Thirteen albums in and sticking with their guns
With 30 years on the scene and preparing to release their thirteenth studio full-length album, Opeth, the Swedish progressive metal band, comes swinging with two versions. For In Cauda Venenum (Poison in the Tail), there is going to be a Swedish version and an English version.
Over the years, they have been known to incorporate progressive, folk, blues, classical and jazz into their compositions, as well as including mellotrons into their work; this album is reflective of that. Throughout the ten-track album, passages of the mellotron—an electro-mechanical keyboard—are used to add to the overall haunting atmosphere.
“Livets Trädgård,” the opening track, immerses listeners into this vibe with sounds effects that sound like the background music to a horror movie scene. The lack of lyrics and the spaced-out piano that gets overlayed with a bass sequence create a foreboding feeling. The last-minute sounds as if someone is walking around a town square.
Each song offers tonal shifts from soft, acoustic guitar and operatic-like vocals to hard-hitting guitar sequences. “Svekets Prins” starts off heavy, compared to the opening track, with a fast-paced guitar riff and evenly-spaced shouts. The opening lyrics are spoken, not sung which changes partway through with whimsy vocals accompanied by an acoustic section and ends with an ominous laughing.
“De Närmast Sörjande,” another song structured like “Svekets Prins,” in which it morphs into a soft and delicate acoustic guitar and the vocals are matched with the pace. But, soon the drum overlap picks the speed back up and every element syncs. “Banemannen” follows the same approach with the piano. For the first minute or so, it’s a slow melody that morphs into tougher keynotes.
Opeth does a good job with the flow of the album and, while most songs encompass slow and fast parts, “Minnets Yta” is the only song that keeps the same tempo and is placed in the middle of the album. Overall, In Cauda Venenum has hauntingly delicate feel due to the classical and acoustic moments as well as the choices taken vocally. With thirteen albums under their belt, fans will have to see what they produce next.