Opeth + In Flames @ Montreal Metropolis – December 20th 2014

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On an uncharacteristically mild Montreal late December night, two of Sweden’s fiercest imports strolled into town, carrying guitars.

Montreal is a city known for many things; among them, an out-dated transit system. How else do you explain ordering new trains that don’t fit in the tunnels they were purchased for? I spent a half-hour sat on a metro platform waiting for service to return and, for the second time in my life, missed Red Fang. I arrived a few minutes into In Flames’ opening song and struggled to squeeze myself into the capacity gathering.

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The entirety of In Flames’ set consisted of material written after the group had chosen to market themselves more towards the Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot audiences, completely ignoring everything from their older catalog. How does a once ground breaking band that helped create a whole new (for its time) style of extreme music just turn its back on its own creation? Still, In Flames have now been playing in this vein longer than they had played their original style, and the participants of the crowd that had shown up for them most probably did so expecting more recent tunes.

If I am going to critique what I found wrong with their set, then I should point out the good as well. In Flames are as tight live as they are on studio recordings, and they were heavily applauded and cheered by the sold out crowd for their efforts. Early in, they were already chanting the “Ole” song normally reserved for our local sports teams as they trounce rival squads. Turns out, frontman Anders Friden is quite a comical cat. His between-song banter received laughter on several occasions. He is also a man with wisdom to share; “Just a piece of advice, stay away from bad beer and shit”, said Friden, “Life is too short. Eat good. Drink good. Fuck Budweiser”, before beginning their last tune of the night, “Take This Life”.

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The night belonged to Opeth, though, who were incredible as they always seem to be. Kicking into gear with “Eternal Rains Will Come” followed by “Cusp Of Eternity”, which are also the first two tracks off of the band’s newest recording; “Pale Communion”. The fans roared as the first few notes to “The Drapery Falls” from their ground breaking “Blackwater Park” album hit their ears. As was the case with In Flames, Opeth were bang on with every note they played and the tone being emitted from the ample sound system was dazzling. The raucous crowd reacted by chanting the band’s name following the song. Mikael Akerfeldt took the opportunity to introduce the band at this point, and to inform everyone that they are from “the superior hockey nation of Sweden”, which earned a few boos and some laughs. He then announced that they would be playing some songs that dated back to the 90s and I hoped In Flames would take note of that fact. True to his word, the following song played was “The Moor” from the “Still Life” album.

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“Do you like to dance, Montreal?” asked Mikael Akerfeldt, before responding to his own question with “That’s not true, you’re lying. Metal people don’t dance. Unless it’s to a Scorpions ballad from the 80s. And occasionally a Lionel Ritchie song, like “Hello”.” And then began “Windowpane”. “The Lotus Eater” followed that before a brief pause to introduce the band members and to sing happy birthday to Mick the light man, who was turning fifty on the night. And then the evening concluded with “Deliverance”.

As people funnelled out of the building, all that could be heard was praise for how incredible Opeth had been. Each and every time I have seen them, the end result was always exactly that.

Review & photos – Kieron Yates

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