Opeth Stops By Philadelphia In Support Of New Album "Heritage"
Band Photo: Opeth (?)
Opeth’s latest album “Heritage” has divided the band's fan base in a way not seen since 2003 with “Damnation,” and even back then, it never got as heated as some of the discussions on “Heritage” going off in various forums, blogs, and web sites. With Opeth’s 10th studio album released just a few days prior, the band made a stop in rain-soaked Philadelphia on the first U.S. headlining tour in support of “Heritage.” With fellow Swedish act Katatonia as direct support, the Trocadero was sold-out for the show. What fans got was from both bands was a few solid hits and a mellow atmosphere that caught many off-guard.
If anybody has seen Katatonia in the past few years, then the set this night would be eerily familiar. The band pulled material from their past few albums, with a strong amount of focus on “The Great Cold Distance” and “Night Is The New Day.” Vocalist Jonas Renkse has dropped the harsh screams of the past for bold, clean ones; it’s a move that has given Renkse new dimensions as a singer. While it can be hard for some vocalist to recreate those type of vocals live, Renkse does it with no difficulty.
In fact, many of these songs sounded much better live. “Forsaker” and “Evidence” are hard-hitting without a studio sheen backing it. “Evidence” was a particular noteworthy song, as it was one of the few that got the crowd going crazy. There might have even been a circle pit at some point in the set, which seems almost against the grain for a band like Katatonia. Compared to how laid back Opeth would appear, Katatonia was the energy rod of the evening.
One could tell that Opeth’s set was going to be interesting when they started off with the one-two “Heritage” punch of “The Devil’s Orchard” and “I Feel The Dark.” The band would go on to play half the album, including the B-side “Pyre,” which vocalist/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt said was the first time the band has played the song live (thought they played it on a Swedish morning TV show a couple of weeks prior). The new songs came across fine, though based on talking to people and the audience reaction, it was clear a good portion of the audience wasn’t familiar with “Heritage” yet.
Like Katatonia, Opeth didn’t travel too far back in their backlog. “Face Of Melinda” was the oldest song brought out, as the band mostly stuck to post-“Deliverance” material. The band pulled out an acoustic section in the set, playing great rendition of “Closure,” “Patterns In The Ivy II,” and “The Throat Of Winter.” Akerfeldt was his usual witty self, going off on lengthy banters with the crowd in-between songs about everything from buying vinyl of old Mountain albums to asking random audience members what they had for dinner.
Almost as a necessity, Akerfeldt addressed the crowd near the end about their concerns that “Heritage” meant the end of their death metal sound. He questioned what the future held for the band, but said that having a prog album like “Heritage” doesn’t signify the end of death metal for the band. The crowd cheered loud for this proclamation, either because they were hoping that “Heritage” was a one-shot deal or because they appreciated Opeth’s willingness to buck trends and go their own route.
Opeth has always stepped to their own tune, doing everything the complete opposite of what fans expected. Nobody expected “Heritage” to be an ode to ‘70s progressive rock and nobody expected them to pull a set out with no growls and softer tunes. While the band didn’t fully lived up to the opportunity given - a song like “To Bid You Farewell” or “Isolation Years” would had been fantastic - the band still proved to be one of the most endearing live acts today. With the ever-reliable Katatonia to open things up on a high note, this pairing made for a daring live show.
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