Despite the members of Avatar still being relatively young, the Gothenburg, Sweden based metal outfit has been plying their unique wares in the world of music for over twenty years now.
What may be potentially even more surprising is the fact that Avatar have continuously evolved record-to-record in the same vein as some of the most revered, cutting edge bands in all of heavy music, such as Tool and Deftones.
The aforementioned comparison may come off as unfair or even off kilter to some, however, this fact remains, Avatar is plain and simply that good.
Although there’s a myriad of positives that could easily be culled from the band’s early career efforts, most fans would likely point to 2012’s Black Waltz as the moment that the modern-day Avatar began to take shape.
Seeds of what fans see today when they listen to the band on record, or when they see the band live, also were planted on what is often considered their first true break through album, 2014’s, Hail the Apocalypse.
Specifically speaking, the track, Tower, foreshadowed the direction the band was setting course towards as it brilliantly and quite unexpectedly, showcased Johannes Eckerstrom‘s diverse vocal range.
Additionally, the song also proved that not only could Eckerstrom belt out clean vocals, his approach on Tower showed a clear maturation that proved to be more than a pleasant harbinger of things to come.
2016’s Feathers and Flesh saw Avatar take the next leap in their evolution as they took it upon themselves to craft an extremely complex concept record while at the same time, pushing the edge of their sonics in ways that would eventually allow them to birth what is probably their best full length record to date, 2018’s Avatar Country.
As the clocks have turned to 2021 Avatar now find themselves on the post-pandemic road supporting their latest record, Hunter Gatherer, which was released around this time last year.
This past weekend, the Swedish metal heroes brought all the pomp and circumstance they’re widely known for to Boston’s Big Night Live as they stopped in New England to unleash one of their frenetic live shows.
Beyond being sublime musicians, Avatar is, without question, one of the best live music acts on planet Earth at present.
The band has the uncanny ability to draw in even the most distracted fan, while also properly hypnotizing any soul in attendance that may already be transfixed by any and all things Avatar.
Showmanship, check. Show pacing, check. Extreme peaks and pleasant valleys that offer the concert attendee a transcendent back and forth musical journey throughout the duration of the entire performance, check.
Avatar’s show in Boston delivered on all these fronts and more, as the band once again delivered a live show that most fans will likely be talking about for weeks to come.
Instead of dropping Thor‘s hammer with one of their crushing numbers to open things up at Big Night Live, Avatar instead started things off in Boston on a much more quiet and intimate front.
Eckerstrom was joined on the darkly lit stage by his four metal brothers-in-arms as they kicked things off with a stripped down version of one of Hunter Gatherer‘s stand out tracks, Colossus.
The brilliance in this approach was that by going with a somewhat non-traditional start, Avatar was able to draw the Boston crowd that much further into their web of musical madness by simply choosing to do something different.
Following a beautifully brutal rendition of Silence in the Age of Apes, they segued into Bloody Angel, a stand-out track off of their 2018 metal masterpiece, Hail the Apocalypse.
What was truly unique about this particular moment of the show is that it served to launch the first of many sing-a-along’s that would organically occur throughout the duration of the performance. Metal shows have sing-a-along’s? Who knew.
This may come across as border lunacy to the uninitiated but there was something both uniquely cathartic and genuinely binding when two thousand metal heads screamed in unison “the blood on his your hands” up to the heavens and of course back up to Eckerstrom and his fellow bandmates.
Other highlights on the evening included rambuctious takes on fan favorites such as The Eagle has Landed, Paint me Red and the absolutely earth-shattering three song salvo that ended the band’s main set of A Statue of the King, The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country and Wormhole, the latter of which included probably the most colourfully pleasant light show any metal band has ever attempted to pull off in such an intimate venue setting.
It would be easy and borderline lazy to convey that the band’s encore, which came in the form of two of their most revered tracks, Smells Like a Freakshow and Hail the Apocalypse, as the stand-out moments from their time in Boston.
Kudos to Avatar for ending the night of incredible music on those two high notes. However, the biggest takeaway and by far and away the biggest surprise of the evening, ended up coming completely out of left field.
In what had to be perhaps a first for the band on tour, Eckerstrom towards the end of the band’s main set, jumped onto Big Night Live’s stage, sans his bandmates, to perform Gun, from 2020s, Hunter Gatherer.
The song not only showcased Eckerstrom’s diverse vocal range, its performance provided the audience in Boston with a quite and contemplative moment that deftly served to draw those in attendance that much further into the show in ways that most metal bands simply aren’t capable of replicating.
Soft piano, over a slow rumbling bass line echoed throughout the venue as stars and flickering light bounced off the video projectors surrounding Eckerstrom as he played solo, tucked away in the dimly lit back corner of the stage.
The song was beautiful, the moment nothing short of both breathtaking.
That right there is Avatar in a nutshell. As a band, they can make you feel a myriad of emotions while also making it seem as though you’re part of something much bigger than yourself, especially when you’ve been afforded the opportunity to see the band perform in a live setting mere inches from where you stand.
Avatar currently isn’t at the stage of their career where they can sell out 25,000 set arenas, and maybe they’ll never reach that status here in North America or even over in Europe.
However, one thing is more than abundantly clear. Avatar has earned the right to be called one of the most wildly entertaining live acts in the entire world of live music.
Should you dare to differ with this opinion, I challenge you to see one of the live shows on their current tour and get back to me.
Something tells me when we met again, you’ll be singing a different tune.
For all things Avatar, be sure to hit up the band’s socials or their main website at: https://avatarmetal.com/