Live Review: Avatar - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton
22nd February 2023
Support: Mastiff, Veil of Maya
Words: Cat Finch
Photos: Tim Finch
With KK’s Steel Mill being the place to be for live music these days, it’s only fitting that a band with a 2023 album of the year contender already on the books would make a stop off on their ‘Dance Devil Dance’ world tour at the famous venue.
As the fans fill up the concert hall in the back streets of Wolverhampton it is down to Hull bruisers Mastiff to kick off the show. Having come through the impressive ranks at APF records, their 2021 album ‘Leave Me The Ashes Of The Earth’ saw the band jump to major label ‘eOne’ and with it get the worldwide recognition they so deserve.
They kickstart the show with ‘Fail’ taken from the aforementioned latest album, immediately delivering their faced paced, hard hitting hardcore/doom crossover style. The riffs are heavy and the vocals delivered with fury as the ‘Midnight Creeper’ and ‘Beige Sabbath’ within minutes. They sit in contract to tonight’s headliners who have a refined and choreographed set, from Mastiff this is an out and out battery of the senses. By the time they close with ‘Repulse’ we are all ready to catch our breath.
It's onto Illinois metalcore outfit Veil of Maya to carry on the show, a tough job considering the opening from Mastiff, and they tried their best, bless them. Opening with ‘Viscera’, the show is a fifty minute masterclass in metalcore wizardry, and if you like that sort of thing you’ll be happier than a pig in shit. ‘Whistleblower’ and ‘Leeloo’ continue the onslaught of blast beats and technically complicated riffs that continue to pummel the Wolverhampton faithful. Fifty minutes after the battery started it is concluded with ‘Mikasa’ and impressive performance from a band in their prime.
Avatar don’t do things by halves, and anyone who caught them on their previous jaunts including the visually stunning ‘Avatar Country’ tour a few years prior to the pandemic will know very well what theatrics the band can perform.
Off the back of the critically acclaimed ‘Dance Devil Dance’ which landed just a week or so ago, the band are hitting the live scene hard and this Wolverhampton date comes at the tail end of a trek across the UK, which is destined to head into mainland Europe next.
A huge stage set dominated the Steel Mill’s stage, four black doors sit in the shadow, either side of the drum riser, and as the intro plays out four figure appear from those doors, motionless and highlighted by an array of sparkling pyro that lights up the room.
The title track from the bands latest album kick starts the evening and it’s an album the band revisit frequently throughout the evening, as Johnannes explained to us when we spoke to him last week, they are proud of this piece of work.
‘Valley of Disease’ and ‘Chimp Mosh Pout’ also new numbers, scatter the early proceedings as the band’s talent comes to the fore. They are not just musicians, they are showman, the Alice Cooper of a new generation, the theatrics encapsulate the audiences attention which the music mesmerises.
‘Bloody Angel’, ‘For The Swarm’ and ‘Puppet Show’ stand out in the early segment of the set before Johannes disappears, only to appear atop the bar on the left of the room. The entertainment continues as he creates balloon animals for the fans before serenading us with his trombone (not a ephemism!).
Fan favourites ‘Let It Burn’ and ‘A Statue of The King’ lead us towards the end of the show, where despite the entertaining theatrics, the music has been at the forefront!
That continues through the encore, ‘The Dirt I’m Buried In’, an off-kilter rock thriller taken from the latest album brings the band back to the fans before the bands all time classic ‘Hail the Apocalypse’ closes (and steals) the show!