Opeth and the Colour Grey
I read in an article in the fashion and culture magazine titled Flaunt, about the new cd by the post-punk revival band Interpol that their new cd was full of grey areas. Places where neither darkness or light are in abundance, but instead all seems very much in the middle. Both dark, and yet somehow a lightness is there too. On that same day I bought Opeth's cd Still Life, and I realised listening to it that Opeth was full of these "grey areas" as well. Opeth has made a career of combining the calm and heavy, the light and dark, and in between these two extremes we as listeners create the third dimension of grey (in movies this is called Montage). The fullness present in Opeth's work is created by their complex use of these elements.
Still Life is almost a novel in a fragmentary lyrical state. It starts with the dark stranger, the outcast, coming back to reclaim his love, Melinda. From there it records his attempts to find her, and the hunting of him by the people of the community whom he had wished to escape notice of. In the end he does not get Melinda, and the community finds him and kills him in a particularly violent and surrealistically disturbing section of the record. Or that's what it sounds like to me. Opeth lets the listeners imagine into the record what they want, but the basic story is definatly there. Throughout this story there is a constant movement between heavy sections and complicated riffs to quiet acoustic moments. A few songs are all acoustic, and the slightly progressive sound of these songs and parts is fascinating. Opeth manage to bridge all kinds of gaps in music. The beauty and complexity they create is astounding. Their persistence torwards greatness, evolution, and their art is inspiring and also makes me a bit envious. It has become my desire to reach to the greatness of Opeth in my own music someday.
But back to the concept of greyness. It is not in our natures to desire grey to be part of our outlook. Almost all of us realize that there are no real blacks or whites, but we must feel that good and evil do exist. Many writers have written about this, and I will not tread upon this subject too much, but it is part of our Christian Judiastic outlook, that there is evil and there is good, and there is no inbetween. We let this part of our minds fly when we watch an action revenge flick, we see the good guy (even if he is an anti-hero, he is still the "good" guy in some way) as he goes through darkness and fighting and comes out in the end bloodied but still breathing. He always has an opponent that he shows down with at the end. To us this is utterly satisfying. We must see blood and conflict. However, we know that in reality there is only grey, and someone who acts evil is still human even though we may desire him (or her) dead.
In metal a great deal of the out put is on the dark and revenge side of things. A great deal of metal is about unleashing the dark side, so to say. This can be healthy, but ultimatly the question is how far can one go? Aparently Euronymus felt that you could go as far as eat your friends brains, if rumors are to be trusted. Opeth, instead of going deeper into the black depths of their hearts, instead travel elsewhere, to a place that's none else then a world once traveled by writers like Hermann Hesse, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, a world of grey and complexities, and emotion, or the lack of them. Still Life is so cunningly told, so complicated and yet so simple, a tale much like the Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, or many others, and its vibrantly written lyrics are evocative of much more than just the story at hand. In my mind it is (as is Blackwater Park) a record that is connected to the tradition of modernism and existentialism.
It took me a while grasp this great band, and their music, now I feel I am making steps torwards knowing them in some small way, and this editorial is simply a part of this process. I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts about Opeth and their great record Still Life. Now on to Blackwater Park for me!