Avatarium are poetry in motion – albeit heavy, beefy, metal poetry with whirlwind hair motions, but poetry in motion nonetheless. An album of opposing themes, Hurricanes And Halos is a lovely contradiction on words both in its title and its themes, all with a depth more beauteous than you’d expect from the Swedish metal heavyweights. “I think Avatarium is about nights and shadows I would say,” says guitarist Marcus Jidell.
“That’s what we do in music; we try and blend the heavy and the dark with the bright and tender. The moon could be an acoustic guitar then the whole band comes in like thunder – Avatarium has been about that since the start.”
Jidell couldn’t discuss Avatarium more tenderly. He knows how to relay their sound with an equal measure of care, like nurturing a child, and herald the wrath of metal that comes with a balance of heavy guitars and delicate ballads with a pivotal fierceness. Opposing characteristics but the sound of the Stockholm group is one they simply couldn’t ignore when it called. “We’re interested in the dark sides of the mind, going in to the dark corners, picking out the dark skeletons from the wardrobe, you can understand them,” says Jidell.
“We all have dark and light inside us. If you deny you have the darkness inside of you it can become scarier than if you look upon it and understand it to get rid of it.”
In Hurricanes And Halos Avatarium explore the natural division that occurs in a person, music their prose, battling demons through self-discovery and getting lost in the sound. “Music,” Jidell says, “Has always been a way of growing as a person. I always try to get back to music to try and understand myself.” In terms of growth, Avatarium, only together for five years, have already done so much.
“One of the things is we’ve always been about is doing what we want and playing music from our hearts, so to speak – the intention was to make an album, maybe we’ll sell 500 copies, make the music that we like, that’s how it started. More attention from magazines, more fans, and that of course amazing, something I can never dream of, but we always keep on doing what we started and the new album is about being honest and true to the music we love and try to do the best music we possibly can without looking at what other people are doing. We just want to find our own way, our own path. When you find something that works so good like this then, of course, we want to continue. To me, it’s been a great journey thus far.”
Taking journeys, experiencing change, Avatarium undertook their first international performance in February of this year, stepping out of Europe and into the Americas for a welcome and exciting adventure. “You never know what to expect when you go overseas,” says Jidell. “I think for all of us it was a very cool experience, to be able to play for people from both the Americas. Two shows on a ship, the audience was so loving and really… understood, what it is we are trying to do.
“Every time we are live it seems like people get it when they see us. They understand what we are about. I’m happy we have the same affect when we are overseas.”
A profound poet and evidently eloquent, these journeys of self-discovery extended for Jidell as he undertook production duties for Avatarium on this release. Not an easy feat to try and separate yourself from being the musician and the man in control in the production booth but Jidell had a vision, and every position was all relative. “I’ve been having a clear wish on the way I’ve been wanting this album to sound and I think we achieved it. But, I think one thing might be that a good thing with being a producer and a musician, a big part of being a producer is to make everyone feel comfortable in the rehearsing room, to make everybody perform the best, to feel confident and also have fun.
“Because many times when people are going through studios, they get stressed and nervous, and stress and nervous is not good if you’re gonna perform your best ever. It’s a lot of psychological I would say. I know the guys in the band, I know their weakness and their strengths so I think it was actually very easy this time – but being producer for Avatarium is unlike when we are touring, playing live, talking about a performance after a show, it’s a forth going process – it’s not just when we are in the studio, we talk about what we can use in a next album, all these small kind of things. Being a producer suits me for Avatarium because it’s an ongoing process, all the time.”
Jidell took the production reins because the band were having a hard time of it finding a producer that could understand the Avatarium vision in Sweden and really, the choice in Jidell to produce worked out for Avatarium musically and Jidell personally. “A lot of people [producers] are learn from the book style,” he says, “But for me, a producer creates new stuff, things you haven’t heard before to be innovative so to speak. My only experience was of people who were a little bit scared, ‘oh you can’t do it like that, it’s not how you’re supposed to do it’, and to me it’s like, ‘well, why not? It sounds good, let’s do it.’”
Even in undertaking production duties, Jidell somehow manages to make the task sound beautiful. “I’m not a technician, I know how I want it to sound and I don’t care how I do it but I know when it’s good. I really follow my heart and I think that’s maybe what the band liked the way I produced. If it feels good, it is good. If it sounds good, it is good. It is as simple as that.
“Some people give you an explanation on how it’s good – they’ve got to feel it, they’ve got to hear it. It’s also hard because you need to be in contact with yourself and have faith in your own musicality and artistry.”