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Academy 2, Birmingham, 6 September 2005

The night’s proceedings kick off with Norwegian Christian metallers, Extol. The thought of Christian metal is usually enough to make the average rockers blood run cold, but Extol are an unexpected treat. They’re heavy, energetic, and vocalist Peter Espevoll gives a pleasingly ferocious performance. They receive a deservedly warm response from the sell out crowd.

It’s always strange to hear a crowd chant in a distinctly Brummie accent, but the persistent chant of “Opeth” ten minutes before they arrive on stage leaves no doubt as to as to whom the crowd have really come to see. When they do take to the stage the first few rows break out in bout of synchronized head banging, the rest of the crowd remaining stationary. It’s an odd characteristic of Opeth gigs that much of the crowd choose to stand and listen to the music rather than start a circle pit. But that is where Opeth’s appeal lies; in the complex song structures and the ability to switch from full on Death Metal to atmospheric acoustics without breaking a stride that makes their music demand to be listened to.

And the music is outstanding. In a set that span their career to date it becomes clear what an impressive back catalogue Opeth have. Their new material, particularly “The Grand Conjuration”, sounds different and yet still as strong as anything previously released. The biggest cheer of the night goes to a near perfect rendition of “The Drapery Falls” from their “Blackwater Park” album, and when Opeth leave the stage it is clear why they have sold out every UK date of this tour.


Fan review: Tom Viney

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