Oxford Brookes Uni
December 3rd 2005
Opeth’s Ghost Reveries opus was always going to be a risky venture. With the addition of a permanent new member of the band; keyboardist Per Wiberg, who appeared on the band’s last tour on the back of their Deliverance/Damnation albums; and the signing to metal giants Roadrunner; well known for their associations with uber popular rockers Nickelback; Ghost Reveries and the subsequent touring of it, would be detrimental to either propelling the band into the stratosphere, or having the always contentious tag of ‘sell out’ attached to them.
The support for tonight’s show couldn’t have been better picked. Fellow Swedes Burst are seemingly also on the brink of superstardom, what with UK publications such as Kerrang! And Metal Hammer both highly rating the experimental noise mongerers.
With their deeply layered guitar sound, seemingly disjointed, atmospheric mix of both hardcore and metal sound and that oh so familiar mix of melodic singing with harsh growled vocals, Burst sound fairly fresh and inventive on record. Unfortunately, live, this sentiment isn’t realised. The songs seem to meander onwards into the unknown, before the audience is violently awoken again by a crushing Mastodon like chugging riff; yet just as the heads start to instinctively nod to the beat, it changes into a long drawn out mix of speedily strummed, distorted chords and irregular melodic lead guitar lines. It simply is just too much for your average audience member to handle, and subsequently the crowd reaction is a very pensive and confused one. Definitely some work is needed, if Burst are to impress on stage, and step into the big shoes the music press has already hyped up for them.
Mikael Åkerfeldt walks on stage with that self assured confidence of a man who knows he could probably spend an hour farting into the microphone, and yet the fans would lap it up and bay for more. And rightly so, Opeth have built up a reputation of writing incredibly original, intricately written music, mixing crushing heaviness with melodic beauty not often seen in the field of artists Opeth are often roped in with. And they can bring it live as well, picking up rave reviews like Steven Spielberg picks up Oscars.
Starting off with their magnificent album opener from Ghost Reveries, the crowd have already been drawn in, hook, line and sinker. They’re watching a band who have practically attained mythical status in the closed off, underground circles of the metal world, but who have now made a video (perish the thought) and had one of their latest tracks edited for radio. This shouldn’t be, but it is, each and every song is as breathtakingly well performed as the last, sounding ten times as brutal as it did on the record, and because of this, sounding even more beautiful.
Nearly all Opeth songs follow this ‘beauty and the beast‘ pattern, with softened acoustic breakdowns for each song, followed by riff upon riff of pure gold, heaviness wise. They follow the foot stomping White Cluster from their “red album” (as Åkerfeldt) names it, (Still Life for those not familiar) with the folkish cleanliness of Closure, which in turn overlaps wonderfully into Bleak.
This is metal Jim, but not as we know it…and you manage to feel privileged to be there, as if Opeth have especially invited you to watch them at work. Except from the beaming look on Åkerfeldt’s face, it simply doesn’t look like work. His crowd banter is genuinely amusing, having a quick game of Judas Priest music trivia before the encore track….”The music video to Breaking The Law, good or bad?………….that’s right, it was fucking bad”. It sure was Mike. It sure was.
As the band walk off after the hypnotically brutal ending bars of Deliverance fade into feedback, you can’t help staring after them in amazement and being truly thankful there’s bands like Opeth around to tour the smaller venues, rather than simply playing the Astoria and considering the UK conquered. Watch this band carefully, as soon they WILL be everyone’s favourite band.
Ghost of Perdition
The Grand Conjugation
Under The Weeping Moon
Baying of the Hounds
A Final Judgement