heavy music for its own sake.
"We are doing something that I strongly feel is lacking," Eckerström says. "This is metal music made by metal heads for metal heads. It's honest, intense and full of integrity."