The dudes themselves. Opeth logo visible in the background.
Opeth is a heavy metal band formed in Stockholm Sweden by David Isberg and Mikael Åkerfeldt. After the band was formed, David later quit, and left the band with Mikael, who became the main vocalist and guitarist.
In 1995, Opeth released their debut album Orchid
, which was critically praised for its unique style of death metal, having twin guitar harmonies, also adding acoustic guitar, piano, and clean vocals, something rather unusual for the Scandinavian death metal scene. A couple of years later, they released Morningrise
, which continued to explore the techniques used in Orchid
. While it was quite popular, Opeth noticed that other metal bands began to copy them and Mikael urged the band to change their signature style. This lead to the release of the dark Concept Album My Arms, Your Hearse
. A couple of years later, they released the fan favorite Still Life
, in which they began to deconstruct their sound. However, they never went on tour because their music which, while well liked, was not mainstream.
This all changed with the release of Blackwater Park
, which many fans and critics considered then to be Opeth's magnum opus. After the massive success of Blackwater Park
, they began their first world-wide tour. Within a six month period of time, they released two albums: Deliverance
. The former is considered to be the band's heaviest work while the latter is a more elegant acoustic based album. While Deliverance
was well-received, Damnation
instantly became a fan favorite, most notably the song Windowpane
. After extensive touring, they released 2005's dark and majestic Ghost Reveries
, which (just like other previous albums) became an instant hit. After the release of Ghost Reveries
however, Peter Lindgren and Martin Lopez (guitarist and drummer, respectively) left the band, leaving Opeth's future in doubt. Nevertheless, in 2008, Opeth released Watershed
, which has been praised as their deepest and most mature work to date.
Opeth are generally accepted to be one of the poster children for Progressive Death Metal
. While they are firmly rooted in Scandinavian death metal, they have shown many elements of Progressive Rock
throughout their albums. They are known to combine elements of heavy metal, progressive rock, Scandinavian folk music, blues, jazz, and acoustics into their songs. While Mikael has stated that groups that inspired Opeth were ones like Slayer
, Black Sabbath
, and Celtic Frost
, he fully admits that other bands like Yes
and other progressive bands inspired the progressive rock side of them. They are well know to try something new even after an extremely successful album (ala Blackwater Park
and Ghost Reveries
). They remain one of the world's most popular Death Metal
acts, and are considered to be engaged in the work of opening up that scene to a wider audience, as their acoustic, jazzy, and folkish elements can easily draw fans of those styles into a position to appreciate the legitimate musicality of the abrasive, sonically violent, and dissonantly deconstructve nature of the death metal soundscape.
Opeth is not a band for everyone however. Their songs are extremely long (the average clocking in between eight and ten minutes) and musically complex. This makes their music very difficult to listen to without some dedication. A large majority of their songs demand repeated listening for full appreciation. This can make listening tedious to those who find the music alienating either for its lack of simple accessibility or death metal sensibilities. One critic put it this way: "It is very hard to be a casual Opeth fan, due to the length and complexity of their songs."
Not to be confused with Otep
, as they often are.
- 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)
- Pale Communion (2014) (upcoming)
Current Band members:
- Mikael Akerfeldt: vocals, guitar, bass on My Arms Your Hearse
- Fredrik Akesson: guitar
- Martin Mendez: bass
- Martin "Axe" Axenrot: drums
- Joakim Svalberg: keyboards
Past Band members:
- David Isberg: Original guitarist and vocalist
- Johan Defarfalla: bass (1991-1996)
- Anders Nordin: drums and piano in Silhouette (1991-1996)
- Peter Lindgren: guitar (1991-2007)
- Martin Lopez: drums (1996-2007)
- Per Wiberg: keyboards (2005-2011)
- Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree has provided backing vocals on Blackwater Park, Deliverance and Damnation, and was producer for those albums.
- Renowned Swedish flautist Björn J:son Lindh played flute on the song "Famine" from Heritage.
- Peruvian percussionist Alex Acuña (who has performed with many other notable musicians, including Elvis Presley) also played on "Famine".
Opeth shows example of:
- And Now For Something Completely Different: Played with most of the time, though their latest release, Heritage, probably beats the rest of their catalogue in this department.
- Awesome McCoolname: Martin Axenrot. It certainly helps that his nickname is "Axe".
- Black Sheep Hit: The band expected "To Bid You Farewell", off of Morningrise, to be hated, because of how mellow it was (they have stated that they put it on there because they liked it). It actually became the most beloved song on the album, if not of their entire early material.
- Breather Episode: While songs like "Hours of Wealth" and "Patterns in the Ivy" count, the best example is Damnation, which is wedged between the heavy Deliverance and the extremely dark Ghost Reveries.
- And just to remember some other breather songs, there's "Silhouette", "Requiem", "Madrigal" and "For Absent Friends".
- And subverted as well, as the heaviest song on "Ghost Reveries", "The Grand Conjuration", is stuck between the two lightest and shortest songs on the album, "Hours of Wealth" and "Isolation Years"
- "Burden" is a very peaceful, if mournful, prog-rock ballad, which follows the extremely heavy "Heir Apparent," and very heavy and experimental "The Lotus Eater."
- "Benighted" from Still Life is a very mellow, acoustic song between "Godhead's Lament" and "Moonlapse Vertigo." It is also much shorter than both songs.
- Careful With That Axe: Plently examples.
- Song "Advent" features quite many sudden screams between the constant growls. "The Leper Affinity" has a solid one near the climax ('defeaning shrieks pierced the NIIIIIIIGHT!!'). Also the start of "Ghost of Perdition", halfway through "The Grand Conjuration", etc.
- Concept Album: Quite a few...
- My Arms Your Hearse is a story about the ghost of a man who follows his wife in suspicion that she wasn't truly sad after his death.
- Still Life is about a medieval atheist who returns to face the Christian government and regain his love, Melinda (WARNING: Major Downer Ending)
- Ghost Reveries was going to be an example of this trope. Mikael had intended for it to be about a man who thinks he's undergoing Demonic Possession and how everyone and everything seems to be turning against him, but then he wrote the lyrics for "Isolation Years", which had nothing to do with the concept, but he liked the song so much that he scrapped the idea of the concept album, and the album's final track order ended up disrupting the intended "flow" of the story anyway.
- The songs on the album Watershed are connected by the theme of parting with the loved one and subsequent alienation from society.
- Cover Version: The band has covered Celtic Frost, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Robin Trower, Marie Fredriksson, Alice in Chains, and (at a recent live show) Bon Jovi.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mikael is pretty renowned for this. See his speech under Funny Moments.
- Epic Rocking: Their longest song, "Black Rose Immortal", lasts 20:14 and many of their songs exceed 10 minutes in length. Eight minutes is probably about Opeth's average song length.
- The average is currently 7:31.5 (not counting live and re-release tracks).
- Executive Meddling: Sort of. For the Lamentations concert, the band wanted to play the song "Demon of the Fall" from My Arms, Your Hearse as an encore, but licensing issues with Candlelight Records prevented them from including it on the DVD, so the band waited until the cameras stopped rolling, then came back out and played it.
- I Love the Dead: The subject of "The Leper Affinity".
- Last Note Nightmare: "Burden" - nothing said. Also "A Fair Judgement".
- "Nectar" manages to get two in the space of about a minute.
- Miniscule Rocking: Much of the instrumentals such as "Requiem", "Madrigal", and "Patterns in the Ivy".
- Moh's Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally around 9, but they go all over the place. Damnation in particular is pure 3/4.
- Interestingly, many individual songs vary wildly between rankings, such as "Dirge for November," which starts about a 2/3 for the first couple minutes, then rockets straight to a 9 pretty much without warning. Almost every song on Watershed has these extreme variations as well.
- It's actually sort of pointless to rank Opeth songs using this scale, since their songs, and indeed, even different parts of the same song have so much variation in them, it becomes less necessary to rank the songs individually, so much as to rank them minute by minute. A tedious chore, since many of their songs are well over ten minutes long.
- Their last album, Heritage, would be in the 3-7 range for the most part. It's quite a bit more straightforward and less scattered than other Opeth records (except, of course, for Damnation), so it's much easier to rank on this scale.
- Mood Whiplash: Oh god YES. This is your average reaction to a song by Opeth: "Who the fuck put Death Metal into my jazz?!"
- Murder Ballad: Still Life, Ghost Reveries.
- One Steve Limit: Averted twice, When Martin Lopez was replaced by Martin Axenrot.
- Progressive Metal
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: THE! GRAND! CON! JUR! AAAA! SHUUUUNNNN!
- Also, pretty much the entire lyrics of "Blackwater Park" (song). "THE SUUUUUN SEETS, FOREEEVEEERRR, OVER, BLACKWATER, PAAAAARRRRKKKK!!!"
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Two examples:
- Mikael and Martin Mendez, the former being a very energetic and brash man and the latter being very quiet, rarely speaking in interviews.
- Deliverance and Damnation, the former being the band's heaviest work while the latter is the band's softest work.
- Self-Deprecation: Much of Mikael's snark during their live shows usually revolves around calling the next song "The most boring song on the album" and mocking the pretentiousness of their music. Or maybe mocking their fans.
- Sincerest Form of Flattery: Mikael has stated that the song "Ending Credits" off Damnation is "totally a Camel ripoff". Given how he's also said how much of an influence they are to him, the song becomes more of a tribute than a Follow the Leader kind of thing.
- Soprano and Gravel: Mikael is a shining example of the one-man version. He is effortlessly able to change between a towering, operatic clean voice to a deep, crackling death growl. It's much better exemplified by "The Lotus Eater".
- The Stoic: Martin Mendez, and the fans love him for it.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "To Bid You Farewell", "Credence", "Epilogue", "Benighted", "Face of Melinda", "Harvest", "For Absent Friends", several others, plus the entirety of Damnation and Heritage, both of which qualify as Surprisingly Gentle Albums.
- Together in Death: "White Cluster", the ending track for Still Life.
- X Meets Y: Dream Theater meets Obituary.