Avatar is not your ordinary metal band. Melding crushing melodic groove metal with humor and mysticism, Avatar creates something new and intriguing that breaks the mold. For the second performance of their epic 4-part “Avatar Ages” livestream event, dubbed “Illusions”, the band performed fan-voted tracks off their records Feathers and Flesh (2016) and Avatar Country (2018).
These feisty Swedes gave viewers an intimate performance that showcases aspects of their music and personality that may not have explored in past live shows. For a band that has built their brand upon elaborate stage shows and over-the-top surprises, this performance took an elegantly stripped-down approach to the Avatar world. While the sets may have been minimal and the music always took center stage, the bands’ humor and charm shined through in delightful fashion. Drummer John Alfredsson channeled his inner Monty Python between songs, showing us his best silly walks and trying out drum set after drum set before finding one that was just right. Guitarist Jonas Jarlsby, fondly known to Avatar fans as the King of Avatar Country, was given the royal treatment. This included a throne that that shoots fireworks and a piano rendition of the Avatar Country national anthem “Glory To Our King” as performed so eloquently by vocalist and frontman Johannes Eckerström.
Eckerström’s masterful storytelling was also on full display during the performance (as he literally read from the special edition picture book that was printed in conjunction with the release of “Feathers and Flesh”). Dancing like a man possessed and looking like a court jester from hell, Eckerström knows how to hold your attention from beginning to end. The beauty in his performance is his timing. Knowing when to be restrained, when to tease, when you pluck at your heartstrings. Each of the band members’ strengths came together to form a marvelous time of fun and chaos.
Having gotten into the band right before the “Feathers and Flesh” era, it was a real treat to hear some of the deeper cuts from that record like “When The Snow Lies Red” and “Night Never Ending.” A major highlight for me was the closer for the first half, “Raven Wine,” which featured Eckerström in a badass tribal-looking Raven outfit. The second half of the performance bid us welcome to Avatar Country, featuring fan favorites such as “Statue Of The King,” “The King Wants You,” and of course “The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country.” Overall, “Illusions” gets a solid 8/10 from me.
Be sure to catch Chapter 3 of Avatar Ages, titled “Age of Madness,” which will feature a fan-voted setlist from tracks off of “The Black Waltz” (2012) and “Hail The Apocalypse” (2014).