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AVATARIUM, THE SLAYER KING In Sieburg, Germany

By Daniel Höhr, European Correspondent
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 1:11 PM


At Kubana Live Club, September 21, 2017

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Photos By Daniel Hohr

What would be more appropriate on the last official summer day in the northern hemisphere than to anticipate the change of season and the inevitable growing darkness with a show featuring two bands that sort of go by the label of doom metal? And yet only about 200 people showed up at Siegburg's Kubana Live Club, a venue holding something like 400 to 500, to see the Swedish rockers AVATARIUM supported by the Greek doom trio THE SLAYER KING. Maybe the lamentable turnout was due to the good weather or the fact that it was in the middle of the week or it was just an unforgivable lack of interest.

THE SLAYER KING came on at 20.00 hrs. In March, the Greek three-piece completed the recordings of their upcoming second album, which was produced by AVATARIUM mastermind and guitarist Marcus Jidell. Musically, the band moves between doom metal and gothic metal with a frequent dash of prog elements. The result is exciting and, to a certain extend, innovative music. The band's qualities, namely the mostly gloomy and story-telling songs, Efthimis K's outstanding vocal and bass playing abilities together with the excellent guitar work provided by Kostas K, ranging from relentless riffing to effective solos and more experimental passages as well as Eki's solid but otherwise unspectacular drumming were all apparent but, sadly, didn't quite get across to the audience. This was mainly down to the way the trio presented their material. A certain degree of gloom and grumpiness may be part and parcel of the genre but in the case of THE SLAYER KING it may have been a bit too much. While guitar player Kostas K looked like he couldn't be arsed at all, frontman Efthimis K was hiding his face behind a black lamp shade kind of hat throughout the entire show. His over-the-top theatrical attitude, especially the way he announced the songs, didn't seem to impress the audience much because there was absolutely no connection to the people gathered in front of the stage. Still, THE SLAYER KING didn't go down too badly at all and doubtlessly managed to win over some new fans.

AVATARIUM entered the club's small stage shortly after 21.00 hrs and received a more than hearty welcome from their fans. For sonic reasons, the drum set was kept behind an acoustic shield and neither band played through a backline. Instead, their amps were directly connected to the house PA. Stylistically, AVATARIUM blend heavy and doom metal with classic rock elements such as a DEEP PURPLEe or URIAH HEEP kind of organ sound, bits and pieces that are reminiscent of LED ZEPPELIN but also blues and jazz elements. The result is exciting and colourful, classic but at the same time modern sounding music that is far too big to fit in any kind of pigeonhole. The Swedes opened their set with “Into The Fire/Into The Storm”, the opener of their latest album, Hurricanes And Halos, followed by “Pearls And Coffins”, one of the many highlights on its predecessor, The Girl With The Raven Mask. After the first two songs, singer Jennie-Ann Smith greeted the audience in fluent and almost accent-free German, which was much appreciated by the crowd, with whom the charismatic frontwoman connected easily. During the next ninety minutes or so, AVATARIUM performed another eleven songs taken mainly from the last two albums and demonstrated their versatility of expression. The numbers ranged from the catchy mid-tempo song “Starless Sleep” to “Medusa Child”, gloomy and itself rich in variety, comprising mesmerising riffs, a children's song kind of chorus and merciless heavy metal onslaughts, to the slow and extremely intense blues-infused “When Breath Turns To Air”. Reduced to just a twelve-string acoustic guitar and vocals, AVATARIUM's version of “In My Time Of Dying” filled the club with as much intensity as the heavier rock numbers.

In the epicentre of all that was singer Jennie-Ann Smith, who is not only an oustanding vocalist and nailed every note with ease and expression but also a superb performer and whose blusy voice as well as her natural genuineness and charme spellbound the audience throughout the show.

This was also true for the entire band. Be it Marcus Jidell's masterful and passionate guitar guitar or his trading riffs, solos, motifs and bits and pieces with Rickard Nilsson on organ. Be it Mats Rydström's driving but always melodic bass playing or Lars Sköld's superb drumming – the entire performance, from its its heavy to the more subtle parts, was dynamic, powerful and absolutely ravishing for both the band and the audience.

“We will treasure this evening during the long Swedish winter nights”, Jennie-Ann said at the end of the show before the band said goodbye with the anthemic song “Avatarium”, leaving behind a blissfully happy audience that, sadly, could and should have been much bigger. AVATARIUM are one of the best and most inspiring as well as inspired live bands I have seen in quite a while. A great evening with an incredibly good headliner in a superb live club. Those who didn't go definitely missed a night to remember.

Setlist:

  • "Into The Fire/Into The Storm"
  • "Pearls And Coffins"
  • "Kiss From The End Of The World"
  • "Starless Sleep"
  • "Run Killer Run"
  • "In My Time Of Dying"
  • "Medusa Child"
  • "Deep Well"
  • "Sky At The Bottom Of The Sea"
  • "Moonhorse"
Encores:
  • "When Breath Turns To Air"
  • "Avatarium"


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