On October 28th, 2018 Avatar, a Swedish heavy metal band, brought their exciting live act to The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC while on tour with American heavy metal band, Trivium, on the Sin and Sentence Tour. Avatar is a band that I’ve been trying to catch live for nearly two years now, and when I heard they were coming to Vancouver, even if it was just as an opening act, I didn’t even think twice to buy the tickets.
Before I gush over how amazing Avatar’s set was, I really want to expand more on the band itself, in hopes of recruiting some of you to Avatar Country. As mentioned previously, they are a Swedish band formed in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2001. The band: Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby (guitar), John Alfredsson (drums), Johannes Eckerström (lead vocals), Henrik Sandelin (bass & backing vocals & Tim Öhrström (guitar and backing vocals), has since released seven studio albums, their most recent album was dropped earlier this year under the title of Avatar Country.
On May 13, 2016, the band released their album Feathers & Flesh, the album awarded the band in June of 2017 with the Breakthrough Band Award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods award show. In the following year, in may of 2017, the band hit international success, as well as mainstream rock success with their song “New Land” which peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart. However, it was 5 years before that when things really started to heat up for their band. In January of 2012, the Album Black Waltz was released in Europe, which was also the birth of the bands now very well-known aesthetic that involves “clowns” and “carnival”; since then it was a known- fact that Avatar was not just another Heavy Metal band.
The band Avatar started their musical journey as a melodic death metal band, then gradually morphed into a smooth balance between avant-garde metal and groove metal; unlike their homeland friends, Ghost, who is without a doubt Hard Rock, not metal. Not that genre classification even matters in the quality of the music, but when overtly comparing the two bands, which happens a lot due to the fact they are both bands that heavily rely on their appearance and aesthetic to capture their audience, as well the fact both bands call Sweden home. I think it’s an important point to make that……they are not similar in music; just similar in appearance (even that is a stretch, really).
So, it’s safe to say that this band, Avatar, is slowly but surely getting their well-deserved credit in the metal scene, but what makes them so good? Well for one, they are definitely a band that people that aren’t even into heavy metal can get into. Despite their “scary” appearance, Avatar is for anyone that can admire well thought out concept albums, brilliant storylines and talented musicians. For example, I took a close friend of mine, who is not into metal or heavy metal music in the slightest, to the show on this past Sunday and the first thing she said to me after their performance was “holy shit, I’m adding them to my playlist”
My preferred genre of music, at the new age of 23, is heavy metal and most of the sub-genres that follow that stream. However, before attending the Avatar/Trivium show on the 28th of October, I had yet to actually go to a metal show. Back in January, I saw Stone Sour, you know.. Corey Taylor of Slipknot’s first band.. But that wasn’t really a metal show, more hard rock than anything. Therefore, last week’s Avatar/Trivium show was my first true experience of not only seeing both bands live but as well as a heavy metal show.
And, man, what a f***ing great experience that was! despite the short amount of time they were on stage, they owned the crowd and gave us all the hit songs we were waiting for:
Avatar Set List at Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC (10/28/2018)
Let It Burn
Get in Line
The Eagle Has Landed
Paint Me Red
Smells Like a Freakshow
A Statue of the King
Hail the Apocalypse
Opening with Murderer was the PERFECT way to introduce themselves to the world (even though a huge chunk, dare I even say the majority of the people at the show, were there to see Avatar live); it’s loud, it’s upbeat and exciting and gets you headbanging in seconds, even my best friend (the non-metalhead) was head-banging like crazy! I honestly instantly got goosebumps, watching the band all headbang with the crowd, everyone was instantly on the same wave-length and any troubles you had before the show were temporarily on pause.
The band gets your attention in the most smooth way I’ve ever seen from a performer, they’re just so cool to watch! The best part is that you can feel their excitement, they actually enjoy being on stage and you can tell their goal is to genuinely entertain you for however long they are on stage. From their outfits to their makeup, to their melodic songs, it pulls you in from the second they’re on stage and you’re immediately hooked.
Avatar reminded me of everything I love about live music and live shows in general; the electric vibes that you get from being around 1,000+ people who also live for music. Now, as I mentioned earlier, that was my first real heavy metal show and I’m not going to lie, I was nervous, but boOY was I wrong to be worried. That was the most friendly, positive, beautiful concert atmosphere I’ve been in, in a long time. There was no competition, no exclusivity, no assholery (??); just love of music.
My heart fell so full when I looked around me, some people moshing, some people head banging, bro’s with their arms wrapped around each other and singing to one another.. it was beautiful. THAT what a concert is supposed to be. Avatar thrived off that positive energy, you could tell, they would look into the crowd and have the biggest smiles on their faces while jamming the hell out.
The show flowed so well together, with every song and in between every song, the crowd interaction was high; so you never left the buzz you got during their songs, you were just wanting more and more from them; eager to see which other song they’ll play and what other theatrics they’ll put on. As mentioned earlier, Avatar uses concept albums to put their to together, currently, they are promoting Avatar Country, that has this amazing storyline involving Avatar Country and their King Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby, the band actually just raised nearly $200,000 to create their Avatar Country movie that will, in detail, show the full storyline of the album,… I mean, how bloody cool is that?!
In February, I’ll be flying to Stockholm to see the band Ghost for their “home shows”; after a few days in Sweden, I was planning on travelling to Finland after to see all HIM related things, and it’s recently come to my attention that Avatar will actually be playing a show in Helsinki the same day I hope to be there, like it was meant to be! I’ll definitely be there, I’m itching to see a full Avatar show with them as the headlining act!
My experience of seeing Avatar has taught me that Sweden not only has a better quality of life than the majority of the world but also produces kick-ass musicians; reinstated my love of heavy metal music, especially metal shows AND just made me love them more than I did for the past 2 years. I cannot WAIT to see them again!
Until next time interwebs🕸
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