Although one can hardly complain about the quality of the Metal products produced in Sweden, the truth is that many of them in a way or another are not all that original. Opeth however, are an exception to the rule, and after the stunning debut album "Orchid" released in 1995, this duo headed by vocalist/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt and guitarist Peter Lindgren, managed to come up with an even more surprising and refreshing work, "Morningrise", again released on Candlelight, which unquestionably sets them as one of today's most interesting and promising bands for the future of Metal. To tell us more about Opeth, here is Mikael...
(A small excerpt from the interview featured in full on Dark Oath #6)
The Swedish scene throughout the years has suffered several changes in its structure - first there was the Entombed-style down-tuned Death Metal, nowadays most bands are following the likes of Dissection. You have apparently managed to avoid those trends thus far. The question is, what is so peculiar about the people in Opeth that lead you to something this original?
We do not follow any other band! But I must say that I do like both of the bands you mentioned, and especially Entombed in the older days! But I have been playing this kind of music for quite a while now and sure, I've made mistakes as well. But when it comes to the music I've created I feel proud! We can truly say with no shame in our hearts, that we are one of a kind!
Taking in account your evolution from the band's early days until today, do you think that you'll be able to continue to express your feelings and moods through Metal music as much as you have to date or is the possibility of dropping the Metal side of your approach anything that you consider for your future compositions? Both the length and the structures of the songs are not quite similar to Metal standards, would you agree?
Standards are for standard people! Opeth is no such band, and I'm certainly not that kind of person... More or less the opposite, actually! Opeth still is a Metal band, and my heart belongs to this music even though I listen to many other kinds of music as well! I don't see a future with this band that is non-Metal! Fuck that... Metal is the law!!
It has been said that the 90's is the decade of revivalisms - we've had a come-back of the Black Metal genre, Heavy Metal is also starting to show up again. Your personal opinion about the new 80's type Death/Thrash revival hype, please! Do you think that it's important to keep the 'old Metal spirit' alive and do you think that that is a valuable way of doing it? I mean, many of the people who are listening to Death and Black Metal these days have no idea where that stuff came from at first...
I do sometimes get irritated with all these newcomers saying that they play 'Metal how it was meant to be', when they can't even handle their instruments! And when I hear bands like Bewitched, Gehennah or Infernö, I can't help smiling! Most of these retro-bands are pretenders although these three do 'others' music' in a good way! However, Steel is the ruling retro-Metal band!!
As time goes by, people usually find points in their work that could be improved. Do you feel that way too or would you say that both your debut and your 2nd album are absolutely perfect?
Musicwise I see our records this far as perfect, but playingwise they are not! I don't care that much about small mistakes in the playing as long as it doesn't ruin the feeling! I am satisfied as long as the music breathes! I am not at all into the stiff feeling that some bands possess!
"Morningrise" as a whole is much more homogeneous than "Orchid", I mean, on "Orchid" you had moments that could be identified as Death Metal or Doom or even some Swedish type Black Metal, but on "Morningrise" the riffs are much more unique and harder to restrict to a particular genre. Do you agree with me? Would you say that in "Morningrise" you have 'personalized' your own style even more and should we expect your third album to follow along the same lines or what?
You can easily see a pattern of development between the two albums, and this will also be the case with the next album! I can't tell you any details on how it will sound other than it will be a total Opeth album in every way! None of the ones into the first two volumes will be disappointed! It will be a stunning CD!
CD 1996 Candlelight 5 songs, 66'
A work as brilliant as Opeth's debut should be a bitch to top for a band... Whether or not Opeth have succeeded at doing that with "Morningrise" is something that each one must decide for himself and that no one can establish precisely, for that opinion will differ depending on one's personal taste, although at a musical level it is obvious that they have developed greatly! Although it can be said to be the logical step for them, the evolution that Opeth went through would quite likely not be expected, or at least, consciously expected, for many to take place in such a shape. Still, when listening to "Orchid" and comparing it with the band's sophomore effort, one gradually realizes that this is probably the best way that Opeth could take if they were to maintain the high-quality standard established with their debut and the freshness it brought, but still avoid being restricted to them or falling into trendy cliches. The love of the band's spokesman and apparently main composer in Opeth, Mikael, for Symphonic/Prog Rock is by now no secret, and indeed such love is strongly praised on "Morningrise". The dual guitar speech common to Swedish Metal acts has been maintained and improved and stands high above any standards or leaders of the genre, as well as the harsh vocals, the number of acoustic bits has been increased and clean vocals (plenty of them as well!) as well as a good deal of capricious maneuvers have been added. The mishmash of genres that "Orchid" in a way represented has given way to a well defined and deeply personalized homogeneous sonority which can no longer be classed simply as Black, Death or Doom Metal - the CD bears a sticker stating 'Extreme Progressive Metal' and indeed that is what the album stands for, or if you like, 'Extremely Progressive Metal'. My knowledge of Prog Rock is hardly vast, but the traces that Gentle Giant and, especially, Camel have left on my mind are often met by the music of Opeth. Needless to say that their technical and writing abilities match required standards of the genre or otherwise offering songs that are in between 10 to 20 minutes long would hardly be a successful task and certainly that is not the case here! I lack the word to come up with a suitable adjective for this so just pick it up for yourself and be sure that if you enjoy music, real music, this is it, even though I feel that some of you will have a hard time coping with this! The gifted ones though, will indulge in it. Every bit of these 66 min. is absolutely fascinating!
The Official Opeth Site 1998