Opeth, In Flames

Communion of Sirens Tour

Opeth, In Flames

Red Fang

Thu, December 18, 2014

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

Terminal 5

New York, NY

$35

This event is all ages

Opeth Signing
Opeth Signing
An unstoppable force for uniqueness amid a sea of generic swill, Opeth have been setting the rulebook ablaze and ploughing a uniquely progressive and exploratory furrow for nearly 25 years now. Formed in Stockholm in 1990, the band led by singer, guitarist and songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt began life as maverick and honorary members of the then flourishing Swedish death metal scene, but from their earliest recordings onwards this band have neither conformed nor exhibited any desire to be restricted to a single genre. Displaying a relentless lust for evolutionary motion, Opeth’s first three albums – Orchid 1995, Morningrise (1996) and My Arms, Your Hearse (1998) - set the band firmly apart from everything else that was happening in metal during the 90s. Instinctively brave and effortlessly mysterious, these were groundbreaking records that could be superficially described as ‘progressive death metal’, but which were plainly much more than that: a singular expression of a profound love for music in its bewildering entirety that served the band extremely well over the decades that followed. By the time Opeth released Still Life in 1999 (prompting a spiritual and professional bond with prog icon Steven Wilson that survives to this day) they were simply in a class of their own, taking metal into uncharted territory as a matter of habit as they skilfully weaved all manner of disparate influences into their unmistakable trademark sound.

An instant classic that has gone on to become one of the most revered albums in recent history, 2001’s Blackwater Park proved to be a decisive moment in Opeth’s career, leading them to a succession of extensive tours around the globe and ensuring that the band were universally hailed as something very special indeed. With Åkerfeldt’s musical vision and refusal to kow-tow to current trends propelling them breathlessly forward, the band moved on through the two-headed derring-do of 2002’s Deliverance (winner of the 2003 Swedish Grammy award for Best Hard Rock Performance)and its startlingly mellow and pointedly non-metallic follow-up Damnation (2003), enhancing their credentials as true inheritors of progressive rock’s restless spirit along the way. Perfecting their established sound on 2005’s Ghost Reveries and bending it into warped and disturbing shapes on the critically acclaimed Watershed in 2008, Opeth entered their third decade with a formidable reputation and a huge international fan base. A sold out show at London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall (later documented on a special live album and DVD) signified that the band were now fully deserving of their status as true greats of the modern age.

And then in 2011, with typical audacity, they released their tenth album, Heritage. Although most fans were immediately entranced by the album’s daring reinvention of the Opeth sound, its contents were hugely adventurous and took the band ever further into an experimental realm that most of their contemporaries would never have even considered, let alone conquered with such breathtaking aplomb. Eschewing the death metal vocal style that had long been a part of their arsenal, Åkerfeldt and his band mates were torching the rulebook once again. Yet more tours followed, including some jaw-dropping acoustic shows that threw fresh light on the whole Opeth experience, and despite a smattering of negative reactions from truculent purists, the Heritage era signalled a heartening revitalisation of a band now more than two decades old. And that glorious creative rejuvenation continues on the band’s long-awaited eleventh studio album, Pale Communion.

“The best way for me to write is always to just write the stuff that I want to hear myself,” states Mikael today. “I’m pretty headstrong, so a few negative reactions to Heritage didn’t push me in any way. That album started something new. Every record feels like part of a chain. We wouldn’t have done Heritage without the previous records and the same is true of Pale Communion. I sat down and wrote the songs like I did for Heritage and the one before that. Heritage rejuvenated the band a little bit and I could see a way to continue doing this band without focusing on what we’re known for. We’d done that for so many records that I was a bit fed up with it. Now we have a future and Pale Communion is the continuation of that.”

Yet another compelling evolutionary step and a consolidation of the foundations laid down on Heritage, Pale Communion is simply another sublime piece of sonic artistry from one of the greatest bands on the planet. From the skewed grooves and dazzling atmospherics of the opening Eternal Rains Will Come to the devastating orchestral sweep and melodic precision of the closing Faith In Others, it is an album that expands Opeth’s sonic palette beyond all measure while still retaining that mercurial essence that first made them such a unique proposition. As Mikael explains, Pale Communion is a record that came together intuitively and without compromise, driven forward by the magical chemistry between all five members of the band.

“I would have to say that we’re happy band right now and there have been times when we weren’t happy,” he states. “Everyone’s pulling their weight and it feels like a collective with the same ideas. We’ve been touring a lot for the Heritage record, so we’re a tight unit. We hang out a lot as friends. We play well and we get along well and we have a mutual understanding of where we want to take this band. And I know the guys can play anything. They’re fantastic musicians. As I was writing the songs, Fredrik [Åkesson, guitar] came down to my studio to lay down some solos. He was really involved in the process and listening to whatever I came up with. It was the first record for Joakim [Svalberg, keyboards] and he’s been really psyched about doing this record. Long before we started recording he was saying that he couldn’t wait to be involved, and he really stepped up to the plate. Axe [drummer Martin Axenrot] and [bassist Martin] Méndez are a tight unit too. Axe went over to Barcelona where Méndez lives to rehearse for a few days and then they put everything down in three or four days in the studio. It was easy. It was easy for everybody.”

In keeping with Opeth’s oft-professed love of the classic rock, hard rock and progressive records of the early 70s, Pale Communion was recorded at the legendary Rockfield studios in Wales. Soaking up the atmosphere of the place where such immortal albums as Judas Priest’s Sad Wings Of Destiny and Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack were recorded 40 years ago, Mikael could hardly have found a more suitable location for the recording of his band’s new material.

“I do like many records that were made there and it’s a legendary studio,” he agrees. “We like to pay homage to that stuff. The place where we made Heritage is famous for Abba recording there, for instance! But Rockfield was available, it was fairly cheap, it was a residential studio and they cooked for us! It’s right in the middle of nowhere so we know we wouldn’t be distracted by the city lights or pubs or whatever. That’s why we chose it. But then, of course, Sad Wings Of Destiny was recorded there so it can’t be complete shit! I think we could’ve made a good sounding record anywhere, but the location and the logistics of being there were good for us.”

While Heritage was a proud move away from the digitised uniformity of modern metal and into the beatific warmth of old school analogue, Pale Communion is an altogether sharper and more vivid representation of Opeth’s ongoing development. Overwhelmingly melodic and yet remorselessly diverse and unpredictable, these eight songs are as potent and mesmerising as anything in the band’s illustrious canon. From the exquisite ebb and flow of Cusp Of Eternity – the first new song to be released into the wider world – and the epic, menacing sprawl of the ten-minute Moon Above, Sun Below through to the throbbing instrumental perversity of Goblin (which, of course, was inspired by the Italian prog band of the same name), the lush, country-tinged harmonies and rhythmic rumble of River and the gorgeous strings and pin-sharp melodic thrust of Faith In Others (“the best song Mikael has ever written…” according to Steven Wilson), Pale Communion is another flawless triumph from a band that seem to still be gathering strength and gaining momentum. Who knows what the future will bring…

“It’ll be our 25th anniversary next year and we’re 11 records in. We’ll just see where it takes us, as always,” says Mikael. “I hope people appreciate that we don’t play by the rules. I want us to be in a position where we’re accepted for what we are, and not what people want us to be. I guess we’re a rock band but we do a little bit of everything and that’s what I like about it. It makes it interesting and fresh for us as musicians to not be pigeonholed and to not be pure. It would be complete death for me as a musician to just do one thing. I admire bands that can do that, but are they true to themselves? Don’t they have any other influences? That’s quite impressive and probably harder than branching out. But we can’t do that. It’s impossible for us. I don’t know where we’re going next and that’s exciting to me.”
In Flames
In Flames
In Flames was formed by Jesper Strömblad back in 1990. The band as it was at the time consisted of Jesper, Johan Larsson and Glenn Ljungström. A demo was recorded and soon after the band got a record deal and released "Lunar Strain" and it did not take long before the album was a classic in the fast growing Scandinavian death metal scene.

With a new line up consisting of Jesper, Johan & Glenn along with two new additions: Anders Fridén on vocals and Björn Gelotte on drums, In Flames signed a license deal with Nuclear Blast Records and soon started recording the follow up: "The Jester Race".

"The Jester Race" quickly became a big hit all across Europe and Japan. After the recording of "Whoracle" in 1997 Johan and Glenn decided to leave the band and Peter Iwers (bass) joined. Niklas Engelin (Gardenian, Engel) was temporarily in the band filling in on guitars.

With a fresh line up the band set sails and headed out on tour. Short after a very successful European tour Niklas had to focus on his other projects, and Björn switched from drums to guitar and Daniel Svensson joined the band, and this is the In Flames as we know it today. With the completion of the line up "Colony" was recorded and released in 1999.

"Colony" took In Flames to a new level and the band sold out venues across Europe, USA and Japan and quickly became one of the biggest and most popular Melodic Death Metal acts around.

"Clayman" which was released in 2000 even topped its predecessor and the awards started pouring in and the band kept growing in popularity. In 2001 "The Tokyo Showdown", In Flames first live album was released, and gave the public and insight to the band's live competence.

Modern and more mature "Reroute To Remain" (2002) again confirmed the status of In Flames and marked another milestone in their career. Two years later and it was time to take In Flames to a new level. "Soundtrack To Your Escape" did just that and was the logical continuation after "Reroute To Remain". In Flames continued to tour the world and documented these escapades, which resulted in the release of the phenomenal DVD/CD package "Used And Abused – In Live We Trust" in 2005.

With an incredibly successful world tour behind them, In Flames recorded the masterpiece "Come Clarity" which was released in March 2006. "Come Clarity" got an amazing reception in the media and has today sold over 400.000 copies worldwide. The song "Take This Life" from the album is featured on the new "Guitar Hero III" game. A game which has been deemed the bestselling video game of all times and has today sold six million copies.

In Flames have sold over 2 million albums worldwide to date!!!

In January 2010, Jesper Srömblad quit the band.
Today the band consists of Anders,Björn,Peter and Daniel.

To be continued..
Red Fang
Red Fang
RED FANG is the latest effort from long time bros and collaborators Bryan Giles (Last of the Juanitas, Party Time), Aaron Beam (Dark Forces, Lachrymator), David Sullivan (Party Time, facedowninshit, Shiny Beast) and John Sherman (Party Time, Bad Wizard, Trumans Water, All Night). The four have boiled down their disparate sounds to create the ONLY sound: RED FANG.

"I've known Red Fang for a long time — from before their very humble beginnings in 1972, even. I knew them in the early days when they were grody dirt wizards that you never wanted to see with their shirts off. But there we were in Teeksville, Vermont, at 4 a.m. After literally burning the club to the ground following their poorly attended set, I'm pounding on the door of the cutest little bed and breakfast you've ever laid eyes on with a very drunk and hungry Red Fang demanding a pancake breakfast — topless.

In the years since, a few things have changed: The band successfully rescued guitarist David Sullivan from a hoarding situation (featured on the "If The House Is a Rockin'..." episode of Hoarders),bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam received his master's degree in the Smooooth Sciences, guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles started the world’s first 100-perecent anti-organic farm in his kitchen, and drummer John Sherman has climbed Mt. Everest in the nude, making him only the third person ever to do so. And none of them wets the bed anymore! That's just the stuff that's been on the news. They've also been touring the world like mad, playing to thousands of sweaty, hygienically-challenged maniacs at festivals and non-ventilated venues alike. They've made several award-winning music videos that have lots and lots of views because they're hilarious and awesome. Then this spring, they jogged 14 miles round trip to the studio everyday for 666 days and recorded a new record called Whales and Leeches.

I caught up with guitarist Bryan Giles at his neighborhood coffee shop shortly after the band recorded Whales and Leeches and asked him what their influences were while recording the new material. Giles took a slow drink of his perfectly frothed cafe latte and thoughtfully replied, "What are you, a fucking cop?" Looking for a little more insight, I asked how he thought the band had grown since their last record. He replied, "I don't know who the fuck you are, man. If you don't stop bothering me, you're going to be eating that fucking iPad!" It's clear that there's a lot of excitement about Whales and Leeches in the Red Fang camp.

You're probably not saying to yourself, "So they kind of have their shit together, big deal! What does Whales and Leeches sound like?" because you're not reading this anymore. You've already started listening to the record, or you've decided you're more concerned with whether Bon Iver is still a thing or not. On the off chance that you're a college paper writer hungry for the red-hot scoop, here's some things to know about their new record that you should already be listening to and forming your own opinions about:

The record sounds very excellent and professional, you can tell that they've been practicing their instruments. Their songs sound more thought-out and trippier. Bryan and Aaron sound like they've gotten better at singing. Every song has a riff you like. Mike Scheidt from YOB sings on a song, so you're gonna like that. It sounds more mature, like good cheese or your Aunt Sharon. Do you want me to keep rubbing your ear crotch? Sorry, I'm kind of a tease! You're just going to have to take a few minutes to listen and let Red Fang's filthy hands take the wheel, then come up with your own adjectives and opinions. I think it's a great record and they're going to make folks proud. I hope they don't get all famous and stuck up and then the VH1 special and, oh Christ.

When reflecting on what the future might hold for Red Fang, I think drummer John Sherman slurred it best: "wchhy are yooo solllannngmm? Let's maake ths sitchoo-ashun AWESome!" You said it, John. This is definitely the year for Red Fang."

- Written by Jared Warren of The Melvins
Venue Information:
Terminal 5
610 W 56th St
New York, NY, 10019
http://www.terminal5nyc.com/