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ConcertsOpeth plus Pain Of Salvation at Birmingham O2 Academy 11.12.11

Posted on Sunday, November 13 2011 @ 08:10:02 CST by Dean Pedley
Progressive Metal "You want to mosh? Go see Anthrax. I used to mosh...when I was a lot younger." So says Mikael Akerfeldt, delivering a swift riposte to one particularly vocal member of the audience who is urging the band to play some "moshing music". Sometime later in the evening said audience member gets his brief chance to mosh as Akerfeldt provides four renditions of Napalm Death's one-second noisefest "You Suffer". SoT's Dean Pedley reports from Birmingham where Opeth are joined by fellow Swedes Pain of Salvation for their UK tour in support of Heritage.

Pain Of Salvation are shedding members at an alarming rate with more departures apparently set for the conclusion of this current run. Not that they appear to be in downbeat mood during a notably animated forty-five minutes that sees Daniel Gildenlow leaping about the cluttered stage. Entering to the strains of "Road Salt Theme" they ease into the haunting "Softly She Cries" with the tight-knit precision for which they are renowned. With almost all of their work conceptual they are careful to select pieces that work well in isolation and "Ashes", "1979" and "Linoleum" do precisely that, providing a good representation of their shifts in mood and style. Punchy riffs, aching vocals and some dazzling displays of musicianship are par for the course with this band who have never sat comfortably within any specific genre. Judging by the amount of activity at the merchandise stand at the end of "The Perfect Element" Pain Of Salvation won many new admirers in Birmingham and can be assured of a warm welcome back if and when they return.

The stage is bathed in a sea of red for Opeth who start, somewhat unsurprisingly, with "The Devil's Orchard" and its statement of intent that "God is dead". With no hint of anything representing a grunt or a growl "I Feel The Dark" is followed by the sublime "Face of Melinda" that sends shivers up the spine. "Porcelain Heart" is extended to incorporate Axenrot's drum solo and this early in the set it proves something of a momentum killer. Taking to a stool for the three song acoustic section Akerfeldt delivers a stunning "The Throat of Winter" being well supported by new keyboard player Joakim Svalberg. Engaging the audience in a debate as to Birmingham's best band, ("Duran Duran? UB40? I fucking hate that band"), prompts Akerfeldt to launch into the Napalm Death riff four consecutive times with the crowd providing the "vocals". "Slither" is prefaced by conversations about Blackmore with Ronnie James Dio and is the most up-tempo moment of the set. "A Fair Judgement" seems to drag its heels before the closing drone of "Hex Omega" with the melodic beauty of "Folklore" as the sole encore. The pacing of the set was not always successful and this was something of a stop-start performance from Opeth as they work on introducing the new material. The full extent of the division that Heritage has created amongst the fanbase has yet to be determined but what is clear is that Opeth in 2011 present a very different proposition to what has gone before.

Reviewed by Dean Pedley

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