Dance Devil Dance

Dance Devil Dance

“Metal has lost touch with the devil.” So says Avatar vocalist Johannes Eckerström when discussing the band’s ninth album. “I’m speaking purely musically—not so much lyrically.” The Swedish metal stars, whose work runs a dizzying gamut from death metal to alternative rock, have a point to make with Dance Devil Dance. “Heavy metal is ultimately a subgenre of rock ’n’ roll, and rock ’n’ roll is dance music,” the singer tells Apple Music. “Now, of course, there are a million ways of doing metal—which is the beauty of it—but I feel like a lot of the time, people forget to make their metal rock.” With that, Eckerström and his bandmates have set out to resurrect metal’s elusive groove. “To make something rock, you need a groove,” he says. “You need a solid rhythm section making some noise and enough in sync that you want to move your hips to it. And that’s true whether you are in a circle pit or slow-dancing. So that’s the train of thought here—having grooves that really connect with your body.” Below, he comments on some key tracks from the album. “Dance Devil Dance” “As far as title tracks go for albums, this might be our most clearly intended mission statement. Heavy metal is rock ’n’ roll, and rock ’n’ roll is dance music. There's no reason why a metal rhythm section shouldn't make you want to move your hips as much as a punk one or a soul one or a reggae one. As far as the devil part, I’m having fun with the symbolism in a way that probably pisses off both sides—religious people and people who feel some affinity for Satan.” “Chimp Mosh Pit” “The chimps in the song are two characters in one. You have the actual animal that is being used for testing and those kinds of things. When you hear about such powerful primates running amok and doing something to a human keeper, I struggle to sympathize with the human in most of those settings, and I have tremendous respect for the animal. Then you have the fact that we are also primates and closely related to chimps. If you look at the song, you find that humans are sometimes in the place of the chimps.” “Valley of Disease” “I was stumbling around this one all the way up to the finish line, but it became an excellent track when everything came together. [Guitarist] Jonas [Jarlsby] had that main riff and the electronic parts of the song forever, but the verse riff changed a million times before we found this. It’s funny because it’s so close to what the main riff is, which is kind of the thing you want to do with a song like this. You want to Black Sabbath it, trust the riffs and go where the song tells you to go. But it can take forever to dig out that specific little change in groove that makes sense.” “On the Beach” “This one, to me, is a bit like our Sepultura song. We usually lean more into closed hi-hats, keeping it tight together when we want to be as groovy as possible. We're not a funk group, but we do like that way of creating a tight groove. Here, the groove is created by letting it all loose. There’s a lot of drums, a lot of cymbals, a lot of noise laid on top of that main riff. It’s a bit of an homage to ‘Refuse/Resist’ and things like that. Every time we write an album, there’s always that week where I get really high on Faith No More, and I think you can hear that as well.” “Do You Feel in Control?” “It’s fair to say this is one of the more extreme songs of the album. As a band, we reference Queen as much as we reference The Beatles as much as we reference Obituary. But if you go back to what our fingers were doing when we were becoming Avatar, it was death metal like Cannibal Corpse and At The Gates. I feel some of our music could be described as ‘death ’n’ roll’ if that term was not already coined—and rightfully so—to describe Entombed’s music. But in a way, this song is creating a marriage between every crazy thing happening on this album.” “Gotta Wanna Riot” “Lyrically, this is one of the grimmer songs on the album, but it's a blatantly over-the-top take on people being very desperate. You’ve got the guy building the bomb in the basement and what he's going to do with that, but then you have the guy who works in the morgue and to save on food costs, he starts eating his clients—but with language that is a bit too light to talk about those awful things, which makes it particularly awful, which makes it all the more fun. Ultimately, the song is about completely losing your shit out of desperation, but also embracing that state of mind.” “The Dirt I'm Buried In” “This ended up being a song that became very, very special to me. There's always one song on every album that has been seven years in the making, or sometimes more—parts of this song span a whole decade. It has this irresistible clean guitar lick, disco beats, and an anthemic chorus. You kind of struggle with letting a song just be what it wants to be sometimes. Then it became very emotionally significant, and we can already tell from reactions to it that it has become very significant for a lot of other people as well. I’m glad we set the baby bird free.” “Clouds Dipped in Chrome” “The first couple of bars of this show why old-school death metal is the best when you have the right sound, and that being primitive is often the most brutal thing you can do. I mean, I like more technical stuff in death metal too, but many times it turns too mechanical. I think death metal is served well when you’re pretty sure that all the guys in the band have bad breath. And this riff has terrible breath in the best possible way.” “Violence No Matter What” (with Lzzy Hale) “Once the guitars were sent to me and I started to noodle around with some vocals, it took about two seconds for it to turn into a duet without knowing with whom or how or which or what. But the idea of someone singing this together with us came right away, and Lzzy Hale was a very immediate choice. We have toured a bit with Halestorm, and I think she’s one of the greatest voices of our time. The five of us can create a lot within Avatar, but none of us is a talented woman. So that in itself just adds something to the sausage party. I think she enjoyed singing this, and we enjoyed the result of it.”

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