Written by Jonathan Jung
FROM A VEHEMENT ATROCITY TO AUTONOMOUS REVOLUTION, NEW ALBUM 'HUNTER GATHERER' DIVES INTO THE MINDBLOWING ROOTS OF HUMANITY.
When it comes to the Swedish metal-band Avatar, you have no idea what they’re going to do next. Despite being in the industry for over 20 years they still manage to outdo themselves with every record and release unique and exciting music; Hunter Gatherer is no exception. The opening track, “Silence In The Age of Apes”, sets the heavy themes and tones that are prevalent throughout the entire record.
It’s very topical for such a bleak album released about current events. Avatar’s singer, Johannes Eckerström, took heavy inspiration from Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and expressed the dismay of how us humans progressed into the dread that we experience in today.
“There are a lot of lightbulb moments and it blows your mind repeatedly because of why we are and how we’re all connected,” says Eckerström. “It shows the connections between the scientific revolution, capitalism and imperialism. People like Darwin would not be able to do anything like draw turtles if someone in power did not gain money from it. Evolution wired us and we became optimized as ‘hunter gatherers.’ Us humans are complex and crazy creatures that can do some crazy shit. We are in a very tense era of history right now; where things might go really, really bad. The album deals with the journey that we’re going through, but we’re still the same hunter gatherer biologically speaking. We live so detached from that old world in a gilded cage of technology and urbanization. We have to look forward. It is a more urgent thing to do than ever. We are living in this cyberpunk dystopian future that Fear Factory warned us about 25 years ago. It’s here right now and we’re at this fork in the road. This is about what it means to be a hunter gatherer.”
Aside from their musical showmanship, Avatar has always been known for their hardworking and creative approaches to their music videos. With COVID happening, it forced confines on everyone to hit that same level of creativity with restraints.
“Initially we did an entirely different music video [for ‘Silence In The Age Of Apes’] but we had this idea that in hindsight is scary how well it fits with what is happening this year due to the pandemic,” Eckerström explains. “It would confront us with the reason if we had two weeks left to live. Two minutes you would call your mom, two years you carry on as normal, but two weeks? That’s a good question. We did a whole story with actors who dealt this in different ways [the imminent end of the world], but when it came to editing it wasn’t strong enough. We started over when the pandemic hit and since I live in Finland and the other guys are in Sweden I had to invent something at home. We had to re-film the entire thing and I had to do my part from my house. We have a really cool part that I’m singing through these polaroids and we would not have come up with that if we were together. I do not hate things with strict limitations. It pushes your creative boundaries.”
Releasing a record during a pandemic is unprecedented, but whenever it ends Eckerström promised: “prepare for us to tour the shit out of this album and I mean to really tour the shit out of it. Return to everywhere we’ve been, hit new places, and we kicked in the door with Latin and South America last year so we would love to play more festivals. We as a band can isolate ourselves pretty easily, but it has to be safe for our fans. We don’t want to ask the audience to be in close proximity and breathe heavily; it doesn’t seem like a fair thing to do.”
We can all hope that concerts happen again so everyone can experience the ecstasy that Avatar’s live show brings, but as for now, Eckerström requests that you all “ Wash your hands, wear a mask, and be patient. Also, avoid gyms, you can do your pushups at home.”
Hunter Gatherer is out everywhere now.