Koch/Music for Nations


"Believe in Nothing"

Koch/Music for Nations

As Opeth prophesies it, the apocalypse will feature such death-metal staples as raspy vocals and hammering rhythms. But now and then it will take a break for a jazzy guitar interlude.

Opeth hails from Sweden, which (along with Norway) was once known for renegade church-burning death-metalists. After 13 years together, however, the quartet is more interested in playing than shocking. Rather than impatiently herald Armageddon, the six songs on the band's "Deliverance" take their time; all but one runs more than 10 minutes. Passages of tracks such as "Wreath" still gallop like the four horsemen of Metallica, but Opeth (assisted by Steven Wilson of British neo-prog-rock band Porcupine Tree) also ventures into madrigal-rock and impressionist piano. If guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt ever abandons his shredded-larynx vocals, Opeth would be at home in the Court of the Crimson King.

"Slave to evil" is the refrain of the first song on Paradise Lost's "Believe in Nothing," but this British quintet actually emancipated itself from Satan-rock years ago. Over the course of 10 albums -- the latest of which has not been released in the United States -- the Yorkshire band has moved toward a moody but hook-laden style that recalls such '80s goth-dance-punk outfits as the Sisters of Mercy and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. Although its guitars continue to crunch and snarl, the group has alienated metal purists by adding synthbeats, samples and strings. As produced by U.K. indie-art-rock veteran John Fryer, songs like "Fader" and "Look at Me Now" are devilishly insinuating, but about as evil as a Justin Timberlake remix.

-- Mark Jenkins

Both appearing Tuesday at Jaxx with Lacuna Coil and Tapping the Vein. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Opeth, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8107. To hear a free Sound Bite from Paradise Lost press 8108. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)