My annual review of what I’ve most enjoyed listening to during the last 12 months, and my albums of the year.
One of my favourite bands, Opeth, has a new album coming out this year, entitled Sorceress. This is the title track. It’s very heavy, very doom-y, very old-school prog.
I know that Opeth’s move from outright death-metal-style progressive metal to more 70s-oriented prog on Heritage (2011) divided the band’s fan-base. It took a while for me to really get into but I like it. But then I’ve always felt that bands should be free to do what they want, move in whichever direction interests them. And if I, as a fan, don’t like it, then fine—don’t listen to it. Listen to the stuff that you do like.
I’m really looking forward to the album being released on Friday 30 September.
The album was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, where Queen recorded Sheer Heart Attack (1974) and A Night At The Opera (1975), including “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt takes us on a tour of the studio.
I’m just back from seeing Swedish progressive metal band Opeth at the HMV Picture House on Lothian Road, Edinburgh. What a fabulous gig… but equally it was a very odd gig.
This evening they were more Swedish progressive band Opeth than Swedish progressive metal band. Which given the direction that their latest album Heritage took shouldn’t have come as any surprise, but it rather did, unfortunately.
It didn’t go unnoticed either. About an hour into the gig, a group of fans stood at the back and brayed “Play some f***ing METAL!” after every song.
After the gig I heard some folks referring to it as a ‘controversial’ Opeth gig. And in many ways it was. There to support Heritage, the band seemed to almost completely ignore their musical heritage in death metal. Not one song with death metal-style, gruff, vocals. Not one. Not even during the encore.
There were moments, if I’m honest, when I felt like I was in the Spinal Tap crowd witnessing the birth of “Jazz Odyssey”. I guess I wanted more energy from the stage, I wanted to feel immersed in the sound, to feel the power of the drums and overdriven guitars shaking my body.
But it was quieter, and more thoughtful; more Radio 4 than Planet Rock. Quite unexpected.
I often say that artists should be free to do what they like, to follow whichever musical path rocks their boat. Who am I to demand what they do, or play? So I can’t really complain: they played 90 minutes of their own material, drawn from quite a few albums from their back catalogue (each of which I have, and love). The set had integrity, it was played beautifully. I loved the music. I loved the performance. But I still left feeling disappointed.
I enjoyed it, but it felt… incomplete. It wasn’t the ‘dirge for November’ that I was anticipating.
All in all, though, that was the second best Opeth gig I’ve ever been to; I’ve been to two.
One of my favourite live bands, Amplifier, are touring in December and are making it as far north as Glasgow—it would be great to see them again.
You can check out Amplifier on Spotify, or for the next couple of months or so you can stream their latest album The Octopus and Fractal EP on Progstreaming, a website from The Netherlands that offers free streaming of the latest progressive rock records for “a maximum of two months”. They currently have 97 albums to choose from.
This evening I’ve listened to Transitions by Mandrake Project and Communication Lost by Wolverine. Both really enjoyable albums. On the back of that I’m definitely going to check out more of Mandrake Project.
I love listening to new music.
30 day song challenge day 26: A song that you can play on an instrument
I can play that song.
On a guitar.
I’ve played it live and everything. In front of a human audience, no less.