Between the Buried and Me / Cynic / Devin Townsend Project / Scale the Summit Opera House, Toronto ON January 26

Between the Buried and Me / Cynic / Devin Townsend Project / Scale the Summit Opera House, Toronto ON January 26
The scalpers were buying, not selling in front of Toronto's Opera House — clearly, the good buzz about this tour had spread.

When Scale the Summit hit their first chords, the floor was already filling with fans and the curious. The young four-piece had no vocalist but nearly made up for it in extra guitar and bass strings — a strong recurring sign of the night's progressive direction — and they put that musical versatility to good use. In a short set the band's melodic and harmonic feats were able to make up for the lack of human voice, and live they conveyed more solid heaviness than their recordings.

But it was Devin Townsend who sparked the first real excitement, with shouts of "Devin" greeting him as he set up his gear. Material from the new Devin Townsend Project blended in with older tracks from Ocean Machine and the other "solo" albums, all obviously chosen for a metal crowd. Dressed in a pin-stripe suit, Townsend's more "mature" image didn't dampen his ironic energy. From his promise to rock our "proverbial twats off" to his climactic "Ziltoid" closer, he delivered the mix of talent, passion and humour his fans expect and love.

Cynic carried on with their own heavy intensity but their contemplative melodies and wide-ranging sounds (and yoga demonstration) slowed things down a notch, opening up a little breathing space punctuated by bursts of aggression. Their mellower and jazzier set, including a never-heard-before number, drew a more subdued but attentive reaction. It was hard not to be mesmerized by their intricately tight performance and banks of effects, and their dynamic return to musical life.

But for all the skill and vitality of the opening acts, there was no question that Between the Buried and Me were the main attraction. The shouts of "B-T-BAM," the press toward the stage, the pit action — after the finesse of the earlier bands, Between the Buried and Me and the reaction they provoked verged on uncontrolled chaos. The long songs flowed and flailed in constant aggressive motion, and the mild frenzy was like a release, the final pay-off in a night of concentrated metallic mastery.