Opeth interview from Qvadrivivm #1 (1999)

Interview: Kuronen

Hussh!! Did you hear the snap of music's spine? I did, and what must be one of the most shattering moments in history, for the love of Jesus, I cannot seem to recall the accurate date it happened. But it did. Anyhow, that wasn't exactly the point I was planning on leading you to. What I consider to be, is the fact that the pledged figures of Swedish metal, Opeth, have prepared their fourth album, Still Life, and if you haven't already grabbed it, you can start choosing between it and my bloodthirsty scythe of plague. Qvadrivivm caught Mr. Mikael Åkerfeldt, vocals & guitar, avoiding the daylight after the intense studio-sessions, and asked a thing or two about the band's past, also.

Surprisingly enough, Still Life struck me as a crossroad of _Orchid_ and My Arms Your Hearse. It is again bare-legged rawness, whereas Morningrise was epic and beautiful, and My Arms Your Hearse complex and powerful. A lot groovier than MAYH - then again, the grooviness and the jazziness might go hand in hand.
-I think with this album we had something from all previous albums as well as some new elements. I guess it's the most welldone and complete product yet from Opeth. A previous album can't be the album for me, they're all equal and I'm very proud over each and every one of them. But we basically aim to not do the same record twice. I think we really did special album in Still Life. It's as close to perfection I think we are ever gonna come. There's absolutely nothing on this album that makes me frown. It's all there for me. It's basically the most diverse album we've done so far. Anyway, it feels good. A similar feeling as I've had with each album. I guess it's somewhat of a cross between Morningrise and My Arms Your Hearse with yet new dimensions included.

Still Life seems to be a bit repetitive; If I liked to point out the usual weakness of this I would, but it works very well infact. Was it intentional to make this album easier to comprehend? You haven't run out of material, have you?
-Oh no, there are still a lot of riffs in each track, but it's true that some riffs are played more than once. It's pretty special for an Opeth album, but it really helped creating the moods for this album. A red thread if you will. That's something I feel I've improved doing, arrangements. We didn't want to make an easy listening album, and it surely isn't. In fact, technically these are the most complex songs I've ever written. I had a hard time putting down the guitars on tape actually. For the first time.
-I made up my own chords basically. Really dissonant stuff, still with an overall melody and vibe. Also, a lot of the drumbeats and arrangements are almost pure jazz style. I am not a jazz musician, but I know what I hear, and it sounds jazzy!

Your clean singing appears to have regressed from the previous album, and on The Moor there is some deja-vu phenomenon to be experienced because of it's clear indications to Orchidian atmospheres in the latter part of the song. So, in clearance, why have you chosen to sing in more straightforward style this time?

-I am not sure what you mean by this. The clean vocals is something that I really worked on for this album, and I don't see it the way you do, if I understand correctly. As I didn't sing too much with the normal voice on Orchid, I really can't say that it's comparable to that album. I see that as one of the elements that we've really progressed in, the vocals. I don't want to have any Arcturus type of opera voice, just a plain good vocal line without any "wailing". I don't see that technical shit as a way of progress. At the end of the day, I still listen to what I think is good, and not hard or technical. I felt more confident this time than before, and I'm basically very happy with the way the vocals turned out. I am not sure if people will notice as everything is baked in to enhance a mood. I am positive no one would think it's too much of anything, or too big a change from our previous albums. Still it is in many ways.

Basically, what was meant to be my bottom-line was: Amongst the technical - and by technical I mean only the analytic attainance of the vocal lines - sort of "regressing", the singing has become less tinged and more straightforward, yet the enjoyment level has stayed constant. How shall I put it? It's like a simplier motor, when the car still runs exactly the same. I was only trying to analyze the linearity of the technical level, not the interpretation. As for you working on the vocals, I can understand it, since they fit like a glove in Still Life. It was a mere form of analyzation I was practicing.
-OK, I understand! I think I know what you mean now. Maybe you're right. I don't know. I try not to think too much, I basically just do it in the heat of the moment. It's only afterwards that I know really what I've done. As for the tracks on Still Life, I only had the basic structures of the songs ready before we went into the studio. I wrote, arranged and recorded all the vocal lines in three days. It's most often the first idea which's the best one.

What is the meaning of that paranoid guitar-widdling at the beginning of the album? Orchid and Morningrise both had a very powerful beginning, but with MAYH and Still Life it has been stalking first and crushing then.
-When I wrote that, it dawned on me that it was the most bizarre stuff I'd ever written. It's almost hypnotic. I was thinking of a detective that found a corpse in the sea, one early morning in Stockholm. Weird huh?? But that's how it sounds to me. We decided to have it as an intro for the album. mainly to do something different than the usual "100 %" from go!! That's not anything special anymore. People rave so much about a band that starts an album kicking and screaming. So what? It's all been done before. This kinda build up a mood that didn't say much about what's to come other than that it would be a wierd experience. The guy who mastered the album thought it was ace. He'd never done an album like that before.

Still Life, as the epitome of groovy riffing, sees Opeth lightly facing some change of approach: from the influental slick of beautiful melodies to disharmonic and distorted use of riffs that more of the time merely devour melodies. I must applaude you because of this, it is one of the best surgery moves in music's history! But what exactly influenced this alteration?
-I am not a puff in the sense that I like only nice calm melodies. None of our albums have been that "sweet"! I like the fucking aggression, always have. On the latest two albums it's perhaps more evident where I come from. People who think that I'm only about melodies and nice tunes are completely wrong. Those melodies would never have gotten any attention if it wasn't for those blasting disharminic devil riffs. And that's what separates us from many other bands. I don't want anyone to be able to tag our style. No one is safe, apart from us in the band. We will never, ever release an album that was custommade to suit a certain type of listener. We do music for us! I don't give a flying fuck about any "most popular Opeth album", we basically record what comes out, and that's that. I don't plan what I want, I just sit down with my guitar and play, and after a while, you got something going.

I love the way that the 'chorus' of Serenity Painted Death is sung: "Se-re-ni-ty Pain-ted DEATH" in a low key voice; forgive me to say this, but in some way it reminds me of what Chris Barnes has done with Six Feet Under (not to forget that ever-important 'uh' at 1"37'). It has a deep rapping rythm underneath, and frankly, it makes a nice spot in between. Serenity Painted Death is probably the best example of the movement I try to explain. It is harsh, even brutal, yet so beautiful. And by the way, why does it end so suddenly? Like there was some editing error or something...
-Good to hear! It's actually a fucking rap-beat to the chorus. It came out more meaty than I expected. It's catchy too! That's basically the track that there was no question about playing live. It's a live number for sure. The ending is not a mistake at all. When we mastered the album we saw that the four last tracks all had ending riffs that we're supposed to be faded out. With Serenity we broke the "trend" and did an instant cut-off. Obviously it made some impact as everyone is asking about it. I like the way...you know, you're listening to that nice acoustic riff lulling you into some kind of safe state of mind. The "cut" really makes a horrible impact. Lovely!

The sole and only concrete negative aspect I can point out from Still Life is the cover art. How did you end up using Travis Smith? Also, the logo is now for the first time included in the cover; I presume that it was your choice and not Peacevilles?
-I think it's our best cover along with Morningrise. I really like Travis's stuff. The cover pic is the first he ever sent to me, and we were blown away. He's an Opeth fan, and he contacted me about doing this. I'd seen his work for Katatonia and thought, why not? I think it looks great, but we all have different tastes. .Our fans are so into what we're doing concerning everything, that if we do one "bold" move like putting the logo on the cover they're like..."what's wrong"?? It's not a big deal. It looked better with the logo, that's all. People always think they "know better", but it's all just a matter of taste. Nothing more.

The acoustic guitars are everywhere on Still Life. At first I was disappointed because the acoustic passages were quite repetitive, one pattern repeated time after time and so forth... When I gave them more listens they sure became familiar, but they still are not nearly as sparkling of innovation as on Morningrise, or even Orchid & MAYH. Reasons for this theme that circles the whole album: simplifying the subject? Though I want to add that the acoustics used at the background of the soothing riffing as well as the killing blasting work very very well indeed.
-There are more acoustics on this one, just like Morningrise, but the song structures are stronger on this one. The main similarity is that I reckon this is just as diverse and complex like the second album, but with a red thread that sometimes got lost on Morning!
-You gotta listen more to the album! There are no repetitions basically. Unless it was an entire acoustic track like Benighted, or the semi-acoustic Melinda. I don't see your point. When I listen to the previous albums I am not half as satisfied with the acoustics that I am with this one. It has a way bigger part on this album than ever before. The innovation you speak of from the second album was pretty basic for me when I wrote them. I feel the new riffs are far more innovative. Some riffs that I wouldn't ever think of three years ago.
-It's not a case of me being so "into" the new album that I can't see what we've done before. It's just facts. However, the only way I could prove you wrong is if I was able to play the riffs to you in person.

Being a damper is my pleasure. But what about Face Of Melinda; such an awaited tune, which turns out to be one hell of an emotional track! Certainly no To Bid You Farewell, but an amazing track nevertheless. Blends nicely into the album. What can you tell us about the background of this song?
-It's one of those "special" tracks to me. I love that one, and I think it's one of our best ever. I started writing on that one some year ago. Recorded some bits and pieces at Blakkheims house, and did the rest in the studio. Basically me, Lopez and Mendez were jamming this one in the studio. Lopez started playing with the brushes, and Mendez played with his fretless bass. I'm on the acoustic. And it was magic! It sounded so good, we were blown away. It basically could have been a "normal" Opeth mellow track if it wasn't for that jam. I decided instantly that this was the way for this track, and it went fine!

I hope you have not gotten the wrong impression from my somewhat critical questions concerning Still Life. But the standards are HIGH, if any. With the achievements of Opeth behind, I must execute some serious comparing.
-I take it as you like the album, and that's as far as I care. I am used to that people want to compare with the previous albums. Nothing wrong with that, really. I just defend my position when I think you're wrong. I can't expect everyone to hear the progress I hear when I listen to a new Opeth album. We couldn't have done this album in '94, still we couldn't have done it now if it wasn't for the three previous ones. They're all in connection that way. An Opeth listener should have high standards, otherwise the fans would mean nothing to me, the good reviews would mean nothing.
-I am not good with criticism when it's done in a bad way. I don't like constructive criticism either. I mean, what is that anyway? Nobody know what's best for this band apart from myself. We do no major mistakes when we write or record music. And we don't lie about what we think about our music either. Other peoples opinions shouldn't be interesting to a band. I just get mad when I see a bad review, and I feel like a good review for an Opeth album is essential. Still, I am a total fuck up, and I shouldn't care so much. Everyone's entitled to an opinion I guess.

-The atmosphere is something that we keep on each and every Opeth release. That is somewhat essential for us. But it's hard to say in what shape it might appear next.
I don't really demand progress, it usually happens by itself. I don't like stagnating in the Orchid type of tracks. We've done that album, next one will be...who knows. Still, I don't make that big leaps between each track I write. We have our style, and it allows us to do strange stuff without losing any spirit that made us in the first place.

If we then turn the lyrics as the matter of consideration.. How does the title, Still Life, go with the story of the album? After all, I feel some contradiction in the air when reading the lines of White Cluster, for example. Also, I would throw in some interesting paradoxes because the story is magnificently dark, yet the music is, indeed, still alive. Is this where the title takes birth from, the music?
-Basically I didn't know why it should be called Still Life when I came up with it. I mean, the artform itself has nothing much to do with the concept. But when I saw the picture from Travis, Still Life was the first thing that popped into my head. It had to be the right title. Also, it's rememberable and simple...and stolen. (?)
-White Cluster is the last track, the demise basically. But there you go...the interpretions of the title is up to each and every one. So far, while I've been doing interviews for the album, I've had so many different opinions from people, what they think the title means.
-Basically, the entire album is made from a classic Opeth recipe. Dark, happening music with loads of dynamics and different emotions. It's evocative, and I could write total rubbish for lyrics, and people would still interpret them as great or dark. However, I want to focus 100% on the lyrics as well, to achieve something special. My Arms Your Hearse was my first go for this concept thing. This one was done in a greater confidence.

I can't help it; I am only able to envision this storyline taking place in the Middle Ages - the 'I' of the story being a fearless crusader with his iron-shiny armors, swords and shields. In reality, how should this story be understood? Some people drift on the 'interpret it as you will' waters, but I take it you are not one of them? So, where lies and what is the very core essence of Still Life, as the concept writing?

-I like when people interpret them as they will, but I don't use that as an excuse to cover up meaningless lyrics. Of course I have a bottom line, a red thread. I didn't really decide when the story should take place. It would have been cheesy to start it off with "In the year 1567, a man rose from the ashes of his past life, blah, blah" However, it is more Middle Agish than present day. I can't see Opeth's music together with cars, subways and cellular phones.

Opeth has always had a keen ability to write high-graded and profoundly touching lyrics, but whereas with Orchid and, in some ways, with Morningrise the lyrics were still quite smoldering, it seems that with the last two albums it has gone to full-blown perfection and multi-diversion in the use of the language. I salute the lyrics of Morningrise a great fucking deal, as I do the music, but on the other hand, as a writer myself, I enjoy reading more difficult text - thus it's very hard to say which style is preferable.

-I'm still exploring the language. I speak english every day, and I guess I learn every day. With the lyrics for Still Life I had Hammy reading them through, just to have them "accurate". I have a story for you, regarding the "accurate" matter. On the second album I had no one to "correct" the lyrics. I basically just had a dictionary and used it quite often. I had came across the word "cesspool" from a Judas Priest lyric, and I used it in The Night And The Silent Water in the sentence "Lonely cesspools, relics..." I learned afterwards from Lee that cesspool was a "natural toilet" whereas I thought is was just a pool of mud. The dictionary isn't always right when it comes to what native english people think about some words. Of course I had to rewrite the line to "Lonely resting pools" or whatever, but I still sing "cesspool".  Fucking embarrassing!!

I myself have leaned more and more on doing most of my book-reading in English, as I find the text to be such enlightment with it's versatile text formation, then, what is there on the background of the 'betterance' of Opeth's lyrics, if such thing has happened? Is it about ambitiousness, or just logical progressing? I can find swingles and swangles of the British way of writing and expressing on both MAYH and Still Life, moreso on the latter, so I assume you prefer the British-English over American-English?

-I think I'm a better lyric writer now than I was before. Maybe that is so because I'm paying more attention now to the lyrics than I did earlier. I am pretty interested in the english language. It's beautiful and so rich of synonyms. I am not into the american style as it's too much "fuck yeah" for me. Not that I'm sophisticated or anything like that, but the UK style is cleaner and more suitable for my lyrics. I guess when I'm talking I use both styles as I watch too many shitty US movies.

What is the concept of writing concept albums for Opeth like? A question can be raised after having read the lyrics of Still Life: is there anything left for you to write of in the field of concept albums? I am not talking about the story ideas, but the 'betterness', once again, and the way of formatting the story.

-I don't know what I'll do with the next album. It's pretty easy with fairytales like Still Life, but they gotta be somewhat interesting as well. The actual theme. I could basically re'write the story to Still Life one hundred times over again differently as it's a kinda classic theme. For the next album, I might try to come up with something different again, but it's hard to say.

At the end of the Still Life -section, how would you crystallize the story of Still Life, could a film be directed from it?

-That would be cool! It would be like one of those Anthony Hopkins movies I guess but with more evil in them. It has all the elements from a succesful Hollywood feature actually. But it's not that shallow. I tried to judge everything from my own point of view. Like how I would have reacted if I was in the same situation as the main character. That makes the story more
personal and maybe more human. Some events are of course pretty extreme, but I just used my common sense, basically.

As to move on different topics... How do you see the music business has drifted in the last few years ? Are Opeth in any ways concerned what happens in the so-called mainstream scene?
-No, not really. We are not included in that way that we have to care about anyone else than ourselves. The business side is absolute bollocks, always been. The music...well, most of it is not my taste basically, but there are a few good ones out there. A few that really deserves the attention they get. I'd say Emperor, Katatonia, Haunted, and In flames have really done something special to the "scene".
-At this point I haven't heard the new Emperor, so I wouldn't know about that one. Regarding Haunted and In Flames, I certainly think the quality of their albums surpasses most other bands. They are real bands who do music because they love it basically, like Opeth. I know the guys in these bands, and they are no superficial people, and I reckon you can tell from hearing their music. Still, I do agree that they are both hyped bands, but that doesn't necessary affect the music.

Bands tend to, more or less, have especial key persons who handle from 50% to 100% of the material; thus the material becomes one-eyed, yet compact. In Opeth's statistics, you would think it was the work of multiplicities and various musical senses, by hearing, only the elasticity and vivacious would suggest something in that way. Yet again, the albums info sheets are firmly against that view: So, would there be Opeth if there was no Mikael Åkerfeldt?
-For the last two albums I've been basically writing and arranging everything on my own. It's tough, but there you go. With the two first everyone had more input in the music, and it was kinda cool. Even though I've always been the driving force behind this band, I really like when a band work as a unit. I'm not saying I am unhappy with the situation right now. It's cool and it works. Every band has a engine so to speak. In Opeth it's me. I do if for my personal interest though. I don't think Opeth would be what it is if I wasn't in the band. It's basically my creation from the beginning, but we work very well as a band.

If I were to critisize Morningrise in any way, it would the arrangements. Like the continuation of Black Rose Immortal after the climax around 14-15 minutes; if the damn song would just stop right there.... But Morningrise is just such a complete aesthetic perfection to me that I haven't dared to start to analyze it more than that. In practice, it gives me everything I need in music. Period. Though I like the disharmonic feeling of My Arms, Your Hearse almost as much. Thinking of material more distorted and feverish than MAYH makes my head ache..
-That's basically what we wanted to achieve with MAYH. It is fever music, nothing less. Morningrise had some very cool moments, and it is maybe what you could call our "prog" record. Though the prog elements were there on the 1st album as well. Morningrise was basically made up of leftovers from that recording. Not leftovers in the bad sense of the word, but stuff that had been changed or altered and not finished as a song. It seems as if this [Morningrise -q] is the album that people most often state as their favourite Opeth cd, and I'm fine with that. But what bugs me somewhat is that some listeners are stuck in that cd and are unable to hear what we wanted to achieve with MAYH. For me it's obvious. We had fat riffy type of songs, and we were allowed to have the chunkiest guitarsound for instance. We just went for it.
-People had basically just understood Morning when My Arms Your Hearse came out. I like it like that...just the fact that people return to listen to our records makes me really proud. That they have the eager and will to understand it is great! Same goes for every album. See, I leave the albums behind after the recordings. Then it is time for something new. My Arms Your Hearse might have been a letdown to some at first, but I really think it has growed on most of the fans. It's our most popular record anyway.

You have any sale-rates of it?
-From Candlelight? No!

I'd like to know how many wise people there are left on this planet.You also just obligated yourself to tell more about the break up with CL. Was it that bad you have led us believe in various interviews?

-I can't badmouth them too much. They brought us here. But when Lee Barrett left I think the label was crumbling to dust, although the surface told another story. We were promised things, us and Emperor. They are still on the label, we are not. I think it might be good for them as they are the biggest band on the roster. For us a different choice was essential for our survival.
-It's not that they chose Emperor before us, they wanted both bands, but we didn't want to stay on that label. Still I don't care much if a band is favoured before us. Everybody's got something you know. We are not a big act really. I reckon we are the type of band that sell 20000 copies or something!

To stray on Still Life little more, it is a sort of comeback on the long-track line that was forgot on MAYH. It is one reflection of the diverseness of Opeth
-I've always loved long tracks and this one is no different. It just happened that way. I am not interested in putting musical spells on people that are not real music lovers. The term, less is more, is something I hate when it's said to my face. It means basically to create boundaries, to not fully live out what you have inside. It is more or less a "save me" comment, when people are too dumb to understand the aims of music. I've heard a good expression. You can listen to music, but many can't hear it!

And some people can HEAR the music but they cannot LISTEN to it. On the other hand this is just meaningless bullshit; afterall, who cares? They don't want to listen to it? Fine.

-Yes, bollocks to them!

I fucking love long songs myself. I can't swing it with a two three minute aggressive tune, you know what I'm saying?

-Same as me. I don't think a track has to be long to be good, but a good long track is better than a good short one. It's more of a journey.

Lately I´ve been thinking quite a lot how Opeth is going to be remembered in the future. I´m sure you keep the audiences feedback in value, but do you think it´s important how Opeth is recognized after some, let´s say twenty years ?

-I think we might be remembered as a cult, good band from the 90's. Obscure band that never really made it big. Still, our fans are close to fanatic, so I guess some will have fond memories of us.

I´m aware how difficult it is to artist decide which album he/she prefers the best, so that´s why I´m asking you which album is the most successful spiritually, technically and so forth?

-Spiritually was the second and the third. Second had material that I was dying to record, old stuff that was intended to be on the first album. I actually think some of my oldest riffs are on there. Basically we took parts from older unreleased tracks like Soul Torture and Into The Frost Of Winter. Those tracks had some cool ideas, but they weren't as good as they could be. The songs themselves were kinda fresh, but the material in them wasn't. Third album was a sign that we still could do a great album after all the shit we had been through. Technically and musically I feel that the new one is the best at this point. It has everything that makes an Opeth album, and I really must say that it blows me away every time I listen to it. Of course, there's stuff that could have been played better, but I feel very content with the arrangements and stuff like that. They're cool, no time or place for second thoughts in music.

The lyrics seem quite different on those old versions., I've tried to clear them but with not so very good results. You have those lyrics somewhere and could you tell what the lyrics were dealing with?
-I don't have any old lyrics left. I don't remember what they were about, but I mainly wrote dark and also satanic stuff back then.

And what about the lyrics of the new album? You already analyzed them , but make a short sum-up.

-Dark and satanic! Not really, but I always kept the dark edges to my lyrics. This album is more or less about a struggle between good and evil. Classic!

In my opinion the soundpolitical side of Opeth´s dominion was weakened from Orchid to Morningrise. Was this a concious move to make it match with the albums entire atmosphere or what ?

-Don't know really, we never thought about what kind of sound we wanted. It's all up to the player I guess. We tried to get a cleaner sound on Morningrise and we did, still it wasn't that massive if you know what I mean.

No it wasn´t - I presume you were quite into all things difficult and clueless (prog) before Morningrise was recorded, and it really gleamed on the album. How about now when the new album is released? Any new fave genres or subgenres ?

-Still the same as before. I like music that is shocking and not ordinary. I like to feel the music. There are only so many different types of music, and I almost don't like anything new. It's got no soul, just looks.

Depends on where you are looking. But I must admit, most of todays music is superficial. It gets me depressed thinking how music will be in 10-15 years. I mean, even nowadays the feeling I get from most music is 'ah, I've heard this before somewhere..'. And it doesn't help that most of todays music is also ripped off or plagiated from somewhere. Opeth is one of the very few bands that keep my hopes up when it comes to future.

-Thank you very much. See, I get so many records from the labels I'm in contact with, and forgive me by saying this, but I am almost laughing at these hopeless bands. Haven't anyone learned anything? It's so strange, that a totally standard shit band can state that they are "The best band in the world", it's rude! Especially if you can't back it up. I think most bands are pure shite, although I like having them around as it puts us in a position where we are looked upon as a very original band. If everyone sounded like us, we wouldn't be anything at all.
-I think the labels should set the standards. Like in the 70/80's. It was impossible to get a record deal, but when you got one, you got big. And even though I don't revel in some 80's revival shit I think the standards were higher back then where only the real good ones got a deal. On the other hand, there might been a dark spot where great and hyper original bands never got any recognition. But there you go.

Do you 'keep up with the metal scene' in any ways nowadays ?

-My friends who are in bands do catch my interest with new releases. Still, I am only friends with people who play good music, ha!

I bet they think the same way, too.

-Of course...bastards!

Tours? Do you think the gigs make justice to Opeth´s music? I´ve never seen your band play life and sincerely, I´m not too sure if I want to; the gig would have to be perfect.

-Stop the pressure!! Yes, we are probably doing a European tour with My Dying Bride in the fall/winter. I think we can pull of the tracks in a live situation. Some people have said we're better live than on record, but that's a cliche thing to say...so I don't know. We play the tracks and just bang our heads in rhythm. The usual stuff you know.

Yes, I heard you are touring with My Dying Bride.. Odd choice, I must say. You like MDB yourself?

-I heard their new album which I really liked. It's back too the roots with gruff vocals and all! I was into them on the first couple of albums, then I lost track. Still they are a legendary band by now, cool people as well!

But you are one of the bands that one could think is a bigger act, since the fans are, as you said earlier, fanatic. 20 000 is okay, since all of those twenty thousand are really into the band.

-Well, I know that we are known and so on. But I wouldn't mind selling a few extra copies. Not that I am a greedy bastard. I just want to be able to be out doing gigs all the time. And no promotor puts you out there if you don't sell. It's a fact! Basically, when you do a record, you want everyone to hear it. You are proud (luckily) what you've achieved. It's my only source of making money as well, doing tours. So, the better the avaliability, the better the chances of doing this shit out fully!

You actually make some money out of tours?

-A pack of ciggaretts, and a soda! That's money in some ways aint it? We have only done one tour which was OK.

Wasn't it with COF in '96?


I also recall a Morbid Angel gig in England, uh two-three years ago? I'm not very good with these things...

-It was great for us. Meeting my idols. I met Trey and David Vincent...fucking hell! They ended up being arrogant bastards to us anyway. I don't care today, but at the time we, us and The Blood Divine were thinking of picking a fight with them. Never happened though.

I´ve noticed that you´re quite talented with all the instruments a metal band needs ? When are you going to have your own studio and start to make solo albums ? Are you the next Dan Swanö we all learn to love?

-I can play some instruments, but I don't know shit about studios, nor do I have the patience to learn about it. It's just flashes and dots and shit to me. Give me a cool guitar sound straight away...damnit!

You have also some projects going on I think, could you maybe tell something about them ? Any material going to get released ?

-Bloodbath will be released by Century Media USA. It's death metal basically, nothing else. I have also done some stuff for a band called Sörskogen, which is my own thing. But this won't be released. Steel is something we did in 1996, and it is HM, and I'm sick and tired of that now, I hate the new wave. Steel is avaliable through Near Dark I guess.

Correct, the new wave of heavy metal really ducks deep. Oldies are goldies, and ManOwaR of-fucking-course rules!

-I like the music of Manowar, but their stage show is just...not my cup. I can't believe they can keep a straight face doing their shit. Anyways, you've gotta give them some credit for not kissing up to anyone. They have certainly not changed much since their first album. Back when they started, everyone was cheesy. You couldn't tell Manowar much from the other crowd of big muscular guys doing metal...like Thor. However. Manowar have kept a certain degree of musical quality that has not changed much through the years. I could see Gloves Of Metal as a new written track for them, maybe supposed to be on their new album. It would fit, it hasn't aged, but then again, Manowar or anything about them is the same as it always has been.

What about Iron Maiden?

-I like Maiden, they are still young to me. They can go on forever. I like Bruce very much, and it's a wish of mine to see them live again. I've seen them a couple of times in the 80's, and they are one of the best live acts I have ever seen. The others? Well, the revival shit is just really confusing. Virgin Steele? No one gave a fuck about them in the first place.

Is it a great barrier for your band not to get much airplay in radio shows because your songs are so long ?

-Tell me about it. Still, radio and TV has never been a great forum for metal music anyway, so our loss is minimal in this scene. We will never have a hit I guess! We are in contact with some radiostations, we even have been played on a big Stockholm station called Bandit. Still, who gives a flying fuck?

What are, in your opinion, the three most annoying sides in music business ?

-Labels, their staff, people in general.

How do Opeth avoid these, and what do you mean by people in general?

-We can't, we gotta keep up with these things. Now we have signed to Peacaville/MFN and these guys are pretty fucking cool to be honest. I like them, but maybe I will have a different opinion in a couple of years. People get on my nerves. Have you ever thought of this? You never deliberately do something to cause problems for others, but somehow every fucker causes you problems. People are fuck ups, I am too, but I keep my craziness asleep most of the time. I've become very introvert and cynic because of behaviours from fellow humans. It's sick really!
-It's not only music business, it's everywhere. People are not sane. I am a friendly guy, but I gotta keep in the background judging people before I met them. It sounds insane, I know. The thing is, this keeps me out of trouble. It's a dangerous world out there.

Opeth has appeared on a couple of tribute albums, do you think new versions of old classics are necessarily important or even relevant ?

-No, I kinda regret we took part in that. I like the songs, but as you said, what for? I like what Katatonia has done to Buckley's Nightmares By The Sea. It's great!

That's what I would say from all the Buckley I've heard - which means one album and a couple of other tracks. But, any last words to the Opeth fans out there ?

-Thanks, we love you guys!! Take care and good luck with the mag!

Face the enemy! Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth shares his opinion on certain metal bands...

* Katatonia 

-I like these guys, they're my pals. Good music! * In The Woods... 
-Haven't heard much, but I am told they're special 
* Led Zeppelin 
-Satanic, more than Sabbath. And really good!
* Black Sabbath 
-No words needed! 
* Morbid Angel 
-They got me into this death shit. I love them! 
* Drawn 
-Huh?? Is it Dawn, Drain or something else? Hold on...yes, I do remember. I have heard Drawn. they were kinda influenced by Opeth I'd say. They were good! 
* King Diamond 
-Very influential for me, esp. Them! 
Conspiracy is another favourite for me actually. I really like that album. It's so underrated but it is indeed a classic Lp! 
I like Conspiracy more than The Eye, still The Eye is a classic. I'd say his first five records are next to flawless, and timeless. 
* Mercyful Fate 
-Same goes for this, but new albums...nahh! 
I liked "In the shadows" very much, but the ones after that are not as good. 
King doesn't seem to be 100% anymore. I know he still is, but the albums come out being...nothing much! 
He should loosen up a little bit, get back the original/semi-original lineup of King Diamond and put Mercyful Fate on the background again.. But hey, this is only my opinion... 
-I agree, but who am I too... 
* Voivod 
-Used to be really hooked on them. But Angel Rat ..fucked! 
It's not good for a Voivod release. I was shocked! 
* Slayer 
-Have some great tracks...not my faves, though! 

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