Opeth is a Death metal band from Sweden. Opeth adds some progressive elements to their music, with classical guitar and influences from jazz and acoustic music. Some people like to give them their own genre, Forest Metal. The name was taken from the book Sunbird (1972) by author Wilbur Smith, and was originally spelled Opet. In the book, Opet is the city of the moon.
Opeth was formed in Stockholm, 1990 by Mikael Åkerfeldt on guitar and David Isberg on vocals. They where later joined by Anders Nordin on drums and Nick Döring on bass. A second guitarist was found in Anderas Dimeo. This lineup lasted less than a year and they played only one gig.
Both Nick and Andreas quit the band and for the 2nd gig Kim Pettersson and Johan DeFarfalla joined the group. Kim stuck with the band for yet another gig before leaving in late 1991. For that gig they got Peter Lindgren to play the bass but he changed back to his original instrument, the guitar, when Kim left.
David left the band in early 1992 and since Mikael had been the vocalist in the group Eruption, he became the new vocalist. They rehearsed as a 3-piece for more than a year, but eventually they found a new bassplayer, Stefan Guteklint who played with them for about a year.
They gave him the boot after receiving a contract from Candlelight records. They recorded their first album, Orchid, in 1994 with Johan DeFarfalla as a session bassplayer. He eventually became a full-time member. Candlelight Records released their debut album in 1995. Opeth themselves handled the production and Dan Swanö was the engineer.
Their second album, Morningrise, was recorded in March/April of 1996 and release later that year. Again Dan Swanö was the engineer and this time he also handled the production. The album contains just five songs, ranging in length from 10 to 20 minutes.
Their third album, 1997's My Arms, Your Hearse saw the addition of Martin Lopez on drums. Mikael Åkerfeldt played bass guitar on the recording, and Martin Mendez (a friend of Lopez) became Opeth's latest bassplayer. This lineup (Akerfeldt, Lindgren, Lopez, Mendez) continues to exist today.
My Arms, Your Hearse exhibited a marked change in writing style. Gone were the 10+ minute progressive epics of Morningrise, with each song being an average of 6 1/2 to 8 minutes long. The album was lyrically a concept album, and was much darker than prior efforts, with acoustic transitions playing a smaller role. Mikael's vocal style also took on a more death-metal influenced tone: deeper and more menacing, and sometimes effects-enhanced. The album's climax, Demon of the Fall, remains to be a fan favorite and is frequently played as a live encore.
Their fourth album, 1999's Still Life continued the concept album approach, but returning to the more balanced sound of Morningrise, contrasting stripped-down acoustic guitar melody with death metal. The key advancement in this album is in the flawless execution of flow between heavy and light dynamics, and in the layering between distorted and acoustic guitars. Still Life's song arrangements show the band at its most mature to date. The album could be considered to be the major turning point in the evolution of "the Opeth sound".
Critical and commercial success in North America would be achieved with their fifth album, 2001's Blackwater Park. Opeth brought in Porcupine Tree frontman Steve Wilson to provide production duties and some backing vocals. Blackwater Park showcases Opeth's finest clean vocal work to date. The album perfects the sound created on Still Life and shows notable signs of Opeth's increasingly pronounced tendency to experiment with time signature changes and complex chords, such as with the arabic-influenced "Bleak".
This was followed by 2002's Deliverance, another Steve Wilson produced album, which reached Billboard's top-100 heatseeker chart. Deliverance showed that Opeth were still in love with epic songs, with each track clocking in at over 10+ minutes for the first time since Morningrise. Deliverance was their heaviest album since My Arms, Your Hearse, with some song introductions being almost Morbid Angel-like. Opeth continued their experimentation with time signature changes and syncopation, particularly in the title track's closing riffs and on the album closer "By the pain I see in others".
Their seventh album, Damnation, recorded simultaneously with Deliverance, was a completely progressive rock album without death metal elements, showcasing a brilliant 1970's vibe reminiscent of Led Zeppelin III. The album was produced by Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson, who also contributed backing vocals, keyboards, and co-wrote one song.
Rumors of an eighth album by late 2004 have cropped up. An interview in summer 2003 with Mikael Åkerfeldt suggested that while he has no idea what he wants to do, one thought was that their next album may be an epic black metal album (to the delight of Martin Mendez and Lopez, former black metal band members).
Cover of 'Still Life' (1999)
Cover of 'Deliverance' (2002)
Complete list of Opeth members, 1990-
Official Homepage: http://www.opeth.com