Sevendust, Lacuna Coil, and Avatar Melt Nashville at Marathon Music Works
Band Photo: Lacuna Coil (?)
"So, I heard that Nashville is supposed to be some sort of country music capital of the world," says Avatar vocalist Johannes Eckerström in the middle of the band's set. Looking around the scene at Marathon Music Works on February 10th, you wouldn't have guessed it. The night before, Hatebreed brought Shadows Fall, Dying Fetus, and The Contortionist with them to play the same venue, but the metal mob was out again in full force to greet the Swedes for their first stop in town on their first tour of the US.
Although Marathon Music Works is not some gigantic stadium, it is anything but a small venue. Stretching about three blocks around the side of the building, waiting in the line of fans to get into the venue was no small test of endurance. Thankfully, two bars and a sound system that blares Megadeth, Van Halen, and Killswitch Engage await indoors to kickstart the weary. Nashville was about to get a multi-national blast of warm loudness to counter the falling temperature.
A lineup of the likes of this one, with Avatar hailing from Sweden opening the show, followed by Italy's Lacuna Coil, with a headling American act, is a quick way to give listeners the impression that they are world explorers without too much effort on their part. Still new to the US, Avatar's reception was warm, but one of immediate shock when vocalist Eckerström stamped out on the stage clad in a gigantic leather trench-style coat with black pants, massive boots, and a leather mask. If you had ever played Resident Evil 5, you might have just lost it because you thought an axe-man was stomping towards you.
With a sound distinctly Gothenburg in its originality, Avatar let Nashville know what they've been missing with a blend of stomping grooves and melodic death-style dual guitar leads. For the second song, Eckerström came out with the coat unbuttoned and mask off, revealing an Alice Cooper-meets-Marilyn Manson style painted face, perhaps hinting that a bizarrely fun madness lies behind the tough exterior of the hard parts of the music. Theatrics aside, the band was spot-on with each other. Many a chance was given by the band to the audience to just abandon what they knew of Sunday night and rage.
Second on the bill was Lacuna Coil, a household name for many in America. Although they had made their break into the American consciousness around the time of their 2002 release, Comalies, they would play but one song from that record, opting mostly for songs from Karmacode, Shallow Life, and Dark Adrenaline. Hailing from the Dio school of attitude-over-height, vocalist Cristina Scabbia brought attitude with her in droves, with vocalist Andrea Ferro providing the other half of the frontal assault. Oddly, bassist Marco Coti Zelati was nowhere to be seen the entire night, although his pre-recorded parts were being programmed in behind the guitars in the mix. "Survive," "I Won't Tell You," and "Trip The Darkness" were a few highlights of the set.
Invoking the headliners' privilege, Sevendust utilized a gigantic banner behind them with the album artwork to "Black Out The Sun" radiating its apocalyptic image out at the crowd. The last time Sevendust blew through Nashville, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon's hometown, was in July 2011 at an overcrowded Cannery Ballroom. Thankfully, the band now had lots of room, a bigger venue, and an even bigger crowd to go with that huge banner. Living up to their reputation as one of the best live metal acts that you have to see in person (they literally haven't released a live non-acoustic DVD in their 16-year / 9-album existence), the boys brought the fire.
The high-energy set included new songs "Till Death" and "Decay," along with standards "Waffle," "Angel's Son," "Trust," "Bitch," and a few songs from Cold Day Memory, closing with the combative "Face 2 Face." During "Angel's Son," Lajon remarked that if his grandmother (who also called Nashville her home) were still alive, she would be down at the front of the speakers enjoying the show. The song was dedicated to her and had most of the crowd singing, voicing their approval of his rockin' grandma.
If that's not world cultural exploration under the guise of simple musical indulgence, I'll be damned. The tour will wind its way through Fayetteville, Arkansas tonight and Biloxi, Mississippi on Valentine's day, with stops in half of the states up through the month of May in support of their upcoming album, "Black Out The Sun," due out on March 26th.
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