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Review: Opeth at The Vogue

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I may have been mistaken in my preview of Opeth's May 9 show at The Vogue that they've played in Indianapolis before.

I believed they may have been an opening act here some lost decade ago. What's undeniable now is there was definite pent-up demand for the progressive metalers to perform in Indy. The line to get into The Vogue snaked around the block last Thursday.

It was worth the wait. Opeth demonstrated, in a two-hour set, why they have a cult-like following despite numerous reincarnations.

In summary, the Swedish quintet plays just about all the top musical genres except rap. They're obviously famous for metal, but at various points in this show they lapsed into space jazz, faux funk, acoustic and even a hint of honky-tonk. All of which was seamless and without pretense.

A chill track like "Atonement," - replete with congas and soulful, bluesy guitar work by Fredrik Akesson - fit right in with a mighty metal anthem like "Deliverance." To further mess with the audience, Opeth turned one of its oldest black metal meanderers, "Demon of the Fall," into a sinister acoustic exercise. Fans responded politely (for the most part), but reserved the most appreciation for singer Mikael Akerfeldt's rattling death growl.

Apparently there's still mixed reaction to Opeth's latest opus, Heritage, released in 2011. While it's full of their trademark labyrinthine arrangements, it features no snarling and a lot less mayhem than usual. But at this point in Akerfeldt's long and evolutionary career, he's offering little in the way of apology. They opened with Heritage's stuttering, serpentine first single, "The Devil's Orchard," and later played the jazzy, melancholic "Haxprocess" from the album.

Indeed, Akerfeldt seems perfectly at ease with who he is and what he's doing now. He fed off the audience, both positive and negative, and bantered throughout the show about anything and everything. Topics included his moustache (it has its own Facebook page), being accosted by a hobo, and his affinity for the '80s metal band King Kobra. It's all proof that Akerfeldt has achieved that rarified status of being able to take any creative path he wishes, and plenty of admirers will follow.

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