Fact : Bands from Sweden never suck. They play some of the best music that is out there. Take any one for example : Abba, Yngwie Malmsteen or Meshuggah. ( I saw three examples to come out of Sweden-land : Arch Enemy, Katatonia and Opeth and yeah, fact confirmed)There is something in the water and air of that land that lends them their amazing musical abilities. Of course, the government there has arranged for a lot of low price jam pads and gig opportunities which is the biggest impetus any musician can get. All in all, a pretty successful operation.
And from this field of gold, once in a lifetime there is found a diamond, Opeth. Starting out where every kid in Sweden starts out, that is , Swedish death metal, Opeth were soon at the forefront of that. But when they emerged from the landscape and found their identity, they incorporated every influence they could find on the way. Jazz, punk, folk, classical, everything. Their music is described by someone as a "journey through sonic landscapes, ambient scenes, stoner metal riff columns, long solos, all of which can be punctuated by death metal savagery at any given point of time." And that adequately sums it up.
Opeth are not purists of any sort. They are a mish mash of all the music they grew up hearing. Which is why some people cannot seem to get their head around them. Which is why, I love them. This is the band that gave us albums like Blackwater Park and Damnation, Still Life and My Arms, your Hearse. Talk about amazing musicianship. For crying out loud.
To me personally, this band is exactly what I want to do. Be metal as fuck but still not sacrifice anything else that I wish to do with it. This is that band that made me believe that poetry does work, that heavy metal does not forsake lyrical excellence for its demonic sound. And neither does it have to be rooted into something to have an identity.
I was supposed to see this musical excellence personified in Chennai, India. But I did not. I rued that day and all time to come after that. Till today. 7th of October 2011. I got to see them here, in this city of water called Minneapolis. yes. As I will say, over and over again, redemption. A chance to see something that will truly live with me as long as I don't start forgetting. And even then, the music will never go away. And by the title of a song that they wrote, it has come full circle. Closure.
So, Mikael Akerfeldt, the man who is the face and voice and guitar and brain of Opeth, you have my congratulations, heartfelt thanks and best wishes. Keep rocking, John Johnson.