13 years on from their first studio album, Avatar bring us their first ever live album The King Live In Paris featuring 11 tracks from their latest 4 albums - Hail The Apocalypse, Avatar Country, Feathers and Flesh and Black Waltz.
Avatar are known for their signature blend of hard-to-pigeonhole, avant-garde metal which is reflected in both their grandiose aesthetic and eclectic music. The band use a pseudo-cyrillic font for their band name, wear outfits resembling circus ringmasters or the nobility of a bygone era, and have a frontman (Johannes Eckerström) who is seemingly always pictured with his mouth agape and eyes crazily wide. Their music is a unique amalgamation of the harsh vocals and heavy instrumentation of extreme metal with dramatic clean vocals; varying from the operatic fervour of Rob Halford of Judas Priest and Serj Tankian of System Of A Down to the sinister low croak of Marilyn Manson, as well as groovy, playful riffs which switch between fast and slow. There are even some bluesy, southern rock inspired riffs, for example on the songs ‘The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country’ and ‘Let It Burn’.
Because of their dramatic and unique nature it is perhaps unsurprising that Avatar’s music translates so well into a live context – theatrical, eccentric music requires a theatrical, eccentric introduction and delivery. The interplay between the band and the audience, between and during songs, is delivered charismatically and humorously, generating an excited response from the crowd.
The performance quality is high with vocals full of energy, plenty of screaming pinch harmonics from guitarists Jonas "Kungen" Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström, audible groovy bass-lines (Henrik Sandelin) and crashing drums (John Alfredsson). Pre-recorded or sampled orchestral parts such as the sinister fairground/circus like outro after ‘Hail the Apocalypse’ help to add atmosphere and hype up the crowd.
The selection of songs is upbeat and anthem-packed making this album an enticing introduction to Avatar’s material. Their material already acts as a good gateway to more extreme, harsh-vocal centric metal as their mix of harsh and clean vocals is done in a catchy, groovy and fun way. Thus meaning even someone only into metal with clean singing could easily get into them. Their choice of setlist amplifies this accessibility as there are plenty of moments where you can find yourself singing along to the chorus even if it’s the first time you’ve heard the song.
Overall this is a solid live album which captures the energy and feeling of the concert and works effectively as an advertisement for Avatar’s concerts as it leaves you wanting to see them live.
Recommended for fans of: Turisas, Ghost, System of a Down, Marilyn Manson, Maximum the Hormone, Rammstein, Powerwolf