uote: "Originality is a rare commodity in these media-dominated, cynical times, but every now and then a band comes along that produces music of such mind-bending brilliance that only the culturally blind could fail to recognize. Extreme metal, a genre that has produced a high proportion of Rock's most distinctive voices in recent years, may not have as yet fully infiltrated the mainstream, but a major breakthrough seems at hand. The vanguard for that movement is Sweden's mighty Opeth, the essential metal band of the 21st century, who seventh release, Damnation, tear down the genres walls and frees it to be cast in a whole new light."
Opeth began their rise in Stockholm, Sweden as a death metal band way back in 1989 when the then 16 year old Mikael Åkerfeldt (ex-Eruption) was asked to contribute his bass guitar skills to a fledgling incarnation of the band by its founding member, vocalist David Isberg. When Åkerfeldt showed up to practice the day after Isberg invited him, Isberg had apparently failed to tell the other band members about the change of membership -- including the band's current bassist! An argument ensued that very quickly led to all members, but Isberg and Åkerfeldt, leaving to form their own new project.
Following the abandonment by the other members, Isberg and Åkerfeldt recruited Anders Nordin (drums), Nick Döring (bass) and Andreas Dimeo (guitar) as replacements. But this membership was not stable for, unsatisfied with the band's slow progress, Döring and Dimeo left after their first performance. The pair was replaced by Kim Pettersson (guitar) and Johan De Farfalla (bass). But, after the next show, De Farfalla left for his girlfriend in Germany, and was initially replaced by Mattias Ander, before Åkerfeldt's friend Peter Lindgren took over the role. Pettersson would be next to leave following the band's next performance (yes, the one after the last departure). Lindgren would then switch to guitar, with the role of bassist handed over to Stefan Guteklint. If their first few shows were not cursed enough, the following year, Isberg, himself left citing "creative differences", leaving Akerfeldt both the band's name, and the task of picking up the creative pieces.
The band name was derived from "Opet", a name taken from the Wilbur Smith novel The Sunbird, of a fictional Phoenician city in South Africa translated to mean: "City of the Moon".
Opeth's debut album, Orchid (1994), tested the boundaries of traditional death metal, featuring acoustic guitars, piano, and clean vocals, but suffered distribution problems with the newly formed 'Candlelight Records'; leaving it unreleased until May 15, 1995, only in Europe. De Farfalla had returned as a session bassist, but was hired back on full-time after the release of the album.
With only five songs, but lasting 66 minutes, Opeth's second recording, Morningrise (1996), would feature Opeth's longest song, the 20-minute Black Rose Immortal. After their UK tour and follow-up Scandinavian tour with Cradle of Filth, 'Century Media' discovered them to re-release their albums in the US. In 1997, after the tour, Åkerfeldt and Lindgren dismissed De Farfalla for personal reasons, without the consent of Nordin who, when he found out while on vacation in Brazil, promptly left the band and remained in Brazil for personal reasons. Ex-Eternal members, Martín López (drums) and Martín Méndez (bass) would replace them after responding to an ad posted at a local music shop by Åkerfeldt, and promptly ripping it down so no one else could apply. López's debut would be heard playing on a cover version of Iron Maiden's Remember Tomorrow, included on the compilation A Call to Irons: A Tribute to Iron Maiden.
Although Åkerfeldt had long before switched to guitar, he played bass on the new album, My Arms, Your Hearse (1998), due to time constraints from the late hiring of Méndez; the stronger budget offered by the label gave the album the umph to give it critical acclaim.
Their label would change hands, however, leaving the band to sign with UK label 'Peaceville Records' causing upheaval in their recording schedule for the next release, Sill Life (1999), due to a studio relocation, problems with distribution, and artwork delays. The album would arrive in the US in 2001, the same year their follow-up came to be, Blackwater Park (2001).
Deliverance (2002) gave Opeth their first US charting with a 19 on the Independent Albums charts. The album was one half of two albums, one soft and one heavy, recorded at two different studios because Åkerfeldt couldn't decide what direction to take it and conceived of two albums but didn't dare tell the record label the whole truth, telling them that it could be done for the cost of a single album. He achieved this by using only seven weeks recording time, less than the whole of the previous, Blackwater Park, album's time to save cost. He got his wish, and the second half, Damnation (2003) resulted and gave the band a Billboard 192 placing.
'Music For Nations' their European distributor shut down in 2005, leaving the band to sign with 'Roadrunner Records', not known for Opeth's style. The next album, Ghost Reveries (2005) would follow.
2006 would see Martin Lopez leave due to health problems, specifically anxiety that had seen him bow out of tours of the Middle East and Canada, to be replaced by Martin Axenrot. Also in 2006, Opeth toured on the main stage of Gigantour, alongside Megadeth. Ghost Reveries was re-released on October 31, 2006, with a bonus cover song of Deep Purple's Soldier of Fortune, a DVD featuring a 5.1 surround sound mix of the album and a documentary on the making of the record.
2007, Lindgren announced he would be leaving Opeth, ex-Arch Enemy guitarist Fredrik Åkesson replaced him.
The next album, Watershed (2008), featured seven tracks, with cover songs used as bonus tracks on different versions.
In 2010, Opeth wrote and recorded the track, The Throat of Winter, to appear on the digital EP soundtrack of the video game, God of War III.
Opeth then performed the six-show, worldwide tour, Evolution XX: An Opeth Anthology, from March 30 to April 9, 2010. Blackwater Park was performed in its entirety, along with several songs never before performed. The concert of April 5, 2010, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England was filmed for the DVD and live album package, In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall; The entire set would be released on September 21, 2010, in 2-DVD and 2-DVD/3-CD formats.
April 2011, Opeth announced that Per Wiberg was relieved of his duties in the band Joakim Svalberg would replace him.
Heritage (2011) would debut at number 19 on the Billboard 200 charts and became the second Opeth album to not feature death metal like growls, in place of a much more progressive style than previous albums from the band. Pale Communion (2014), Sorceress (2016) and In Cauda Venenum (2019) followed.
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