Mastodon and Opeth at The Masonic Temple in Detroit, MI

Mastodon @ The Masonic Temple, Detroit | Photo by Jena McShane

Heavy metal reigned supreme as legendary bands Opeth and Mastodon got the entirety of the historic Detroit Masonic Temple Building headbanging.

If you ask someone on the street to name the biggest names in metal music, there are a few typical bands that may come to the mind of the average person. Ask the same question to any modern metalhead and they will likely offer up Mastodon and Opeth near the top of their list. The raw power, musicianship, and influence of these two powerhouses make them among the most important metal groups touring today. The two have teamed up to co-headline the second leg of their North American tour that started last year, with Mastodon supporting the release of their 2021 album Hushed and Grim and Opeth supporting their 13th album In Cauda Venenum, released in 2019.

The Detroit Masonic Temple Building was a fitting venue for such illustrious metal gods. The towering, nearly 100-year-old, neo-gothic limestone structure is the largest Masonic Temple in the world. In contrast to some historic theaters, it also has an unpolished grittiness to it that makes even the darkest metal fans feel at home. 

Denver-based doom metal band Khemmis set the mood for the night. The three-piece group hails from Denver and has built a name for themselves by featuring tight, emotionally honest songwriting, and displaying technical prowess throughout their tracks.

Khemmis played a brief, but powerful, five-song setlist which opened with “Avernal Gate” from their 2021 album Deceiver. They then turned back the clocks a few years by giving fans a taste of their early work with “Three Gates” from their 2016 album Hunted before weaving between some of their latest tracks and fan favorites. 

After a brief intermission, it was time for co-headliner Opeth to take the stage. Lead vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt got the crowd going by reminiscing about their first time playing in Detroit at the now-shuttered I-Rock Nightclub as fans shouted their support for the band. Åkerfeldt laughed and responded, “Calm down, Detroit,” before launching into their show. 

The Swedish prog-metal behemoths are known for pulling from a wide range of influences – from King Crimson and Genesis to Judas Priest and Morbid Angel – to craft their sound. That full spectrum was on display with their opening song “Heart in Hand,” from their latest album In Cauda VenenumFans were then given a sampling that primarily ranged between their early 2000s to the 2000-teens work. The setlist included some of their biggest hits “In My Time of Need,” from their 2003 LP Damnation, as well as “Ghost of Perdition,” from their 2005 album Ghost Revelries.

Opeth’s share of the show closed with “Deliverance,” the title track of their sixth studio album that had the entire building banging their heads. As he left the stage, vocalist Åkerfeldt told the crowd, “I must say, Detroit, you never disappoint. You never have.”

Next up, the other co-headliner, Mastodon, took the stage to a roaring crowd. Like Opeth, the group is known for mixing a broad range of musical influences from progressive to thrash metal to psychedelic. While the group likes to avoid hard labels, they made one thing loud and clear: they freaking rock. The group kicked off with “Pain with an Anchor” from their latest album Hushed and Grim. Fans were treated to a healthy sampling of songs from that same album, including “The Crux,” “Teardrinker,” and “Pushing Tides.” 

Longtime fans were happy to get the mosh pits going as Mastadon reach back into their catalog to play songs like “Megalodon” from their 2004 masterpiece album Leviathan and “Bladecatcher” from 2006’s Blood Mountain while trippy visuals played on the screen. 

Mastodon closed out the evening with a mix of the classic and the new. “Mother Puncher” from their debut album Remission, “Gigantium” again from Leviathan, and then “Blood and Thunder” from Hush and Grim capped off an unforgettable night. 

MASTODON
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OPETH
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KHEMMIS
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THE MASONIC TEMPLE
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About Jena McShane 27 Articles
Jena McShane is a Lansing, MI based photographer specializing in candid portraiture, live music, and stormy landscapes.