Opeth, Enmore Theatre, 16/12/11

December 19, 2011

As its cover art of a flourishing tree nourished by roots in hell suggests, Heritage is a departure even for the progressive Opeth, a marked maturation from the screamed intensity of death metal into a more melodic sound full of nylon and organs. I took in their new show from the Enmore balcony intrigued by how this transformation would play out. The set opened as does the album, with the swaying broken chords of “The Devil’s Orchard”’s anti-religion and the moody shifts of “I Feel the Dark”’s Romanticism. They played a half-dozen new tracks, including the mellow and jazzy “Nepenthe,” the Dio tribute “Slither” and the game soundtrack chant “The Throat of Winter.” Older selections featured more acoustics and less growls, such as “Face of Melinda” and “Credence.” Åkerfeldt was charmingly chatty throughout, introducing crowd favourite “Porcelain Heart” (which also featured an extended Axenrot drum solo) with an amusing anecdote about its video pageantry. While the gig was inevitably marked by the resentment of certain punters craving old school metal, the frontman confronted it head on, defusing the tension with a good humoured yet robust confidence in the band’s aesthetics and experimental ethos. Yet the music made its own case, drawing the rusted resisters along with its fusions of bluesy metal, heavy folk, occult psychedelia, shifting from calm passages to metal energy, from extended entrancing instrumentals to clean and mystical vocals. “A Fair Judgement” journeyed through ten minutes of despair and hope to a glacial drawdown. They closed with the landmark prog metal of “Hex Omega,” before encoring with the deeply-rooted groove of “Folklore,” which opens by asking “Hey you, will you be true,” and outros with the question: “Will we sustain?” Tradition demands revolution, and this band’s vigorous attitude to its heritage is emphatically fruitful.


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