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Review: Opeth and The Sword at Stage AE Pittsburgh

While much of the music consumers out there are eating up corporate crap, there are still some true artists out there, in every genre, that are truly unique and influential.  The “metal” world has the almighty Opeth that has been blowing minds with their musical prowess since 1990 with their one consistent member: guitarist, and songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt.  There is no true way to categorize Opeth as within one song your ears can be swayed to death metal, folk, jazz,blues, classical, and a myriad of other sub-genres.

It had been almost five years since Opeth came back to Pittsburgh (the last time at Stage AE as well) and they came with new material from Sorceress, their new album out today(Purchase, download and stream Sorceress now at www.opeth.com/stores), as well as pulling out some really old classic stuff {see set list below}.  The band is perfect live as they are tighter than a nun and harrowingly intense.  Akerfeldt is amazing to watch and listen to, his voice with great range- from guttural depth to high pitch- as well as his precise guitar mastery.  Of course, Fredrik Åkesson is no slouch and can shred, lay back, or thrash at the drop of a hat.  Sometimes one can forget what a layer that keyboards can make and truly Opeth would not sound right live without Joakim Svalberg.  Bass player Martín Méndez displayed frightening skill on his 5 string bass and was completely in tune with percussionist Martin “Axe” Axenrot who does not get enough credit for his prowess.

As Rollingstone.com pointed out, “Sorceress is an expression of how much Opeth can accomplish without the strictures of extreme metal”.  Rolling Stone needs to realize that it is not this 12th record that marks a recreation of the band, but that Opeth has been doing it all along.

Speaking of reinvention, The Sword was an excellent band to pair up with Opeth as openers.  While their style is much different than Opeth, they themselves have a way of sweeping through genres in their history.  Rising out of Austin in 2003, the band started out as a “doom” oriented stoner metal band.  What they have evolved into, especially after the last two records, is something that cannot be categorized.  Like their tour mates, they have great range, from doom metal to hard rock to influences of classic country.  Their latest, High Country and it’s just released acoustic Low Country, is a testament to how much they have evolved.

The band came out blazing and ripping with “Cloak of Feathers” from Apocryphon and then right into “Dream Thieves” from High Country.  The audience reacted to every song and was enthralled by the performance of  John D. Cronise who is the songwriting mastermind behind the majority of the band’s material.  Guitarist Kyle Shutt showed serious chops and soul, and  Bryan Richie and drummer Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III were equally amazing.  The Sword is an excellent recording band, but they truly need to be witnessed live to fully appreciate how good they really are.

All photos 2016 AWeldingphoto

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