Earlier this year, Sweden’s Avatar released Hunter Gatherer, their most ambitious and exciting album to date. The record is a new peak for the band, who have been on a steady ascent over the past decade with their unique mixture of death metal, power metal, nu-metal, and a myriad of other genres. But how did Avatar get to this point? To elaborate, the band have released Scaling the Mountain, a new documentary outlining the creation of Hunter Gatherer.
“In the beginning it was very simple: monkey see, monkey do,” says frontman Johannes Eckerström in the intro to the video. “Grow your hair, learn to tune a guitar, bang your head…that part actually never changed. We’re loud monkeys, screaming, scaling the mountain, hoping to get as loud as those before us. We’re metalheads, and it wasn’t just a phase. Still, you get older, and things get more complicated…If we are to earn our time on the mountain top, our screams need to add something to the conversation.”
Check out Scaling the Mountain below:
Becoming their own specific beast has been a hard road for Eckerström, including the use of his signature harlequin make-up. For Johannes, getting to the point where he was confident enough to go onstage in his true face took some work.
“Doing it onstage for the first time was weird, because I’d go onstage in this huge leather coat and executioner’s hood for the first song — and then for the second song, I’d march out looking like I did in the music video,” the vocalist told The Pit earlier this year. “People laughed, but it wasn’t mean-spirited in hindsight. It wasn’t that they were pointing and laughing, it was, ‘Ho ho! What the fuck is this?’ And I felt like a fucking clown at first! But after the first show, we did for another show, then two more shows, then I started figuring it out. I still figure it out, show by show, to this day.
“With Hunter Gatherer, it almost becomes war paint — but then again, it always sort of was. Painting your face can mean many things. The obvious idea is that it makes you a clown, but it turns out that there’s so much more to it than that.”
Avatar’s new album Hunter Gatherer is out now on eOne.
Words by Chris Krovatin