with Deafheaven, Caligula’s Horse
Metro City, Northbridge
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Having surfaced in the late 80s, Swedish metal legends Opeth (pictured above) have had many years to build and perfect their craft. Fan or not, you can’t help but notice and respect the maturity and virtuosity they bring to their albums and live performances.
With a sold out shows in Melbourne and the Sydney Opera House (a landmark achievement for the metal scene in the once classically-geared venue), the last leg of their Australia and New Zealand tour saw Opeth finally reach Perth.
Despite ticket sales not going as well in Perth, a loyal fan base of mid-twenties metalheads through to a generation of old timers still attended. Whilst Metro City was restricted to a ground level gig only, this allowed for what was to be a brilliant and intimate show.
Opening the evening was Brisbane based prog-metallers Caligula’s Horse who played a brand of virtuosic prog-djent-metal led by the incredible shreds of lead guitarist Sam Vallen, and solid clean vocals of singer Jim Grey. The group’s set offered tracks nailed with precision timing and intricate rhythms which had the room reacting with curiosity instead of letting loose. Despite the well-executed complexities, the sequence of the tracks together tended to lack in tonal variety, making what could be impacting punches miss their target. Finishing their set was a much heavier and welcome track in Rust. The show also marked the end of an era for guitarist Zac Greensill who has announced his decision to leave the group after this tour.
After a short break, Opeth kicked off their set perfectly with the sludgy, down-tuned chug of Sorceress – title track from their latest album.
From here on, the five-piece played tracks sourced from every album released throughout their lengthy career – weaving in and out of material that was at times heavy, at times soft and at times akin to 70s prog-rock.
Incredibly, the newish proggy material sat against the older death metal tracks seamlessly. This was aided by the clever and carefully organised set list, with softer tracks such as Face of Melinda and In My Time of Need arriving just in time, giving respite after a rampage of some six minute-plus metal epics.
Opeth’s ability to shift between styles saw them ingeniously transition (without stopping play) between the night’s most upbeat prog-rock song Cusp of Eternity, into one of the heaviest tracks the band has written to date in Heir Apparent.
Between tracks singer/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt entertained the crowd with his down to earth and comical banter. A backstage crew member whom Åkerfeldt in jest called a “motherfucker” was introduced and thanked as it was his last show touring with the band.
Drummer Martin Axenrot was acknowledged as the most talented of the group thanks to his ability to play the most instruments, having mastered (though not limited to) the “snare drum, kick drum, tom one, tom two, tom three…”
The lighthearted and humorous banter from the singer contrasted their trademarked melancholic, mournful and drowning songs. Then again, this just highlighted what a serious band Opeth are, and as a group how unphased they are playing the stereotypical tough metal-bloke image.
The almost two-hour show came to a brief end with The Demon Falls as they left the stage for the encore. Everyone at Metro City knew with certainty there was only one song left for them to hear, the masterpiece Deliverance. What better way to end the concert than with the incredible, heavy and choppy rhythms during the track’s three minute or so outro.
Producing amazingly epic and dynamic music and with sold out shows over East, the only shame was that the turn-out didn’t follow suit here in WA. Ultimately, this night was all about the music, the transitions and longevity this band has seen over the decades, and we can only look forward to their return and any new direction they embark on.
Photos by Paul Dowd Photography