avatar hysteria

AVATAR // Freaks Unleashed (And Loving It)

Avatar is a metal band, right? Are you sure? Expectations? Leave them behind, friend.

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In a 170 Russell teeming with mohawked punk rockers and corpsepainted goths, you’d be forgiven if you missed that punk rock/metalhead peace summit that Avatar brokered at some point. For the uninitiated, we’re wondering how could they please everyone? We shall soon find out.

avatar hysteria

Geelong’s very own Teramaze took to the stage, all pomp and pageantry. Singer Nathan Peachey dresses for the job he wants as well as the the job he has. All black military corset and cape? Well, that’s a uniform for a operatic metal singer with a dark edge, not too far removed from the OTT brilliance that is Kamelot. Why they aren’t mentioned in the same breath more often is beyond me. Infused with expressive leadwork and a sense of dark fantasy, they had an already healthy crowd lapping up their sound, even as Peachey drops to his knees in lamentation. Harmonies echoed throughout, thanks to the well-polished pipes on guitarist Dean Wells. He could be the god damn singer by himself, he sounded so great.

teramaze hysteria

A few minutes passed between Teramaze leaving and Avatar literally marching out on stage and standing to attention. A tech furnished the guitarists with their axes; for they were about to rock, they were saluted. A blur of black and red, our impish ringleader Johannes Eckerstrom takes to the stage in jester face, top hat and waistcoat, brandishing a cane and leading an invisible parade. It was like a circus, the sideshows, and the carnival games all wrapped up inside one man.

These guys bounce from fun, manic, silly, and mind-blowing, sometimes in the blink of an eye. Expectations? Forget them!

Taking a swig from his jerry can (a legit jerry can) and we’re mesmerised by their first rapturous cut, Dance Devil Dance. This guy really is something else. He can go toe to toe with the best tenors in the biz, growl like he’s on day release from hell, and nutcrunch so high King Diamond asks him for tips. He marches around the stage like a rock n’ roll commander, pumping out calls and returns so effortlessly other bands ought to take notes.

avatar hysteria

avatar hysteria

The guitarwork on offer is no pantomime – it’s nothing short of breathtaking. The twin attack of Tim Ohrstrom and Kungen Jarlsby trading fretblazing licks seems so effortless, making it all the more incredible. During industrial-strength cuts like Valley of Disease and On The Beach (the first time they’ve played it, so they say) Johannes stands motionless in black and white as red chaos swirls around us all. Johannes brings the house down no matter what he’s doing – lovingly addressing us as proud outcasts and freaks, or disappearing into the crowd to make balloon animals and play trombone. Yes, these are things that actually happened and blew our collective minds.

avatar hysteria

avatar hysteria

They absolutely nail every style they encounter, such as Balkan disco hit Puppet Show, Rammstein adjacent three-step Black Waltz, or A Statue of the King, which had a guitarist emerge in full regalia (crown and all) leaving Yngwie Malmsteen fingerprints all over it. If you wanted a funky boogie, just wait for The Dirt I’m Buried In. If you don’t get down with your bad self during this one, you have no soul.

There’s nothing they can’t do. They can horror punk with the best of them in their crowd-pleasing, foundation-rattling cut Smells Like a Freakshow, and Johannes can move us with his voice and piano at the top of a sombre Tower. Most bands follow one mood for an hour and forty-five minutes; these guys bounce from fun, manic, silly, and mind-blowing, sometimes in the blink of an eye. Expectations? Forget them!

avatar hysteria

avatar hysteria

avatar hysteria

Avatar, for all their youthful energy, are unbelievably 22 years old. It’s a crime we never cottoned on to their masterful blend of theatrical rock, bone-crushing riffs, and saucy vaudeville trimmings until now. It’s non-stop entertainment from beginning to end. Get a ticket; you will be satisfied.

Catch AVATAR at the following dates:

Friday, August 25 // 170 Russell // Melbourne w/TERAMAZE
Saturday, August 26 // The Metro // Sydney w/Our Last Enemy
Sunday, August 27 // The Triffid // Brisbane w/KRAVE

Tickets available here.


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