Dark Funeral / Enslaved / Abigail Williams / Eclipse Eternal The Opera House, Toronto ON January 13

As any adamant metal enthusiast will tell you, there’s really nothing quite like the spectacle that is your typical black metal show. Locals Eclipse Eternal opened the "corpse paint convention” with their brand of demonic fervour, followed by Abigail Williams, an Arizona act with an affinity for raucous melodies underwritten by a stygian take on metalcore. Though seemingly solid, they were the unfortunate victims of poor sound, much of their set undermined by a serious lack of quality in all sonic departments. After a lengthy North American absence, Enslaved took the stage, quickly claiming their pedestal as the highlight of the evening by flawlessly moving through a set of songs drawn mostly from their recent albums. The enraptured crowd responded enthusiastically, though occasionally overly so considering their music isn’t always best to move to. They had the best sound of the night, as their clever manoeuvring and admirable musicianship translated cleanly throughout the Opera House. The drapery in the background displayed video content, adding a visual element that both energised and synergised their set, omitting and eliciting a rare intensity that created a spine tingling atmosphere that only a few bands are able to capture effectively. Following a mass exodus, Dark Funeral had the unfortunate task of trailing brilliance, closing the night with their conventional brand of black metal sludge. Their set was mechanic and uninspired, with the members trudging and hacking their way through a monotonous set. Though aiming for evil, there was nothing menacing about them or their music; in the poignant words of the almighty Crotchduster: "Nobody’s afraid of guys who wear makeup.” Once again, those at the helm managed to blur the mix and the sound became a deafening mash more than once, further undermining an already disappointing performance. Taken together, Enslaved easily dominated their peers, leaving the audience satisfied with the fact that they just witnessed something genuinely inspiring.