Opeth

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Opeth

Opeth performing in Finland in 2008
Background information
Origin Stockholm, Sweden
Genres Progressive death metal, progressive rock
Years active 1990-present
Labels Candlelight Records, Century Media, Peaceville Records, Music for Nations, Koch Records, Roadrunner Records
Associated acts Arch Enemy, Bloodbath, Katatonia, Krux, Nifelheim, Porcupine Tree, Sörskogen, Satanic Slaughter, Spiritual Beggars, Steel, Tiamat, Witchery, Amon Amarth
Website opeth.com
Members
Mikael Åkerfeldt
Fredrik Åkesson
Martin Mendez
Martin "Axe" Axenrot
Joakim Svalberg
Past members
Kim Pettersson
Mattias Ander
Andreas Dimeo
Nick Döring
Stefan Guteklint
David Isberg
Johan DeFarfalla
Anders Nordin
Martin Lopez
Peter Lindgren
Per Wiberg

Opeth is a heavy metal band from Stockholm, Sweden. The band name came from the word Opet, which was the name of a city in the Wilbur Smith novel Sunbird. Opeth play progressive death metal (which comes from combining progressive rock and death metal). Opeth are also influenced by progressive rock, blues rock and jazz, and their songs often have both electric and acoustic parts. Opeth went on their first world tour after the release of their album Blackwater Park. The band's members have changed many times since Opeth started in 1990, but band member Mikael Åkerfeldt has always been present. Although he did not start the band, Åkerfeldt is the only band member to perform in every album. Opeth has released seven studio albums, two live albums, two box-sets, and two DVDs.

History[change | change source]

Formation (1990-1993)[change | change source]

Opeth was formed in 1990 by David Isberg. Isberg asked Mikael Åkerfeldt to play bass guitar for Opeth without telling any of the other Opeth band members. When Åkerfeldt showed up to play with the band the next day, the band members refused to throw out their bass player for Åkerfeldt and all band members but Isberg and Åkerfeldt left to form a new band. Lots of new band members joined and left the band. Anders Nordin joined Opeth to play drums, Nick Döring to play bass guitar and Andreas Dimeo to play electric guitar. Döring and Dimeo left the band after one show and were replaced by Kim Pettersson on electric guitar and Johan DeFarfalla on bass guitar. DeFarfalla and Pettersson left Opeth after their next two shows and Peter Lindgren joined to play electric guitar.

Isberg quit in 1992 and joined the band Liars in Wait. Now, Opeth only had Åkerfeldt singing, Nordin on bass guitar and Lindgren on electric guitar. These three members began writing new songs sounding less like typical death metal, and started using acoustic guitars and guitar harmonies, making Opeth a more progressive death metal band. Johan DeFarfalla began playing bass guitar again for Opeth and these four members recorded their first album, Orchid.

Orchid, Morningrise, and My Arms, Your Hearse (1994–1998)[change | change source]

After touring the United Kingdom Opeth began to record their second album, Morningrise. The album had only five songs but was 66 minutes long. Morningrise was a big success, and the band toured the UK and Scandinavia playing songs from both albums. They signed a contract with Century Media, who re-released these two albums again in 1997. After the tour, Åkerfeldt and Lindgren fired DeFarfalla for personal reasons, which made Nordin, who was on a vacation in Brazil, leave the band and stay in Brazil. Martin Lopez, who played for Amon Amarth, joined Opeth in 1997 as well as bassist Martin Mendez just before recording their third album, My Arms, Your Hearse. However, Åkerfeldt had to play bass on some songs from My Arms, Your Hearse. The album was released on August 18, 1998, and was another big success. The album focused less on guitar harmonies and more on progressive metal riffs.

Still Life and Blackwater Park (1999-2001)[change | change source]

In 1999, Opeth signed with UK label Peaceville Records in Europe, which was distributed by Music For Nations. Opeth began work on their next album, but because of delays, the band was only able to rehearse twice before recording the album. Eventually, Still Life was released on October 18, 1999 (not in the United States until February 2001)). Still Life was the first album recorded with Mendez, and was also the first Opeth album to have the band's logo on the front cover. Still Life is a concept album, and Åkerfeldt explains that the album is about someone who "is kind of banished from his hometown because he hasn't got the same faith as the rest of the inhabitants there. The album pretty much starts off when he is returning after several years to hook up with his old 'babe'. The big bosses of the town know that he's back... A lot of bad things start happening."[1]

After a few live shows in Europe, Opeth returned to work on their next album, with Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson producing. "This time it was tough", Åkerfeldt said, "I feel pleasantly blown away by the immense result, though. It was indeed worth the effort."[2] Wilson also pushed the band to use new sounds and production techniques. "Steve guided us into the realms of 'strange' noises for guitars and voice", Åkerfeldt said.[2] Opeth released its fifth studio album, Blackwater Park, on February 21, 2001. This release encouraged Opeth to go on their first world tour, headlined Europe and playing to a crowd of 60,000 at the 2001 Wacken Open Air festival in Germany.[3]

Deliverance and Damnation (2002-2004)[change | change source]

After touring in support of Blackwater Park, Opeth returned home and began writing for the next album, but Åkerfeldt had trouble coming up with new material: "I wanted to write something heavier than we'd ever done, still I had all these great mellow parts and arrangements which I didn't want to go to waste."[4] Jonas Renkse of Katatonia, a long-time friend of Åkerfeldt, suggested writing music for two separate albums — one heavy and one soft. Excited about the idea, Åkerfeldt agreed without asking his band mates or record label. While his band mates liked the idea of recording two separate albums, Åkerfeldt had to convince the label: "I had to lie somewhat... saying that we could do this recording very soon, it won't cost more than a regular single album".[4] With most of the material written, the band rehearsed just once before entering the studio, again with producer Steven Wilson in Studio Fredman. Under pressure to complete both albums at the same time, Åkerfeldt said the recording process was "the toughest test of our history." After recording basic tracks, the band moved production to England to mix the heavy album, Deliverance, with Andy Sneap at Backstage Studios. "Deliverance was so badly recorded, without any organisation whatsoever," Åkerfeldt claimed, that Sneap "is credited as a 'saviour' in the sleeve, as he surely saved much of the recording."[5]

Deliverance was released on November 4, 2002, and debuted at number 19 on the US Top Independent Albums chart, marking the band's first US chart appearance.[6] Allmusic stated, "Deliverance is altogether more subtle than any of its predecessors, approaching listeners with haunting nuances and masterful dynamics rather than overwhelming them with sheer mass and complexity."[7] Opeth played a single concert in Stockholm, then returned to the UK to finish recording vocals for the second of the two albums, Damnation, at Steve Wilson's No Man's Land Studios. Although Åkerfeldt first believed the band could not finish both albums, Opeth completed Deliverance and Damnation in just seven weeks of studio time, which was the same amount spent on Blackwater Park alone.[4] Damnation was released on April 14, 2003, and gained the band its first appearance on the US Billboard 200 at number 192.[6] The album also won the band a 2003 Swedish Grammy Award for "Best Hard Rock Performance".[8] The band launched its biggest tour yet, playing nearly 200 shows in 2003 and 2004.[5] Opeth performed three special shows in Europe with two song lists each — one acoustic set and one heavy set. The band recorded its first DVD, Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire 2003, at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. The DVD featured a two-hour performance, including the entire Damnation album, as well as several songs from Deliverance and Blackwater Park, and a one-hour documentary about the recording of Deliverance and Damnation. The DVD was certified Gold in Canada.[9]

Opeth was scheduled to perform in Jordan in late 2003 without a crew due to the fear of terrorist attacks in the Middle East. Opeth's tour manager distributed 6,000 tickets for the concert, but before the band left for Jordan, Lopez called Åkerfeldt saying he was having an anxiety attack and could not perform, forcing the band to cancel the show.[10][11] In early 2004, Lopez was sent home from Canada after more anxiety attacks on tour. Opeth decided not to cancel the rest of the tour, and Lopez's drum tech filled in for two concerts. Opeth asked drummer Gene Hoglan of Strapping Young Lad to fill in. Lopez eventually returned to Opeth for the Seattle show on the final leg of the Deliverance and Damnation tour. Per Wiberg also joined the band on keyboards, and after more than a year on tour, Opeth went back home to start writing more new songs in 2004.

Ghost Reveries (2005-2007)[change | change source]

Opeth's European label, Music for Nations, closed its doors in 2005 and the band signed with Roadrunner Records. After writing material for their eighth album in late 2004, the band rehearsed for three weeks before entering the studio, the first time they rehearsed since the 1998 album, My Arms, Your Hearse.[12] Opeth recorded at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden, from March 18 to June 1, 2005, and released the album Ghost Reveries on August 30, 2005, again to critical and commercial success. The album debuted at number 64 in the US, and number nine in Sweden, higher than any other Opeth release.[6][13] Keith Bergman of Blabbermouth.net gave the album 10 out of 10, one of only 17 albums to achieve a perfect rating from the site.[14]

On May 12, 2006, Martin Lopez announced that he had officially parted ways with Opeth due to health problems, and he was replaced by Martin Axenrot.[15] Opeth toured on the main stage of Gigantour in 2006, alongside Megadeth. Ghost Reveries was re-released on October 31, 2006, with a bonus cover version of Deep Purple's "Soldier of Fortune" and a DVD of the making of the album. A recording of Opeth's live performance at the Camden Roundhouse, in London, on November 9, 2006, was later released as the double live album The Roundhouse Tapes. On May 17, 2007, Peter Lindgren stated he was leaving Opeth after 16 years. "The decision has been the toughest I've ever made but it is the right one to make at this point in my life," Lindgren said. "I feel that I simply have lost some of the enthusiasm and inspiration needed to participate in a band that has grown from a few guys playing the music we love to a worldwide industry."[16] Ex-Arch Enemy guitarist Fredrik Åkesson replaced Lindgren, as Åkerfeldt explained, "Fredrik was the only name that popped up thinking about a replacement for Peter. In my opinion he's one of the top three guitar players out of Sweden. We all get along great as we've known each other for maybe four years and he already has the experience to take on the circus-like lifestyle we lead as members of Opeth."[16]

Watershed (2008-Present)[change | change source]

In November 2007, after nearly 200 performances in support of Ghost Reveries, Opeth entered Fascination Street Studios with Åkerfeldt producing. By January 2008, Opeth had recorded 13 songs, including three cover songs. The finished album, Watershed, was released on June 3, 2008, and has seven tracks with cover songs included as bonus tracks on some versions. The album has since debuted at number 23 on the US Billboard 200, making it their highest-charting album yet. It enjoyed success in many other countries as well, entering the Australian ARIA album charts at number seven, while debuting at number one on Finland's official album chart. Opeth planned extensive touring in support of Watershed, but some shows in Europe had to be cancelled because of some music festival cancellations and Åkerfeldt coming down with chicken pox. On January 25, 2009, Opeth played their first show in India at IIT Madras's cultural festival Saarang.[17] On March 06, 2009 the band played in the Middle East at the annual Dubai Desert Rock Festival in Dubai. On March 26, 2009 it was announced that Opeth would take part in the first European Progressive Nation tour with bands Dream Theater, Bigelf and Unexpect.[18] On April 24, 2009, Opeth headlined the first day of Metal Hammer Magazine's first UK metal music festival HammerFest.[19]

Heritage[change | change source]

Mikael Åkerfeldt began writing for Opeth's tenth studio album sometime of September 2010 along with Fredrik Åkesson (who co-wrote one song). The band recorded the album titled "Heritage" between 31 January-21 February 2011 and released on 14 September 2011 in Japan, following other release dates in various parts of the world.

Musical styles and influences[change | change source]

Although he was not the founder of the band, Mikael Åkerfeldt is the only member to appear on every release. He is Opeth's main songwriter and lyricist and has defined much of the band's sound. Åkerfeldt was influenced at a young age by heavy metal bands such as Slayer, Death, Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, King Diamond and Morbid Angel.[20][21][22] Åkerfeldt was later influenced by progressive rock and folk music, both of which had a strong impact on the sound of the band. Opeth's distinct sound combines elements of heavy metal with acoustic passages and elements of progressive metal and progressive rock. Åkerfeldt commented on the diversity of Opeth's music:

I don't see the point of playing in a band and going just one way when you can do everything. It would be impossible for us to play just death metal; that is our roots, but we are now a mishmash of everything, and not purists to any form of music. It's impossible for us to do that, and quite frankly I would think of it as boring to be in a band that plays just metal music. We're not afraid to experiment, or to be caught with our pants down, so to speak. That's what keeps us going.[23]

Opeth's earlier works often made use of twin-guitar harmonies, but they were abandoned in the band's later work. "I got tired of it, the whole harmony guitar thing", Åkerfeldt said. "It got out of hand in the mid-90s. Every band was doing that thing."[22] Most of the band's songs exceed 10 minutes in length, which Aaron Burgess of Alternative Press magazine criticized, stating, "you can't really be a casual Opeth fan. It takes enough as a listener just to get past the band's epic song lengths."[24] Vocally, Åkerfeldt shifts between growling death metal vocals for heavy sections, and clean, sometimes whispered vocals over acoustic passages. While death growls were dominant on the early albums, later releases used more clean vocals, such the 2003 release Damnation which had only clean singing.[22] The band's lyrics often reflect a bleak outlook on life, with subjects such as failed relationships, nature, death, and depression. Some of the band's albums also have a consistent theme or concept throughout, such as Still Life and My Arms, Your Hearse. The songs were put together as one continual piece, with the last word or phrase of each song becoming the title of the next.[20]

Members[change | change source]

Current members[change | change source]

  • Mikael Åkerfeldt: lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, bass (1990–present)
  • Martin Mendez: bass (1997–present)
  • Martin "Axe" Axenrot: drums, percussion (2006–present)
  • Fredrik Åkesson: rhythm and lead guitars (2007–present)
  • Joakim Svalberg: keyboards, mellotron, backing vocals (2011–present)

Former members[change | change source]

  • Nick Döring: bass (1991)
  • Andreas Dimeo: rhythm guitars (1990)
  • Kim Pettersson: rhythm guitars (1990)
  • David Isberg: lead vocals (1990–1992)
  • Mattias Ander: bass (1992)
  • Stefan Guteklint: bass (1992–1993)
  • Johan DeFarfalla: bass, backing vocals (1990, 1994–1996)
  • Anders Nordin: drums, percussion (1990–1997)
  • Martin Lopez: drums, percussion (1997–2006)
  • Peter Lindgren: bass at first live performance, lead and rhythm guitars (1991–2007)
  • Per Wiberg: keyboards (2005-2011) session member (2003-2004)

Discography[change | change source]

Studio albums[change | change source]

  • Orchid (1995)
  • Morningrise (1996)
  • My Arms, Your Hearse (1998)
  • Still Life (1999)
  • Blackwater Park (2001)
  • Deliverance (2002)
  • Damnation (2003)
  • Ghost Reveries (2005)
  • Watershed (2008)
  • Heritage (2011)

Live albums[change | change source]

  • Lamentations (2003)
  • The Roundhouse Tapes (2007)

DVDs[change | change source]

  • Lamentations (2003)
  • The Roundhouse Tapes (2007)

Music videos[change | change source]

  • "Windowpane" (2003)
  • "The Grand Conjuration" (2005)
  • "Bleak" (2008)
  • "Porcelain Heart" (2008)
  • "Burden" (2008)

Boxed sets[change | change source]

  • Opeth Box Set (2006)
  • The Candlelight Years (2008)

References[change | change source]

  1. McCoe, Scott. "Interview with Mikael Åkerfeldt". Metalupdate.com. http://www.metalupdate.com/interviewopeth.html. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Åkerfeldt, Mikael. "Opeth Chapter 5". Opeth.com. Archived from the original on 2008-02-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20080205072409/http://www.opeth.com/biography/chapter5.html. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  3. "History of Wacken Open Air 2001". Wacken.com. http://www.wacken.com/en/woa2008/main-history/woa-2001/. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Åkerfeldt, Mikael. "Opeth Chapter 7". Opeth.com. Archived from the original on 2007-12-31. http://web.archive.org/web/20071231032512/http://www.opeth.com/biography/chapter7.html. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Åkerfeldt, Mikael. "Opeth Chapter 8". Opeth.com. Archived from the original on 2008-02-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20080205072419/http://opeth.com/biography/chapter8.html. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Artist Chart History – Opeth". Billboard.com. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/retrieve_chart_history.do?model.chartFormatGroupName=Albums&model.vnuArtistId=185507&model.vnuAlbumId=730787. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  7. Rivadavia, Ed. "Deliverance review". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r614742. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  8. "Opeth win Swedish Grammy!". Blabbermouth.net. http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/BlabberMouth.Net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=9821. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  9. "CRIA Searchable Database". Canadian Recording Industry Association. http://www.cria.ca/cert_db_search.php. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  10. "Opeth Mainman Talks About Drummer's Anxiety Attacks". Blabbermouth.net. 2005-03-10. http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/Blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=20205. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  11. Åkerfeldt, Mikael. "Opeth Chapter 9". Opeth.com. http://www.opeth.com/biography/chapter9.html. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  12. Åkerfeldt, Mikael. "Opeth Chapter 10". Opeth.com. http://www.opeth.com/biography/chapter10.html. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  13. "Swedish charts – Opeth". Swedishcharts.com. http://swedishcharts.com/search.asp?cat=a&search=Opeth. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  14. "CD reviews". Blabbermouth.net. http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/reviews.aspx?searchtext2=&mode=Search&order_by=Rating&asc_desc=desc&x=70&y=7. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  15. Morrone, Donald (January 2006). "Interview with Peter Lindgren". The Moor. http://www.mooropeth.com/interviewJan06.php. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Guitarist Peter Lindgren Quits Opeth; Replacement Announced". Blabbermouth.com. 2007-06-17. http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=72714. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  17. Tour dates: Opeth.com
  18. Progressive Nation Tour Announcement
  19. HammerFest
  20. 20.0 20.1 Azevedo, Pedro. "Born Within Sorrow's Mask". Chroniclesofchaos.com. http://www.chroniclesofchaos.com/articles/chats/1-176_opeth.aspx. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  21. "Interview with Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth". Wnhumetal.com. 2006-02-24. http://wnhumetal.com/radio/content/view/110/38/. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 "When it Rains, it Fucking Hails!". Hailmetal.com. http://www.hailmetal.com/gate.html?name=MReviews&op=show&rid=83. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  23. "Opeth frontman on being 'different'". Metal Hammer. 2006-10-30. http://www.metalhammer.co.uk/news/?id=45633. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  24. Burgess, Aaron. "Opeth – Ghost reveries". Altpress.com. http://altpress.com/reviews/93.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-19.

Other websites[change | change source]