On This Date in History Featuring Ice Nine Kills, Motionless in White, Black Veil Brides and Lilith Czar

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 4/8/2022, my stepdaughter and I attended The Trinity Of Terror Tour at Blue Ribbon Pavilion on the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This show featured a trio of bands with three-word names: Ice Nine Kills, Motionless In White, and Black Veil Brides, with opener Lilith Czar.

Originally booked at a smaller venue, this triple headliner tour had to be relocated to the much larger State Fairground location due to aggressive ticket sales. I’m the first to admit that I was not the target demographic for this one, but my stepdaughter Emma has been developing a taste for heavier music and I am both proud and supportive of her growing love of attending live shows. Having said that, I had previously seen Motionless In White and Black Veil Brides, and I knew there would be some high energy entertainment and I wouldn’t automatically hate being there. Taking one for the team is one thing, but Emma knew I wasn’t going against my will. Not too long ago her musical taste was obsessively consumed with K-pop, so anything hard rock or metal related feels like victory.

I knew next to nothing about Lilith Czar prior to the show, and I’m certainly not going to lie and say I became a big fan, but she proved to have a strong vocal presence and a genuinely grateful attitude that built a visible excitement in the crowd as her set progressed. I didn’t hear anything revolutionary going on musically, but after doing a bit of research I learned that she has been steadily building her career for the past decade and that she is married to the Black Veil Brides’ singer, Andy Biersack.

Lilith Czar appears to be a band on the rise. Speaking of Black Veil Brides, they confirmed what I had already determined from my previous experience of their live performance; these guys are an extension of the best qualities of glamorous L.A. hard rock that ruled the late ’80’s. With singalong choruses, gigantic riff fueled anthems, blazing guitar solos (both singular and harmonized), and endless energy, Black Veil Brides collectively never stop moving and absolutely never forget why they are on that stage…they are there to entertain the predominantly young female fanbase and they do it with enthusiastic excellence.

Front man Andy Biersack has charisma to spare and doesn’t stray from his comfort zone vocally, which allows him to stay on pitch and full voiced. The rest of the band are adept with support vocals and are definitely great players. I knew going into this show that they would likely be the highlight for me and indeed they were.

Motionless In White followed and arguably had the most rabid crowd response of the evening. Some of that comes from having the best time slot, but a lot of it was due to the performance of Chris Motionless, who (like Biersack) knows his audience and relentlessly involves them in the gang choruses and hype points of his band’s music. I had last seen Motionless In White on a package tour in support of Slipknot and Lamb Of God in 2015. Clearly, MIW have grown enormously in the past seven years and absorbed lots of lessons from some of the heavyweights in the extreme metal community.

Overall, I think I enjoyed them more when they were an up-and-coming band. Back then they felt like a more wholesome alternative to Marilyn Manson. This time around they felt a little too derivative of Manson to me, but once again, I’m not their target and their target was ravenous, so hats off to them for their growth. Ice Nine Kills performed the final set of the night and I have both good and bad opinions concerning the horror lyric based metalcore band. First of all, I love the staging, the visuals, and the horror stuff. Everything happening on stage looked so good to me, unfortunately (as is usually the case with bands I don’t like) the vocals just killed the vibe for me.

Ice Nine Kills have been described as symphonic metal at times, but to me it was almost more appropriate to label them opera metal…and I just couldn’t get around my inability to ignore all that high pitched (i.e., whiny) sound.

Emma and I decided to call it a night and leave early, both concluding that we had enjoyed a tremendously entertaining evening of heavy music with great theatrics, visuals, energy, and production values.

Blue Ribbon Pavilion doesn’t have ideal sound, but it was certainly packed with all the elements of a rock show that featured young bands that are carrying the torch for heavy music and helping spread the fire to a hungry young audience. I applaud Ice Nine Kills, Motionless In White, Black Veil Brides, and Lilith Czar for their efforts and their continued success.

Tour Dates:

Aug. 30 – Denver, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre#
Sep. 03 – Omaha, NE – Liberty First Credit Union Arena (buy tickets)
Sep. 04 – Pryor, OK – Rocklahoma*
Sep. 06 – Fort Wayne, IN – Allen County War Memorial Expo Center (buy tickets)
Sep. 07 – Cleveland, OH – Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica (buy tickets)
Sep. 09 – Scranton, PA – Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain (buy tickets)
Sep. 10 – Alton, VA – Blue Ridge Rock Fest*
Sep. 11 – Asheville, NC – Exploreasheville.com Arena (buy tickets)
Sep. 13 – Milwaukee, WI – Eagles Ballroom (buy tickets)
Sep. 14 – Sterling Heights, MI – Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill (buy tickets)
Sep. 16 – Bonner Springs, MO – Azura Amphitheater (buy tickets)
Sep. 17 – Saint Charles, MO – The Family Arena (buy tickets)
Sep. 18 – Cincinnati, OH – ICON at The Andrew J Brady Music Center (buy tickets)

Watch Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi play at the Commonwealth Games

Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iomi made a surprise reunion in their hometown of Birmingham, England, on Monday night with a performance at the city’s Commonwealth Games. They performed their classic “Paranoid” alongside two musicians who joined them on their final tour, The End: Adam Wakeman, who played bass and keyboards, and drummer Tommy Clufetos.

Osbourne and Iommi performed versions of ‘Iron Man’ and the complete ‘Paranoid’, the latter of which ended with a spectacular firework display. The performance apparently disrupted the BBC’s 10 O’Clock news broadcast, but nobody seemed to mind.

News of Osbourne’s performance comes ahead of the release of his new album, Patient Number 9, on September 9th. The new studio effort features guest appearances by the likes of Iommi, Zakk Wylde and Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, Metallica’s Rob Trujillo, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, and former Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins are also all rumoured to have contributed.

WACKEN OPEN AIR 2023: 80,000 Tickets Sold In Six Hours; Fastest Sellout In Festival History

The 2022 edition of Wacken Open Air just less than two days ago and the promoters are already able to confirm that next year’s installment of the annual metal festival has sold out. Within six hours, 80,000 tickets to the 2023 Wacken Open Air were sold. This marks the fastest sellout in Wacken‘s history.

The Wacken Open Air organizers said in a statement: “Metalheads! We absolutely cannnot believe what just happened: The Wacken Open Air 2023 is completely sold out after a record time of 6 hours — all 80,000 tickets are sold out! Thanks for your incredible loyalty, support and the trust you give us!”

They added: “You are the best fans in the world! So we can’t wait to celebrate another superlative metal party with you next year. Look forward to many more great bands and a festival with which we will take you back to the age of the Vikings — officially on four days instead of three!”

Promoter Thomas Jensen added: “A sold-out festival in that amount of time — unbelievable. And especially in these times, the backing of the community is enormously important.

“We are still knocking off the dust of this year’s Open Air and now, thanks to the trust of our fans, we can continue to fully concentrate on the program in 2023 under the motto ‘Vikings’, which will have one or two highlights in the bag in addition to the great IRON MAIDEN!”

“This is an enormous proof of confidence from our fans and we appreciate it very much,” said promoter Holger Hübner. “This allows us to push Wacken Open Air forward and develop various projects and themes alongside the billing, which we will announce during the year.”

As previously reported, British heavy metal legends IRON MAIDEN will headline next year’s edition of Wacken Open Air, set to take place August 2-5, 2023.

Wacken Open Air takes place annually in the village of Wacken, which has a population of just about 2,000.

Up to 85,000 people attend the event, which is 32 years old.

The first Wacken Open Air event in 1990 drew less than 800 people, but it has since grown to become the biggest open-air festival of its kind.

Around 30 percent travel from other countries to the festival, which over recent years has been growing in popularity.

So far the following artists have been confirmed for the 2023 edition of Wacken Open Air:

IRON MAIDEN
MEGADETH
THE DROPKICK MURPHYS
WARDRUNA
JINJER
BEARTOOTH
TWO STEPS FROM HELL
ENSIFERUM
DEICIDE
PENTAGRAM
NERVOSA
BURNING WITCHES

200 bands performed at this year’s Wacken Open Air, including headliners SLIPKNOT, POWERWOLF and JUDAS PRIEST.

Wacken Open Air was forced to take a break for two years due to coronavirus restrictions.

Wacken Open Air normally does not announce the names of its headliners before tickets go on sale. Still, the festival usually sells out within hours.

The festival also doesn’t sell VIP access or upgrades and all purchases are for all the days without a single-day ticket option, something they did away with nearly two decades ago.

New Alter Bridge Song With Animated Video, Silver Tongue Released Today and its HEAVY!

The band’s seventh full-length album is set for release this October. Kennedy and Tremonti – plus bass guitar player Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips – have teamed back up for a new Alter Bridge album called Pawns & Kings. The band’s seventh album, Pawns & Kings was helmed by longtime collaborator/producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette, and is set for an October 14 release via Napalm Records.

The animated music video for the LP’s second single “Silver Tongue” can be seen below and its heavy! The clip, which was created and directed by Ollie Jones of Better Feeling Films (Myles Kennedy, PRODIGY, PSYCHEDELIC PORN CRUMPETS), follows victims who fall prey someone beautiful but turns demonic under a dark spell of a painting that pulls them into an alternate universe and traps them inside forcing them to fight for survival. My personal interpretation of the song is that its a euphemism for the mysterious power of attractive people who are evil on the inside and how you can fall victim to external beauty and to never judge a book by its cover. Watch the video and decide for yourself.

ALTER BRIDGE will be touring in support of “Pawns & Kings”. The band has announced a tour of Europe for November and December that will make 25 stops. The tour starts November 1 in Germany and will go to Denmark, Sweden, Spain and more before it ends December 12 at O2 Arena in the United Kingdom. HALESTORM and MAMMOTH WVH will be part of the tour.

Alter Bridge – Pawns & Kings:

1. This Is War
2. Dead Among The Living
3. Silver Tongue
4. Sin After Sin
5. Stay
6. Holiday
7. Fable Of The Silent Son
8. Season Of Promise
9. Last Man Standing
10. Pawns & Kings

On This Date in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 4/6/2022, my wife and I attended a highly entertaining show at The Vogue featuring The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Led by the wildly prolific and consistently unpredictable Anton Newcombe, The Brian Jonestown Massacre has produced a truly impressive amount of music since its inception in San Francisco in 1990.

The band has sustained a staggering fluctuation of members with many leaving and returning seemingly at will and all revolving around the only constant member, Newcombe. An award-winning documentary entitled Dig! provides a lot of insight into why there are so many lineup changes. Definitely check it out if you can. Apparently, Anton Newcombe is kind of difficult to work with, but he is certainly a man who knows what he wants and refuses to compromise his art. Knowing all of this, we went to the concert with an understanding that we would either see a visionary performance or possibly a massive trainwreck. Thankfully, I feel we saw hints of the visionary and a small bump in the road where Anton stopped a song not once, but twice, because he didn’t like the tempo. He seemed on the edge of an outburst as he admonished his bandmates and told them he didn’t have time to be their babysitter. After they locked into the tempo he was looking for, everything went smoothly from then to the end of the show.

Being unfamiliar with the genre of the band’s music (kind of misguidedly thinking it would be grunge due to their birth in the ’90’s) I was pleasantly surprised that they touched on psychedelia, country, blues, garage rock, folk, and a heaping amount of shoegaze. The band (or the touring version circa 2022) were laid back but reactive to each other, with no-one really standing out, including Anton, who stood at the far end of stage left. The songs performed at our show were all excellent, but the one that really stood out for me personally was the finale. It was just over twenty minutes long, but the actual song ended around eleven minutes when the guitar players set up some warm feedback on their respective instruments and left the stage, followed by the bass player and drummer. As the guitars continued to feedback most gloriously, Anton got behind the drumkit and started playing a simple but hypnotic drum pattern, accompanied by some random sound manipulations from the keyboard player. During the next nine or so minutes, these elements all just grew to an enormous wall of sound that was further enhanced by some cosmic rear screen projections of deep space and subliminal faces that perfectly complimented the psychedelic shoegaze symphony that this band effortlessly set in motion.

That twenty-minute demonstration of the genius of The Brian Jonestown Massacre guaranteed that I will at the very least always be a fan of this quirky and magical band that has survived against some pretty crazy odds. Hopefully we will see them again sometime, but this show will live on in my memory for that monumental final song at the very least.

Rockshots Records – Cosmic Metal VANDERLUST Take You On A Journey To Mars w/ New Music Video “High Hopes”

Cosmic metallers VANDERLUST (ft. members of S91, Dreal) invited fans into their galaxy of wonder with the release of their self-titled debut album released this past April via Rockshots Records.

Today, they share their next video adventure with “High Hopes”, a heavy-power metal song, that is fast and powerful. It mixes technical riffs with a melodic and catchy vocal line; it’s one of the band’s most Iron Maiden-oriented songs. The lyrics speak about the first human travel to Mars and the great hopes that this mission inspires.

Listen and watch “High Hopes” – https://youtu.be/jI1_XHZnorg

Birthed to travel the cosmos, Italy’s Vanderlust is a power-heavy metal band with prog-thrash influences that tells tales of space travels, astronomy, space engineering, and sci-fi adventures.

“We tried to mix a prog-thrashy riffing in the roots of Megadeth, Vektor, and Tool with epic vocal parts like Iron Maiden, Helloween, Angra, and Lione’s Rhapsody. We also put sci-fi elements in our songs, so you can hear also something from Voivod.” adds the band.

This debut recording is like a stellar system with 12 different planets. The star at the center of the system represents the heavy-power metal around all the songs revolving. Despite all the tracks being irradiated by the same light, they are all different from each other. Vanderlust has fast thrash, slow and doom, shiny and brilliant to grunge, and darker songs. Like planets, which appear like simple small bright spots, but in reality, are all big worlds, Vanderlust‘s songs are more complex than they sound at first listen. In fact, you can easily sing along to some of the choruses even if there are complex riffs in the background. Vanderlust is particularly proud of the participation of opera singer Letizia Cappellini who does vocals on select tracks and helps the band further expand the vocal register of their compositions. The band also adds the presence of synths and electronic elements to the compositions to set the sci-fi mood of the lyrics.

“The main goal was to start a metal band that could be an inspiration for young people, a band that could tell them stories from the future when mankind will have overcome its limits and the solar system will be an entire human colony. This idea came to mind to founding members Francesco and Santo when they began their search for other members that could fit. Drummer Giacomo Mezzetti joined the space odyssey right before the covid-19 outbreak. Vocalist Riccardo Morello joined the band during the first lockdown in Italy, so the first song was entirely composed online, using videocalls and file sharing.” adds the band.

For their live aspect, Vanderlust is currently working hard to create a thrilling spectacle, giving all their energy to the fans and letting them join them on the space journey.

Vanderlust is recommended for fans of Iron Maiden, Angra, Tool, Helloween, and Vektor.

CD – https://bit.ly/Vanderlust_CD

Digital – https://bfan.link/vanderlust

Track Listing:
1. Intro (0:58)
2. High Hopes (3:34)
3. Orphan Planet (3:41)
4. Forgotten Breed (5:13)
5. The Last Ganymedian (3:45)
6. Scavengers Of Kuiper Belt (4:02)
7. Mass Effect Destruction (2:04)
8. Requiem For An Ancient World (4:59)
9. 3 Suns (4:44)
10. Dyson’s Swarm (4:00)
11. Ringworld (3:26)
12. Ten Years Back (3:38)
13. Zima Blue (4:39)
Album Length: 48:49

More info:
Rockshots.eu
Facebook.com/vanderlustofficial
Instagram.com/vanderlustband

Rob Zombie’s ‘The Munsters’ Premieres Sept. 27 on Digital and Blu-Ray Before Heading to Netflix

Rob Zombie’s “The Munsters” reboot will be available for digital purchase and on Blu-Ray on Sept. 27. The premiere date was announced along with the release of a new “Munsters” trailer.

The film will be available on Netflix later in the year. Zombie had announced recently that the film would also head to Netflix, writing, “This fall we are gonna spook-out like it’s 1964! Yep, THE MUNSTERS and THE ADDAMS FAMILY are returning to the boob tube at the same time courtesy of Netflix.” The digital, Blu-Ray and DVD will include over an hour of Collector’s Edition bonus content, including behind-the-scenes footage with Zombie and the cast and feature commentary by Zombie that takes viewers deep inside the haunted adventure.

Based on the ’60s black-and-white sitcom, the film stars Jeff Daniel Phillips as Herman Munster, Sheri Moon Zombie as Lily Munster and Daniel Roebuck as Grandpa. Returning from the original cast are Butch Patrick and Pat Priest.

Also making an appearance in the film is Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira. Peterson plays Barbara Carr, a real estate agent. “Here I am playing this character that’s so different from what I normally do. I’m playing a super straight character,” Peterson revealed in an interview.

Zombie, the director behind “House of 1000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects” will deliver a family- friendly film which he confirmed will be rated PG. His version will be in color, as the teaser trailer revealed last week.

Production shot on location in Budapest, Hungary, during the pandemic. The entire Mockingbird Lane neighborhood was constructed from scratch by production designer Juci Szurdi.

Since announcing the news last June, Zombie has teased audiences with behind-the-scenes insights into the sets, costumes and makeup of the anticipated film.

The costumes are designed by Tóth András Dániel and Godena-Juhász Attila. Zombie revealed photos of Daniel’s and Attila’s designs when he shared sketches of what Lily and Herman Munster wear to bed. The detailed look included a description of Herman’s nightgown, complete with skull buttons, while spiderweb embroidery finishes Lily’s floor-length robe. Zombie wrote, “What do Herman and Lily wear to bed? Perhaps something like this! Check out some wardrobe designs by our amazing costume designers.”

The Doors

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

1967, The Doors ‘Light My Fire’ was released in the US on 3 June, where it went on to be No.1 on the singles chart two months later.

When The Doors were booked to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show they were asked to change the line “girl, we couldn’t get much higher”, as the sponsors were uncomfortable with the possible reference to drug-taking. The band agreed to do so, and did a rehearsal using the amended lyrics; however, during the live performance, lead singer Jim Morrison sang the original lyric, after which they were informed they would never appear on The Ed Sullivan Show again.

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The Doors – “Light My Fire”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY1l8T2Lcl0

On Ed Sullivan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2euBN3gbKc8

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Opeth is a Swedish progressive metalband from Stockholm, formed in 1989. The group has been through several personnel changes, including the replacement of every single original member. Lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt has remained Opeth’s primary driving force since the departure of original vocalist David Isberg in 1992. Opeth has consistently incorporated progressive, folk, blues, classical, and jazz influences into its usually lengthy compositions, as well as strong influences from death metal, especially in their early works. Many songs include acoustic guitar passages and strong dynamic shifts, as well as demonic vocal characterization. Opeth is also well known for their incorporation of Mellotrons in their work. Opeth rarely made live appearances supporting their first four albums, but since conducting their first world tour after the 2001 release of Blackwater Park, they have led several major world tours.

Opeth was formed as a death metal band in 1989 in Stockholm, Sweden, by lead vocalist David Isberg. The band name was derived from the word “Opet”, taken from the Wilbur Smith novel The Sunbird. In this novel, Opet is the name of a fictional Phoenician city in South Africa translated as “City of the Moon”.

In 1990, Isberg asked former Eruption band member Mikael Åkerfeldt, who was just 16 years old at the time, to join Opeth as a bassist. When Åkerfeldt showed up to practice on the day after Isberg invited him, it became clear that Isberg had not told the band members, including the band’s current bassist, that Åkerfeldt would be joining the band. An ensuing argument led to all members but Isberg and Åkerfeldt leaving to form a new project.

Isberg and Åkerfeldt recruited drummer Anders Nordin, bassist Nick Döring, and guitarist Andreas Dimeo. Unsatisfied with Opeth’s slow progress, Döring and Dimeo left the band after their first performance, and were replaced by guitarist Kim Pettersson and bassist Johan De Farfalla. After the next show, De Farfalla left Opeth to spend time with his girlfriend in Germany, and was initially replaced by Mattias Ander, before Åkerfeldt’s friend Peter Lindgren took on the role of bassist. Rhythm guitarist Kim Pettersson left following the band’s next performance, and Lindgren switched to guitar, with the role of bassist falling to Stefan Guteklint. The following year, David Isberg left the band citing “creative differences”.

Following Isberg’s departure, Åkerfeldt took over vocal duties and he, Lindgren, and Nordin spent the next year writing and rehearsing new material. The group began to rely less on the blast beats and aggression typical of death metal, and incorporated acoustic guitars and guitar harmonies into their music; developing the core sound of Opeth. Bassist Guteklint was dismissed by the band after they signed their first record deal with Candlelight Records in 1994. Opeth initially employed former member De Farfalla as a session bassist for their demo recordings, and he went on to join on a full-time basis following the release of Opeth’s debut album, “Orchid”, in 1995.

Opeth recorded its debut album, Orchid, with producer Dan Swanö in April 1994. Because of distribution problems with the newly formed Candlelight Records, the album was not released until May 15, 1995, and only in Europe. Orchid tested the boundaries of traditional death metal, featuring acoustic guitars, piano, and clean vocals.

After a few live shows in the United Kingdom, Opeth returned to the studio in March 1996 to begin work on a second album, again produced by Dan Swanö. The album, titled Morningrise, was released in Europe on June 24, 1996. With only five songs, but lasting 66 minutes, it features Opeth’s longest song, the 20-minute “Black Rose Immortal”. Opeth toured the UK in support of Morningrise, followed by a 26-date Scandinavian tour with Cradle of Filth. While on tour, Opeth attracted the attention of Century Media Records, who signed the band and released the first two albums in the United States in 1997.

In 1997, after the tour, Åkerfeldt and Lindgren dismissed De Farfalla for personal reasons, without the consent of Nordin. When Åkerfeldt informed Nordin, who was on a vacation in Brazil, Nordin left the band and remained in Brazil for personal reasons. Former Eternalmembers, drummer Martín López (formerly of Amon Amarth) and bassist Martín Méndez, responded to an ad at a music shop placed by Åkerfeldt. López and Méndez were fans of the band and took the ads down themselves so no other musicians could apply for the job. Åkerfeldt and Lindgren did not want the Martíns to join at first, due to them already knowing each other; they felt that they wanted two strangers so that there wouldn’t be two camps in the band, but eventually hired both. López made his debut with Opeth playing on a cover version of Iron Maiden’s “Remember Tomorrow”, which was included on the album A Call to Irons: A Tribute to Iron Maiden.

With a larger recording budget from Century Media, Opeth began work on its third album, with noted Swedish producer Fredrik Nordström, at Studio Fredman in August 1997. Although Opeth had Méndez, due to time constraints Åkerfeldt played bass on the album. My Arms, Your Hearse was released to critical acclaim on August 18, 1998.

In 1999, the ownership of Candlelight Records changed hands, with owner and friend of the band Lee Barrett leaving the company. Opeth signed with UK label Peaceville Records in Europe, which was distributed by Music for Nations. Opeth reserved time at Studio Fredman to begin work on its next album, but recording was postponed while the studio was relocated. Due to time constraints, the band was able to rehearse only twice before entering the studio. Delays with the album’s artwork pushed the release back an additional month and Still Life was released on October 18, 1999. Due to problems with the band’s new distribution network, the album was not released in the United States until February 2001. Still Life was the first album recorded with Méndez, and also the first Opeth album to bear any kind of caption on the front cover upon its initial release, including the band’s logo. Allmusic called Still Life a “formidable splicing of harsh, often jagged guitar riffs with graceful melodies.” As explained by Åkerfeldt, Still Life is a concept album: “The main character 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.”

Following a few live dates in Europe, Opeth returned to Studio Fredman to begin work on its next album, with Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilsonproducing. The band sought to recreate the recording experience of Still Life, and again entered the studio with minimal rehearsals, and no lyrics written. “This time it was tough,” Åkerfeldt said, “I feel pleasantly blown away by the immense result, though. It was indeed worth the effort.” Wilson also pushed the band to expand its sound, incorporating new sounds and production techniques. “Steve guided us into the realms of ‘strange’ noises for guitars and voice”, Åkerfeldt said.

Opeth released its fifth studio album, Blackwater Park, on February 21, 2001. AllMusic has stated that the album “keeps with Opeth’s tradition by transcending the limits of death/black metal and repeatedly shattering the foundations of conventional songwriting”. In support of Blackwater Park, Opeth embarked on its first world tour, headlined Europe for the first time, and made an appearance at the 2001 Wacken Open Air festival in Germany, playing to a crowd of 60,000.

Opeth returned to Sweden after touring in support of Blackwater Park, and began writing for the next album. At first, Åkerfeldt had trouble putting together 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.” Jonas Renkse of Katatonia, a long-time friend of Åkerfeldt, suggested writing music for two separate albums—one heavy and one soft.

Excited at the prospect, Åkerfeldt agreed without consulting his bandmates or record label. While his bandmates 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.” With most of the material written, the band rehearsed just once before entering Nacksving Studios in 2002, and again with producer Steven Wilson in Studio Fredman. Under pressure to complete both albums simultaneously, Åkerfeldt said the recording process was “the toughest test of our history.” After recording basic tracks, the band moved production to England to first mix the heavy album, Deliverance, with Andy Sneap at Backstage Studios. “Deliverance was so poorly 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.”

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. 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.”

Opeth performed a one-off concert in Stockholm, then returned to the UK to finish recording vocals for the second of the two albums, Damnation, at Steven Wilson’s No Man’s Land Studios. Although Åkerfeldt believed the band could not finish both albums, Opeth completed Deliverance and Damnationin just seven weeks of studio time, which was the same amount spent on Blackwater Park alone. Damnation was released on April 14, 2003, and garnered the band its first appearance on the US Billboard 200 at number 192. The album also won the 2003 Swedish Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. On January 1, 2016, Opeth re-released both Deliverance and Damnation in one package, containing CD and DVD versions, along with new mixing.

The band embarked on its biggest tour yet, playing nearly 200 shows in 2003 and 2004. 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 io in London, England. The DVD features a two-hour performance, including the entire Damnation album, several songs from Deliverance and Blackwater Park, and a one-hour documentary about the recording of Deliverance and Damnation. Lamentations was certified Gold in Canada.

Opeth was scheduled to perform in Jordan 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, drummer Lopez called Åkerfeldt stating he was having an anxiety attack and could not perform, forcing the band to cancel the show. In early 2004, Lopez was sent home from Canada after more anxiety attacks on tour. Opeth decided against cancelling the remainder of the tour, with Lopez’s drum technician filling in for two concerts. Lopez promised that he would return to the tour as soon as he could, but two shows later Opeth asked Strapping Young Lad drummer Gene Hoglan to fill in. Lopez returned to Opeth for the Seattle show on the final leg of the Deliverance and Damnation tour. Per Wiberg also joined the band on tour to perform keyboards, after more than a year on tour.

Opeth returned home in 2004 to start writing new material for its eighth album, and by the end of the year, they had finished writing it. Opeth’s European label, Music for Nations, closed its doors in 2005, and after negotiations with various labels, the band signed with Roadrunner Records. Åkerfeldt said the primary reason for signing with Roadrunner was the label’s wide distribution, ensuring the album would be available at larger-chain retailers. When news leaked that the band was signed to Roadrunner, who predominantly worked with trend-oriented rock and metal, some fans accused the band of selling out. “To be honest,” Åkerfeldt said, “that’s such an insult after 15 years as a band and 8 records. I can’t believe we haven’t earned each and every Opeth fan’s credibility after all these years. I mean, our songs are 10 minutes long!” The band rehearsed for three weeks before entering the studio, the first time the band rehearsed since the 1998 album, My Arms, Your Hearse. During rehearsal, keyboardist Wiberg joined Opeth as a full-time member. Opeth recorded at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden, from March 18 to June 1, 2005, and released the resulting Ghost Reveries on August 30, 2005, to critical acclaim and commercial success. The album debuted at number 64 in the US, and number nine in Sweden, higher than any previous Opeth release. Keith Bergman of Blabbermouth.net gave the album ten out of ten, one of only 21 albums to achieve a perfect rating from the site. Rod Smith of Decibel magazine called Ghost Reveries“achingly beautiful, sometimes unabashedly brutal, often a combination of both”.

On May 12, 2006, Martin Lopez announced that he had officially parted ways with Opeth due to health problems, and was replaced by Martin Axenrot. 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 song (Deep Purple’s “Soldier of Fortune”), a DVD featuring a 5.1 surround sound mix of the album and a documentary on the making of the record. A recording of Opeth’s live performance at the Camden Roundhouse, in London, on November 9, 2006, was released as the double live album The Roundhouse Tapes, which topped the Finnish DVD chart.

On May 17, 2007, Peter Lindgren announced he would be 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.” 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.”

Opeth entered Fascination Street Studios in November 2007 to record their ninth studio album, with Åkerfeldt producing. By January 2008, Opeth had recorded 13 songs, including three cover songs. The finished album, Watershed, features seven tracks, with cover songs used as bonus tracks on different versions of the album. Watershed was released on June 3, 2008. Åkerfeldt described the songs on the album as “a bit more energetic”. Opeth toured in support of Watershed, including headlining the UK Defenders of the Faith tour with Arch Enemy, an appearance at Wacken Open Air, and the Progressive Nation tour with headliner Dream Theater. Watershedwas Opeth’s highest-charting album to date, debuting at number 23 on the US Billboard 200, on the Australian ARIA album charts at number seven and at number one on Finland’s official album chart. Opeth went on a worldwide tour in support of Watershed. From September to October, the band toured North America backed by High on Fire, Baroness, and Nachtmystium. They returned to tour Europe for the rest of the year with Cynic and The Ocean.

In 2010, Opeth wrote and recorded the new track, “The Throat of Winter”, which appeared on the digital EP soundtrack of the video game, God of War III. Åkerfeldt described the song as “odd” and “not very metal.” To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Opeth performed a six-show, worldwide tour called Evolution XX: An Opeth Anthology, from March 30 through April 9, 2010. Blackwater Park was performed in its entirety, along with several songs never before performed. The concert of April 5, 2010, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England was filmed for a DVD and live album package titled In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. The set was released on September 21, 2010, in 2-DVD and 2-DVD/3-CD configurations. For the DVD the concert was split into two sets. The first set consists of the entire Blackwater Park album, while the second set contains one song from every album excluding Blackwater Park, in chronological order representing the twenty years of “evolution” in their music. Åkerfeldt stated, “I can’t believe it, but, fuck, we’re celebrating 20 years. I’ve been in this band ever since I was 16. It’s insane.” A special edition of Blackwater Park was released in March 2010 to coincide with the tour.

In September 2010, Mikael Åkerfeldt stated that he was writing for a new Opeth album. The band announced on their website that they would start recording their tenth album on January 31, 2011, at the Atlantis/Metronome studios in Stockholm, once again with Jens Bogren (engineering) and Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree as co-producer.

Shortly after mixing was complete on the new album in April 2011, Opeth announced that Per Wiberg was relieved of his duties in the band. In the press statement, Mikael Åkerfeldt explained the decision, saying, “Mendez, Axe and Fredrik and I came to the decision that we should find a replacement for Per right after the recordings of the new album, and this came as no surprise to Per. He had, in turn, been thinking about leaving, so you could say it was a mutual decision. There’s no bad blood, just a relationship that came to an end, and that’s that.”

Heritage became the second Opeth album to not feature any death growls and had a much more progressive style than previous albums from the band, something that Åkerfeldt had been wanting to do for some time.

The first two songs Åkerfeldt wrote for Heritage were in the style of Watershed. After hearing the songs for the first time, Martín Méndez told Åkerfeldt that he would be disappointed if the album continued in that direction. Relieved that Méndez was not interested in doing another conventional Opeth album, Åkerfeldt scrapped the two songs and started the writing process over in a different style. In the press release for Heritage, Mikael Åkerfeldt revealed that he felt as though he had been building to write the album since he was 19 years old. In a review for Allmusic, Thom Jurek called Heritage the band’s most adventurous album, describing the songs as “drenched in instrumental interludes, knotty key and chord changes, shifting time signatures, clean vocals, and a keyboard-heavy instrumentation that includes Mellotrons, Rhodes pianos, and Hammond organs”.

On 26 August 2014, Opeth released its eleventh studio album, titled Pale Communion. Åkerfeldt began working on new material as far back as August 2012. In January 2014 he stated, “We’ve been looking at [tracking the next album at] Rockfield Studios in Wales where Queen recorded “Bohemian Rhapsody”, but we haven’t made a decision yet, but it will be an expensive album. There’s a lot going on, lots of string arrangements that we haven’t had in the past.” Despite fearing that the band’s new musical direction would split Opeth’s fanbase, when asked if it will it be heavier or softer than Heritage, Åkerfeldt said, “Maybe a little bit heavier, not death metal heavy, but hard rock/heavy metal heavy. There’s also lots of progressive elements and acoustic guitars, but also more sinister-sounding riffs.” Åkerfeldt also produced the new album which will include string instrumentation, something that he became interested in doing when working on Storm Corrosion. The band members in Opeth felt rejuvenated after creating Heritage which resulted in closer relationships between them

On 15 June 2016, Nuclear Blast Entertainment announced the signing of Opeth. Three days later, on 18 June, Opeth released a 30-second teaser for their new album, Sorceress. A month later, on 18 July, the band confirmed the album would be released on 30 September, in addition to revealing the artwork and track list. Mikael Åkerfeldt described it as, “A fine little record. My favorite in our discography right now. Of course. That’s how it should be, right? It’s both fresh and old, both progressive and rehashed. Heavy and calm. Just the way we like it.” The album was the first project under Moderbolaget Records, a joint venture between Opeth and Nuclear Blast. Moderbolaget means “the parent company” in Swedish.

On 25 July 2016, in the build up towards the album release, the band posted the first Sorceress: Studio Report on their YouTube channel. In the behind-the-scenes studio tour, it is confirmed that the band had returned to Rockfield Studios where they previously recorded Pale Communion. At the end of the video, there is a 20-second excerpt of a track believed to be from the album featuring heavily down-tuned guitars. On 1 August 2016, the band released a lyric video for the title-track ‘Sorceress’ on their YouTube channel. On 4 September 2016, Opeth released a lyric video for the second single titled ‘Will O the Wisp,’ again through their YouTube channel and website. Opeth’s video for “Era” was nominated for “Video of the Year” at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards, where they ultimately won “International Band of the Year”.

On 2 October 2017, Åkerfeldt said he has been thinking about doing something “twisted” and different for the next studio album, which could be released by mid-to-late 2019. On 20 November 2017, guitarist Fredrik Åkesson stated that the band will not have any gigs in the upcoming months, until the 2018 summer festivals. During this break the band will focus on writing songs for the new album. On 11 July 2018, during an interview with FaceCulture, Åkesson said “I’ve recorded a lot of solos so far. And Mikael Åkerfeldt has almost already written 12 songs for the new album, so we have more material than enough for an album”. On 22 May 2019, the band announced their thirteenth studio album, In Cauda Venenum, due for release on 27 September 2019. On 12 July 2019, Opeth released the first single from In Cauda Venenum entitled “Heart in Hand” in both English and Swedish.

On 16 November 2021, it was announced that longtime drummer Martin Axenrot had left the band due to conflict of interests and will be replaced by Sami Karppinen for the North American tour.

When The World of Comics and Metal Collide

Earlier this month, Marvel released a book titled X-Men: Hellfire Gala, and there were two cameos. One of those is Iron Maiden mascot Eddie, the other being comedian Brian Posehn. Both the Iron Maiden Twitter account and Posehn tweeted about their special cameos within this latest X-Men book. Per Iron Maiden, they wrote:

“EDDIE??! Look who showed up at @Marvel‘s biggest night for mutantkind! Check out Eddie’s guest appearance in ‘X-Men: Hellfire Gala’ #1, out now at your local comic book shop. #XMenHellfireGala#IronMaiden #Marvel #Eddie #Comic #Xmen”

Posehn retweet’d Maiden and wrote: “Um, this is crazy. My huge ass just chillin’ with ‘Trooper’ Eddie at a Hellfire Gala. @IronMaiden and @Marvel had a crazy impact on my life. And now this panel exists. Thanks to all involved and @GerryDuggan.”

Marvel Comics and Iron Maiden make a great team. Several other metal bands and artists have been involved with comics, like GWAR, Rob Zombie, Spiritbox, and more.

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