her-it-ageÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â /âheritij/
1. Valued qualities such as cultural traditions and historic buildings that have been passed down from previous generations.
2. A special or individual possession; an allotted portion.
3. Tangled thickets of arrhythmia and pseudo-structure decorated with complex, frenetic melodies and meandering percussion; Opethâs tenth studio album.
Released little over a year ago, Heritage proved divisive among fans. Many advocates of Opethâs habitual occult and death metal direction took umbrage at their challenging new content, devoid of harsh vocals and violent disposition. Though beneath its airy surface, Heritage is as dark and knotted as anything Opeth have committed to tape.
The tour immediately following the albumâs release challenged fans further. It saw Opeth play sets entirely devoid of harsh vocals, despite containing material from albums other than Heritage.
One year later, on the European Heritage Tour, thereâs ostensibly no real connection to Heritage other than the words on my ticket and the image on the drumhead. Opeth seem unconcerned with promoting an album already met with widespread critical acclaim, despite its naysayers. Itâs been a year; itâs time to shake things up.
Opeth wade through the fog and onto the stage. The Devilâs Orchard has proved a solid opening track at recent dates. It does tonight. Eventually Ã kerfeldtâs calm proclamations of Godâs death give way to gloom as the lights dip, plunging the smoke and the band into darkness.
To any uninitiated, Ã kerfeldtâs candor soon becomes apparent. Heâs a man who loves to talk, loves the spotlight. The spotlight loves him. During intermissions the dark tendrils anchoring the band to its black metal roots recede and the show adopts a lighter, comedic feel. Apt, as the spiel is genuinely amusing. Ã kerfeldtâs arid banter generates laughter eclipsed only by the roaring excitement that accompanies the next few chords.
Mere seconds of calm allow the audience to adjust its feet before the almighty storm that is Ghost of Perdition. The audience is excited not just because theyâre hearing a fan favourite, a sublime song, but because they know it signifies tonight isnât about Opethâs latest album. Itâs about Opeth.
After vanishing into the dark again Ã kerfeldt reappears in the spotlight. He says he canât see us for the smoke. It doesnât matter. We can see him.
Weâre told the next song mixes death metal with pop. Weâre excited. What could it be? White Cluster. Throughout the show Opethâs capricious musical tendencies prove difficult for the flailing audience to handle. Everyone around me thrashes, but when sudden tempo shifts give way to melodic interludes theyâre at a loss. All they can do is stand and wait for the song to regain its danger.
Ã kerfeldt reemerges from the dark again to introduce a song from âat the time, an experimental albumâ. Heâs referring to Damnation, an acoustic album recorded in tandem with Deliverance in 2002. Each track on Damnation is as pretty as the last, tonight we are treated to Hope Leaves.
The next song is a power ballad and was supposed to be Opethâs hit single, or so Ã kerfeldt would have us believe. It didnât work out that way. Though it could have. Burden is a painfully beautiful song. But unfortunately, tonight Joakim Svalbergâs spectacular keyboard solo is mostly lost to the surrounding sound.
Throughout the show Ã kerfeldt asks Martin Mendez whether his bass is in tune. Mendez, unlike his vocalist, is a man of few words. He offers the crowd a reassuring thumbs up. âBass is very importantâ, Ã kerfeldt tells us.
After two comparatively light tracks the crowd is baying for barbarity. The next track is introduced as a lullaby, âthe most beautiful piece of music ever writtenâ. Much of this seasoned audience is a step ahead of Ã kerfeldt. â…the complete oppositeâ, they whisper behind me. Theyâre right. This isnât a lullaby. This is Deliverance.
Ã kerfeldt introduces a song the band âloves to playâ, a song thatâs âquite technicalâ. He doesnât tell us the title. He never does. But most of the audience donât require such assistance; we know itâs Hessian Peel.
Heritage gave us many irregular works. Famine is one of them. Ã kerfeldt states it has no real structure, but the crowd knows it, and they wait for drummer Martin Axenrotâs cue to dance his sticks across his kit and usher in its doom-laden second half.
The audience shout themselves hoarse during the setâs finale, Harlequin Forest. Though sadly, tonight much of Ã kerfeldtâs death growls seem lost in translation among the varying frequencies of downtuned guitars.
Spent, Opeth leave the stage. Nobody moves. We know theyâre coming back.
They return as a group but not entirely together. Before Opeth, itâs One Night with Mikael Ã kerfeldt. He playfully engages the crowd as a comedian would, discussing Deep Purple, Exodus, MotÃ¶rhead and Sam Gopal for five minutes. He calls us cunts a few times too. Itâs in jest of course, a twisted term of endearment. He introduces the band, for which the crowd is grateful. Then, amid pleas for The Grand Conjuration, Demon of the Fall and The Drapery Falls, weâre told tonight ends on a âlong songâ, a âheadbanging kind of songâ, Blackwater Park.
Nobody is disappointed.