Swedish metal/hard rock outfit tour in support of new album Avatar Country
Sweden’s Avatar recently took over Corona Theatre on Notre-Dame Ouest street in Montreal. Armed with punishing songs and vocal bullets, as well as opening invaders Inspector Cluzo, and noise-punk duo ‘68, attendees sure were rocked on the night of Sept. 10.
The Gothenburg-based band’s aforementioned takeover was not only a metaphor for their venture from Scandinavia. Their most recent album, Avatar Country, is a concept release based on a medieval-themed land dominated by a noble kingdom, ruled by The King.
In conjunction with this North American tour, The King, who appears onstage in the form of lead singer Johannes Eckerström, once saved a dry, destitute, and uninhabitable piece of land with the incessant heartbeat of rock and roll. The long-standing tale describes a horse-rider troop who scoured the Earth far and wide in search of a land to call home.
Upon arriving at a group of starving settlers, one horse-rider produced an electric guitar, and strummed a long, bone-vibrating note, which summoned a crash of thunder and lightning. This spell caused nearby land to be infinitely fertile, and henceforth the guitarist was named The King by the now-saved settlers. This is Avatar Country, and The King has arrived in Montreal.
Avatar’s music is crafted for the stage and not for the studio, which is undoubtedly apparent if you’ve ever been to one of their shows. Unsurprisingly, this played out in real time in the Theatre Corona. Emerging dressed in black colonial garb accented with gold highlights, attendees were immediately consumed in Avatar Country as the band began their first song.
While the elaborate costumes were a nice touch, Avatar brought a slew of other stage props to make for a cohesive vibe. From the huge electric flashing band logo which spanned stage-right to stage-left with ease, to the various flags and banners strewn about, I had no difficulty transporting myself to the mythical world of Avatar Country.
The band recently released a live album, The King Live in Paris, to critical acclaim. Lead singer Eckerström stated that he was happy with the result of the release but, ultimately, “Every live show should be worthy of a live recording,” unabashedly citing Deep Purple’s infamous album Made in Japan as inspiration. This sentence resonates within me, especially after seeing The King live in performance, as his claim materialized in front of the audience that night. The energy was unsurpassed once Avatar was present.
Although the group’s sound is hard to define due to the excessive variance between album tracks, they blend elements of groove metal, black metal, melodic death metal, and even country music. One minute the listener is indulged in proper headbanger material, while in another they are subjected to the mellow forces of folk interludes. This translated extremely well to a live setting, as there is an inherent sonic variance present at all times. This ensures that the heavy and melodic portions both hit hard in their own right with a healthy balance between the two.
“The essence of metal music to me is that it needs to be a physical genre,” Eckerström said about the success of live music. “Hence the volume, hence the speed, technical level on many things. It can be slow, simple, a bunch of things. That makes it physical, and our performance needs to be physical as well. When performing metal, you need those moments of being out of breath, it’s a very visceral, physical thing.”
Photos by Cecilia Piga