Blackgaze 101: An Interview with Avast

Hailing from Norway, Avast is a very difficult band to place in any specific genre. While they might simply seem to be blackgaze/black metal on the surface, their roots are deep in the punk and hardcore genres. Regardless of which genre you place them in, there is no doubting the immense skill that is present on their upcoming album ‘Mother Culture’. Releasing on October 26th via Dark Essence Records, the debut album is a concept album that examines the myths upon which modern civilization is based, based on the philosophical novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. ‘Mother Culture’ is first class post-black metal, with a touch of Norwegian black metal in the vein of Deafheaven, Alcest, or Red Apollo. I had the chance to chat with the band about the upcoming album, the concept of their album and many other topics which you can read below. Be sure to support the guys by giving them a like on Facebook and preordering ‘Mother Culture’ using one of the following links:

Bandcamp or Physicals

Going into this record, one might expect to hear straightforward blackgaze, but when you fully dive into the album, you discover how its concept and execution are what separate Avast from their contemporaries. This truly is one of the best debut albums that I have heard in years, and I truly urge you to experience this album and appreciate the insane amount of hard work these guys have put into it.

Where did the name of the band end up coming from?

To be honest, we just wanted something short and simple and very “un-black metal”. We came up with lots of terrible suggestions for a name, and Avast just had that right ring to it. Plus, it’s an old nautical interjection that simply means “stop”.

What made you want to form a band in the first place? What made you decide to stick to the post-black metal genre?

Hans Olaf (bass and vocals) and I were playing in this other band, Agenda, when Avast first started out, but the two other members of Agenda had recently moved away to study, so we weren’t very active at that time. We wanted to keep playing and making music together, so Hans Olaf and I talked about forming a new band where we’d take some of Agenda’s influences, like From Ashes Rise, Tragedy and Fall of Efrafa, into this new band, while adding more ambience and replacing d-beats with blast-beats. Ørjan joined on drums, and Avast came into existence. We recently recruited a new drummer, Stian, because Ørjan decided to switch to guitar. I guess we decided to stick to the post-black genre because it felt like a natural progression from what we had previously done in Agenda.

What kind of lyrical themes or meanings behind some of the songs?

Well, our upcoming record Mother Culture is lyrically inspired by Daniel Quinn’s philosophical novel Ishmael, which explores some of the myths driving modern human civilization. One of these myths is the notion that man is the result of divine interventions and that we, in our existence, are almost divine and eternal beings. Consequently, we treat other beings and the Earth as inferior to us, but we are all just the result of chemical coincidences, and our existence basically means nothing in a cosmic perspective.

Blackgaze is becoming more and more popular as time goes by. What do you feel separates you from your contemporaries?

I would have to say our punk rock and hardcore influences. If you listen closely, you will hear that there is a lot of punk and hardcore in our music.

What were some of your most listened to albums while writing/recording the album?

Probably too many to list, but I would definitely say Transilvanian Hunger by Darkthrone, Young Mountain by This Will Destroy You, and the self-titled first record by Archivist.

Who did you work with as a producer? What kind of experience did you have with them?

Espen Håland (NAG) helped us to record the drums, and we did the rest ourselves. Ørjan, who played drums on the record, is actually an excellent studio engineer, so the overall experience was mostly positive, since we didn’t have to rush the recording process. However, when you’re doing it yourself, like we did, you end up spending a hell of a lot more time getting things done. We started recording the drums in early 2017, and the final vocal tracks were recorded in the spring of 2018. So yeah, it has been a long and slow process, but we are very happy with the results.

What kind of experience are you having with Dark Essence putting the release out and supporting you guys as opposed to having to do it yourselves?

The people at Dark Essence have been great. I don’t know what else to say, really. We have done lots of DIY releases with previous bands, and we have just ended up losing shitloads of money and sitting on endless boxes of unsold records that will probably never ever feel the touch from the stylus of a record player. We didn’t want to end up in this position with Mother Culture, so we are extremely thankful for everything Dark Essence has done for us so far.

What’s your favorite touring memory or experience?

So far, we have only been on one tour with Avast, back in the fall of 2016, when we toured Denmark, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands with Swedish crust band Myteri. I cannot speak for the entire band, but my favorite memory from that tour has to be the show we did at this place called Haus Mainusch in Mainz, Germany. There weren’t that many people at the show, but the atmosphere was just so damn good. Plus, there was a campfire outside. Good times.

Any plans to tour to support the release?

We have no touring plans at the moment, but we are doing some shows in Norway during the autumn and winter. The Inferno Festival in Oslo in April is one of them.

Anything you’d like to tell your current or future fan base?

Thank you so much for checking out our music, and don’t forget to listen to Mother Culture when it’s released on October 26th . We hope you’ll enjoy every second of it.