Swedish prog metal heavyweights Opeth return to Chicago’s historic Riviera Theatre.

Opeth returns to touring with their latest offering, Pale Communion.  When the band released their last album, Heritage, there seemed to be a big divide where fan reaction was concerned. Although the band graced every prog metal magazine cover and collected accolades among the critics, many fans thought they were getting soft.  Shifting and evolving their sound from a typical Scandinavian black metal vibe to a more melodic direction threw their die-hard fans for a loop.

Even if naysayers still lurk about, there’s no denying Opeth is a legendary band with the ability to shake souls with arrangements that are simply beautiful. One can practically hear a pin drop between guitar breaks. Mikael Akerfeldt’s superior vocal prowess quite literally reaches the back of the room, bounces back, and cuts right through the heart.  Fans of their older material are truly selling themselves short if they aren’t at least trying to absorb Opeth’s evolution.

It’s very obvious Akerfeldt’s love of obscure vinyl from the 60s and 70s has shaped Opeth’s newer direction for the long haul. Sometimes you can just hear The Eagles in there somewhere. Some would say Opeth aren’t the same and others would argue that black metal and guttural vocals are morphing into something more coherent, solid, and whole. Prog metal is a thing and it is here to stay. More and more bands are shedding the angry skin of their youth in favor of mature orchestrations and sentiments that last the test of time.

It’s always a pleasure to be blown away by master musicians. Opeth is one of those bands that must be heard live to fully appreciate their mastery. It’s rare to catch a mistake and, even if there is, Akerfeldt would more than likely acknowledge it and make a joke of some sort.

Famous for his onstage banter, Akerfeldt’s sarcastic sense of humor is always a high point of any given Opeth gig. Being in Chicago, he felt the need to bring up the band of the same name with very few in the audience recognizing what band he was talking about. “You know, Peter Cetera?” he said.  Some people got it, some didn’t, but it was the comical effort involved that won most of the audience over.  In between clever articulations, one can only be voluntarily mesmerized into some sort of hippie trance while you feast on the musical genius of Opeth.

Opeth Set List: Eternal Rains, Cusp of Eternity, Drapery Falls, The Moor, Window Pane, Lotus Eater, Grand Conjuration, Deliverance.

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About The Author

Originally from Southern California and currently residing in Northeastern Indiana, Alex Savage is a Senior Photojournalist on staff who has been with us exclusively since the very beginning of Naional Rock Review. Specializing in rock and Scandinavian metal, she's known for her raw and moody style of music photography.

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