This was my first time at the Opera House. I missed Lazerus A.D. and Evile unfortunately, but came in time to see Nachtmystium's last three songs. The sound in the venue was great. It holds a lot of people (the place was packed by 10:30 or 11) but has the intimate feeling of a smaller venue. There are a couple tiered landings leading down to the main floor and stage, and a second floor balcony. There are three bars in this one room! One in the back and two on either side of the floor. In fact, the design was almost identical to the Palladium in Worcester, MA if you've been there, but a little smaller and giving the impression of being close to the stage no matter where you're standing.
The place was pretty full when I arrived, but not many people were moshing to Nachtmystium. The first thing I noticed was that the crowd was cleanly divided between old-school metalheads in their 40+ years and teenagers starting from probably 13. These were the majority, so there were not a *ton* of people my age, it seemed. So, getting back to the bands. I've come to appreciate Nachtmystium's newest album, Assassins, and that's partly the reason I came to this show. The album is a nice fusion of their psychedelic US black metal, already unique in itself, with a modern punk sound. Blake's vocals, while always a little too monotonous and flat on their prior black metal albums, is much better suited for the yelling choruses they use now. They sounded great at this show. They've retained the dense fuzz and psychedelia from their black metal sound (even perfected it) but improved it by adding punchier riffs, changes and breaks, resulting in songs that are more fun and accessible. Now it's more about throwing your fist in the air, drinking beer and jumping around wreaking havoc, as opposed to locking into a hypnotized headbang groove. Or perhaps they were even too epic for thrashy headbanging, more like serious hairswaying with an occassional fist. Now their sound is more energized, but still very seriously metal, so they've really become a headbanger's delight. Blake was also in great shape, having lost apparently a lot of weight recently. He was wearing form-fitting black pants or leggings with boots and a dark off-black band shirt, and looked as stylish as ever (the pants were definitely a bonus!). They finished up their set with the title track, Assassins, and without much to-do they exited to make way for the mighty Voivod.
Voivod played with the original lineup minus Piggy, their guitarist, who died a few years ago and has been replaced by Dan Mongrain of tech-death fame (playing live with Capharnum, Quo Vadis, Cryptopsy, etc). I never listened to Voivod until I recently discovered the two albums that Eric Forrest did vocals on while Bélanger was on leave - Phobos and Negatron. These are amazing, so I was inspired to see how these guys were live. They played a really fun set and definitely rocked the place. They played tracks off their late album and I believe Fuck Off And Die from the album Rrröööaaarrr. Bélanger was always smiling. He seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself and interacted a lot with the crowd. Although I don't like the new stuff on their studio albums, I thought their vocal choruses together added a lot to the live set. Blacky had a huge bass that looked like a weapon. The drumming and bass both sounded great.
Then Kreator came on and took things to a whole new level of thrash agression. They pulled songs out of my memory that I haven't heard in in ages, and the sound was fierce. The guitars have a sharp edge like a sawblade. They had tons of energy and rocked out on stage (doing the coordinated headbang together a lot) but at the same time maintained a cool, casual air. When I got up close during the encore, I couldn't believe that they didn't even appear to be sweating (especially Petrozza the vocalist, who was wearing a longsleeve). They're practiced performers, so it's no wonder they were able to deliver. They also had a stellar light show, and the stage art was nice. The drummer was on an extra high platform, so his huge drumset was imposing and it was easy to see him play. I thought the blond guitarist had an imperial expression that I thought was very German, but in fact he's Finnish. Anyway, their whole set was great, including the encore. Everyone was into it.
The bands that played tonight were really well matched, and Nachtmystium also fit the bill while adding some variety. This is probably part of the reason why the place was packed on a Tuesday night.