Games Meet Metal: The Hunter Heritage Tour: Another Disturbyng Review

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Monday, May 7, 2012

The Hunter Heritage Tour: Another Disturbyng Review

So it's Sunday. You've got work early Monday morning. Your Friday and Saturday night spread into the morning and you could really use a good sleep to recover. Good thing I'm a metal head and I don't give a shit about that stuff. Opeth and Mastodon were here with their buddies Ghost with the sole intention of delivering a once in a lifetime show. The show was at the legendary Burton Cummings Theatre and what happened last night is a great addition to the venues robust history. This tour is nearly finished, so for anyone else who's on the fence about the show I am going to tell you why you should man-up and buy some tickets!

Starting the night off was Ghost who are playing out of Stockholm Sweden.Up until last night, I haven't had the pleasure to listen to their music but I'll probably change that in the near future. Lead by Papa Emeritus, the Nameless Ghouls wandered onto the stage with a gregorian-type chant playing behind them. The imagry that this band produced immediatly made me expect to hear some black metal but the music was more of a 70s, psychadelic metal. A lot darker than Deep Purple, but they had some similar passages in their songs. This isn't a bad thing but when you couple the music with the Satanist imagry it seems a little silly. I'm sure the lyrics are "eeeevil" but the music really wasn't and to me that ruined the tone they were trying to set. If the band shed their mysterious image for a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, their performance would have gone over better. But, their image is what sets them apart from other bands and it leaves a memorable impression.

Mastodon was the first headliner to take the stage. Last night marked the first Mastodon performance that I have seen in person. I've watched a lot of video of them and I always found that their vocals were a little iffy at best, so I was a little concerned. However by the second song, "Hand of Stone," those concerns were completely washed away. Since this tour is in support of their new album, The Hunter, a lot of the songs played that night were from the new record. I've been listening to the new record almost non-stop these days and it was really grown on me. With this album Mastodon seems to have found the perfect balance of their first two albums and their more progressive release Crack the Skye, which was a little more laid back.

Right out of the gates I was immediately impressed with their lighting. I find that a lot of metal bands these days just kinda stand under a blue or red light and that's it. Mastodon had a number of spotlight rigs placed at the side and back of the stage which really added to the spectacle of it all. It is truly remarkable how a few moving lights can add to the music which is something that every up-and-coming band should take note of. Being a fan of the new record I was really happy with the setlist even if out of the seventeen songs played last night, only five were off of their previous releases. I'm sure there were a few Mastodon fans in the audiance that were disapointed with the song selection. But you wouldn't have been able to tell after they played "Blood & Thunder." Mastodon closed their banter-less set with "The Sparrow" and Brann Dailor came out to thank everyone and remind us that Opeth were coming up.

After a quick breakdown and soundcheck, Opeth took to the stage with their latest single, "The Devil's Orchard." The last time I saw Opeth play they were doing an acoustic show of sorts promoting their new album and their shift in music direction. I've listened to the new album a dozen times or so and I still haven't found the enjoyment I get out of listening to their previous stuff like Damnation or Ghost Reveries. The new material just seems.... jazzy. There are a lot of noodling and jamming going on and it takes away from what i know and love about Opeth. At least for this show, the songs that were played from Heritage were the most agressive from the record. Another thing I noticed is that the band members were actually moving around the stage. Normally these guys just plant their feet and headbang which has garnered them some criticism in the past. Glad to see that they've finally found the ambition to wander around a bit.

My friend and I discussed it afterwards and the songs from Heritage would fit really well in a setlist that was broken up with songs like "Deliverence" or "Drapery Falls." Instead, Opeth chose the ballads "Windowpane" and "Burden" to split up the Heritage stuff. Again, while these are really great songs and I enjoy seeing them performed but I was really hoping Opeth would amp it up a little. But as the saying goes, all good things come to those who wait. Opeth closed the show with "Demon of the Fall" and then "The Grand Conjuration." After seeing Opeth five times, you'd think that I would get over Mikael's ability to switch from harsh to clean vocals, but it still impresses the hell out of me. Plus that answers the question of how easy it is for Opeth to win over a crowd. The small dose of metal at the end of their set was enough for everyone to leave satisfied and eagerly anticipate the next Opeth show.

As I mentioned earlier, this tour is coming to a close. It is a great oppertunity to see two amazing metal bands and a really cool new band in Ghost that has the potential to develop a following similar to that of Mastodon or Opeth. If I could change anything about the show I would have had Mastodon close out the show instead of Opeth. Their setlist just had a little more punch and Opeth kinda sucked the energy out of me instead of continuing to rile me up. Here are the last four dates of the tour. Get your tickets now!

05/09 Washington, DC The Fillmore (O)
05/10 Charlotte, NC The Fillmore (M)
05/11 Myrtle Beach, SC House of Blues (M)
05/12 Atlanta, GA Masquerade Music Park (M)
(M) – Mastodon closes show
(O) – Opeth closes show

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