Second part of my November gig spree was under the effects of a bad cold, which at it’s worst had me off work for two days. And I think I caught it at the Heep gig.
Sunday night was back to Manchester Academy 1, and Opeth, for night of Swedish death metal that goes ‘Grrrrrr’
I’ve afraid I don’t remember an awful lot about the two supports, Cynic and The Ocean. One was all cookie-monster metal, the other more proggy with 100% clean vocals. Both quite enjoyable at the time, but not terribly memorable at the a week later, although the combination of lemsip and beer that kept me going probably didn’t help.
Opeth themselves are a lot more than a pure metal band nowadays; either that or metal has developed tremendously as a genre since Tony Iommi first started playing tritones through a fuzzbox. Their sound has been described as ‘symphonic’ – not in the sense of big sweeping keyboards, but in their complex multi-layered song structures, with twin-guitar harmonies and strange time-signatures. They completely eschew anything as conventional as ordinary verses and choruses, and typically include piledriving heavyness, gentle semi-acoustic sections, and densely intricate instrumental passages, usually in the same lengthy song. Mikael Åkerfeldt lead vocals alternate between harsh growls and soaring ‘clean’ vocals.
The awesomely tight band reproduce all that dense swirling sound from their albums note-for-note, helped by a clear (and not deafeningly loud) sound. Their 90-minute set included just eight songs, including two, ‘Heir Apparent’ and ‘The Lotus Eaters’ from the new album “Watershed”. Difficult to single out a single high spot, but it was nice to hear ‘Deliverance’ and ‘The Drapery Falls’.
Opeth might just sound like a wall of noise to the uninitiated, and it took me a long time to ‘get’ them, especially Åkerfeldt’s Cookie Monster growls. Live, they’re just magnificent.