Avatar

support The Defiled + Eldrimner
author PP date 13/12/14 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

Last I saw Avatar was when they opened for Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch at the arena-sized Falconer Salen last year. Their theatrical performance and pounding industrial rhythms mixed with melodeath riffs had me convinced straight away; turns out they were the best band on that bill by a mile that night. So here I am again at the much smaller BETA along with almost 150 others to witness the band's triumphant return to Denmark as what is probably the last time they'll be playing a stage this small. The show is almost sold out, and it is clear that people are here for Avatar and for Avatar only given how few people are in the room for the two supporting bands. Surprising to an extent, especially considering how entertaining The Defiled were at their Copenhell show last year.

Eldrimner

Eldrimner

First up is Eldrimner, who have entered stage with camouflage paint all over the face to emphasize their metal look. Otherwise, they are the odd man out tonight, with their djent-driven modern metal suggests they should probably be opening for Meshuggah who are playing next door instead, but they make it for even though they are by far the most complex and challenging band on the bill tonight. There are moments in their songs which hint at The Psyke Project style eerie darkness and blackened hardcore, which means their set is characterized by crushing heaviness and constant, neck-breaking head bangs from the whole band. The only deviant is their vocalist, who spends the majority of the set standing in a commanding stance in the middle of the stage with his deep, voluminous growls attempting to drench your soul in utter darkness at times. Kind of similar to BTBAM's Tommy Rogers if you've never seen them live. Other than that, not much is actually going on aside from the headbangs, most likely due to the perceived complexion of their music. There are a few moments of Misery Signals style polyrhythms and djent instrumentation in place that makes it difficult for their players to move around; it's a shame, because it's not very interesting to watch live in the long run despite being alright musically.

6

The Defiled

The Defiled

The Defiled are all about the entertainment, less about quality songwriting. That's why they enter the stage today triumphantly holding a Jägermeister bottle high up in the air as if to proclaim they're here to party. "We've been touring for two years now, we've grown to hate each other and love each other along the way". Tonight, it feels like the former, with their pompous keyboardist being visibly wasted on stage having one of the most awkward dynamics between his brother, the vocalist in between songs. The banter not only feels forced but also like the band are tired from being on tour for so long. "Apparently we skipped a couple of songs... what do you wanna play next?". It just feels so...disconnected, at least in the crowd's perspective. Their keyboardist is also the focal point of their show given how often he stands on his instrument, lifts it behind his neck to play it (yes, the whole keyboard), and all sorts of other extravagant moves to keep the crowd entertained. But as the set progresses, it all starts feeling too fake, too forced for this scribe to enjoy, mostly because it really looks like the band want to be anywhere else than on stage tonight, a stark contrast to their Copenhell set. With enough people in the room it also means most people can't even see all the antics of the keyboardist because the stage isn't high enough, so that dynamic is lost on most people standing away from the front. At the same time, the band's music draws parallels to Papa Roach back at their least inspiring records, so there's no help to fetch there either. In the end, The Defiled can play a much better show than tonight. That is, if they want to. Tonight, it felt like they didn't.

6

Avatar vocalist Johannes Eckerström

Avatar

In contrast, Avatar are playing on a totally different level straight from the get go as they open with the title track from "Hail The Apocalypse". Instantly engaged in spectacular headbanging, the scene transforms into a mesmerizing flow of hair as the synchronous circular flow of everyone on stage captures all of our attention. Singer Johannes Eckerström contrasts the metallic behaviour by being the freak show out of a Marilyn Manson video with his frightening gothic make up, which makes him appear like a murderous clown escaped from a mental institution. A fact fortified by his constant drinking from a gas canister and waving around his sceptre in a commanding fashion. We're truly watching a freak show, but it is built on great songwriting that takes the thumbing rhythms of industrial rock/metal (think Marilyn Manson) and mixes it with great twin guitar solos. "Should I speak Swedish, Danish or English?", Eckerström asks, before displaying yet another one of his crazy tongue out in the open smiles, opting for Swedish for most of the show. "Shall we dance?", he asks in a vicarious fashion, before proceeding to orchestrate the crowd's dance moves in the middle of the relentless circular headbangs on stage. Trust me on this one, the band looks absolutely crazy on stage, and when you add in the circus-like atmosphere present in many of their songs amidst the melodeath sections, you're in for a truly unique experience, that's for sure.

Avatar

Needless to say, the crowd is in a frenzy, reflecting what is happening on stage. "Bloody Angel" receives a sing along from the crowd, as does "Paint Me Red", this time a surprisingly loud one considering how deranged this band is musically. We then get a brief pause where the band tells us they just met someone from Turkey earlier who is here tonight, and has learned some lyrics in Swedish for a song that wasn't on their set list, but they decided to play it anyway in his honor. These lyrics are screamed in that fan's face up front, further fueling the fire that's driving the crowd crazy, creating one of the most enigmatic dynamics between a band and a crowd I've seen at BETA to date. Avatar continue to circular head bang in what can only be described as an extreme fashion, whilst Eckerström keeps orchestrating the crowd, drinking from his gas canister, and waving around his sceptre throughout the show. It feels like a crazy gothic rave towards the end, but unfortunately the last two or three songs drain some of the great energy we've been seeing in the room. Everyone is drenched in sweat though, so we're really only 'downgrading' to a rock solid rating from a show that for lengthy periods felt like an amazing set even to someone who doesn't regularly listen to Avatar's music. Still, count me in next time they're playing in Copenhagen. They were simply spectacular at times.

8

Photos by: Kenny Swan

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