The progressive giants soared at the mecca of the entertainment industry.
Photos by Heaviest of Art at the Hollywood Palladium - March 4, 2020.
Deviating from a sound that many attribute to your identity is a difficult decision to make, especially with the many ramifications associated with it. Despite said risks, OPETH trailblaze through the heavy world with a progressive prowess far from the death metal qualities of their early years. Though the conversation still arises among fans worldwide, the unit have embraced the change and propelled themselves to successful lengths with their latest record In Cauda Venenum as proof of that. To celebrate this recent release, OPETH took to the live setting for a delivery that spanned their iconic discography. The unit were joined by their fellow countrymen in GRAVEYARD for a night of Swedish excellence at the Hollywood Palladium tour closer.
First up was GRAVEYARD, who despite their early set time, drew thousands to the stage with their folk-infused psychedelic rock. Feats such as this speak volumes of the level of musicianship that the quartet set forth, especially with tracks like Walk On from the 2018 masterpiece Peace making an appearance. The Hollywood crowd was all for it, banging their heads along with the hard-hitting groove of Bergenheim's drum work.
With Ramm and Nilsson at the helm for the axes, there was no shortage of juicy riffs that penetrated the speaker systems with soul. Staples like Please Don't and Hisingen Blues rocked the strobe-filled stage to great affair. Thousands in the room rocked their heads in unison, feeling the rhythm of every Mörck bass line with ease.
The Nilsson-fronted GRAVEYARD couldn't have been a better opener for the trek, which ran across the country to great success. As the magnificent The Siren drew to a close, the crowd roared in appraisal of the musical showing they were presented. With tracks from all but their 2007 self-titled debut record, this career-spanning setlist offered a palette cleanser for the progressive showing that was to follow.
Lights were dimmed and In Cauda Venenum album opener Livets trädgård played from a tape as the audience drew closer to the barricade. Chants of 'Opeth, Opeth, Opeth' resounded throughout, creating anticipation as Fredrik Åkesson walked out to great applause. The eclectic guitarist prepared himself under low light, keeping the mystery as the rest of the band walked out to growing cheers. Once Mikael Åkerfeldt hit the microphone, it was go time. Horns were raised high and Svekets prins brought the thunder. Joakim Svalberg's melodies ran side by side with Åkesson's riffs, layered gently underneath Åkerfeldt's soaring yells.
The venue's wide dimensions made for a great peripheral viewing of the band's alternating stage visuals, which varied along with each track. In Cauda Venenum's animated visuals, including the devil's tongue and Travis Smith's cover art, paired well with new signature tracks Hjärtat vet vad handen gör and Svekets prins. Classics such as Leper Affinity, Deliverance, and To Rid The Disease fed off the strobes and galactic screens, providing a perfect audiovisual experience for the classic listener.
Visuals aside, the musical offerings stood above elite. Between Blackwater Park (2001) and In Cauda Venenum (2019), you could hear the evolution in OPETH's sound. Clean vocals, growls, solos, razor sharp riffs, vibrant synth, explosive double bass, and much more was at its peak, pleasing fans from any point in the band's iconic career. It's remarkable to witness one band perform metal from different ends of the spectrum in one single sitting, speaking to the talent residing within the ensemble. Åkerfeldt continues to demonstrate great vocal range, hitting every note with upmost clarity and precision, including the growls that he's recently strayed from.
Spectacular visuals, electric musicianship, and an amped crowd filled the renowned Hollywood Palladium for an evening that will replay in the minds of many. Åkerfeldt and co. reigned on all ends with a mastery that is achieved with decades of musical investment. This may not be Orchid-era OPETH, but the current iteration is as deadly as ever and you'd be doing yourself a disservice not to engage. Enjoy the below slideshow for images of the festivities.
In Cauda Venenum is available now via Nuclear Blast. Pickup your copy HERE.