Mastodon, Opeth & Ghost 05/12/12
Masquerade Music Park/Atlanta, GA
Words by JakobRoss424
Millions of years ago, before civilization existed outside of Mexico, the Aztecs (because screw the Mayans) predicted that one day, a tour would come along that would relentlessly and brutally destroy any town in its path. This tour would be known as the Heritage Hunter tour, featuring Opeth and Mastodon touring in support of their respective 2011 releases, Heritage and The Hunter. Opening for them would be the mighty Ghost, who hail from the dark depths of Hell. Or Sweden. One of the two.
Having seen none of these bands before, I knew right away I would be in for a treat. My dad and I arrived at the Masquerade Music Park (the larger venue located right outside the Masquerade) just as Ghost were opening up their fantastic albeit short set with Con Clavi Con Dio. As I made my way through the crowd, Ghost were making the transition into the second song, Elizabeth.
After Elizabeth, lead singer Papa Emeritus invited us, the Children of Georgia, to stare into the eyes of the Prime Mover, which flowed perfectly into the aptly titled Prime Mover.
I must say, I was surprised by the amount of people in the audience that were Ghost fans prior to the show. I saw numerous people singing along to songs such as Satan Prayer and the set-closing Ritual. But they also converted a few non-believers at the beginning of the show into huge fans by the end. If Ghost aren’t headlining venues this size within the next few years, then I will give up all hope in humanity. Their set may have been short, but Papa’s enchanting and hypnotic delivery had everyone eating out of the palm of his hand.
About 20 minutes after Ghost’s set ended, fellow Swedes Opeth took the stage to much applause. Lead singer Mikael Akerfeldt—who recently sustained a head injury—and friends bust into a pitch-perfect Devil’s Orchard, the opening track from the album they are touring in support of. Then they played another song from Heritage, I Feel the Dark.
“We are Opeth,” said Akerfeldt simply after I Feel the Dark ended. “Do you remember the song by Twisted Sister, I Wanna Rock?” he asked. “Well, do ya, motherf***ers?” I’m not quite sure if he was asking if we wanted to rock, or whether or not we knew the song. “This is a, uh, tribute to Ronnie Dio.” It was almost 2 years to the day since Dio died of stomach cancer. The song they paid tribute to him with was Slither.
I must say, I was greatly impressed by Opeth, whether it was the calmer, slower songs like Windowpane and Burden, or the one-two death metal punch (and set-closers) Demons of the Fall and The Grand Conjuration (the former inspired the first mosh pit of the night). Mikael Akerfeldt has a fantastic sense of humor, and it is tough not to sit there in awe of their sheer musicianship. Not even a head injury could stop Opeth from rocking.
As the sun set and the drizzle that formulated during Opeth’s set turned into actual rain, the crowd was getting anxious for its Mastodon fix. The hometown heroes were expected to really deliver tonight, and they did not disappoint.
Mastodon’s 17-18 song setlist relies mostly on their release The Hunter, from which they played every song. Their show kicked off with a tight rendition of Black Tongue, which folk songstress Feist covered recently for Record Store Day. Afterwards, Mastodon took a sharp turn right into 2006, playing two songs from that year’s release Blood Mountain. Hand of Stone was followed immediately by Crystal Skull. Then they continued with the new songs until the 10th song of the set, which was the title track from 2009′s stellar Crack the Skye. 11-14 were All the Heavy Lifting, Spectrelight, Curl of the Burl, and Bedazzled Fingernails. They took another break from The Hunter to perform two tracks from 2004′s Leviathan, Aqua Dementia and Blood and Thunder. They ended their set with The Hunter’s closing song The Sparrow.
One thing I noticed before they came back for a super-special encore was that not one member of the band said a word to the audience throughout the entire show. Not once did I hear “How are ya, Atlanta!?” or “Want some more?” or “Are you ready to ROCK!?” Nope. It wasn’t until after the encore performance of The Creature Lives did drummer Brann Dailor acknowledge us and thank us for coming.
The cool thing about the encore was that members of Opeth, Ghost (all the Nameless Ghouls, but no Papa Emeritus), as well as members of Mastodon’s family and friends came to sing it.
Overall, a consistently amazing show by three of the greatest heavy metal bands of the last decade. And after seeing the look on my dad’s face afterwards, I have a good feeling I’ll get the chance to see those bands again.