OPETH, MASTODON AND GHOST @ FILLMORE SILVER SPRING 5/9/2012
I am getting too old for this shit. Sorry, I just had to quote one of Danny Glover’s “Lethal Weapon” lines after waking up to pain this morning. Not too old for metal of course, just too old for the pit. My shoulder and elbow are pretty stiff and I have a bit of trouble bending my arm. Think I might have hyperextended the elbow. In all sports you eventually have to bow to age and throw in the towel, and I think my time has come. No more pit action for me. More on that later, let’s talk about the show.
Buke and I had been trying to catch Ghost for many months now, and have missed them on several occasions when they ventured into the D.C. area. We were finally able to see them last night at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, and not only were they incredible, but they were the highlight of the evening.
Ghost’s “Eponymous” album, with its retro 80s Mercyful Fate-like sound, clean, melodic vocals, and Satanic lyrics and imagery has (re)breathed new life into the current metal scene. While their sound is far from original, at the time the album was released there was not much metal being produced in that style (at least not on a global scale) and so it stood out from all the death and black metal. I, along with hordes of others, quickly latched onto the band and sang their praise (see the RMC review.) Inevitably the success of the album spawned a new trend and now retro doomlike metal bands are popping up left and right. Some of them are capable, but so far no one is on the same level as Ghost.
Part of the mystique of Ghost is that they hide their identities behind stage costumes. Singer, Papa Emeritus, dresses like a Satanic pope and wears a mask to make him look like an old man while the rest of the band dress in dark hooded robes with their faces covered and are known by the title of Nameless Ghouls. The band looked phenomenal on stage (the churchlike backdrop did a marvellous job of setting the mood) though I could not help thinking the Nameless Ghouls looked like Dethklok henchmen. Which is not a terrible thing in my opinion, I love me some Dethklok, but just something I noted.
The album has a very 80s production sound, which adds great atmosphere, but does not provide a thunderous listening experience. Live, however, the music was much heavier and sounded positively brilliant. The sound had a lot more low-end and in general the sound was much fuller. Ghost was what brought me to the show, Ghost was the highlight of the show, and everything went downhill after Ghost.
I will limit myself to one paragraph about Mastodon. I have never been a Mastodon fan, and their set last night did nothing to change that for me. They sounded technically proficient, but the sound was terrible, the songs uninteresting (“Curl of the Burl” is the most ridiculous song to be considered metal) and they played for way too long. They sure are popular though. It was during their set that I sustained my injuries while fending off over-zealous Mastodon fans. I honestly do not understand why so many people like this band, but whatever. Their set would have been more tolerable had it been about half as long as it was. Without a doubt they played longer than Opeth.
When I said it went downhill after Ghost, it was not meant to be a slight toward the awesomeness that is Opeth. I love Opeth; they are brilliant. The thing is though, that I just saw Opeth a few months ago at Rams Head Live and they played longer and sounded better at that show. Since this was my first time seeing Ghost (and fourth time seeing Opeth), and Ghost had such a theatrical show, you cannot blame me for feeling Opeth was upstaged by their opener. It is always a pleasure to see the Opeth crew, but this evening was all about Ghost.