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Book of Opeth

Book Of Opeth Website
Released: April 14, 2016
224 pages
Publisher: Rocket 88

Book Of Opeth presents a brief synopsis of the band’s earliest history all the way to present day. While interesting and beautifully crafted, Book Of Opeth rarely gets too in-depth, and leaves some lingering questions in the process.

 

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Has Opeth really been around for over twenty-five years? It really doesn’t feel like it has been that long. I still remember being a little kid and hearing “Demon of the Fall” on the radio for the first time, and immediately skate boarding down to Lou’s Records to buy the CD. It obviously wasn’t the first time I had ever heard death metal and clean singing on the same song (Fear Factory had been doing it for awhile by 1998), but it was executed so much better and the musicianship was leaps-and-bounds more advanced. Also, acoustic guitars were such a novel idea (at the time) for music so intense. With the radio playing “Demon Of the Fall” fairly regularly, there was a lot of hype around my hometown of San Diego, California — but apparently we were the exception. One of the things I learned while reading this book was the band was totally broke during this era and scrounging money together to pay for canned meat and cigarettes. While kind of a cool little fact, it is unfortunately about as juicy as Book of Opeth gets. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth an avid Opeth fan’s time.

Mikael Akerfeldt Unboxes Book Of Opeth

It’s obvious from the very first glance that Book of Opeth was a labor of love. Just about every page contains high-quality graphics similar in look and feel to the Travis Smith artwork that has graced more than a few Opeth releases. There is also an abundance of band photos throughout the book representing just about every Opeth line-up ever. In fact, I’d venture to estimate that the band photos make up more of the book than actual text, but that isn’t to the book’s detriment. It is, however, a good representation of how Book Of Opeth approaches the band’s history — it’s more of a brief synopsis than an in-depth overview. It’s a book that can literally be completed in an evening, without ever feeling overwhelming. This leisurely trip through time is reinforced by the format of the text, as well. Instead of being a narrative history (as seems to usually be the case for band books), Book Of Opeth is simply a collection of quotes listed in chronological order about the various eras of the band.

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Book Of Opeth. Definitely a labor of love.

Obviously, a majority of the quotes come from Mikael Akerfeldt and they’re delivered with the same type of blunt dry humor fans have come to expect from him. One early excerpt has Mikael discussing the first (of many) line-up changes Opeth would go through; this was actually the one that allowed him to join the band. When discussing the ex-members Mikael observed, “I never saw those guys again, but after they left Opeth they formed a band called Crowley and put out a demo in 1991 that was the biggest piece of shit that I had heard.” In addition to Mikael Akerfeldt, there are quotes from the band’s long time guitarist Peter Lindgren and bassist Martin Mendez, as well as their manager Andy Farrow and frequent collaborator Steven Wilson. All of these submissions allow the book to feel fresh and active, and the different perspectives are definitely a welcome change from the ‘single story’ presented by a lot of these band biographies. Despite being a welcome change from the normal ‘single source’ band biography, more often than not I found myself wanting more information from these little blurbs than what I actually received.

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Opeth 1992. L-R: Mikael Akerfeldt, Anders Nordin, Peter Lindgren.

Throughout the book there are many times where someone would reference a story or situation without going into detail, and it happened often enough to occasionally be frustrating. Of course, a majority of these ‘WTF’ moments came when band members were dismissed and Mikael would either offer cryptically vague reasons for it or even no reason at all. Additionally, none of these ex-members (with the exception of Peter Lindgren) are featured within the book in order to give their takes. Granted, a lot of these people might have been bitter or hard to find, but drummer Martin Lopez is definitely still around and could have (I’d assume) e-mailed some quotes about his time in the band and maybe even one about his eventual separation. Another section of the book that seems to be lacking is the recording issues of the various albums. Mikael and others make off-handed comments about issues arising during the recording of various albums, but none of the ‘dirt’ is ever really presented to the reader. My final gripe has to do with the eventual pairing of Mikael Akerfeldt and Steven Wilson. Personally, I would have liked more in-depth information about what Steven Wilson thought when he first heard this death metal band that was supposedly influenced by him. I would have liked more specifics about what he brought to the studio when he started working with the band. I even would have appreciated if he spoke about how Opeth (obviously) influenced his own band when he went back to write In Absentia.

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Opeth 2017. L-R: Joakim Svalberg, Mikael Akerfeldt, Martin Mendez, Fredrik Akesson, Martin Axenrot.

Final Words:

For even the passing Opeth fan, Book Of Opeth is definitely a worth-while read. The artwork and band photos alone are well worth purchasing this book, but there’s more to it than that. The unique way the band’s history is presented through a series of quotes from various members, ex-members, and collaborators allows the book to feel fresh from beginning to end. The different perspectives, too, are a unique and welcome addition to your typical band biography. Granted, for those of us that might be considered bigger fans, the book can feel a bit lacking when members gloss over stories, encounters, and issues that could have used some fleshing out, but overall Book Of Opeth is an excellent synopsis of the band’s history.

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Cep9ivCW8AEic2QTo order Book of Opeth, please visit the Opeth Book website.

 





Willie
10.17.17
Kind of a cool 'coffee table book'. For casual fans more than the hardcore 'tell me everything' fan, but cool enough for either.

Scoob
10.17.17
The book of mormon

hal1ax
10.17.17
i would swim in piranha-infested waters with nothing but Rosie O'Donnell's queef as my air supply for one of these epic books

JohnnyOnTheSpot
10.17.17
forward by Shadows

SandwichBubble
10.17.17
Damn $350 for a collectors edition?

Glad it's at least good though :)

JohnnyOnTheSpot
10.17.17
foreword*, silly me

tombits
10.17.17
digging the Hanson vibes in that 1992 shot

Willie
10.17.17
--i would swim in piranha-infested waters with nothing but Rosie O'Donnell's queef as my air supply for one of these epic books--
I don't think I'd do that, but I'd drop the cash for it. I think the collectors edition sold out the day it went on sale.

--forward by Shadows--
I didn't even think about that.... damn.

--digging the Hanson vibes in that 1992 shot--
There's a few good ones from the early nineties.

SowingSeason
10.17.17
love these book reviews you do

DungeonBoy
10.17.17
There are casual Opeth fans? :) Interesting write-up.

bgillesp
10.17.17
I thought about getting this when I first heard of it but never did. Is it really $350 because I'm not paying that much even if it is good.

bgillesp
10.17.17
Oh, nm it was just the special edition, but even $60 is a bit much for a casual fan like me.

Willie
10.17.17
--love these book reviews you do--
Thanks. It offers a nice change from always writing about music while still staying true to the website. I'm reading the Metallica: Back to the Front book right now and that review might have to be split into a few parts because the book is totally in-depth.

--There are casual Opeth fans? :) Interesting write-up.--
I might be considered a casual Opeth fan. I don't like their first two albums and I don't like their last two albums. I'm also not a fan of Damnation or any of their slow songs, to be honest. I also think a lot of their longer songs are ruined by too much repetition.

Willie
10.17.17
--Oh, nm it was just the special edition, but even $60 is a bit much for a casual fan like me.--

It is a nice book. It's one of those one's you could leave out... like a 'coffee table' kind of book.

ScuroFantasma
10.17.17
Great review, briefly considered getting this because it looks gorgeous but I'll likely pass based on the lack of details and the moderately hefty price tag.

Willie
10.19.17
Yeah. The price is a little steep, but the fanboys will eat it up. I got it for review, so I didn't actually pay for it. I did buy the Metallica book, though, and that one is worth every fucking penny so far.

zakalwe
10.19.17
Possibly the only metal band in history to look more ridiculous than when they first started.

Willie
10.20.17
Who? Metallica or Opeth?

artiswar
10.20.17
Take me back to 1992 before Mike hit puberty and gained the ability to grow an unseemly moustache.

Astral Abortis
10.20.17
I was considering the standard edition until it turns out that's sold out and I can only buy the $420 edition that does not justify its price inflation solely for an autograph and a box.

Hawks
10.20.17
There's no chance in hell I'm ever spending that much on a book, but still looks awesome. Sweet write up Willie.

Willie
10.20.17
They have it here for $50: https://us.rocket88books.com/products/book-of-opeth-classic-edition

--There's no chance in hell I'm ever spending that much on a book, but still looks awesome. Sweet write up Willie.--
Buy the Metallica book. I'll have a review for that shortly.


punk rocker69
10.25.17
Unless you're looking to emulate early 90's Swedish fashion from the photos, I can recommend the Spotify Metal Talks playlist (2 parts) that aired sometime last year as a perfectly good substitute. It's especially interesting concerning the early years, with a nice cameo from Peter, but gets increasingly superficial as it proceeds. Again, Mikael is understandably reticent concerning long-term member departures. All the same, it kept me gripped over a few nights.

Willie
10.25.17
That basically sums up the book, too.

PickleShovel
10.25.17
The further one plunges one's head up one's own ass, the harder it becomes to note one's surroundings. I say as a fan.

I did especially appreciate M's candour in appraising their catalogue over the years, though the point where he remarked that Ghost Reveries was their best, but promptly topped by Heir Apparent, perhaps marked the beginning of the end of his sound judgment. His thoughts on Deliverance echo my own almost exactly. I never knew what a clusterfuck that recording was.

Willie
10.25.17
Yeah, there's definitely some cool insight thrown around in the book. But just like with the clusterfuck recording of Deliverance, they don't really throw any substance into exactly why it was a clusterfuck.

Voivod
10.25.17
^^From what I remember, it was related to Opeth's expectations from the studio they had rented, and what they actually had to put up with.

PickleShovel
10.25.17
From the spotify playlist, I got a sense of self-censorship already creeping into the narrative, M being very careful not to air any dirty laundry. Seems he felt the growing pains over a fairly protracted period of the whole thing essentially morphing into his vehicle. The whole latter half of the second interview was so circumspect I felt compelled to revisit its antithesis, the video where M explains Peter's departure. Still brutal.

Willie
10.25.17
They hit on the split between him and Peter in the book, but it still felt so shallow when you could see right below the words there was so much more they weren't saying. I'm not trying to say it's any of our business, but if you're going to write a book...

MayhemWithMercy
10.25.17
The signature one is at least $320 USD and Im in CAD so will be even more. Damn Mike I love you but I can't empty my wallet for you bro.

Keyblade
10.29.17
paging @Pleb, this is a thing

MayhemWithMercy
10.29.17
Yeah this is my all time favourite band, but the book is just too expensive lol. Also how does pleb not know about this already.

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