epitomise the progressive metal genre with epic music that has continually evolved throughout a 10 album career spanning 20 years. Fusing a rich variety of influences together that many would argue could never work - jazz, folk and death metal - Opeth
set the modern standard in metal’s evolution. According to Rolling Stone; “Opeth continually expand the definition of what metal can be”
. Touring their latest release, Heritage
; there was much widespread speculation that Mikael Åkerfeldt
had lost his voice (which to fans of heavy metal means his ability to death growl; see Ghost of Perdition
) due to the complete absence of death growls on Heritage
, and the previous shows set lists leaked on sites like www.setlist.fm
. The latter proved true, and the brutal side of Opeth
was abandoned for a night to allow the audience to soak in the beauty and tranquillity of their “softer” music.
The set opened with The Devil’s Orchard;
exploding with jazz upswings to the soul-shaking cry of “God is dead
”, the song delivers complex tempo shifts and signature atmospheric synths. Porcelain Heart
delivered the first heavy metal fix for the headbangers in the audience, with technically brilliant drummer Martin “Axe” Axenrot
delivering a sweltering six minute solo, flowing effortlessly from jazz grooves to blast beats with such tenacity, reaching impossible speeds and accenting every note so flawlessly; he had mouths on the floor throughout. Even more impressing was how well Axenrot
structured the solo considering the speeds with which he was playing. Watch his flawless solo below:
Åkerfeldt is often noted for his sense of humour, and the banter was hilarious, even when it came to his music “you may not know this song, we wrote it for a video game… they said do what you like, all the other metal bands gave them metal songs, because they are fucking cowards”, I mean the man is basically a Metal God, so when he initiated the beginning of his acoustic section the crowd was reverent and respectful (despite the overwhelming lust for heavy music). The man’s voice is so insanely good, it is a wander his death growls hadn’t ruined his vocal chords, and the haunting beauty of his tone is multiplied in the live arena, and is so well suited to the folk/acoustic music they preferred to focus on for this live set.
Opeth’s music is so versatile. The way that they build such a reverent mood and shatter it instantly with sharp tempo changes into metal riffs in I Feel The Dark, Nepenthe and A Fair Judgement is mind-blowing. Alternatively, Opeth begin with a heavy riff and turn brutality into tranquillity, such as the effect of Hex Omega. Opeth have that rare quality (of metal artists) to portray good and evil through their sound, although satanic at times, you often get the feeling of moving in and out of a dreamlike state, transcending the reality for which Åkerfeldt often vocalised his distaste for during the set.
At the introduction of Slither it is made clear it was “written as a tribute to (Ronnie James) Dio” and has a clear influence from early metal that bordered on hard rock. More influenced on simple riffs, speed and solos, a clear difference from Opeth’s highly technical jazz-fused, death metal sound. Opeth encore with their 5th track off Heritage, Folklore, and although disappointed as many others to not to hear any of the heavier death metal tracks which are so brutal(ly good), Opeth proved they not only stand out in the metal genre in their technical ability, but also on the world stage as one of the most progressive and exciting genre-defying bands of a generation.
The entire live set is expertly filmed and recorded and available for you to watch below. Enjoy!