Under The Influence #63: Vesuvian on “Black Waltz” by Avatar!

Swedish Avant-garde Metallers Avatar are a band who have some incredible ideas… And some really unhinged ones. Back in 2012 the band recorded their fourth studio record “Black Waltz” and when it came to shooting a music video for the title track, the makeup artist gave frontman Johannes Eckerström the now infamous Clown Face that he wears, opening his inner Pandora’s box. As he put it “… Something clicked… seeing that face, it awakened something that really wasn’t there before; or was but was well hidden… Suddenly the music got its face.”.  The album was recorded with producer Tobias Lindell, while guitarist Simon Andersson exited stage left and was replaced by Tim Öhrström before giving rise to the bands first US tour…

RJ Mitchell from Vesuvian comments: “In the mid-2010’s I was very much riding the wave listening to and being in Proggy/ Djent bands that were basically every band at that time, but after a few I really wanted something a bit different from the status quo that had become my musical pallet. And after close to a year of Spotify telling me, I should listen to this band Avatar, which at my own expense I avoided based solely on seeing their band photo I assumed they were just some hokey gimmick band. Though around the time their song Bloody angel came out, I finally gave it a try and oh your god did that song hook me right away!  And as the album, Bloody Angel was on (Hail the apocalypse) had yet to fully come out I picked up a copy of their then latest album “The Black Waltz”. I was completely blown away from end to end! Their sound was so unique to anything I was listening to at the time. From the approach to drumming, the guitar work, be it their interesting approach to riffs, leads, and solos, down to the overall guitar tone, (which even has a country twang on a few of their songs if you can believe it). And as a vocalist myself I was and still am in utter awe of singer Johannes Eckerström’s mastery of the craft and just overall insane range, this man did a vocal decathlon and then some on this album to put it lightly. This all blended so well with the odd take they have on melodic death metal, which the fact that their roots are in Melo death is most apparent in songs like “Let Us Die” and “Blod” but overall in this absolute rollercoaster ride of an album those are only a few stops on the way! 

To say this album is dripping in this creepy darkness of an atmosphere would be accurate to say but overall one must listen to really get it! On songs like “Torn Apart” and “Ready For The Ride” kind of puts one’s gut into a state most would only know when being chased around a forest by a mad man with an ax! Then there are songs that go even deeper, I swear the only way to describe songs like “Napalm”, “The Black Waltz” and “One Touch” would be to compare it to an oppressive atmosphere of that of the original three silent hill games, I swear you could put “Napalm” in one of those and no one would be able to tell it was anything other than the intended soundtrack. I did mention some oddly country twang in the guitars in a few songs, which the way the guitars and the background sounds of harmonica and other and other instruments you don’t want to hear while wandering the swamps of Louisiana in the songs “Let it burn” and “Use Your tongue” give an almost deliverance vibe to the overall songs! Outside of the creep factors, there are the breaths of air from the oppressive atmospheres in two of the songs, which in the overall presentation and lyrical content are just as creepy though the overall atmosphere is lifted and feel light-hearted compared to the rest! Smells Like A Freak Show” has one of the most catchy drum beats I have ever heard, to the point when I find myself tapping my fingers it is usually that beat even to this day. Then there is the oddball of the album, but overall one of my favorites called “Paint Me Red” which is oddly reminiscent of a traditional first wave of American metalcore vibe to it, which in this overly weird super creative album, it’s like they took the time to show the listener that even with all this they can write an absolute metalcore banger on top of it! So to say the least, I love this album very much and super credit it with the fact that I am in a band like Vesuvian, it is VERY safe to say with no Black Waltz there would be no Vesuvian. Upon my first listen of it, I got into contact with my multi-instrumentalist friend Rider, to start a new band inspired by the ideas of this album, which eventually became the band that became Vesuvian. Needless to say, if you read this far, I don’t have to tell you this, but I think it is an overall classic metal album that everyone should give a listen to at least once in their life!”

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