The entity known as Opeth is truly one of the most universally admired and venerated beasts in the metal kingdom, but, like my divorce proceedings, I haven’t paid much attention to them until convinced to review them. Yes, I’ve gone just about my whole life conveniently paying no heed to one of metal’s brightest stars, not on purpose mind you, more because I just didn’t care and didn’t feel like caring, which I often do about things. Luckily, this allows me to bring you my overly objective opinion of the night.
I embraced my role as the consummate newb of the evening, strolling amongst those who know far more and would gleefully tell me so if given the opportunity. I kept my eyes low, so not to give away that I was probably the only person in attendance without an Opeth Tattoo or denim vest. Pretension and presumed musical skills hung thick in the air, unhindered until the evening’s first and only opener took to the stage. The Sword may be the only band I know even less about than Opeth but damn do these cats have some good old fashion rock in them. A very enjoyable mix of Sabbath/70s rock with bits of country twang here and there. The performance did feel a little underwhelming, though, with songs starting and stopping without much fanfare, to the point where I wasn’t sure if the crowd just didn’t care or they couldn’t tell when it was time to clap.
The room was packed to the gills. The smell of sweat and Yes fans was pungent but bearable. The anticipation was boiling over like so many pots of spaghetti you forget about while on a three day Ketamine binge, but then it happened: I went out for a smoke.
Soon after I got back in the lights dimmed and the room erupted. I’ve rarely seen this kind of vigour for any band of any size; I started to feel as if my life has been sorely lacking their music. Stories of Opeth’s technical ability and beautiful compositions were not overstated. I was immediately captivated by the sounds emanating from the speakers in front of me. For the second song, the band dipped way back into their catalogue to when singer/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt still screamed, and the crowd was absolutely ecstatic. I felt like I was watching a band come out of retirement and were making some sort of history based solely on the reaction of the audience. The first half of the show was a blur of enthralling music, both brutally heavy and gorgeous at the same time. The only thing better than the show itself was Mikael Åkerfeldt’s midsong banter with the audience; his casual demeanour made you feel as if he were playing to a bar only half full of his friends and a few drunks.
It was at the point in the show I went out for a quick breather and after coming back, I felt like I no longer understood what was going on in front of me. Their musical complexities scared me as I began to contemplate of own life’s shortcomings, but holy fuck it was amazing.
In short, I can’t believe I slept on this band for so long and am eagerly looking forward to fully immersing myself into their back catalogue.
Written by Paul Ablaze
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy