Practically everybody that knows me is aware of my love for most Swedish extreme metal bands. Not sure what it is about Scandinavian Europe, but it seems like this region has cranked out some of the most badass groups in the history of metal. One of the groups that really stands out, even amongst the plethora of great Swedish bands, is Opeth.
Opeth has often been referred to as a progressive metal band. While this is true, the sound that they established makes it difficult to even put that label on them. Much like earlier prog bands, Opeth excels in writing lengthy songs with complex arrangements. Yet instead of relying on virtuoso musicians to play extended solos, they place more focus on layering multiple chord progressions together. With the accompanying melodies in the lead guitarwork, their music is able to give off the same feeling of atmosphere that other prog bands would need the help of keyboards to create.
To me, the greatest attribute of Opeth stems from the uniqueness of their sound. By combining a healthy dose of both black metal and death metal with the sensibilities of progressive metal, they managed to create the perfect hybrid of all three genres. But it doesn’t quite stop there. The heavy use of acoustic guitar and clean vocals indicates the influence of folk music. The beauty of it all is that, even with the inclusion of these various styles, the music never comes off as sounding over-the-top or pretentious. In fact, as experimental as Opeth is, they also have the most down to earth sound in progressive metal, thus allowing for a stronger emotional connection to the music.
Some final thoughts for those less familiar with Opeth.
1. Fans of Emperor, Dark Tranquility, and/or Dream Theater are likely to embrace Opeth with open arms.
2. Be sure to at least listen to “Blackwater Park”.
3. Play the song “Advent” for your friends while they’re stoned. They’ll thank you later.