Gracing our cover are Opeth. Yes, them. That group that started off 'death metal' and grew into something that's not recognisable under the same banner. As I write this, the band's latest album, Sorceress, has been out for a couple of weeks and I've read so many opinions on it from fans, new and old. This should, perhaps, come as no surprise - this is Opeth we're talking about after all, and as big as they grow in popularity, they also seem to shed layers of fans of their earlier works as they collect new ones; I have no statistics of course, but I've seen varying degrees of praise for them daring to break the metal mould (again), to extreme disgust - akin to a disappointed parent - at what they've become.
It may come as a surprise to you that I have never been a fan of the band, in fact, after being asked to 'be quiet' by a member of the audience at one of their early-day Underworld shows, I decided that they just weren't for me; it was too bloody hot and too rammed to see anything anyway, and if I wanted progressive music then Rush already ticked all the boxes. Right? And no one tells me to shush at a metal gig! So I gave up on them that night and found myself sitting in a tiny, dimly lit metal bar in London's West End - one that was and is still used by journalists and labels as an after-show drinking hole. Let's just say that having arrived early I'd successfully managed to circumvent any queues at the bar, so by the time the place started filling up I was feeling quite, er, uninhibited - and in true Crobar fashion (anyone who's been there will understand that its intimate size means, like it or not, you talk to everyone) started wittering away to the friendly Swedish chap on the next table about the band I'd just watched, laughing loudly as I described how they'd 'shamelessly stolen riffs from better prog bands', and had really uptight fans who - how very dare they - hung on to every note they played. I mean, really? Where was the fun!? Dimly lit it was, I think I already said... Anyway, I carried on my tirade when I got a nagging feeling that something wasn't right - my inner-professional-voice (I do have one, honest) was silently shouting 'shut up Lisa!' as I rattled on.... and on.... And then it twigged: this well-mannered - slightly awkward by now - Swede was only bloody Mikael Akerfeldt, and I had just told him that I hated his band. And his fans. And that his riffs were shit. Had I mentioned which magazine I worked for? I hoped not... (luckily it wasn't ZT then). For some reason I opted to appear like an even bigger dimwit than I already had by trying to style it out, and carried on blarting as though I had known exactly who he was the entire time; and he politely continued to discuss the music and listen until he was saved by my sudden but extremely urgent need to go to the bar - or something like that. It was an encounter I'd have liked to forget, and perhaps would have done if the band hadn't become so successful. Curse them!
I still never really 'got' Opeth despite trying - though I understand the attraction. But, reading Calum's interview this issue led me to recount this hideously embarassing story; Mikael's honest and thought-provoking dialogue reminded me what an impression he must have made on me in hindsight; it takes a strong and mindful person not to react badly to direct criticism, especially so when it's dealt out without any strong foundation, and by a drunken twerp you could so easily just tell to fuck off! With this spirit of independence and his undoubtable creativity, it's no wonder Opeth find themselves where they are today - and on yet another magazine cover! And guess what? In Sorceress, I think I've found an Opeth album I get. You might hate it.... but you know what they say about opinions.
FOR ISSUE 075 COURTESY OF BRAZIL'S ARMORED DAWN
PROPAGANDANews and ZT sponsored shows
REGULAR FEATURESDarkthrone | Negura Bunget | Ancient | Alcest | 40 Watt Sun | Neurosis | Subrosa | Darkher | Sodom | Hobbs' Angel Of Death | Johansson & Speckmann | Asphyx | Wormrot | Trap Them | Red Fang
UNDERGROUND BLACK METAL SECTIONPredatory Light | Vemod
DARK ENTRIES | DARK AMBIENTPhragments | Beyond Enclosure | Sch
RAPID FIREDarkrypyt | Armored Dawn | Auroch | Serpentine Dominion | Nathanael Larochette | Korgonthrus | Kuolenanlaakso | Everygrey | Stilla | Tortorum | Altar Of Oblivion
SENTENCINGAudio reviews including the ZT Soundcheck and Release Of The Issue Live reviews
- LABEL PROFILE | Eisenwald
- EXHUME TO CONSUME | Nightfall
- ON THE RACK | Sabaton
- ARTIST PROFILE | Gary Robertson
- VIEW FROM THE BUNKER | Alan 'Nemtheanga' Averill's column