September 23-24th, 2005
Tavastia Club, Helsinki, Finland
Review and Pics by Arto Lehtinen
Wow, this was already my third visit to the Tavastia club this week. The offering of bands has been damn great during the past week. It is obvious there is no reason to miss or skip any of them. Especially missing Opeth would have been an unforgettable mistake. Personally, I have once witnessed the Swedish progressive?ehh.. metallers on the stage once before at Swedenrock 2004, but to tell the truth, they sucked totally...sorry Opeth fans. But In my opinion, Opeth?s progressive, dismal melancholic approach doesn?t fit to a huge outdoor festival at all and when a nasty rain storm wiped over the festival area it ruined half of the set there wasn?t that much left to tell or write about.
Opeth?s second stint, supporting their new GHOST RIVERIES album, to Finland had only been carried out to cover a series of three sold out club shows only in Helsinki. Basically it was kind of odd to have three gigs in the capital of Finland when there would have been a huge demand and interest in other towns in Finland as the band?s newest masterpiece had conquered the Finnish top ten album chart and had spent a couple of weeks there already. But being on the national album chart just proves Opeth has definitely increased their fanbase here in Finland, and of course elsewhere too.
The band started the show a little bit late, but it wasn?t a big issue as the audience of the club was entirely spellbound and in opeth-ical ecstacy when the first riffs were blasted from the loudspeakers. The frontline of the security barrier was quickly full of banging heads and flying long hair.
The crowd was entertained by Mikael?s amusing and friendly speeches. Occasionally it felt like the Opeth gig had turned to some sort of cover event of old hard rock classics as the audience started yelling for plenty of various classic metal songs and even the Swedish progressive metalers got thrilled about those encouraging shouts and started jamming riffs of "Paranoid" and "Smoke On The Water". Even more suggestions odder cover choices were yelled like "Den Glider In" (A Hockey song back from 1995 when Finland won Sweden in the world Champion), instead in ?kerfeldt?s opinion was enough is enough and was more willing to focus on doing their own songs for obvious reasons, even thought the "Den Glider In" suggestion made Opeth?s mainman wonder. Hmm...but didn?t someone yell "Number Of The Beast"?!
Of course the mandatory speeches between each song took a lot of time from their schedule, frankly by reducing those speeches they would have been able to do more songs from the Opeth catalogue. But on the other hand these speeches weren?t any typical ?Scream For Me Helsinki?. Instead they were more in the stand up comedy style. As a matter of fact, it was quite fun to hear ?kerfeldt?s twisted and funny sense of humour and the people were laughing their asses off.
Mikael ?kerfeldt has always had an amazing ability to balance his voice between the pure clean singing style and also the deadly death grunts. Even in a live situation the band?s charismatic frontman perfectly managed to divide the range of his voice to the more extreme death styled growling and the normal ?singing in tune? approach without facing problems with his throat. Frankly it made me ponder how he is able to do that without having or facing any kinds of problems with his throat, probably a couple of water bottles helped keeping his throat in shape. But it at least it worked all fine as his voice sounded both deadly brutal as well as clean and pure harmonic beauty.
Yes as most of you having witnessed Opeth on the stage before is aware, Mikael ?kerfeldt is without any doubt the leading core and mastermind of the combo. The existence of Opeth defines his creativity and vision on how to take Opeth further by exploring new musical territories and breaking barriers to create catchy and progressive music. Unfortunately, the rest of the band has remained more in a static role, which became clear while following the gig at Tavastia. Even though, for example, the bassist roughly spun his long hair from one side to another, whereas the second guitarist looked more or less bored.
Even though Opeth definitely stands for technical and progressive death metal approach, Opeth?s roots to the old school death/black genre came out when the older generation of the extreme metal names like HellHammer, Celtic Frost, Bathory and Samael (whose bassist happened to be a lightman for Opeth by the way) got outspoken praised by ?kerfeldt and even the old Finnish black metal commanders like Beherit and Impaled Nazarene received their own credits as well. Of course, Opeth?s drummer called Devastator by name had obtained his old school background by being a member of the legendary Nifelheim, but had got sacked of course.
As for the night?s set list, of course people absolutely have a lot of personal faves and are expecting a certain song within the night, but with a recently released new album, it was logical have some songs from that album included. Besides adding a couple of dozen to the same list is hard on the band because the running time of songs occasionally reach over five minutes. For example, these songs were on the set list: When, Deliverance, In My Time Of Need, The Drapery Falls, The Grand Conjuration and more whose names escape my memory...
Judging by three sold out gigs in Helsinki, it is sure that Opeth will be under the lurking eyes of the Finnish festival arrangers for sure. It wouldn?t be any unexpected surprise to see Opeth doing a bunch of festival dates in the next 2006 summer around Europe, and especially in North Europe.
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