I was first introduced to Opeth through a friend who knew of my obsession for albums that take the listener on a journey. That was 1996 and the album was Orchid. I was blown away after listening; it left me feeling as though I had been punched in the face then given an icepack multiple times over the course of it’s seveenty one minute duration. Opeth have continued to provide great experiences (sometimes more punching, sometimes more icepack) over the twelve albums they have produced. With Sorceress being Opeth’s latest release, in 2016.
Sorceress sees the band refine the focus on a progressive metal sound and cleverly pairs technical complexity, an unspoken recognition of external musical influences and polished lyrical content, giving the album great depth and intrigue. The album further highlights the band’s ever evolving style, which has taken fans on quite a journey over the last twenty two years, and has allowed the band not to stagnate.
So when I heard the Sorceress tour announcement for Australia I was a overjoyed. However, I discovered the announcement about a month late, missing the chance to see Opeth play at the Sydney Opera House. So this little black duck got tickets to the Melbourne gig at 170 Russell – at this point I should add the Editor-in- Chief pointed out that he had seen Opeth at a pub in High Wycombe for three quid when Orchid was released, leaving me a little more than envious (actually I think it was pre-Orchid. And I didn’t actually pay anything – suddenly lucid Ed.)
170 Russell in Melbourne has all the right things going for it. A touch of seediness (just a doorway nested amongst the concrete jungle), size that makes it intimate (not claustrophobic), a bar that serves beer in glass (I hate plastic cups), and quality sound. The crowd had queued early and the venue was three quarters full by the time support act Caligula’s Horse, from Brisbane, took stage. The Queenslanders put on a cracking five number set from across their three albums and were enthusiastically received by the Melbourne crowd.
The venue had filled when Mikael Åkerfeldt and company took the stage, opening with the title track of the latest album to rapturous applause. Opeth’s set combined older songs interspersed with Sorceress content, with songs like Demon of the Fall transitioning neatly into The Wilde Flowers, the execution of this combination really spurring on the crowd. As with my very first experience of Opeth, I had again been punched in the face then given an icepack multiple times over the course of ninety minutes and more, culminating with an encore performance of Deliverance, which delivered to me a final knockout blow.
Opeth delivered tonight and they continue to dish out exceptional performances live wherever they perform.