September 29, 2015 Avatar Dazzle Revolution Music Hall Amityville, NY 9-17-15 w/ Gemini Syndrome & First Decree
Gothenburg, Sweden’s Avatar has been a band on the rise over the past couple of years. With a history that runs deep, fifteen years to be exact, the band has withstood a variety of ups and downs, only to craft their own unique style different than any other in Metal today. This was never more evident than with their fifth overall studio record in 2014, Hail the Apocalypse. Marking their first with new label eOne, it was also their first to be ranked in US charts, reaching peak positions in four categories, including 97th in US Billboard 200. Catching the attention of American Metal fans, the band has spent a generous amount of time touring the country in support of the new record and, in late August, began their Hail The Apocalypse headlining tour. Scheduled to pillage through the Midwest until the final date held on September 22nd in Virginia, the tour that included support from Gemini Syndrome and First Decree created a buzz immediately. While the mighty Huntress was initially included as part of the billing, sadly they had to withdrawn due to surgery healing complications for vocalist Jill Janus. Nonetheless, Avatar and company marched on, thus arriving on a normally sleepy Thursday night at Amityville Bar and Music Hall in Amityville, NY September 17th to rock a passionate group of fans.
Allowing some of Long Island’s talent a chance to shine, the opener included Season of The Ethereal and Halo to Havoc to fittingly warm up the stage. Thereafter, it became tome for Cheyenne, Wyoming’s First Decree. Fronted by the spirited Travis James (vocals/guitar) and backed by three brothers in Dane (guitar), Isaac (bass) and Zach (drums) Lopez-Smith, the talented foursome have made it their goal to spread their Hard Rock anthems worldwide. Coming together in 2012, the band did not take long to release their debut EP later that year. Less than a year later, their first full length album, Set in Stone, was released in August of 2013. Touring relentlessly to get have their music played for the masses, the band has enjoyed playing in front of hundreds of crowds over with no end in sight. Now, they are enjoying the release of their aptly named new album, This is Our Rise, ready to take stage with a vigor that would create the mood for the night.
Choosing to start off with a newer track, First Decree would open with their highly touted “Stop” to warm up the crowd. The group continued on with “Phoenix” before returning to their new album to showcase “Not Awake” and “Flesh and Bone.” As the band raised the energy with every track, the crowd followed suit. What started as curious spectators soon evolved into a frenzied mob as fans headbanged and moved along with each track. Choosing to finish their set with a sense of nostalgia, they concluded with their first hit single, “Lost in the Crowd.” Hard Rock fans should look out for First Decree. With plenty of tour dates still ahead, there are plenty of opportunities to see this up and coming band.
In an act of showmanship, drummer Brian Medina would be the first member of Gemini Syndrome to grace the stage, saluting the fans before perching on his drum throne. With light down and fans eager, the rest of Gemini Syndrome joined Medina on stage as they soaked up the crowd before diving into their set. Together with bassist Alessandro Paveri, vocalist Aaron Nordstrom (formerly of Otep fame), and touring guitarist Christopher Babbitt (formerly of Taking Dawn), Gemini Syndrome came together in 2011. Working hard and building a name for themselves within a short period of time, the band went from virtually unknown on to the precipice of Rock super-stardom. With the success of 2013’s debut album, Lux, the band gaining traction and reaching the masses in a big way after touring that including time supporting Five Finger Death Punch in arenas. With that said, Long Island was ready for Gemin Syndrome’s return to Revolution Bar & Music Hall for the first time in a year.
Opening with “Pleasure & Pain,” the band quickly geared up to have the fans invested in their set. Continuing with brand new track “Zugzwang” before returning to their hit album with the track “Resurrection,” the five men stood as invested in their crowd as the crowd was with them. “Mourning Star” brought the crowd even further into Gemini Syndrome’s web as fans took to moshing and jumping around. The band followed with “Basement” before showcasing their new single “Eternity” to the delight of fans who had been anxiously awaiting the new track. Closing with “Stardust,” fans of the band sang along with every word while newcomers were left in awe.
Offstage, Medina and his bandmates are one of the most humble groups of men you will meet in the industry. The group spent the rest of the night spending time genuinely thanking approaching fans after their set. Many members in the audience took their time to talk with the group and pose for photos. With Lux proving to be a steal at any purchase price, fans of Metal music need to look into the album. So, those who still have not heard Gemini Syndrome should do themselves a favor and check them out.
With two acts down, the bar was set high for the headlining act. With the stage set and the lights dimmed, the five Swedes that form Avatar made their way to the stage with faces painted, adorned in circus sideshow attire. With Amityville’s Revolution Bar full to the rafters with screaming fans, vocalist Johannes Eckerström, bassist Henrik Sandelin, drummer John Alfredsson, along with guitarists Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström took little time to blast into their first song with “Hail the Apocalypse.” As the last notes hit, Eckerström took to the microphone, screaming “Amityville! Amityville! Amityville!” before denouncing the town’s name and claiming fans were now residents of Avatar Country. Those in attendance would quickly go to learn that living in Avatar Country came with a catch: Johannes got to choose the game. That game must have been one involving the band unleashing their Metal mayhem on the Avatar Country crowd. If it was, Avatar Country’s newest inhabitants were clearly the winners.
Choosing to continue with “Death of Sound,” the crowd headbanged along as lights flickered and music blared. “Death of Sound” and an extended version of “Vultures” would next come to light, followed by “What I Don’t Know.” In between tracks, Johannes continued to rile up the crowd, commanding them to raise their devil horns in the name of the great Ozzy Osbourne. The band continued its relentless attack with “Bloody Angel,” “Let Us Die” and “Paint Me Red,” with fans jumping around and screaming along. “Torn Apart” would prove to raise the stakes, as Eckerström grabbed a gasoline can and drank its contents, mimicking a scene in the professional wrestling inspired music video to the same track. As he did, Kungen, Öhrström and Sandelin banged their heads while blistering through each track. Not to be left out, even Alfredsson would leave his drum set at times to get closer to the screaming fans.
Together, the five showed a stage presence that was deranged and yet hypnotic. Each song played a role in further exciting fans. Every action on stage garnered a worthy response. The crowd continued to lose themselves in the music as “Get in Line” did nothing to ground the fans back in reality. As the band played “Smells Like a Freakshow,” the crowd became more relentless than ever as Johannes powerfully swung his skull tipped cane in the air. The freak show had fully arrived and had taken over the Revolution Bar of Avatar Country.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and Avatar closed the show with favorite, “Tower.” As the song built to its first heavy hit, fans sung along with its opening. Being welcomed home, the crowd loudly screamed for each member of Avatar as they individually took center stage to take a bow before joining as a group for one last curtain call. Not to leave the fans so quickly, the five quickly joined the floor following their set to pose for photos, sign autographs and spend time with the many in attendance that had come to see them.
For Metal fans, Avatar puts on a show like no other. While the stage setup and merchandise booth might scream carnival side show, the band itself was more than worthy of being on the main stage. The energy and mood created throughout the show are unparalleled in the genre, leaving every fan completely blown away by the night’s end. The well-named Hail the Apocalypse Tour might be coming to an end, but Avatar are now looking to take their own brand of the apocalypse overseas to play shows is Russia in late November before taking to the seas as part of the Shiprocked Cruise. The cruise will also feature bands such as Five Finger Death Punch, Seether, Nonpoint, Halestorm, and Helmet amongst others, giving Metal fans a tough time coming up with a good reason to not find themselves on the Miami, Florida port come January 18th of next year.