Avatar – Dance Devil Dance Tour
Formed by two kindred musical souls who realized that their band was holding them back, Avatar were born when John Alfredsson and Jonas Jarlsby decided that their then-current positions in Lost Soul were going nowhere, so they left and regrouped under their new moniker. Eventually, Alfredsson and Jarlsby would be introduced to Johannes Eckerström, and the core of Avatar would be in place. To round out the membership and roster, Henrik Sandelin and Simon Andersson joined the fold in 2003, just in time to record the band’s debut demo, Personal Observations. While gigging like mad to promote the band’s first calling card, Avatar stepped back into the studio to record their debut EP, 2004’s 4 Reasons to Die. Following the EP’s release, Avatar were given the opportunity to take their sound outside their native Sweden for the first time since the band’s 2001 inception. They next entered the studio to work on a debut full-length and scored a deal with Gain Records during the recording process. That album, Thoughts of No Tomorrow, was released in 2006 and followed by two European tours, one with Impaled Nazarene, the other with Evergrey. Their busy year was rounded out with two shows alongside original Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno.
Avatar had an equally momentous 2007. They started off the year as the opening act for major metal band Stone Sour, and finished it off with a new album in the shops. Schlacht, released in October of that year, was followed by a support slot on the 2008 Obituary tour. The group’s eponymous third studio album was released in 2009, and the next two years found Avatar hitting the tour circuit hard, including their first-ever U.S. jaunt. Arriving in 2012, the well-received Black Waltz peaked at the number 25 slot in their native Sweden, and 2014’s Hail the Apocalypse became the first Avatar outing to crack the Billboard 200. In 2016 the band issued its sixth studio long-player, Feathers & Flesh, a conceptual piece about an owl who declares war on the world. Their seventh, Avatar Country, arrived in early 2018. Produced by Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Anthrax, Steel Panther), the album featured the singles “A Statue of the King” and “The King Wants You,” as well as Avatar’s spin on the Swedish royal anthem “Glory to Our King.” The following year, the band released their first live outing, The King Live in Paris. 2020 found them returning to the studio once again with Jay Ruston to record their eighth album. The resulting Hunter Gatherer — which delivered a blast of melodic death metal — was issued toward the end of the year.
Veil of Maya
Underneath a maelstrom of polyrhythmic guitars, sweeping vocals, and shuddering beats, Veil of Maya encode a ponderous narrative at the core of their sixth full-length album, False Idol [Sumerian Records]. This time around, a captivating concept drives the quartet—Marc Okubo [guitar], Sam Applebaum [drums], Danny Hauser [bass], and Lukas Magyar [vocals].
“The whole album is told from a first-person perspective,” Lukas explains. “You’re following this character who’s not the nicest man. He rises to power though. You’ll have to listen in order to find out how it ends. The storyline is very dark.” “It felt more like we were making a movie or a TV series,” adds Marc. “Lukas actually had a storyboard idea that we talked about before even starting. It’s almost like we were providing the soundtrack in Veil of Maya’s template.”
Late 2016 saw the musicians head to Los Angeles in order to record what would become False Idol. Marc worked with producer Max Schad in one studio, while Lukas teamed with vocal producer Brandon Paddock in another. “Two studios working at the same time was a new approach for us,” continues Marc. “In the past, we completed all of the instrumentals for Lukas to marinate on. Everything was done by the time he joined the band. This is the first time we got to write with his voice in mind. Another change, he was writing on the spot. It brought a different energy and ended up really cool. Max made a big difference too.”
That difference stands out in Veil of Maya’s marked sonic evolution. Every element is amplified: it’s heavier, it’s more hypnotic, and it hits even harder. “The overall vibe is darker and heavier,” reveals Lukas. “with the story, the demeanor got pretty sinister. That’s an element that I don’t think anybody was expecting.” “We wanted to create something refreshing,” Lukas leaves off. “We didn’t recycle the same old thing. It’s a new beginning.” “I hope the record is something people want to go back to and study again,” concludes Marc. “It’s worth more than one listen.”
ORBIT CULTURE burst out of the underground scene with the release of 2020’s Nija album, which garnered worldwide critical acclaim from critics and metal fans alike. Their latest release, Shaman, sees them further expand upon their dynamic sound, developing a propulsive blend of metallic brilliance. While rooted in the classic Swedish metal genre paved by greats such as At The Gates, In Flames, and Meshuggah, they creatively expand upon it to create a more evolved, modernized sound that is simply undeniable. Shaman delivers on all fronts and showcases the band’s seamless efforts to effectively blend aggression, melody, and technicality.
With two tours recently completed opening up for IN FLAMES, both in the US and Europe, the band is now highly focused on getting their new album ‘Descent’ prepared for release in 2023.