Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 2/25/2020, I got to see my favorite band in the world deliver a monumental performance at Old National Centre’s Egyptian Room.
The band I’m talking about is Opeth, from Stockholm, Sweden…and they brought another excellent Swedish band along to open the show, Graveyard.
I have been lamenting the state of how too much of modern rock and metal is all starting to sound the same in the way it is produced. Graveyard was such a pleasant surprise by virtue of the fact that they sounded like they just teleported in from 1973. They had this bluesy, analog vibe that was equal parts vintage Sabbath and Zeppelin, but still sounded fresh and original. I thoroughly enjoyed their overall tone and plan to check out some of their studio work.
This was my third time seeing Opeth, and they continue to raise the bar in every possible way; sound, lights, the hilarious between songs banter (a long discussion about the Bloodbath song, Eaten, was spontaneous and lots of fun), and of course the masterful songs.
Touring in support of their latest masterpiece, In Cauda Venenum (Latin translation: Venom In The Tail), Opeth’s music is a breathtaking blend of styles generally labeled either progressive metal or progressive rock. Whatever direction the music takes, it is all played with utter precision and passion.
Each member of the band contributes so much to the overall sound. Martin “Axe” Axenrot supplies the complex drumming that drives the machine, Martin Mendez brings the melodic and powerful bass that holds everything together, Joakim Svalberg plays a wide variety of keyboards that bring in tons of ambience and emotional impact, and also contributes strong backing vocals. Frederik Akesson provides lethal lead guitar work and did much more singing at this show than I have heard him do before (and he has a great voice). Opeth’s leader and chief songwriter, Mikael Akerfeldt, completes the other half of the lead guitar tag team and serves as the amazing lead vocalist…serving up equal amounts of lush clean tones and brutal death metal growls, often in the same song.
Because of their lengthy compositions, the actual song count was relatively short, but 3 songs from In Cauda Venenum made it into the show, and all were magnificent, holding their own with such Opeth favorites as Moon Above, Sun Below, The Leper Affinity, and The Lotus Eater. An incredible encore of Sorceress and the perfection of the final song, Deliverance, put Opeth’s stage time at just over 2 hours.
I have to give a shout out to the audience, too. Everyone was quite vocal during Mikael’s speeches throughout the set, providing a lot of laughter and general happiness, which is always a great addition to a show. The overall atmosphere was pretty euphoric.
This band’s fans are passionate beyond any doubt. Opeth continues to fearlessly explore new territories and make music in their own image. It’s been over a week since the show, and I remain massively inspired!