Sweden’s Avatar was formed in 2001 by frontman Johannes Eckerström and drummer John Alfredsson. This week the duo are in New York City doing press for the band’s up coming fifth studio effort, “Hail the Apocalypse” due out May 13th on E1 Music. Eckerström took time to chat with The Examiner and Metal Nation Radio about the new record, guitarist Tim Öhrström‘s impact on the band, working with Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Adrenaline Mob, Pop Evil), and recording live in the studio.
Avatar began its life as a melodic death metal band but in 2011 the band had hit the wall. When they began the process of creating their breakout album, “Black Waltz” (2012) they were not sure if they should even continue, and according to Eckerström decided to make the album they wanted to make, without constraint. This proved a pivotal point for the band who saw its sound evolve into a darker, more groove-oriented style that set them apart from their contemporaries. It marked the end of the band’s partnership with guitarist Simon Andersson, and the entrance of longtime friend and guitarist Tim Öhrström who joined Eckerström, Alfredsson, Jonas Jarlsby (guitar) and Henrik Sandelin (bass).
During the making of the “Black Waltz” video, Eckerström donned the clown make-up and persona for the first time, and he stated, that’s when it all clicked and came together–a new era for Avatar was born. “Black Waltz” spawned three other videos and hits with “Let It Burn”, “Smells Like a Freakshow” and “Torn Apart”. This led to their first ever U.S. tour in support of Sevendust and Lacuna Coil, as well as some headline dates. This week the band will announce a new U.S. tour which will again feature support and headline slots.
The band recorded its new album, “Hail the Apocalypse” live in the studio with producer Tobias Lindell in Thailand, which Eckerström said made a huge difference on the record. The mixing was done by Jay Ruston, and Johannes said he made the band sound better than ever before. The debut single will be the title cut, which releases March 17 and will be accompanied by a new video. According to Eckerström, new guitarist Tim Öhrström is primarily responsible for the title track, and he calls the song’s main riff something unlike anything he’s heard before.