Opeth and High on Fire – [Live]

Monday, 27 October 2008

To say that I was excited about this show would’ve been an understatement. Opeth, a band that I had missed every time that they’ve played San Francisco, were back, and this time they were bringing with them one of my favorite bands, High On Fire, and a band I had been curious about for a long time, Baroness. Adding to my excitement was the fact that it was a Monday evening and I could think of no better way to kick off a long workweek than with a few beers and a metal show.

Unfortunately the night did not start out quite as I was hoping. As I walked up to the venue at about 7:45pm (scheduled show time was 8:00pm) I couldn't help but notice the rumbling of live music vibrating through the walls and onto the sidewalk. Last-minute sound check I thought to myself. But as I stood in the line that almost stretched an entire city block, it sounded less and less like a sound check and more and more like the real thing. And, it was. Much to my dismay, Baroness had gone on early for some reason, and by the time I got in, got my photo pass and I.D. checked, the band was halfway through their last song of the evening. What I did hear was heavy as fuck, with plundering bass and crunching guitars, so please let that encourage you to go see them when they hit your town.

Up next was the band that I had really come to see, Oakland's High on Fire. Although they seemed to be plagued by a very all-of-a-sudden "muddled" sound system, the band made the most of it, and delivered a blazing 30-minute set of metal the way metal should be played. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Matt Pike is nothing short of a total fucking monster on guitar, and as he and bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kendel ripped through "Turk," "Fury Whip," "Devilution," "Cometh Down Hessian" and "Waste of Tiamat," I was, as with the other dozen or so times I have seen them, totally blown away. I love when bands just come out and play with no bullshit, and that's what High on Fire do every single time—they have become so tight live. I hope that they continue to get the recognition that they deserve, and continue to tour with big-name bands.

Having never seen Opeth before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but as soon as they hit the stage I knew I was going to be impressed. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, Opeth were the perfect combination of death, classic and progressive metal, all mixed into one chaotic sound. Opening their set with the almost-9-minute-long "Heir Apparent" off of their latest offering, Watershed, the band had the packed venue headbanging and fist pumping from the word go. And as vocalist, guitarist and founding member Mikael Åkerfeldt led the band through a back catalog of Opeth epics including "The Grand Conjuration," "Serenity Painted Death," "Hope Leaves" and "Bleak," I couldn't help but to be impressed with the level of music geniusness from the band. Guitarist Fredrik Åkesson shreds like no other and his blazing fretwork during "The Lotus Eater" kinda blew me away, while the ethereal keyboards of Per Wiberg were a nice touch to the metal.

As Opeth continued to conquer the masses with "The Night and the Silent Water," "Demon of the Fall" and "The Drapery Falls" they proved that they are without a doubt one of the leaders of their genre, and one of the most talented bands around. After witnessing their performance I think this band is going to be around for a long time, and I am looking forward to seeing them again.


“Devilution” by High on Fire – [mp3]
“Burden” by Opeth – [mp3]

Comments are closed.