Fans packed into the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on May 1st, 2009 to see the duo of Enslaved
open up their month-long tour. For the former, it was their first show in Jersey in over half a decade, while the latter hasn’t toured the states since last fall. Both bands recently released critically-acclaimed albums, Vertebrae
respectively, and have helped pioneer the extreme progressive metal
genre. Even with some sound issues during Enslaved’s set, the show was a phenomenal display of technical prowess, with a few surprises along the way.
The Norwegian band has slowly evolved from a Viking/black metal hybrid to include more progressive influences, sounding like a trip to hell with Wish You Were Here
blasting out of the car speakers. Their 45-minute set was workman-like in its execution, with little time for interaction with the crowd. The sound was the only major issue, as the instruments seemed muddled and the lead guitar work of Arve Isdal was mixed way too low. The band worked through these problems and impressed most of the crowd.
Enslaved Concert Photo Gallery
For two hours, Opeth tore the roof off the Starland Ballroom. The Swedish band played material from nearly every album, only skipping Orchid.
Opening with a new tune, “Heir Apparent,” frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt had a commanding stage presence from the start. Joking around with the audience about Skid Row, Bon Jovi, the swine flu, and the well-known New Jersey record store Vintage Vinyl, Åkerfeldt has a quirky sense of humor that was front and center throughout the live set.
The band sounded tight and avoided the sound issues that Enslaved ran into earlier in the night. The crowd responded well to the Watershed material, as well as fan favorites “Deliverance” and “The Leper Affinity.” The slower material also came across well in a live setting, with Opeth turning the acoustic-heavy “Credence” into a 70’s-style jam session that builds perfectly to the epic “Hessian Peel.”
As a live band, Opeth has loosened up over the years, with Åkerfeldt breaking out of his shell and communicating better with the crowd. The band makes each gig seem like a significant moment in Opeth’s career. Opeth is arguably at the top of their game right now, and their live show is one of the reasons for that. If the smiles and laughs at the end of show was any indication, the band members seem to be having the time of their lives.
Opeth Concert Photo Gallery