It was a damp and dreary Manchester evening, to be expected at this time of year, in particular in the North West. Brightening the miserable November evening and to mark the joyous occasion of having released new records this year, a duo of Swedish titans Pain Of Salvation and the mighty Opeth were determined to entertain Manchester with their intricately intelligent sounds.

Pain Of Salvation are not particularly familiar in the British Isles, but they do have a reputable status across the pond. So, this will be the long-awaited task that the team of Daniel Gildenlöw [vocals/guitars], Léo Margarit [drums], Carl Hallgren [guitars/backing vocals], Daniel Karlsson [bass/backing vocals] and Fredrik Hermansson [keyboards] to take on. Beginning with the gritty ‘Softly She Cries’ and the simply effective ‘Ashes,’ both tracks were accompanied with heaviness and dark tones along with Gildenlöw‘s seductive croons. Next was progressive rock track ‘No Way’ and piano/vocal duet ‘1979’. What we adored about their set was the versatility of exploring their genre and despite playing many styles, they are still capable to interact with their fans and fellow comrades.

When the spectators heard ‘To the Shoreline’ for the first time, it was immediately reminiscent of ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold,’ it was as though Pain Of Salvation were paying homage to the track! The last two tracks for the night were ‘Linoleum,’ which had the combination of calm and heavy rock and the ten minute mammoth ‘The Perfect Element’ marked their Dream Theater influences that took us on a trip of floating in the air. Pain Of Salvation received well-deserved applause from the Manchester crowd, who were truly impressed.

Opeth have certainly come a long way from releasing very strong records with a track record of over two decades. Now with the promotion to their new risk-taking opus “Heritage,” they’re on a mission to keep their crown.

As soon as ‘The Devil’s Orchard’ echoed through the halls, it took all witnessing the set on a  trip through their exquisite sounds of progressive, folk, blues, classical and jazz influences. Technical guitar work through ‘Feel The Dark’ and a fan favourite ‘Face of Melinda’ with its tickles of the mellotron and calm serenading guitar/vocal work.

The crowd particularly enjoyed Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s anecdotes of KISS and how he either likes/hates and got the crowd laughing through his blunt and wry humour. Another old fan favourite ‘Porcelain Heart’ came crashing through. The fans were taken on a rollercoaster ride of heavy and light flows with a thunderous drum solo provided by Martin Axenrot. Then, ‘Nepenthe’ began another journey signalling the time for a round of acoustic tracks. So the electric guitars were swapped and in came and soft ‘The Throat of Winter,’ the haunting ‘Credence,’ and fan favourite ‘Closure’ which gave the opportunity to appreciate the exceptional musicianship given by members Fredrik Åkesson [guitarist], Martín Méndez [bass] and Joakim Svalberg [keyboards].

Returning back to electric guitars to play, what could be considered to be the only heavy track of the night, ‘Slither’ followed by the fairly dramatic ‘A Fair Judgement’ and ‘Hex Omega’. After much amusing anecdotes of each member, provided by Åkerfeldt, the final track of the night was ‘Folklore’ which provided Manchester with a closer that fits the Opeth sound quite nicely to close their set of the night.

Now, Opeth are such a sophisticated band. Their music is layered complex, deeply involved and skilfully written. The only two things missing from the set and what made Opeth recognisable were the heavier songs and the death metal growls . Maybe the set was aiming to be something along the lines of Porcupine Tree or late Anathema, being rather more delicate than aggressive. To witness the Swedes take folk tunes and mix it with Opeth‘s unique style of 70’s inspired progressive metal without the growls, it was a brave move to be admired but not for many of the hardcore fans of Manchester who missed the brutality throughout the set.

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