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I’ve played League of Legends for 10 years and have been a musician for more than twice as long, so it’s only natural that I’ve always been interested in Riot Games Music’s projects. From K/DA collabs with K-pop group (G)-IDLE’s Soyeon and Miyeon to ventures into hip-hop with the likes of Keke Palmer and Thutmose for True Damage, Riot’s always gone above and beyond in making great music. 

I’m usually a big fan of Riot Games’ efforts. I say “usually” because out of all of Riot’s musical endeavors, there is one skin line/musical act hybrid I could never get into, no matter how much I tried: Pentakill.

Before you come at me for this shockingly unpopular take, I’m about as open-minded as a person can get when it comes to music. The comforting harmonies of neo-soul progressions and brazen, ear-splitting hi-hats shuffling on a trap beat both make for equally vivid listening experiences to me, regardless of the language. And, while I don’t listen to a ton of metal, I have plenty of respect for the genre itself and the technique needed to play it well.

With that said, I’m not sure what it is about the Pentakill thematic that turned me off for all these years. Maybe it’s the over-the-top aesthetic (I tend to gravitate towards cute and cool skins). Maybe I just have terrible taste in music. Either way, when an invitation to Pentakill’s interactive virtual concert to celebrate the band’s new album Lost Chapter made its way into my inbox, I knew it’d be the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. So I went.  

Real metal hours on a Wednesday afternoon: Pentakill’s virtual concert

Here’s something not many people can say: this wasn’t my first time going to an interactive virtual live concert. It also wasn’t my second time going to one.

For low-key-high-key K-pop fans such as myself, platforms like Beyond Live have been providing online concerts with various artists over the past year and a half in the face of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Given my experience, I thought I had a good idea of what I was getting myself into. In fact, my initial plan was to flex my theory muscles a bit and write a review of the music itself, rather than the show. But Wavexr.com’s Lost Chapter: An Interactive Album Experience had other things in store for me. To put it simply, this concert was truly something else.

The hole in his chest is admittedly badass.
The hole in their chest is admittedly badass. | Provided by Riot Games

I actually logged onto the live platform the night before the concert to make sure I didn’t need anything other than my “ticket” (what’s more metal than being prepared?). That’s when I found out fans were being placed into different factions to compete during the event: Team Mad Ones, Team Immortal Ones and Team Deep Ones. I was chosen to represent The Immortal one, who gave off major Dark Souls mini-boss vibes, in my opinion. 

When it was time to load into the actual concert, I was hoping to listen to some sort of opener, maybe made up of different Pentakill fan covers. Instead, I was greeted by hosts Clayton “CaptainFlowers” Raines and Seena “TheSeena” Akita. They gave a rundown of the lore around the event (which I still don’t really understand) and how the interactive aspect would work. From what I gathered, we’d follow Pentakill into battle against the evil Viego (who apparently hates metal?) and we could take part in the fight by supporting out teams and spamming a button that would pop onto the screen. 

Myself — and plenty others, I’m sure — failed to put together, at first, that any sort of fan interaction would need to happen in a Zoom call. So, when they shared the Zoom link on the screen, I wasn’t prepared for it and the room filled up before I could join. As someone who works from home, I wasn’t exactly dressed for an on-camera appearance anyway, but the initial message did kind of freak me out at first.

You can imagine by initial shock after reading this in pajamas from my messy office.
You can imagine my initial shock after reading this while wearing pajamas within my messy office. | Screenshot by Nick Ray

The show kicked off and the first thing I noticed was how good the music was. Not that I could focus on it for long, though; the heavy CGI and motion-capture effects stole the show and were honestly the only thing I could pay attention to throughout. Here are some of my favorite shots from the whole event.

I was never afraid of an evil visage appearing in the sky to cast its evil glare down upon humanity before Riot gave me a reason to be.
I’d never been afraid of an evil visage appearing in the sky to cast a glare upon humanity, but Riot gave me reason to be. | Screenshot by Nick Ray
There's something uncomfortably dark about watching the "souls" of viewers at the same concert as you float into the ether.
There’s something uncomfortably dark about watching the “souls” of viewers at the concert floating in the ether. | Screenshot by Nick Ray
Fans that made it into the Zoom meeting before it reached capacity acted as a live "audience".
Fans that made it into the Zoom meeting before it reached capacity acted as a live “audience.” | Screenshot by Nick Ray

Pentakill’s virtual concert left a lasting impression

By the time the concert was coming to an end, I was convinced I’d seen the full extent of what the most state-of-the-art augmented reality tech was capable of.  But I was wrong.

I’m sure diehard Pentakill fans will agree with me when I say the highlight of the concert was teaming up with my fellow disciples to summon a giant Mordekaiser to help finish off Viego. That’s because whoever was tasked with sculpting the model for it has a very interesting (and perhaps hopeful?) image in their head of what a colossal Mordekaiser would look like. When I say this is pretty much all anybody talked about after the event, I really mean it.

Does an armor-clad, mace-wielding ghost, responsible for condemning souls to the Death Realm, really need a dump truck built like a pair of King’s Hawaiian rolls to boot? I’d argue no because Mordekaiser is also one of the most annoying champions in the game and he can’t have it all…but you won’t catch me complaining about a bassist getting the recognition they deserve.

The artist responsible for this masterpiece even revealed themselves after quote retweeting my degenerate commentary (which was partly responsible for getting #Pentakill trending on Twitter).

At the very least, I’ll definitely remember Pentakill’s first virtual live concert as something unique. But, for me, the visual spectacle of it all certainly overshadowed the music. The show’s overall look undoubtedly had that “Riot Games” flare to it, but I’m not sure how “metal” any of it was. As someone dipping their toes into the fandom for the very first time, however, it was great to see longtime Pentakill fans finally have something to feel excited about after years waiting for the band’s comeback. 

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