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.
Conversation with Death
Ben – vocals, guitars
Phil – vocals, guitars
David Small – bass
Zach – drums
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!
Pain With an Anchor
Pushing the Tides
More Than I Could Chew
Gobblers of Dregs
Blood and Thunder
Troy Sanders – vocals, bass
Brent Hinds – vocals, guitars
Bill Kelliher – guitars, backing vocals
Brann Dailor – vocals, drums
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.
Hjärtat vet vad handen gör
Ghost of Perdition
Cusp of Eternity
The Devil’s Orchard
The Drapery Falls
In My Time of Need
Mikael Åkerfeldt – vocals, guitars
Fredrik Åkesson – guitars, backing vocals
Martín Méndez – bass
Joakim Svalberg – keyboards, piano, mellotron, backing vocals
Sami Karppinen – drums