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Avatar at The Black Sheep show preview

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Avatar @ The Black Sheep, with Devin Townsend, Dance With the Dead, ‘68, Fall From Silence, Cull the Herd, Hell’s Circus and The Dub Project, Monday, June 10, 4 p.m., 2106 E. Platte Ave., $27.50/adv, $30/door, all ages, 227-7625, blacksheeprocks.com - JOHAN CARLEN
  • Johan Carlen
  • Avatar @ The Black Sheep, with Devin Townsend, Dance With the Dead, ‘68, Fall From Silence, Cull the Herd, Hell’s Circus and The Dub Project, Monday, June 10, 4 p.m., 2106 E. Platte Ave., $27.50/adv, $30/door, all ages, 227-7625, blacksheeprocks.com

Avatar @ The Black Sheep, with Devin Townsend, Dance With the Dead, ‘68, Fall From Silence, Cull the Herd, Hell’s Circus and The Dub Project, Monday, June 10, 4 p.m., 2106 E. Platte Ave., $27.50/adv, $30/door, all ages, 227-7625, blacksheeprocks.com

Being Swedish and wearing corpse paint does not automatically make you a death metal act. But it does pretty much guarantee that you’ll get called one, as the bands Avatar and Ghost can attest. True, Avatar’s Johannes Eckerström does growl and howl as needed. And his onstage persona — which pays homage to the Joker, A Clockwork Orange and U.K. punk band
The Adicts — is way more expressionist than that pale-faced pontiff who fronts Ghost. But both acts share a sense of melodic invention and ironic self-awareness that sets them apart from the majority of their Scandinavian peers. Critics’ perceptions began changing with 2016’s Feathers & Flesh, which found the band wearing the influence of early Queen and System of a Down on its sleeve. But it’s Avatar’s exceptional concert recording The King Live in Paris that truly proves their mettle. Released this month on eOne Music, it’s brimming with brutalist fan favorites like “For the Swarm” and “The Eagle Has Landed” that artfully slip goth-rock and operatic elements into the guitar-grinding mix.

Meanwhile, with his over-the-top theatrical excess and perennially shit-eating grin, Eckerström continues to take his band closer and closer to the brink of performance art, while never losing sight of the playful eccentricity that makes Avatar and their music altogether endearing.

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