by Monica Apostol
The Swedish OPETH was the first name confirmed for Rockstadt Extreme Fest 2017, an event that will take place between August 10 and August 13, 2017, at the Biathlon field, the base of the Rasnov Fortress, alongside another major bands like CARCASS, ANNIHILATOR and KREATOR, announced later at the beginning of the year.
A name that probably does not need a presentation, a new album that has reached the top into the world’s charts, a band whose concerts are sold out in just a few minutes, OPETH will perform for the first time at the Rockstadt Extreme Fest, this year.
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The name Opeth was taken from the novel Sunbird by author Wilbur Smith and was originally spelled “Opet”. In the book, Opet is the name of the location for an ancient empire which translates to “City of the Moon”.
Opeth started with Mikael Åkerfeldt and Anders Nordin, long-time friends, forming Eruption in 1987. They practiced in a cellar in Sörskogen, playing mostly death metal covers. In 1988, the band became complete, and they started writing their own material, according to metal-archives.com. The band never amounted to anything though, except for a few rehearsal tapes. They disbanded in 1990.
After the break-up of Eruption, Åkerfeldt met David Isberg, who had a band called Opeth. Isberg wanted Åkerfeldt to join as a bass player, which led to an argument with the other band members. They left, and only Åkerfeldt and Isberg remained in the band. They completed the line up with Anders Nordin, Nick Döring, and Andreas Dimeo. They played one terrible gig, after which Döring and Dimeo left. They then found Kim Pettersson and Johan De Farfalla, and started playing more gigs, now more successfully. In 1991, Åkerfeldt wrote a song called “Poise into Celeano” which sounded less like the standard death metal they had been playing, and more like what makes Opeth well known in later years. Soon after, Pettersson left the band, and Åkerfeldt got Peter Lindgren at a second guitarist.
At this time, Åkerfeldt became the vocalist, and with Nordin, they both started writing songs. Stefan Guteklint was the bassist for about a year, then was replaced by Johan De Farfalla just before Opeth received a contract from Candlelight Records, and recorded Orchid. Morningrise was recorded in the spring of 1996, at which time Opeth began to gain recognition in the metal community.
After months of touring, Åkerfeldt and Nordin came upon the decision to kick De Farfalla out, as they felt he didn’t fit well in the band. Unfortunately, soon after this, Nordin called Åkerfeldt from Brazil and told him De Farfalla was moving there. Åkerfeldt and Lindgren searched for drummer for a while, until they found Martin Lopez. Soon after, Lopez’ friend Martín Méndez joined the band as a bassist. Lopez’ first recording was on “Remember Tomorrow“. Méndez didn’t get to record on My Arms, Your Hearse, beecause he didn’t have time to learn the bass lines, so Åkerfeldt played bass on the album. After a split from Candlelight Records, Opeth decided to sign to Peaceville Records. The recording of Still Life began in April. This was the first album Méndez played on.
In 2000, Opeth signed to Music for Nations for Blackwater Park. Åkerfeldt met Steven Wilson in London, and asked him to produce the new album, Wilson agreed. Soon, Opeth went to the studio to record the album, the recording process lasted in 7 weeks. Opeth gained much popularity from Blackwater Park, and they went on their first headlining tour of Europe. The band toured for a long time, including many US dates.
After the tour was done, the band got to rest before starting to write for Deliverance and Damnation. Jonas Renkse of Katatonia gave Åkerfeldt the idea of the two separate albums, one heavy, and one soft. They recorded the albums, as if it were only one album, not two. It took them the same time as Blackwater Park: 7 weeks. Wilson helped on this album as well.
The band played nearly 200 shows in 2003 and 2004, including three special shows in Europe with two song lists each—one acoustic set and one heavy set. The band recorded its DVD debut “Lamentations – Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire” at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, England. Per Wiberg also joined the band on tour to perform keyboards, after more than a year on tour.
After the tour, the band returned home in 2004 to start writing new material for their next album, which resulted Ghost Reveries in 2005. Due to closure of Music for Nations, the band signed with Roadrunner Records and released Ghost Reveries by the later one. This is the first album to include Wiberg as the band’s official member.
The band continued to tour after the release, and a recording of Opeth’s live performance at the Camden Roundhouse in London on November 9, 2006 was released as the double live album The Roundhouse Tapes. This is the first official release to feature Martin Axenrot who replaced Lopez, who parted ways with the band due to health problems in 2006. In 2007, Lindgren left the band due to his lost enthusiasm and inspiration to play music. He was replaced by Fredrik Åkesson of Krux and ex-Arch Enemy fame.
In 2007, the band entered the studio to record “Watershed“, which was released in June 2008. This is the last studio album to contain death growls, which was totally absent in later studio releases of the band. The band went on a worldwide tour from September to October 2008 in support of “Watershed“.
The band performed a six-show, worldwide tour called “Evolution XX: An Opeth Anthology” from March-April 2010 to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
The band spent nearly a month with Wilson in 2011, to record their next album which is eventually titled “Heritage“. It represents a drastic change in style from their previous albums, adopting a mostly progressive rock sound. In April 2011, Wiberg left the band as part of a mutual decision between him and the other band members. Later, Joakim Svalberg joined Opeth as the band’s new keyboard player.
While touring “Heritage”, Opeth focused on songs from the new album, and the proggier songs from the previous ones, but older and heavier songs were included in the setlists for shows promoting the next album, “Pale Communion”. Bizarrely, they actually played heavier sets at prog rock festivals, while toning down for the metal festivals.
In 2016, Opeth founded their own label, (#invalid label link ID#). While Nuclear Blast will still handle their releases, they will from now on be licensing them from the former.
CARCASS is considered to be the major inspiration and musical foundation for most deathgrind/goregrind bands, as well as being one of the founding fathers of melodic death metal when they had switched their genre to the melodic death metal sound by the early ’90s. The band was first known as Disattack, playing d-beat back in 1985. After releasing their first demo in 1986, their bass player left the band and Jeff Walker joined them after leaving Electro Hippies. By that time, they were also changing their name to Carcass, whose logo was drawn by Jeff Walker. Soon their drummer was replaced by Ken Owen and the singer by Sanjiv. Bill Steer also left Napalm Death in order to concentrate on Carcass.
Carcass started as a goregrind band which they carried out on their demo tapes, and first two albums, then moved to a death metal sound which evolved into their melodic death and heavy metal roots before their split. Their Heartwork album, released in 1993, is one of the first melodic death metal albums ever released.
Carcass reunited in 2007 for touring purposes. Despite Ken Owen starting to play drums again, he is still unable to perform to the level required for Carcass. Daniel Erlandsson of Arch Enemy replaced him for touring purposes. Despite this, Owen has been involved in the reunited band’s activities and makes brief appearances at selected live shows. Amott and Erlandsson both left Carcass in 2012 when the reunion became a full-time one in order to avoid scheduling conflicts with Arch Enemy.
A UK edition of Bjork’s Isobel single has a version of the song “remixed” by Carcass (in fact, it was just the vocals to the original song mixed over an entirely new piece of music). Jeff Walker appears on the release The Final Remixes by Die Krupps with a cover version of their track Inside Out. The track ‘Captive Bolt Pistol’ from Surgical Steel was featured in a 2014 episode of the American CBS television show Elementary.