Opeth is a Swedish progressive metal band from Stockholm, formed in 1989. The group has been through several personnel changes, including the replacement of every single original member. Lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt has remained Opeth's primary driving force since the departure of original vocalist David Isberg in 1992. Opeth has consistently incorporated progressive, folk, blues, classical, and jazz influences into its usually lengthy compositions, as well as strong influences from death metal, especially in their early works. Many songs include acoustic guitar passages and strong dynamic shifts, as well as both death growls and clean vocals. Opeth is also well known for their incorporation of Mellotrons in their work. Opeth rarely made live appearances supporting their first four albums; but since conducting their first world tour after the 2001 release of Blackwater Park, they have led several major world tours.
Opeth has released twelve studio albums, three live DVDs, three live albums , and two boxsets. The band released its debut album Orchid in 1995. Although their eighth studio album, Ghost Reveries, was quite popular in the United States, Opeth did not experience major American commercial success until the 2008 release of their ninth studio album, Watershed, which peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard 200, and topped the Finnish albums chart in its first week of release. As of November 2009, Opeth has sold over 1.5 million copies of their albums and DVDs worldwide, including 300,000 collective SoundScans of their albums Blackwater Park, Damnation, and Deliverance in the United States.
Opeth was formed as a death metal band in 1989 in Stockholm, Sweden, by lead vocalist David Isberg. Isberg asked former Eruption band member Mikael Åkerfeldt, who was just 16 years old at the time, to join Opeth as a bassist. When Åkerfeldt showed up to practice on the day after Isberg invited him, it became clear that Isberg had not told the band members, including the band's current bassist, that Åkerfeldt would be joining the band. An ensuing argument led to all members but Isberg and Åkerfeldt leaving to form a new project. The band name was derived from the word "Opet", taken from the Wilbur Smith novel The Sunbird. In this novel, Opet is the name of a fictional Phoenician city in South Africa translated as "City of the Moon".
Isberg and Åkerfeldt recruited drummer Anders Nordin, bassist Nick Döring, and guitarist Andreas Dimeo. Unsatisfied with Opeth's slow progress, Döring and Dimeo left the band after their first performance, and were replaced by guitarist Kim Pettersson and bassist Johan De Farfalla. After the next show, De Farfalla left Opeth to spend time with his girlfriend in Germany, and was initially replaced by Mattias Ander, before Åkerfeldt's friend Peter Lindgren took on the role of bassist. Rhythm guitarist Kim Pettersson left following the band's next performance, and Lindgren switched to guitar, with the role of bassist falling to Stefan Guteklint. The following year, David Isberg left the band citing "creative differences".
Following Isberg's departure, Åkerfeldt took over vocal duties and he, Lindgren, and Nordin spent the next year writing and rehearsing new material. The group began to rely less on the blast beats and aggression typical of death metal, and incorporated acoustic guitars and guitar harmonies into their music; developing the core sound of Opeth. Bassist Guteklint was dismissed by the band after they signed their first record deal with Candlelight Records in 1994. Opeth initially employed former member De Farfalla as a session bassist for their demo recordings, and he went on to join on a full-time basis following the release of Opeth's debut album, "Orchid", in 1995.
Opeth recorded its debut album, Orchid, with producer Dan Swanö in April 1994. Because of distribution problems with the newly formed Candlelight Records, the album was not released until May 15, 1995, and only in Europe.Orchid tested the boundaries of traditional death metal, featuring acoustic guitars, piano, and clean vocals.
After a few live shows in the United Kingdom, Opeth returned to the studio in March 1996 to begin work on a second album, again produced by Dan Swanö. The album was named Morningrise, and was released in Europe on June 24, 1996. With only five songs, but lasting 66 minutes, it features Opeth's longest song, the twenty-minute "Black Rose Immortal". Opeth toured the UK in support of Morningrise, followed by a 26-date Scandinavian tour with Cradle of Filth. While on tour, Opeth attracted the attention of Century Media Records, who signed the band and released the first two albums in the United States in 1997.
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