Published Mar 08, 2011Following their recent reunion and a widely acclaimed comeback with last year's maliciously focused Jupiter, Atheist had expectations running high for their first Canadian appearance in two decades. Still, many simply never believed they would get a chance to see the technical death metal pioneers and were content to simply take the show for whatever it turned out to be.
Of course, a strong support bill is a huge part of what makes such a momentous occasion really resonate, and thankfully, the opening acts for the most part didn't disappoint. Profaner's opening salvo was straightforward but refreshingly bullshit-free, launching unreservedly into a memorably brief procession of familiar but likable melodic thrash riffing. This was capped off with a pretty staggering drum performance and a none-too-subtle Metallica homage to boot.
Profaner arguably stole the show from Hallows Die, who played slightly less exuberantly but still held the audience captive with creatively structured yet groove-laden melodeath that leaned slightly more towards the progressive/atmospheric side of the genre. The sole weak link in the evening turned out to be technically competent but uninspiring Last Chance to Reason.
However, they were all quickly forgotten as Atheist took the stage in appropriately compelling fashion, kicking off with the indisputably classic introductory atmospherics of "Unquestionable Presence" and barrelling through a satisfyingly diverse range of tracks from all four of their full-lengths.
While the band offered recent numbers such as the Pope-baiting "Fraudulent Cloth," fan favorites like the title track from their debut full-length Piece of Time elicited the strongest reactions, with a handful of dedicated fans pushed tight to the stage to witness the dizzying skill and charismatic stoner-isms of frontman Kelly Shaefer up close. Even the then controversial yet retrospectively brilliant Elements was fully represented, with their jaw-dropping rendition of "Mineral" standing out as a highlight.
With a great balance of local talent, established pioneers and the inevitable dud act, the show was a resounding success, both as a representation of where Atheist are today and as a sign of good faith to their fans that they aren't likely to lose sight of what made them great in first place.