OPETH — In Cauda Venenum

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OPETH - In Cauda Venenum cover
4.25 | 6 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 2019

Filed under Metal Related
By OPETH

Tracklist

Swedish:
01. Livet's trädgård (3:29)
02. Svekets prins (6:36)
03. Hjärtat vet vad handen gör (8:28)
04. De närmast sörjande (7:08)
05. Minnets yta (6:34)
06. Charlatan (5:29)
07. Ingen sanning är allas (7:31)
08. Banemannen (6:44)
09. Kontinuerlig drift (7:23)
10. Allting tar slut (8:31)

Total Time 1:07:53

English:
01. Garden of Earthly Delights (Intro) (3:29)
02. Dignity (6:36)
03. Heart In Hand (8:28)
04. Next of Kin (7:08)
05. Lovelorn Crime (6:34)
06. Charlatan (5:29)
07. Universal Truth (7:31)
08. The Garroter (6:44)
09. Continuum (7:23)
10. All Things Will Pass (8:31)

Total Time 1:07:53

Line-up/Musicians

- Mikael Åkerfeldt / Guitars, Vocals
- Martín Méndez / Bass
- Martin Axenrot / Drums, Percussion
- Fredrik Åkesson / Guitars, Backing Vocals
- Joakim Svalberg / Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Guest/session musicians:
- Dave Stewart / Orchestrations, String arrangements

About this release

Label: Moderbolaget Records
Release date: September 27th, 2019

Released in English and Swedish language versions available either separately or together.

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition

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OPETH IN CAUDA VENENUM reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
These days there are literally a gazillion metal bands that come and go with even some of the bigger names which often blur into the massive number of albums that emerge every single month and then there are bands like OPETH, a band that has become so legendary that it actually creates quite a stir even over two decades after the band’s debut with “Orchid.” This Swedish band founded by lead vocalist / guitarist / songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt all the way back in 1989 has successfully straddled the fence between the disparate genera of death metal and progressive rock often blurring the distinctions. While fans on both sides of the fence have been routing for the band to take one path or the other, OPETH for the most part has successfully remained staunchly in hybrid mode at least until the last few albums.

While starting out as the former and taking the leap into the latter beginning with 2011’s “Heritage,” the group has successfully created some of the most lauded albums that decorate both the prog and metal top album lists and with the band’s 14th studio album IN CAUDA VENENUM (“Poison Of The Tail”), OPETH shows no signs of slowing down and have crafted yet another album of intricate melodies teased into progressive sprawlers that are bathed in aspects of psychedelic rock, folk rock and progressive metal. Only the growly vocal death metal elements have been jettisoned as OPETH has decloaked any traces of its earliest aggressive tendencies and have instead seemingly adopted the permanent features of clean vocal styles and King Crimsonian style prog rock circa the “Red” area. And still going strong which started all the way back in the very beginning are those beautiful arpeggiated acoustic guitar segments are still riding high in the mix.

OPETH tried something new on IN CAUDA VENENUM, which was somewhat common with Italian prog bands of the 70s but not so for the Scandinavian scene. This album has been released twice both in English and the band’s native Swedish. Despite the differences in language, the music is exactly the same and both albums clock in exactly at 67 minutes and 44 seconds. While the choice of language may appeal to some, for those like me who are less concerned about lyrics and much more into the compositional meat and potatoes, i personally don’t care if a song is titled “Universal Truth” or “Ingen Sanning Är Allas.” Having said that, Swedish is a beautiful language and although this review is based upon the English version of the album, i will inevitably want to absorb the majesty of an OPETH album in its native lingo. After all, Swedish is the language that sings and love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Åkerfeldt is one singing MF and becomes more nuanced with his vox box as time goes one.

After releasing “Sorceress,” the band received a lot of criticism for jettisoning too much metal and becoming just another retro prog band. Yeah, those metalheads can get really testy about things. Even on the prog side of the music world, they got shot down in some circles for not being original enough, by recycling 70s sounds and jumping on the bandwagon that seems to be all the rage today which may be fine for, let’s say a band like Wobbler, but for metal superstars like OPETH? No way, just ain’t cuttin’ it. IN CAUDA VENENUM corrects that faux pas and adds some extra metal oomf to the mix once again however in many regards, this album is a lot like “Sorceress” in that its progressive elements are the main focus, the clean vocals shine in the forefront and the music is lushly orchestrated to create pleasing atmospheric counterpoints to the folk-tinged melodic developments. As far as the psychedelic rock aspects are concerned, IN CAUDA VENENUM is drenched in piano, Fender Rhodes 88, harpsichords, Moogs, mellotron and a Hammond CD to boot.

The metal almost seems like an afterthought that is there solely to add a bombastic contrast to an otherwise super chill album. So much for the band’s original intent of becoming one of the most evil bands in the world. Now much closer to Pink Floyd than to Mayhem, OPETH seems to have nurtured this new path into the prog world quite well. IN CAUDA VENENUM is an amazingly consistent album that may be a much more metal-free zone than say albums like “Morningrise” or “Deliverance” but still manages to sneak in some ferocious guitar riffing and power chords amidst the proggy time signature rich passages as they tick off all the proper prog check lists.

Out of the newer OPETH albums that rely less on the metal aspects, IN CAUDA VENENUM is actually one of the most diverse of the lot so far expanding OPETH’s sounds into new arenas (such as the jazzy “The Garroter”) to the more familiar (which is most of the album.) One of the main tricks up Åkerfeldt’s sleeves has always been those appropriately placed classical guitar segments which tastefully starts off the album intro on “Garden Of Earthly Delights.” The twin guitar attacks of Åkerfeldt and Frederik Åkesson are still in action especially in the more metallic tracks like “Heart In Hand.” There are new developments in OPETH’s arsenal such as the overdubbed choir parts in “Dignity” and let’s face it lots and i do mean LOTS of organ parts. Despite scouring the periodic table to add as many metal elements as possible, IN CAUDA VENENUM is firmly in progressive rock territory with just a touch of heavier bombast to hopefully entice the older crowds into the new OPETH show.

On a personal level, OPETH has never been a top band in my reality but i am amazed at how consistent the quality of the material is on every single album in its long never-ending canon and therefore they have my utmost respect and admiration. Åkerfeldt was born to bring to life catchy yet proggy tunes that while crafting the instant ear worms of pop music still have quite the catchiness factor even if it takes a few spins to sink in. Whether OPETH is in full death metal regalia or simply taking a siesta in organ drenched prog makes no difference to me personally. I find the Jekyll & Hyde peekaboo act to be amusing since the band so successfully masters both styles quite well and on IN CAUDA VENENUM, the band seems to find new ways of incorporating both aspects into a cohesive whole without deviating from the current trajectory of settling on the prog side of the equation.

IN CAUDA VENENUM will surely not win over those who ditched the band when “Heritage” declared the new OPETH was in town but it certainly won’t disappoint those who have been digging the recent prog albums such as “Pale Communion” and “Sorceress.” While taking cues from both, this one moves on into ever more diverse pastures and the great thing about OPETH is that it is a band that no matter what criticism is heaped upon it, is never afraid to just sally forth in whichever direction the musicians feel it right for them. While IN CAUDA VENENUM will receive ample amounts of hate from metalhead purists and equal amounts of love from retro-proggers, taken as a work of art, IN CAUDA VENENUM is a compelling album with rich seductive melodies and intricately crafted musical developments. Another excellent album in the OPETH camp.

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