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The problem with Opeth [2001-08-29]

I think that the problem with Opeth is that they are too good at what they do for their own good, but before disagreeing, let me explain the context.

I remember a few years ago, Opeth had very few fans, but those were mostly into this brand new thing that didn't really have a name. Some called it dark metal, whatever. The important thing is to know that this subgenre of metal is formed of many hybrid bands that mostly sound nothing like each other but shared one characteristics: originality.

So as I was saying, Opeth was unknown to most, but the fans they had loved it! And they were so good at what they were doing that many of these fans became obsessed by the band; it became they favourite band, they raved about it on music forums, wrote praising reviews about this 'glorious & perfect' band that had changed their life, etc.

Then, of course, all this positive publicity & hype made Opeth's popularity rise, and that's good, but the problem (which is what this article is about) is that they broke out of their 'natural market' a little to fast - they were pretty much alone, no other band of their vein was as popular and accepted. So many people were raving about them everywhere that fans of traditional metal, power metal, thrash, brutal death metal, black metal, etc.. checked them out and they couldn't relate to what they were hearing. They had no points of reference to try to make sense of Opeth, they were expecting something more familiar (or different at least) and to them it sounded like "unmetal-acoustic-strumming-full-chords-crap".

The problem with Opeth is that they are not a metal band in the traditional sense and they were exposed massively to that public. So many people were/are bashing Opeth for not doing things they are *not even trying* to do in the first place.

"They are not brutal enough!/Those riffs aren't aggressive enough/Not fast enough"

"What's with the clean singing/what's with the cookie monster growls?"

"Those songs are way too long"

etc..etc

People don't go to Britney and say "you're too pop" or to Suffocation and say "You're too brutal"... It's because they mostly stayed in their "natural market". If Opeth had been a little less worthy of praise, they would've stayed in their 'natural market' just like Solefald, Agalloch, Arcturus and In The Woods and would've never gotten all the flak they received from the 'true metal militia'. But don't get me wrong, I'm not wishing anything else than total success for this talented (but not perfect) band, I'm not saying that the people that don't like them are wrong - I am merely commenting on the situation as I understand it (different things for different people). If you have a different opinion on the subject, feel free to email me.

[This is a little clarification that I'm adding because of all the feedbackI received: this article is just an observation on Opeth's journey in themusical sea, it is NOT about any literal problems with the band (don't letthe title mislead you), I am not saying that their popularity is a problem,I am not wishing that things be different... I am just sharing thisreflection of mine with you because I find it interesting and I don't knowmany other bands who are going through that right now (not in thismagnitude). I also want to say that my choice of words may have made thingsappear worse than they are - Opeth is not getting that much flak - but sincethe aim of this article was mostly to explain the situation, I had to focusmore on this small negative element rather than on the praise they aregetting from all their new fans -Mikhail]

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