A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Avatar

It’s hard to believe that “Black Waltz” is Avatar’s fourth release. Of course as is the norm these days for me, they are another band from Sweden and the famous Gothenburg melodic death metal scene. It looks like my love affair with Sweden continues. Of course, no one can touch my favourite band, which is the mighty “Evergrey”.

I was interested to check this band out after the guys from Five Finger Death Punch mentioned in an interview that Avatar’s new album is doing the rounds while they are on tour and that it is influencing them in the riff department.

The best way to describe their music is like a circus freakshow. Even one of their songs is titled “Smells Like A Freakshow”. Like Blowsight, Avatar has just so many elements in their music.

Industrial rhythms (like Rammstein) – check

Old Time Rock N Roll boogie – check

Swedish melodic death metal scene (like In Flames) – check

Twisted evil persona’s (like Marilyn Manson) – check

Hyperactive metal (like System of A Down) – check

Modern Metal elements (like Disturbed) – check

Technical Metal elements (like Meshuggah, Sikth) – check

Melodic, arena sized choruses – check

And that is what I got from listening to Black Waltz. A bizarre, melodic, psychotic freakshow.

They started out as a traditional melodic death metal band back in 2001. Since then they have tweaked their sound up to something very unique. Vocalist Johannes Eckerström (the Clown), growls his way through verses and when the choruses come, he turns on the melody.

“Paint Me Red” is about a girl hurting inside and pictures suicide. “Smells Like A Freakshow” is about standing up for yourself and not letting people get you down because they think you are an oddball or a freak. Other favourites include “In Napalm”, “Let It Burn” and “Torn Apart.” Seriously that section from 3.43; it’s like Enya/Enigma with a gothic metal touch. If anyone claims that part doesn’t get their attention they are lying.

So I went on Spotify to see how the band rates there.

So all the above songs except “In Napalm” are in the Top 10 of songs streamed the most.

“Paint Me Red” has 126,338 streams.

“Let It Burn” is the champion at 630,427 streams.

“Torn Apart” has 259,870 streams.

“Smells Like A Freakshow” has 229,755 streams.

We are all looking for greatness. We all want to share what we love. The biggest strength of the album is how it is able to be experimental, yet feel perfectly designed.

That is how you triumph today. You need to be experimental and spontaneous, however it needs to feel cohesive. The Top 40 is all about committee writers and generic songs. When an artist comes from left field, the Top 40 is shocked to its core.

The world today has people paying to get their story spread. Anyone heard the recent viral sensation called “Batkid”. It turns out that viral sensation had a lot of help from some paid friends. Read the story yourself. It was manufactured.

http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2013/11/22/Batkid-Brand-112213.aspx

There is always someone ready to take someone’s money, however what does all of it really do for an artists’ career and what does it do for an artists’ longevity. Manufactured superstars do not have a long shelf life.

Hell, even Bob Seger knew that when he wrote the words to “Old Time Rock N Roll”.

“Today’s music aint got the same soul, I love my old time rock n roll.”

Robb Flynn is doing wonders with his General Journals. It is working for him, and it is engaging his fan base. It doesn’t mean that it will work for every artist however artists need to play in order to win.

That is what Avatar encompasses for me. An eagerness to play and try out some new moves. Like all game winners, it is those moves that come from left field that end up winning the game.

So now that everybody is watching, what will Avatar do?

It comes down to the music. That is what builds careers. Today being an artist means that you need to be creating constantly, building an audience and holding it.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

Blowsight

Nikki Sixx is a fan and he endorsed the band on his Sixx Sense Radio show. Celebrity endorsements in other genres would normally see the endorsed act get some serious traction. However the very divisive metal and rock communities fail to pay the same attention to celebrity endorsements like other genres.

Lorde broke through because of an endorsement. Credit Sean Fanning. I got into the band Avatar because Zoltan Bathory endorsed them during the “American Capitalist” tour. Endorsements from our heroes makes us pay attention. However in the end musicians endorse little. Google “musicians endorsing musicians” and you don’t really see any list that Google can recommend. However you see a lot of pages on musicians that HAVE endorsements with manufacturers.

Anyway, someone who is famous said that Blowsight are great. So the band gets a look. Now it is up to them to capitalise on it. Bands don’t get a lot of chances in the music business. They need to deliver when they do get the chance. And it is always about that one song. If the song is okay, kiss that chance goodbye. And that brings me to Blowsight.

First YouTube. The official video clip for “This Pain” is sitting at 28,651 views. The official video clip for “Hit On The Radio” is sitting at 16,874 views. The official video clip for “Days Of Rain” is sitting at 72,837 views. Hardly earth shattering numbers, especially since “Hit On The Radio” is talked up as “the song”.

However their cover version of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” is sitting at 120,231 views on one user channel and 55,918 on another user channel for a combined view of 176,149. Their cover of Britney Spears “Toxic” is sitting at 119,072 views on a different user channel. So for two cover songs, the view counts total 295,551. There is a fan base there for sure that can be monetized.

However the two most viewed YouTube videos are on user channels and not on the official Blowsight channel. Actually there is no Blowsight channel. The official videos mentioned previously are on the Fastball Music Label channel. This is a big mistake on their part.

Spotify has the following list as today;
1,272,112 streams for “Bandit For Life”
1,031,547 streams for “Poker Face”
430,068 streams for “The Simple Art (of Making You Mine)
357,917 streams for “Toxic”
266,551 streams for “I Wish You 666”
143,881 streams for “Invisible Ink”
60,108 streams for “Hit On The Radio”
50,681 streams for “It’s Me You’re Looking For”
49,634 streams for “Through These Eyes”
32,553 streams for “Back Where We Belong”

To put into context the million dollar stream figures for the songs “Bandit For Life” and “Poker Face”. Dream Theater is a world-renowned and Grammy nominated band and their song “On The Backs Of Angels” has 1,205,759 streams. Blowsight is more or less a small-scale Swedish based band.

Remember the best artists of the Sixties and Seventies became famous because of cover songs. Look at Jimi Hendrix. “Hey Joe” and “All Along The Watchtower” come to mind immediately. Linda Ronstadt’s fame came because she took other peoples forgotten songs and made them hers. Led Zeppelin even covered songs and called them their own.

Blowsight – Destination Terrorville

It was late in the afternoon at work, my head was fried and then “Destination Terrorville” filled my ears pace through my budget TDK ear pieces. What can I say, I stuck with TDK during the cassette wars, so their name still resonates with me.

For an album that was released in 2007 it sure sounds fresh and new. Of course, I wanted to know more, so I Googled them.

Of course they are from Sweden. Stockholm to be precise. Another Swedish act like Avatar, April Divine, Takida, Corroded and Days Of Jupiter trying to make a difference in the modern rock scene. The roots go back to 2001 and they released demos of their material on the internet and allowed listeners to freely “collect ‘em all!”. Hey what a great idea, competing with free to get some market share.

Back in 2007, front man Nik Red was known as Niklas Fagerstrom (of course a totally perfect rock star name and a scene from the movie “La Bamba” comes to mind right now. You know that scene where Richard Steven Valenzuela is told to shorten his name to Ritchie Valens, so that he has more mass appeal).

My first impression is that it is very reminiscent to two bands I dig. One is Evans Blue, the other is Breaking Benjamin.

They are a band that is able to take the best bits of the pop, rock, metal and punk worlds. In the end it still comes across as modern rock/metal. That is not a bad thing, however it is a very crowded marketplace and they need to be really great at what they do.

“All That Is Wrong” has got a sleazy middle eastern sounding bass line that is reminiscent to Tool “46 x 2” especially when the guitars crank in. The verses are punchy and syncopated and it makes up for the Chorus that falls flat.

“Over The Surface” has a very classical sounding arena rock chorus that is very reminiscent to the style of Finnish band “The Rasmus.”

“Red Eyes” is Alice In Chains/Soundgarden with a Euro Metal vibe. In the vocal delivery, you can hear the influence of Nick Hexum’s (311), Phil Anselmo (Pantera) and Layne Stayley/Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains)

“Bus Girl” has got this classical Beethoven vibe as well. It is a minor key song and you can feel the sadness fill the headspace. It is one of the best songs on the album and it was a bonus track.

“If You Were Me” is a great track, starting off with echoed natural harmonics but a ballad it is not. It has a lot of different genre hoping styles in it.

“How I Get What I Deserve” is canvassing Three Days Grace and any song off the “One-X” album.

“The Simple Art (Of Making You Mine)” sees Blowsight turning into Papa Roach.

All the songs are good, but not great.

Blowsight – Life And Death

This album was released in 2012 and it’s damn good. It has that anything goes attitude with some tasty shredding along the way.

“Sun Behind The Rain” has an unbelievable pop hook in the chorus and it comes from out of nowhere as the verses are syncopated head banging heavy rock.

“Through These Eyes” is a combination of all the Top 40 genres, ranging from pop rock merged with R&B and hip hop. Think Coldplay, Black Eye Peas, Red and Linkin Park.

“Surprise” has a tasty intro. It grabs you from the outset.

“Hit On A Radio” is a replacement for Good Charlotte since the band is on hiatus.

“This Pain” is melodic metal in a certain “In Flames” kind of way.

“Blackout Time” starts off like a Beyonce/Destiny Child song.

“Red Riding Blues” starts off with a cabaret swing feel.

“Dystopia Part II” starts off with a Muse feel and then it enters Avenged Sevenfold territory. The bio states that the song is “the off­spring of Queen’s “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” mating with “November Rain” by Guns N Roses”.

“It’s Me You’re Looking For” is an energized cross between Avatar, Rammstein and Volbeat.

“Back Where We Belong” is System of A Down on adrenaline.

Singer Nick Red has stated that the band’s focus is “to break down the bar­riers by bringing dif­ferent genres to­gether whose fans would openly fight each other out in the streets”.

So can they break down the doors to the large U.S market?

Why am I talking about them when I am being critical?

Yes they can and I believe in them. I believe in what they are trying to do and that is important.

“Sun Behind The Rain” is the star of the show.

Blowsight needs to get out of the old school thinking, which is to release an ALBUM. The album ideology was built for a different time. This was a time when people waited for radio to play in a “new” single years after the album was released. That worked when albums had gated releases. These days the whole slab is available for free on the very day it comes out.

Do artists seriously believe that people will decide to purchase their albums 12 months later just because they liked a few songs when it came out?

That was the old gated system, where if the artists delivered enough singles, it would convert those who were unsure to financially commit. However the new game is to constantly release music so that the audience will be continually engaged and committed.

Black Sabbath released an album that got a bit of traction out of curiosity, then disappeared. It looks like all the people wanted was the tour.

Avenged Sevenfold had the album hit of the summer and are now following it up with an animated series and a mobile game.

Bon Jovi released an album, but all the people wanted was the tour. The album stiffed, however the tour was the highest grossing tour for 2013.

Dream Theater didn’t really have the material for a follow up album to “A Dramatic Turn Of Events” and the album disappeared from the conversation. They should be back in the studio right now, recording cover songs, some originals and some instrumentals. Kiss your solo albums goodbye and focus on Dream Theater.

Blowsight are going to lock themselves away to record another album. Then what.

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