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HERITAGE HUNTER TOUR HITS NYC: MASTODON/OPETH/GHOST AT ROSELAND BALLROOM, 4/11/12

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It’s funny how one’s perception of one’s favorite bands can evolve over time. Naturally that has much to do with the (expected and/or unexpected) directions said fave bands take, not to mention the directions one’s own musical tastes go in. These elements can either clash and create new disappointments or perhaps enhance one’s respects for particular artists, but in any case it’s mighty difficult to sit in just one feeling about a band for the long haul.

Opeth and Mastodon are two groups that have been acquiring a fair amount of criticism as of late. Both bands’ new albums (Heritage and The Hunter, respectively) are under great scrutiny for largely being “too different” from previous offerings — which, frankly, is ridiculous; if you are a music listener who cares anything about artistry then you shouldn’t accept musicians who refuse to grow and simply re-hash alternate versions of their earlier works.

Yes, of course I get that when a heavy and/or proggy band becomes less heavy and/or less proggy that is justifiably a cause for alarm for many (myself included!), but if it’s simply the changes of a new sound or direction that freaks people out, then said people need to chill the fuck out and open their minds to something new.

So I will say up front that I am a fan of both Opeth and Mastodon’s new albums. I believe they each represent exciting new directions for the bands, and have enjoyed listening to them repeatedly (especially The Hunter, which ended up as my “#1” album for last year).

I will go on further to say that I saw Mastodon’s last recent tour (with Red Fang and The Dillinger Escape Plan) and LOVED that show with all my heart — Mastodon killed that one. Yes, I’ve seen the band several times and yes, a couple of those times were indeed disappointing; they can do wrong in my eyes.

But this time around it is with hesitation that I reveal that the ‘don was simply okay last week at Roseland Ballroom. Not bad by any means, but a bit less fiery than the stupendous show I witnessed last Fall. They played a slightly different set which was still mostly laden with new songs, and didn’t utter a word in between jamz…..all business.

People love to hate on Mastodon these days, but I’m giving them a ginormous pass. This legendary band seems ready for a break, and then hopefully onto something new.

Conversely, I can unfortunately say wholeheartedly that Opeth was indeed a significant disappointment this time around. As I mentioned earlier, I am a fan of their new album — I believe it’s a solid piece of work to smoke a J and listen to in the confines of one’s own home….but live, snore city! Slopeth, as a friend accurately dubbed them last week, played mostly new, mellow material, and unfortunately it made this audience member yearn for a nap. I gotta half-agree with the Tin Man on this one, the lack of heaviness worked against the band in a live setting. Heritage still rules, but I kind of felt like I was at an adult contemporary concert.

Mikael’s in-between-song banter was hilarious as usual, and drummer Martin Axenrot definitely seems to have grown into the band via this new material. Martin Lopez left some mighty big shoes to fill, but the band seems to gel with Axenrot now more than ever.

At the end of the day, it’s Opeth and you can’t turn your back on them. I predict the next album will be much heavier, probably an entirely heavy album. We shall see.

Since I’m working backwards here, it’s time to assess the tour’s opener, Ghost from Sweden. This band’s music barely moves me, but in concert the shrouded robes and frontman’s spooky ghoulish mask created a fairly entertaining spectacle.

The most hilarious part though, is how this guy (apparently he goes by Papa Emeritus) looks all evil and scary and talks all creepy and mysterious in between songs, and then out of nowhere belts out a piercingly melodic alto voice that’s totally unexpected and pretty awesome.

Girl can sang!

However, despite the strong singing, interesting back-n-forth guitar dynamics/guitarmonies, and textural bonus of keyboards, overall the music is pretty……yawwwwn…..boring. Why do some people love this band so much? Are costumes THAT exciting???

Some easy snap judgements:
-Ghost was not br00tal at all except for a couple brief moments (sad face)
-their drummer plays like a middle schooler, all twos n fours (sad face)
-several chord progressions really felt like Opeth lite
-hard to take this dude seriously, he looks like a weirdo and his crowd riling is so soft
-must be hot under those robes, are they hiding g-strings? Boners?
-lighting pretty cool, especially on singer, but the barrage of strobes may induce a seizure
-visually cool (duh), but I’ll take music over spectacle any day of the week

Dassit!!!!

-KW

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