Progressive metal fans had something tremendous to celebrate on Friday, May 4 as some of the most important names in the genre joined forces to enthral their Southern Alberta devotees at MacEwan Hall.
The show began with a spectacle. Sweden’s own Ghost, a melodic doom band reminiscent of bands like Blue Oyster Cult and Mercyful Fate, made their presence known with authority and style. As the lights dimmed, an ominous disembodied hymn echoed through the hall as the band took the stage. The entirety of the six-piece band, with the exception of the frontman, was dressed in black cloaks obscuring their faces and identity. As these members took their positions and the hymn intensified, Papa Emeritus slowly shambled from the side. Dressed in Catholic-esque robes with a devilish twist, a la inverted crosses and an ornate dead skin mask, Emeritus approached the microphone stand swaying his thurible as it bellowed incense from within.
Opeth’s second visit to Calgary in support of their most recent album proved a few things: Mikael Åkerfeldt is willing to sing with a harsh vocal style (something from which he abstained during their first visit) and the fans can adapt to a more mellow incarnation of Opeth. The band opened with their first single from Heritage, “The Devil’s Orchard,” and proceeded to play a Heritage-heavy medley of old and new. While similar to their set from the previous visit, seeing the band play the ever impressive “Folklore,” off Heritage, and launch straight into “Demon of the Fall,” an aggressive track more in favour with the typical Opeth fan, was a treat in itself.
Of the staggering 17 songs Mastodon played, a total of 12 were off The Hunter. The album being 13 tracks, I felt intense gratitude for the only omission from the show was the insufferable “The Creature Lives.” Wasting no time speaking to the crowd or introducing the songs, the band played a high energy set. Tracks from Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye were also present, but the unmistakable first licks of “Aqua Dementia” and the obligatory “Blood and Thunder” were the diamonds in the rough.
Your enjoyment of the show lived or died based on your appreciation for both Opeth and Mastodon’s latest albums. While Opeth’s set was a tad similar to their recent show here, it was impressive all the same. That being said, I wish Mastodon had done what they did for Crack the Skye and the subsequent tours and just played the whole album front to back first and got to the old favourites after.
by Tanner Wolff
Photo: Sarah KitteringhamAB, Alberta