Today I will try and understand the Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth.
First, here's what I know about the band:
- They're considered geniuses (especially frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt) amongst a lot of people.
- They have released quite a lot of albums since 1995.
- They tend to make reaaaally long songs (at least in the past).
- Their latest album contains no death metal vocals and is very 70s/proggish.
|The sexy guys in Opeth 1995|
After 6 minutes we have heard everything from guitar solos to acoustic passages and whispering and we're still not halfway through. These guys are gifted musicians - no doubt about it - and I really like the acoustic stuff but I've heard it so many times before. Sure, I understand that this was quite breathtaking and forward-thinking back in 1995 and I guess I too would have been amazed if I heard it back then.
They really have some amazing riffs and passages along these 14+ minutes but oh my how they would have benefited if they just didn't play the same stuff for so goddamn long. I know that this is a common critic people have with Opeth, but I just cannot get over it. I have nothing against long songs, but things have to happen and keep me interested all the way through. My Dying Bride and the mentioned In The Woods... for example are very good at that. These guys play good stuff but just for too fucking long. Enough!
I'm skipping the album "Morningrise" just because it has a boring title - let's do a bit discography-jumping and listen to "Demon of the Fall" from their 3rd album "My Arms, Your Hearse".
But the clean vocals that come afterwards are ace and I really like how the band manages to steer the song from pure death metal into something of their own - kudos to that! As one of Opeth's shorter songs, it works alright even though there's really nothing special about it. It actually made me long for a song with even more clean vocals - hopefully the next one will give me just that.
The last album released by Opeth in the 90's was "Still Life" and the song I've heard the most about on said album is a track called "The Face Of Melinda".
Oh sorry, I almost fell asleep on my keyboard out of boredom. Still, there's nothing wrong with Opeth's music but nothing really grabs me. As I mentioned earlier, they are competent enough to churn out melodies, riffs and arrangements that gets my attention but the length of it all makes me sleepy.
After hearing one really epic long song, one more death metal-ish and one ballad-ish - just by pure coincidence mind you - I want to hear something in between all those and I turn to the album that I've heard much praise from - "Blackwater Park" from 2001. I've also listened to this album a 2-3 times before in my attempts to understand Opeth and from what I remember, I kind of thought it wasn't half-bad.
As a conclusion, I find it funny that this album is the one with the lowest average rating on Metal-Archives - not counting the newer ones. Thank god I don't feel the same as the Opeth-fanboys.
Next album is called "Deliverance" from 2002 and I know perfectly well that this is the "heavy album" and that they released a soft album the year after.
Time for some slower and softer music with 2003's "Damnation".
Fuck me, how many albums have this band done? I think I may be in over my head right now. Anyway, on to 2005 and "Ghost Reveries".
After the intro, the play something else until they for some damn reason chooses to play the intro again - way to draw out the playing time there. The music is alright, but I so fucking tired of listening to long songs that really doesn't go anywhere. Keyboards, piano, guitar solos and stuff like that are only things that makes the song keep it's head above water for a little while. But when the mandatory acoustic piece comes halfway through the song, I've had enough and turn off the song. Next!
I've heard so much negative response over "Watershed" from 2008 that I cannot really find the strength to sit through (what I assume is) yet another epic song filled with acoustic passages and mediocre riffing. Instead, I turn to their latest album "Heritage", which although it has received even more criticism, I have actually heard and liked before.
And that's it. Even though I actually enjoyed their latest album it will not turn me into a fanboy. I think the band is going in the right direction right now and I want to hear what they will do on their next album. But overall, I think no one who reads this will be surprised if I say that I find that Opeth's main problem is the sometimes insanely long songs that drags on forever. Also, I kind of prefer things with a bit more structure to it, even if I generally don't have any problems with unorthodox song-writing.
And before you start picking on me that I only like short songs with verses and chorus - please remember that I worship My Dying Bride, like In The Woods... and enjoys Pan.Thy.Monium. Thank you.
I have sort of come a little, little closer to enjoying the music of Opeth and I most definitely understand why so many people like them. I think I might put some songs from "Blackwater Park" and "Heritage" on my playlist in the future, but you wont ever see me buying one of their albums.