Concert Review – Opeth & Mastodon (Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/22/2022)

And Toronto was finally able to enjoy a night of absolute heaviness and progressiveness by two of the most important bands of the current rock and metal scene worldwide.

OPENING ACT: Khemmis

It looks like everything is back to normal as metal concerts in Toronto (and in the entire Canada) are happening everyday now, and after my return to action on April 13 with Judas Priest it was time to keep the ball rolling and head to the cozy Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto on Friday night for a very special night of Progressive Rock and Metal with the co-headlining tour of OPETH and MASTODON, two bands that definitely know how to put on a wonderful show wherever they go. And besides, the weather was absolutely perfect, with a bright, sunny day and temperatures ranging between 5 and 14 degrees Celsius inspiring us to get out of our homes to bang our heads together with those impressive bands.

Before Mastodon hit the stage, precisely at 7pm it was time for the opening act, American Doom Metal outfit KHEMMIS, to warm us up with their short but very entertaining performance. Named after an ancient Egyptian city, Khemmis showcased all their talent playing songs from their growing discography, including their latest album Deceiver, released in 2021, with songs such as Three Gates and Conversation with Death receiving a very positive return from the crowd that was already present at the venue. All band members were in absolute sync from start to finish, resulting in a solid performance that proved why they were chosen to be the opening act for those two behemoths of intricacy.

Setlist
Avernal Gate
Three Gates
Living Pyre
Isolation
Conversation with Death

Band members
Ben – vocals, guitars
Phil – vocals, guitars
David Small – bass
Zach – drums

MASTODON

Finally, after years of waiting, American Progressive Metal/Rock titans MASTODON finally returned to Toronto to kick some ass with their undisputed, electrifying music. It was around 8pm if I’m not mistaken when Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor hit the stage with the excellent Pain With an Anchor, from their 2021 album Hushed and Grim, setting fire to the audience eager for their concert, including of course myself, and let me tell you that the wait was absolutely worth it.

Unfortunately, like what happened in the first part of the tour last year, there were no songs from their superb 2017 album Emperor of Sand in their setlist, but that doesn’t mean the show wasn’t awesome, with classics such as Crystal Skull, Megalodon and Black Tongue, intertwined with new songs the likes of Teardrinker and Pushing the Tides, captivating our senses mercilessly and urging us to raise our horns to one of the best bands from the current rock and metal scene. Not only that, the background titantron was simply mesmerizing, especially in beautiful songs like the aforementioned Megalodon and the impressive The Czar, adding an extra kick to the music played to perfection by the quartet.

Of course, their closing song was their biggest hit, the fantastic Blood and Thunder, and let me tell you that since watching the Netflix movie Metal Lords I immediately think of the two boys form the movie escaping from the psychiatric ward when the music starts. Although there were no kids running on stage, the band could witness a lot of crazy metalheads slamming into the circle pit, which inspired them to play even louder, heavier and better than ever. Troy was on fire throughout the entire set, becoming the band’s “frontman”, while Brann was not only flawless behind his drums, but at the end of the concert when he took the mic to say a lot of good things about Toronto, about how the band missed us fans, he also proved to be a very nice and humble guy (who also got worried about someone from the audience who apparently passed out during their concert). Thank you, Mastodon! and please come back to Toronto soon for another amazing night of first-class metal music!

Setlist
Pain With an Anchor
Crystal Skull
Megalodon
The Crux
Teardrinker
Bladecatcher
Black Tongue
The Czar
Pushing the Tides
More Than I Could Chew
Mother Puncher
Gobblers of Dregs
Blood and Thunder

Band members
Troy Sanders – vocals, bass
Brent Hinds – vocals, guitars
Bill Kelliher – guitars, backing vocals
Brann Dailor – vocals, drums

OPETH

After a short break, Sweden’s own Progressive Rock/Death Metal institution OPETH took the stage to distill their unique sound for the delight of their Torontonian fans, and although their most recent album, In Cauda Venenum, is from the already distant year of 2019, nobody seemed to care about that and had a great time enjoying the music played (to perfection) by the band’s frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and his henchmen. I must confess I’m not a big fan of Opeth as I think their music is sometimes too progressive and their songs too long for playing live, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy what I saw on stage.

My favorite songs from their setlist were by far Hjärtat vet vad handen gör, Ghost of Perdition and Deliverance, mainly due to the additional heaviness and obscurity found in them, but of course their entire show was great, entertaining all of their diehard fans who took over the venue. In addition, I need to say that Joakim Svalberg and Sami Karppinen are two beasts behind their instruments, enhancing the band’s punch considerably. Mikael also enjoyed interacting a lot with the crowd, exchanging a few words with a fan who could speak their mother tongue Swedish, repeating countless times he doesn’t do drugs (except for a few of them), and saying how much he missed playing to his Canadian fans. How long will their Toronto fans need to wait for another round of Opeth’s progressiveness no one knows, but based on the reaction from the crowd I bet everyone would have loved to see that happen again the next day.

Setlist
Livets Trädgård
Hjärtat vet vad handen gör
Ghost of Perdition
Cusp of Eternity
The Devil’s Orchard
The Drapery Falls
In My Time of Need
Sorceress
Deliverance

Band members
Mikael Åkerfeldt – vocals, guitars
Fredrik Åkesson – guitars, backing vocals
Martín Méndez – bass
Joakim Svalberg – keyboards, piano, mellotron, backing vocals
Sami Karppinen – drums

Album Review – Through The Noise / Dualism (2019)

Let’s make some noise to this five-piece Swedish Hardcore and Nu Metal act and their melodious brand new album overflowing rage and rebelliousness.

Founded in 2013 in the city of Lund, located around 30km from Malmö, in southern Sweden, the unruly five-piece Post-Hardcore/Nu Metal act comprised of Jowl Nyberg on vocals, Victor Adonis and Marcus Skantz on the guitars, Martin Lingonblad on bass and Peter Liwgren on drums, collectively known as Through The Noise, is back in action now in 2019 for our total delight with their second full-length album, entitled Dualism, a natural follow-up to their 2013 demo Adorn The Silence and their 2015 debut album Fall of Gaia, showcasing all the band’s talent, energy and, above all that, their absolute passion for heavy music.

Mixed by Erik Wiss (Eleine, Creye, To Dust), engineered by Ermin Hamadovic (Periphery, Devin Townsend Project, Architects), and mastered by Thomas ‘Plec’ Johansson (Soilwork, Watain, Scar Symmetry) at The Panic Room in Skövde, Sweden, Dualism is a pummeling mix of Hardcore and Nu Metal, containing nine glorious songs that are guaranteed to please even the ficklest of critics. Not only that, Dualism also brings to our ears the amazing guest vocals by local Swedish punk vocalist Jahna Lund (from Death By Horse), adding an extra touch of finesse and rage all at once to three of the most electrifying songs from the album.

The opening track Shattered already provides the listener a heavier-than-usual version of Hardcore from the very first second, with Peter sounding like a machine gun on drums while Jowl begins screaming rabidly, also presenting an atmospheric background that makes an interesting paradox with the slashing riffs by Victor and Marcus. Then featuring the aforementioned Jahna Lund we have Psychomachia, a frantic and aggressive tune perfect for slamming into the circle pit like there’s no tomorrow, and where the sound of the guitars couldn’t be more metallic and vibrant than what it already is. Peter keeps smashing his drums in the also fast and furious House of Asterion, a well-balanced mix of Metalcore, classic Hardcore and Alternative Metal where Martin’s bass lines rumble beautifully while Jowl roars nonstop like a maniac, followed by Digital Playground, a rock n’ roll radio hit where the entire band kicks us in the head with their rebellious instruments, spearheaded by Peter’s violent beats and the guitar duo’s lancinating riffs. And featuring Jahna once again, lending her gorgeous voice to the band’s crisp musicality, we have Secret Project, not as berserk as its predecessors but still very heavy and melodic, with Peter and Martin bringing thunder to the overall result with their respective instruments.

Deceiver is another explosion of Metalcore and Alternative Metal by the quintet, being highly recommended for breaking your neck in half headbanging but obviously maintaining a pleasant harmony in its core, all boosted by Jowl’s visceral growls and screams; whereas in Maktbegär, which translates as “lust for power” from Swedish, the band delivers an aggressive feast of smashing beats, cutting riffs and endless rage,  or in other words, a mosh pit-catalyst Metalcore tune that will work amazingly when played live (and even if you don’t know a single word in Swedish you’ll starting singing the song’s chorus with the band). And there’s no time to breathe as Through The Noise don’t slow down not even a bit in Meaning Through Noise, hammering our skulls with more of their violent fusion of Hardcore and Nu Metal and also presenting those melodious clean vocals we got used to in first-class Metalcore, while the talented growler Jahna joins the band one more time for their last blast of ass-kicking heavy music in Beyond Betrayal, where the amazing job done by both Victor and Marcus with their razor-edged riffs provides Jowl all he needs to scream and shout, inviting us all to jump up and down with the band in a very fun and vibrant way and, therefore, closing the album on a high note.

All the insane and entertaining noise blasted by Through The Noise can be better appreciated by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by listening to their music on Spotify, and if you truly enjoyed the hybrid of Metalcore and Hardcore with a modern-day Nu Metal twist crafted by those Swedish guys in Dualism, don’t forget to purchase your copy of the album from iTunes or from Amazon, and to follow them on Facebook for news and tour dates. Through The Noise definitely know how to make a lot of noise, always loyal to the foundations of Hardcore, and if they keep generating such thrilling music in the years to come I’m beyond sure we’ll hear a lot more from them, a band that can already be considered one of the best bands of the Swedish Hardcore scene, and a band that deserves all our noise in their honor.

Best moments of the album: Psychomachia, Deceiver and Maktbegär.

Worst moments of the album: Shattered.

Released in 2019 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Shattered 4:10
2. Psychomachia (feat. Jahna Lund) 2:55
3. House of Asterion 3:47
4. Digital Playground 4:48
5. Secret Project (feat. Jahna Lund) 6:17
6. Deceiver 4:02
7. Maktbegär 4:54
8. Meaning Through Noise 4:48
9. Beyond Betrayal (feat. Jahna Lund) 5:19

Band members
Jowl Nyberg – vocals
Victor Adonis – guitar
Marcus Skantz – guitar
Martin Lingonblad – bass
Peter Liwgren – drums

Guest musician
Jahna Lund – additional vocals on “Psychomachia”, “Secret Project” and “Beyond Betrayal”