In contrast, Veil Of Maya (6) were a lot more melodic with their melancholic metalcore. This is a professional outfit that are technically super tight and extremely good at what they do. But this is metalcore by numbers. All the clichés are there, the heavy breakdowns, the switch between vocal styles etc, and it all just seems a bit sterile for me after the smack in the face from Mastiff. I found myself listening to bits here and there but zoning out more often than not. Not a bad set but not gripping either.
I was looking forward to the highlight of the evening though after listening to and reviewing Avatar's (10) brand new album Dance Devil Dance. This hard rocking bunch of troubadours from Sweden had previously passed me by, but when I started listening to the new album, I was keen to know and hear more, and more importantly, come and witness them perform in all their glory.
The theatrics start right from the get go, with the band appearing silhouetted behind curtains, with pulsating lights synced to the pounding drum intro. We dive straight into the new album material with the title track Dance Devil Dance being the anthemic opener for tonight's performance Eckerström materialises from behind a veil of dry ice, a manic ringmaster set to unleash a carnival of madness.
The crowd lap it up, Avatar fans are some of the most loyal and passionate of fans, they even have their own “country” with a passport - Avatar Land. This makes for a great atmosphere as they sing along to every song. But all this showmanship, pyros and flamboyancy are nothing if they’re not backed up by solid musicianship, and fortunately Avatar have that in bucket loads. Catchy choruses and hypnotic rhythm sections are combined with chunky riffs and sweeping arpeggios to create a show that keeps you transfixed from start to finish.
At the centre of it all is the devilishly wonderful Eckerström who is like the result of some mad scientists experiment that has merged the DNA of Jaz Coleman and Marilyn Manson. His energy is boundless and he delivers the songs with ease as he jumps around like a demented puppeteer
And we’re his puppets.
Surprisingly there were only four songs in the set from the new album, but the crowd aren’t worried about that when they are treated to an extensive back catalogue of favourites, especially the encore of Smells Like A Freakshow and Hail The Apocalypse
As gigs go this was one that has set the bar high for the rest of the year and I can see it being in my top 5.