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Opeth, SSE Wembley Arena, London
Saturday 20th November 2016

liz medhurst
Words: Liz Medhurst, Pictures: Caroline Traitler


Opeth's current album 'Sorceress' is really quite remarkable for its ability to send you down a rabbit hole of wonder, causing loss of time and disconnection from surroundings, and a desire to experience more of these musical tangents.

This show, their only UK stop on this tour and their largest UK headline to date, held similar mesmerising qualities, in the very accurately named 'An Evening Of Sorcery, Damnation And Deliverance'.

The cavernous compound of Wembley Arena is one of only four across the world to feature this setlist, with a second set made up of tracks from 2002s 'Deliverance' and 2004s 'Damnation' - and it was magnificent.

The Opeth faithful were out in force, starting a mosh pit from the off and rapturously greeting the band who stormed into 'The Sorceress' and then a performance of 'Ghosts Of Perdition' which was beyond epic.


For two hours and forty five minutes, Opeth entranced with a plethora of moods, one minute laying bare several layers of soul with the most beautiful, ethereal melodies and then in a heartbeat changing to death Metal growls and face-melting riffs. Frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt can switch between honeyed tones and screams in a heartbeat and I've never heard this done as seamlessly before.

To further add to the contrast, in between this display of wonder, Mikael chatted to the crowd in such a relaxed way as if he was in the pub, showing no signs of exertion from the demanding material – some very cool sorcery abounded tonight. From the opening cheery greeting of "Hello, motherfuckers!" his banter was on form, the self-deprecating tone and fantastically dry sarcasm a wonderful counterpoint to the emotion of the music.

'Face Of Melinda' was a highlight of the first set, not just for the performance, but also for the sight of the ballroom dancing happening in the mosh pit – Opeth do attract the unexpected.


The sound mix was on point and the dramatic lighting was pitched just right, deep vibrant colours and highlights such as the crescents illuminating 'Demon Of The Fall'.

'Heir Apparent' blew everyone away with its forcefulness and majesty, a perfect example of a track which most prog Metal bands would give their eye teeth to have as a set closer, where here it was merely one of many of similar quality, especially coming so soon after the breathtaking 'Cusp Of Eternity'.

With the 'Damnation And Deliverance' set, Mikael explained that these two albums were recorded back to back and "this recording time was the fucking shittiest time, but we got some good songs from it. We are not as well rehearsed, so sorry if we fuck up", before performing a simply glorious 'If Death Was My Lullaby', which even he had to admit was "not too shabby".


Later he turned himself into the Gerald Ratner of Metal when he introduced 'By The Pain I See In Others', explaining that it was only the third time it had ever been played, because "it's a piece of shit but it's fun to play. I don't know the lyrics, but they're growly so it doesn't really matter".

It's a real testament to the band and the emotions that they generate that they can get away with statements like this which are genuinely funny and not remotely disrespectful to their art.

Towards the very end of the set the band all looked fresh as daisies still, only stopping when the tour manager gestured frantically from the wings, pointing out that the curfew was approaching, Åkerfeldt reluctantly bringing proceedings to a close to avoid the hefty fine as "I need my fucking cocaine".

Tonight we witnessed a band at the top of their game, with extremes of beauty and heaviness, an alchemy that brought forth a sublime elixir. Truly there is no band around like Opeth, they are way out at the front of the pack and this enthralling spectacular hit every spot.


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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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