This past Friday, the Burton Cummings Theatre was set ablaze with a mesmerizing display of musical prowess and theatricality. Avatar, the Sweedish heavy metal band known for their unique blend of metal genres and theatrical stage presence headlined a monster show with openers A Native Howl! And Orbit Culture. The concert was a thrilling journey through heavy metal, folk metal and progressive rock, leaving the local crowd in awe of the musical display on stage.
The evening kicked off with the energetic performance of A Native Howl, a band hailing from Detroit, known for their distinctive style combining bluegrass, folk, and metal in a genre they described as ‘thrash-grass’. The band’s fusion of acoustic instruments with roaring electric guitars created an atmosphere that was both unconventional and captivating. The band’s enthusiasm and instrumental prowess were on full display as they seamlessly switched between banjos, mandolins, and electric guitars. Lead vocalist and banjo player Alex Holycross’s powerful vocals resonated through the venue, drawing the audience into their unique musical world. A Native Howl’s performance was met with an enthusiastic response from the crowd, who were visibly impressed by their versatility and stage presence. By the end of their set, they had successfully warmed up the audience and set the stage for what was to come.
Next up, Orbit Culture, a Swedish melodic death metal band, took the stage, delivering a sonic assault that left the audience in awe. Their aggressive and technically impressive performance was a stark contrast to A Native Howl’s folk-infused set, showcasing the diversity of the metal genre. Orbit Culture’s setlist was a relentless barrage of heavy riffs, thunderous drumming, and guttural vocals. Guitarist and vocalist Niklas Karlsson’s growling vocals and scorching guitar solos were a highlight of their performance. The lighting and visual effects during Orbit Culture’s set added to the intensity of their music, creating a dark and immersive atmosphere. The audience responded with headbanging and mosh pits, fully embracing the aggressive energy of the band.
As the anticipation reached its peak, the stage was set for Avatar’s grand entrance. The curtains dropped, revealing a stage adorned with elaborate props, including a towering castle backdrop. The band members, dressed in their signature circus-inspired attire, made a dramatic entrance, led by their enigmatic frontman, Johannes Eckerström.
They kicked off their performance with “Dance Devil Dance,” instantly captivating the audience with their charismatic presence and infectious energy. Johannes Eckerström’s theatricality was a sight to behold. He engaged with the audience, pulling them into the band’s dark and whimsical world. His vocal range was on full display as he seamlessly transitioned between melodic singing and aggressive growls. The band’s musicianship was top-notch, with guitarist Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby, bassist Henrik Sandelin, and drummer John Alfredsson delivering flawless performances. Their tight rhythm section provided a solid foundation for the intricate guitar work and captivating melodies.
Throughout the show, Avatar’s commitment to storytelling and theatrics was evident. They transformed the stage into a dark carnival, complete with props and lighting effects that enhanced the overall experience. Songs like “Bloody Angel” and “A statue of the King” were accompanied by visuals that brought their macabre lyrics to life.
As the night drew to a close, Avatar delivered an encore featuring “Hail the Apocalypse,” leaving the audience with a final dose of adrenaline and excitement. The concert had been a rollercoaster ride of emotions, from the folk-infused opening act to the relentless aggression of Orbit Culture, and finally, the theatrical extravaganza that was Avatar’s performance.