Mastodon & Opeth bring their brand of progressive metal to Chicago (Show Review)

Metal was full force in Chicago on a Thursday night as one of the genre’s biggest co-headline tours of the year hit Chicago. Fans in attendance were packed tight for an evening of fast riffs and slow progressive jams.

Kicking things off fast were Colorado’s own Khemmis, with their blend of doomy mixed traditional metal. Even with those two genres they still bridge the gap with traces of death metal and even black metal. The crowd were no strangers to the band as they played through a fast, tight set with songs from each album. Playing like a fine-tuned machine the band was energetic and clearly, having a great time while never missing a single beat, making their shredding look easy. For the fans who had never seen them before I’m positive the band made sure to have some repeat customers after this performance.

After a little change to set up a pretty large light set up Sweden’s Opeth took the stage to loud applause. Blasting through a 70 minute set paced as a roller coaster, fans were given a bit of everything Opeth has encompassed their career with. With backing visuals that matched the tempo and vibes of the songs including castles and fires, the band ran through 9 songs that at point almost felt like one long intersecting song.

Aside from the heavy moments in songs like “Hjärtat vet vad handen gör” the band also showed their prog roots heavily. Sounding like a band that would have revolutionized the ’70s the band played to perfection. Frontman / guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt, aside from being a crowd favorite, commands the stage with such a gentle ease to it. The rest of the band shouldn’t be slept on though as each plays a heavy role that they made look easy. Even not being a huge fan myself of them on record, live was an entirely different experience. It was one that caught you in and took you through an emotional ride not letting you go.

Closing out the night was Mastodon who hit the stage hard and fast kicking right into “Pain With An Anchor” off of 2021’s Hushed And Grim. Their set consisted very heavily from last year’s album release, and saw a few songs mixed in from other albums in their career. Tet shockingly, it missed anything from 2017s Emperor Of Sand.

With high energy though and playing heavily to the crowd the band was on an almost constant move. Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, and Troy Sanders can work a crowd like many could only dream of while playing songs that would give even the most experienced some issues at times. They made sure to up the light game even more than Opeth bringing in some lasers that would make even Pink Floyd want to step it up even more. From any spot in the venue you were sucked into an audio and visual experience that you hadn’t even thought was possible for a smaller venue.

This is a must see tour for fans or even just fans of the genre in general.

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