Opeth/Enslaved at Academy, Bristol - live review

Progressive voyagers bring the riches – and the stitches

Art for Opeth/Enslaved at Academy, Bristol

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The only thing more cramped than the three square feet of stage allocated to ENSLAVED [8] is their set time, which means we get just five of their most recent, daring sagas. But with the affable Grutle Kjellson revelling in the occasion and bringing a human element to the sweeping majesty of Storm Son and Sacred Horse from their exceptional recent opus, E, the Norwegians make every second seem vital, with new keyboardist Håkon Vinje’s vocals sounding particularly entrancing. Perhaps Grutle’s spent a bit too much time with Mikael Åkerfeldt, whose increasingly legendary dry stand-up is on point tonight, whether it’s admitting defeat from hecklers or indulging in a hilarious acoustic cover of Napalm Death’s You Suffer. Either side of the jokes, however, OPETH [9] are magnificent. Sounding every inch the reigning kings of progressive music and cherrypickingfavourites from throughout their career, they mould an engrossing two hours that handily placates the few knuckle-draggers who have spent the band’s last two visits to the city demanding they “just play some death metal”. Backed by hypnotic visuals and blinding searchlights, every ebb and flow of a 20-year career is woven in, from the acerbic Sorceress and Ghost Of Perdition’s clash of emotion to the ethereal fragility of Windowpane and monolithic closer Deliverance. The Swedes again leave no stone unturned in their ever-evolving quest to rewrite the rulebook.

Adam Brennan

Rugby, Sean Bean and power ballad superfan Adam has been writing for Hammer since 2007, and has a bad habit of constructing sentences longer than most Dream Theater songs. Can usually be found cowering at the back of gigs in Bristol and Cardiff. Bruce Dickinson once called him a 'sad bastard'.