Avatar with The Brains, and Hellzapoppin – Live at L’Astral – January 9th, 2018 – Montreal QC

This past Tuesday was far from usual, and bared the fruit of one of the many benefits to being a writer, saying yes to a show you wouldn’t have gone to on your own and getting your ass blown open. Avatar from Gothenburg, Sweden made its first appearance in our fair Montreal and you can bet your ass I’ve got something to say about it.


Cracking open what would be a strange and exciting night to come was not even close to a musical performance, but a circus freakshow by the moniker Hellzapoppin. Various artists of the mutilating arts partake including Ryan Stock, Short E Dangerously, Dan Sperry, and ringleader Bryce Graves. Without delving into gutt wrenching detail, included was but not limited to half men (like actually missing half a body), hook tricks accompanied by fantastic Blue Oyster Cult SNL references, angled sword swallowing, facial adventures featuring electric drills and meat hooks and bowling balls, chicken costumes, active chainsaw and lawn mower balancing, razorblade swallowing, and lifesaver candies (see this one for yourself, thanks). This was far from an act to miss but even further for the faint of heart. All that I can say is that I enjoyed the living shit out of myself. Enjoy more crack and do weird things to yourself, children.

The Brains

Following up with a bit of homegrown Rockabilly love was The Brains. The first thing that would come to mind is why exactly is a rockabilly act opening for a Swedish melodic death act. I then learned rather quickly just not to ask questions and let the room take me for a ride. As a stalwart asshole, I’d love to be able to nitpick at this act, but aside from the soundboard keeping the vocals a little meek during the first tune, there’s really not a whole hell of a lot I can shit on for this set. I’m far from a connoisseur of this genre, but I can tell you without a shout of a doubt that the Brains bring a good time, a tight tune, and a big lively sound for a three-piece. If you haven’t already, then let this be yet another reason to support your local breweries of sound.


My personal knowledge of the Swedish gimmick act was equal to that of the number of tacos and taco related substances that I ingested that day, but there’s only one real way that I can try to describe this performance post-mortem. Picture every other gimmick-based act you’ve seen, be it masks, makeup, or thematic, but significantly better because they’re from Sweden. Am I saying all things metal are better from Sweden? Yes, and so is absolutely everyone else that ever listened to a Swedish band. Like really fuck you, guys. What the fuck do you eat?

The set began with the drop of a curtain to a burly man in a kingly chair, guitar in hand, and riffs of pure magic to follow. “Legend of the King” was not a tune any one of the musically inclined could not drop a jaw for. Slinging a fine and impressive combination of not only Swedish-branded melodic death but notes of American Grove and even 80s glam, Avatar had to be one of the most genre eclectic acts I’ve seen born out of something usually so simple and one dimensional as a gimmick-based band. The compositional mastery that ensued was only matched by the enjoyment of the crowd. This was the first time this act had hit Montreal, and I was sitting in a room of roughly 300 people (give or take) not only losing their shit but singing along to every chorus.

A measure of an act’s success can be measured in a great many ways. A maiden voyage to a city yielding an ovation such as what I witnessed definitely has to be in the top three. Absolutely banging and without question worth the dollar to catch them again.

Written by Jason Greenberg
Photography by Eric Brisson Photography
*edited by Danielle Kenedy

About Jason Greenberg 100 Articles
On the best of days, you can hear Jason screaming his guts out into a microphone for the Montreal-based metal band, Outlive the Dead formerly known as Camalus. He joined the make-you-pee-your-pants-in-angst band after a few line-up switches and continues to haunt local venues with his low, baritone growl. Being introduced to music at a young age, Bruce Springsteen rivalled most others for the coveted Favourite Artist position. One fateful day, however, Jason found himself lost in MTV’s third annual Icon Tribute to Metallica and his whole world turned upside down. On other days, Jason can be found enjoying long walks on the beach while masturbating in public, most likely toting around a case of Sleeman’s Cream Ale. PS- His favourite band still stands as Metallica and he will not be judged.

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