Avatar – Hail the Apocalypse Tour Review & Interview w/ Johannes Eckerström

I wouldn’t have wanted to start my 2016 season any other way than covering the Avatar concert in San Antonio, Tx at Alamo City Music Hall. Now, if you had read my review for Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2015 you know my opinion on the venue. I haven’t seen Avatar in two years and regardless where they were performing at I would be there. Not only would I be watching their show and taking photos but I also had the opportunity to sit with Johannes Ekerström for an interview.  Watch the interview above to learn about the new album, writing process behind it, and learn of few things about Johannes himself.

IMG_0005The two opener bands on the tour, their music I hadn’t heard previously and for good reason. I learned the best way for myself to discover a band is in person and live at one of their shows. Similar to how Johannes described in our interview that in the days before streaming you would save up your allowance enough to buy juts one album. You hoped that what you heard through the demo stations in the music stores of the past, that the entire album would be as good. The same I feel applies when you stream a new artist and you dig the music but their performance may not live up to your expectations. If you share the same thought process I would like to hear about it. Make sure to leave a comment below!

IMG_0056The night kicked off with Saint Diablo. The four raging metal heads from Richmond, Va held nothing back in showing San Antonio how to have a good time at a metal show. The band reminds me of the early days of Nu Metal with the all black contacts like that worn famously by Wes Borland from Limp Bizkit. They performed songs from their 2015 album Devil Horns and Halos with a few from their self-titled album from 2012. Their set filled with heavy bass drums and dropped tuned riffs was the perfect combination to get a room filled of metal heads to go crazy in the pit. I found the use of English and Spanish language in a few of their tracks to be unique, not over done by any means.

IMG_0350Next, September Mourning graced the stage. The frontwoman September placed herself in the middle with a large cloak as her band mates took position near her. You have to appreciate the theatrics these bands create to entertain their fans. The attention to detail from the clothes they wear to the stage production for their set is fantastic.  I learned that night the band conception came from the creation of the storyline of September Mourning in comic book form. I enjoyed watching September interact with the fans and use the stage production as an extension of herself to captivate the audience.

IMG_0641How can I describe Avatar live? Easy, it’s heavy metal! Their music may have a touch of a dark carnival theme it but at the core. It is heavy metal music. Johannes said it himself; “the foundation for what makes good metal is pretty simple. You need a good riff and you need a good groove for that riff. Then you need something that makes you want to throw your fist in the air.” The great thing about watching these guys live is if you dig listening to their albums at home they sound just as good live, along with great stage presence to go with it.  The lights dim to pitch black for a few minutes then flash on to reveal a box enclosure center of the stage. Their crew dressed as ushers but with a carnival costume design pull the box open. There you see Johannes standing from what I would guess 7-8 feet tall in a large costume covering the stage production. It almost looks alien due to his height and slender body frame. Avatar began with Queen of Blades which I haven’t heard before live and was a nice treat for the fans. When Tim and Jonas feed of each other’s energy emanated from their guitars makes for some great photos. Just as the band explodes into the next song Johannes jumps off a platform and out of the costume covering the production. Lights flare up, the crowd goes nuts jumping up and down with their fists in the air. Song after song the energy in the room never dies out. The clean guitar riff from Let It Burn emanates and echoes in the music hall. Henrik’s melody for Murderer felt through the bass speakers. The drums clashing like thunder by John during Let Us Die.  The whole time the guys headbang with such ferocity that it has me curious how they stand their ground. I’ve tried headbanging like them and I always end up with my ass on the floor. You don’t go to an Avatar show to just stand around aimlessly holding up your phone hoping to take a good photo or video. You go to an Avatar show to throw your fists in the air among your heavy metal brothers and sisters and wake up the next day with a sore neck at work.

[ P H O T O  G A L L E R Y ]

Photographs taken on January 31st, 2016 at Alamo City Music Hall in San Antonio, Texas

Disclaimer: All photographs are copyright Clark Terrell Photography and cannot be used/cropped/printed without the consent of the owner.
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