Gig Review and Photography by Neale Hayes.

Tonight we venture into the world of progressive metal; specifically of the Nordic variety. The 02 Institute in Birmingham presents us with Enslaved from Norway, a band that has been on the radar since the nineties and has a large back catalogue to choose from. The headliner tonight, Opeth, have garnered much success in their 18 years since formation, with frequent changes in style along the way.

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Enslaved take to the stage in front of an eager crowd in Birmingham, many Enslaved t-shirts were spotted upon arrival and this being my first time seeing them I expected great things. In typical progressive metal fashion, they kick things off with the beautiful ‘Storm Son’ released with Nuclear Blast Records from, ‘E’ (2017). It starts mystical and almost stoner-rockesque, but about 3 minutes in we are greeted with piercing single note guitar work and echoey screaming. I’m intrigued.

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‘Roots of the Mountain’ (2012), totally the opposite from the starting material, black metal shrieks comparable with Dimmu Borgir; the melodic nature is still very much there. The fans in the room showed themselves during this one, particularly during the cleaner parts of the song where voices were heard chanting the lyrics.

‘One Thousand Years In Rain’ (2015), another progressive one but with all the brutality of earlier work, especially from the lead. The riffs in this song were beautifully executed, giving a sinister vibe to their set. Their songs often have lyrical content based on Norse mythology which again adds to the fantastical and mystic nature to the band.

Enslaved (11)

Enslaved (10)

Enslaved (1)

They took a moment during their set to talk to the fans and they seemed like a great bunch of guys; wouldn’t say no to a beer with them. They introduced a new member of the band to the fans which they loved and cheered. The only issue I had during their set was the red lighting throughout which made it difficult to photograph.

Opeth took to the stage in a similar fashion; each member being cheered on ferociously by the now packed out room. The demographic was mixed tonight which was nice to see; a room of all ages enjoying some good old slow burning metal.

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Embarking on the ‘Sorceress World Tour’, Opeth are out and about promoting their latest record release ‘Sorceress’ (2016), astonishingly their 12th album. Lead singer Mikael Akerfeldt wastes no time in getting the ball rolling with ‘Sorceress’; a synthy start which segues into a riffy rock number when Mikael starts singing. Comparisons can be made with King Crimson and Deep Purple; the stoner vibe is always there.

‘Demon of the Fall’ (1998) offered some comparison with older and new stuff, instantly the song dives into technical heavy metal; crushing drum rolls and spacey keyboarding to boot. The vocals are evidently heavier also; guttoral and almost satanic. Mikael’s vocal range is impressive already. The early experiments with a more progressive style is evident; the song does change mood into slower parts at times.

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Opeth (18)

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‘Moon Above, Sun Below’ (2014), began with a synth beat which almost had a shock horror movie feel to it for me. It’s astonishing how different this is too older stuff; being more like Rush here than Gorgoroth. Some parts even feel quite indie which is surprising, the shock horror feel reminding me of Ghost. They played ‘Haxprocess’ from Heritage (2011) before this song and that album is considered the transition album between the two styles. I think they pull quite a few styles off astonishingly well and it’s very unique. The newer stuff isn’t without it’s beautiful metal solos I might add.

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Opeth (1)

They ended with ‘Deliverance’ (2002), an older song before ‘Heritage’ (2011) that is 13minutes in length, they’ll be putting bands such as Dream Theatre in their place going on like this. The song is an experimental mix of clean and black metal vocals, with synthy segues which add another dimension to it. Overall I thought they performed very well. Mikael lead from the front tonight and the room was headbanging along all night. All the best to them on the rest of their tour.

For more images from tonight’s gig visit our Flickr page.

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