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Opeth, Whelans, Dublin, 19th March 2003

An eerie chill descends on darkened streets. Bubbling clouds roll back to reveal a blood red moon and flaming stars. Wolves howl in the hills as the city shakes and cracks at the footsteps of our metal Gods. Opeth are in town.

Of course only the last part is true but it would have been nice. Still, it sets the scene.

Before their lords take the stage, the court is entertained by support minstrels Madder Mortem. Blending soft harmonies and traditional female vocals with the deadly crunch of extreme metal, they are a revelation. All gathered wonder, in hushed awe, why so few bands have previously taken this obviously effective path. As satisfying as they are, Madder Mortem provide a mere sideshow today.

I mean no disrespect. Supporting Opeth would be unfair to any band. As soon as they set foot onstage, a mighty hail goes forth. One would suspect that Jesus himself would struggle to raise such a cheer in these scorched and blackened times.

The reception is not without justification. After some sound difficulties early on, Opeth really hit their stride. Riffs float like continental plates on molten basslines as every now and then a screeching solo sends showers of sparks over the crowd. Songs like 'Deliverance' and 'Harvest' are delivered with the kind of passion and precision that is so lacking in modern music. Slightly slower moments, such as 'Fair judgement' are listened to in stunned trance until the vacuum collapses and reality rushes in again. But I was so happy there…

If their records aren't enough, then Opeth prove live that they are the finest extreme metal band of today. If you missed this inspiring display of genuine extreme musicality, this most convincing response to those who claim death metal is artless noise then allow me a hearty laugh in your general direction. See them, and feel satisfied that you love this kind of music. Miss them and cry into your mead.

Dominic Body.

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