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Swedish metal band hits LR on inaugural U.S. tour

Submitted by Jacob Ellerbee on February 28, 2013 – 12:06 pmOne Comment

Guitarist Jonas Jarlsby and vocalist Johannes Eckerström presented their avant-garde metal act, Avatar, to a sold-out crowd at The Revolution Music Room in Little Rock on Feb. 17. Their new album, "Black Waltz," hit number 25 on the charts in Sweden. Photo by Jacob Ellerbee

Whenever a band is playing on American soil for the first time, there are certain things they must do. Johannes Eckerström, vocalist of the Swedish metal band Avatar, said his band has a go-to-source for the American experience.

“Everything that’s featured in a South Park episode, basically, we want to see,” Eckerström said. “We rarely have time to do some real touristing, but you know, we get to do this: Oh Taco Bell? We don’t have Taco Bell at home! Hooters? We don’t have Hooters at home! And we had to see the Walmart.”

This is Avatar’s first time playing in America, but the band has already won over countless fans in being the opening act for Sevendust and Lacuna Coil. Not only has the band won over concert-goers, but they’ve captivated the likes of Sevendust and its road crew, too.

“[Sevendust] sound checked on the first show we’re supposed to play with them and we’re standing, waiting on our turn and also waiting to say hi for the first time,” Eckerström said. “Before we get to open our mouths, they come up and say ‘Hey dude! Avatar, we are so honored you’re on board. Love the album, man!’ and I’m like what?!”

“They’ve been super cool to us in so many ways and the crew has helped going way beyond the call of duty,” Eckerström said. “We’re having a blast with them and the parties are great.”

The band’s unique carnival-like spirit and their melodic metal-meets-rock n’ roll sound has been reeling in new fans and catching a few people off guard, surprising even the band members themselves.

“The reception and response we have been getting is all so over-the-top every night, so we’re having a blast,” “ Eckerström said. “We have been blown away by how blown away people have been by us.”

Avatar is touring in support of their new album, “Black Waltz.” It is the band’s fourth album overall, but their first album released in America. In crafting the new album, the band picked apart the song writing and went back to the basics.

“It was a very Black Sabbath-like principle in what we focused on in order to make good songs and that is the riff,” Eckerström said. “No riff is as good as its groove is.”

The album has spawned “Smells Like A Freak Show” as its lead single. The song has received regular play on Sirius XM’s Octane station and is currently rising up the active-rock radio charts on terrestrial FM radio. The song is best described as a Rob Zombie meets Marilyn Manson meets Ministry song on steroids. It’s a head nod-inducing track filled with incredible grooves, crashing cymbals and impressive guitar work that will encourage you to embrace your inner freak.

“It’s extra cool because at home our kind of  music doesn’t get any airplay at all or most of the time in most of the countries in Europe,” Eckerström said. “So it’s strange when someone says ‘Hey, you’re rising up radio charts,’ and we’re like wait, like Madonna? Like how does that work? So, it’s awesome.”

“It’s always a top priority for us to do an album that doesn’t sound exactly like the last one and also to not always end up sounding like our own idols,”Eckerström said.

Besides technical death metal and melodic death metal, Eckerström said common interests in classic metal bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne brought the guys together to form Avatar.

These classic bands have helped to shape Avatar, but they are certainly blazing a trail of their own.

“We wanted Avatar to be more than a sound,” Eckerström said. “It’s supposed to be also sight, smell, feeling- you know, we want to mess with all senses.”

The band is giving concert goers a complete experience that will be sure to win them over. They are hoping their positive and up-beat attitude will carry them for the remainder of their first trek around the U.S.

Avatar already has plans to split off and headline some of their own shows after their commitments with Sevendust and Lacuna Coil have been satisfied.

“We’ll headline a bit across the country and then we’ll go home,” Eckerström said. “We’re working on a European tour and definitely working on coming back here.”

Avatar is comprised of guitarists Jonas Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström, bassist Henrik Sandelin, drummer John Alfredsson and Eckerström.


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