August 2002 Archives
On the weekend, a friend and former collegue passed away.
Although the cicrumstances related to his death are unclear, I am sure his illness played a major part.
This illness was depression, an illness which is common but often ignored by many. His depression was also a factor in being unable to continue working.
I chose not to go to his funeral today for various reasons, however I have been thinking about him all day.
By now, all that will be left of him is memories. For me they are mainly positive, I hope others remember him for what he was rather than what he couldn't be.
Thus concludes my extended focus on the music of Opeth
If you are new to the band and are interested in sampling their unique sound the following recommendations may help:
If you only listen to one Opeth song, make sure it is Demon of the Fall, this is especially true if you are coming from a metal background. For those who are unsure about the intensity of some of Opeth's work, White Cluster paints an accurate picture of the scope that Opeth inhabits.
As for the listening environment. Listen without distraction. Although volume is a personal issue, Opeth's use of wide dynamic ranges within a song means that their music should not be too quiet otherwise a lot of subtle and sublime moments may be missed. As a guide, put on the first 10 seconds of Demon of the Fall, adjust volume to an your personal maximum and proceed proceed from there.
Opeth - Blackwater ParkReleased in 2001, Blackwater Park heralded significant changes, a new producer brought out a different side to the band and a new US label - giving Opeth an even wider exposure in this difficult market.
Opeth - Still LifeStill Life was recorded and released in 1999, coming so soon after MAYH (the band did not tour for MAYH at all) was a bit of a shock, as the incubation period for a new Opeth album is usually a lot longer.
I suspect much of this was due to the fact that the creative muse that had inspired MAYH was still lingering and Mikael wanted to ensure that this flow of ideas was milked for all it could offer.
Opeth - OrchidOpeth began in Stockholm in 1990, their name taken from a book - Sunbird written by Wilbur Smith. In Sunbird, the word Opet meant city of the moon, the name was later modified to Opeth.
Of the founding duo, Mikael �kerfeldt and David Isberg, only Mikael remains in the band to this day. Other bands members fluctuated wildly prior to the release of their first album Orchid in 1995
Just as the Eskimos have a multitude of different words for snow, the listening recommendations for each Opeth album can be best expressed with reference to types of rain.
Orchid is best enjoyed whilst walking through a still dripping ancient forest which has just soaked up a heavy but not lengthy downpour with a near full moon providing plenty of silvery light which reflects off the glistening trees and small pools of water that litter the ground.
If one were to curl up by a warm open fire while an almighty storm consisting of pounding rain, pearls of thunder and occasional splashes of bright as day lightning exploded outside, Morningrise played in it's entirety would come alive and draw you into it's intricate world.
For those days where you need to go for a long walk in skin drenching rain, with the general intent of improving an insipidly foul mood, My Arms, Your Hearse is an ideal soundtrack.
On a bright and hot day at a market fair or festival, a short sun shower interrupts the bustle to the delight of some and frustration of many. The nearby band should be playing Still Life
Finally, Blackwater Park suits long introspective walks through a light but persistent drizzle.
Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse
Following rapidly on from the landmark Morningrise, My Arms, Your Hearse (MAYH) was released in 1998.
In the two years between these albums, the bassist was fired, the drummer moved to argentina and Unisound studios was closed down by Dan Swano who needed a sabbatical from recording and producing.
Post Morningrise, Opeth's popularity had grown, to the point that they finally recieved North American distribution from the always dubious Century Media, who did much to increase awareness of the band outside of Europe despite butchering the cover artwork in the process.
The aforementioned obstacles ensured much skepticism about the future output from this obviously talented band.
Opeth - MorningriseIt has been extremely hard to review this album.
Often when one has strong feelings towards something, a proper objective review is difficult. As a result I will offer two reviews, a personal subjective and an impersonal objective.