Opeth, Mastodon, Ghost Palladium Ballroom Thursday, April 19
Last night started with Sweden's Ghost, a wonderfully over-the-top six-piece that lit uncountable amounts of incense before they even hit the stage. I felt like I had entered a heavy metal meditation therapy session. Featuring costumes that looked like they had been lifted from the next installment of the Scary Movie franchise, Papa Emeritus and crew played old school metal that would not have sounded out of place at a Judas Priest concert.
Surprisingly, Mastodon hit the stage next. It was early, around 9 p.m., and there were still quite a few metalheads that had yet to traverse the seemingly endless ticket and security cues that are annoyingly commonplace at this venue. Beginning with "Black Tongue" from the band's potent recent effort, The Hunter, the Atlanta quartet never let up. Other highlights included "Curl of the Burl" and older cuts such as "Blood and Thunder" and "Hand of Stone."
By the time Opeth began at a little past 10 p.m., about one-third of the crowd decided to call it a night. Even stranger, several of those seen exiting were wearing Opeth t-shirts. Those who left missed a great, if somewhat ponderous, set. Indeed, songs by Yes and Styx played over the P.A. before the band began, which served as a primer for what the Swedish band delivered on stage.
Songs like "The Devil's Orchard" and "I Feel the Dark" mixed progressive metal, folk and jazz into a heady combination that might be a bit much for the American headbanger to swallow. In any case, those true believers in attendance chanted and sang along the best they could.
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Random note: While standing in line for a beer, I ran into the bassist for local metal outfit Onward We March. He said his band is working on a new album. If it features music half as good as any of the three bands on this night's bill, the area metal scene will surely be blessed.