Results tagged “Opeth” from ol'-eth-ros :: blog

Metal mag/review site Brave Words has just posted one of the best opeth interviews yet, the interviewer really caught Mikael on an introspective and honest day.

The cutting honesty of comments like:

We've set our minds on doing all this touring and press and just kind of become whores of metal

an approach which barely makes ends meet for the band as a whole:

For me, I spent several years in poverty with no money or anything. But now since we're the fucking cream of the crop or whatever, we get some money and since I'm the only songwriter in the band, I get all the publishing money. But as for the Peter and the Martin's, they have more problems than I do. Their only income is only if the album recoups. But if they don't get any royalties, their only income is touring and merch fees. It's kind of hard if you are just a musician in the band and not a writer. And I've agreed to split my publishing and give 50 percent of the funds or whatever, something that will keep us and the other guys going. So I'm going to watch their backs as much as I can.

Over the past few days, I've seen Opeth perform in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. Yes that is excessive/obsessive, but it was also fun.

It's been a long time since I've dived into one of my interests to this level. It was interesting to be back within a subculture community for a long weekend.

On top of this, I got to catch up with some good friends who live in more remote parts of Oz. It was great to see Bron, Andy, Red, Billy, Adrielle & Tim; some of whom I've not laid eyes on in 3 years.

Opeth is a metal band from Sweden; Personally I discovered them in December 1996 when their second album: Morningrise appeared on the listening post of the CD store Utopia. The CD cover had a sticker which contained the bold statement "66 minutes of the best metal you will ever hear". If you ask my opinion, this bold claim rings true.

Being a huge fan, and this their first tour of Oz, it seemed natural to see them more than once on their tour.

Their performances were technically perfect, with the subtle nuances of Opeth's music re-worked well for a live performance. The primary changes were: clean electric guitar replaced acoustic passages to avoid the need to swap guitars and the occasional growled vocal had to be cut short. All the signature stylistic elements were spot on. Every time the music jumped from blisteringly heavy riffing to a mellow clean/acoustic interlude, the switch was flawless. Mikael's clean vocals lacked some of the depth he achieves on record but his growled death vocals were unnervingly perfect; proving how far ahead of any other extreme vocalist he really is. The rhythm section was very tight, with Martin's bass showing more jazz leanings than demonstrated on any album since he joined. Peter's guitar lines were beautiful, in particular his soaring one note rhythm/harmonic lines came across extremely well live on the Blackwater Park songs.

Mix wise, no show was perfect, with Sydney by far the worst and Adelaide just edging out Melbourne for best mix. In Melbourne, the bass was too quiet; in Sydney it was too loud and Mikael's lead guitar pitifully weak. It's frustrating to see a performer putting heart and soul into a passage yet be unable to hear it! This was a constant problem with the Sydney mix, the only time Mike's guitar was audible was when the rest of the band wasn't playing.

Crowd wise, it was amazing to observe such variation in the overall vibe at each gig. Yes the majority of each crowd were big fans of Opeth, however the interesting thing was how the crowd reacted internally. Sydney for example, exhibited an insular elitist attitude with an extremely fragmented crowd that kept to small (average 5-7) social groups. Contrast this with Adelaide where the social groups were a lot more dynamic and as a whole larger; there were approx 500 at the Adelaide show and a good proportion of that crowd knew each other if only by face. For a sub culture stereotyped as aggressive, the vibe was relaxed and friendly.

Melbourne; which had a crowd closer to 1000, had less of the small scene ? everybody knows each other aspect but was still very friendly. Within minutes of walking into the gig, a stranger was asking my advice on which band t-shirt to buy for her boyfriend for example.

To judge the performance as a whole against not just metal bands but the wider scene, I would easily put Opeth up in the top 5-10 live acts I have seen. It's only a few acts such as The Tea Party who can top Opeth live, and only because they manage to get the crowd on side and interacting with the performance substantially more. Mike as Opeth's front man, needs to loosen up, crack some more jokes, not get so pissed by requests for songs that aren't on the set list and work on his outward appearance.

It's surprising that after being dedicated enough to see the band live three nights in a row, I didn't bother hanging around after the gig to try and meet Opeth in person. Friends who did say they are truly lovely genuine people who lack any form of pretension or artifice.

From a drought perspective, we should lobby Opeth to become Oz residents; in every city they played it rained during the show or immediately afterwards!

Opeth - Still Life

Still 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 - Orchid

Opeth 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 - Morningrise

It 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.

I'm greatly anticpating this: As yet untitled twin CD Opeth release Including (finally) a complete mellow CD, which may convert some who are put off by Mikhael's gorgeous growls and screams.