[Review] Opeth – In Cauda Venenum

The Swedish band Opeth, formed in Stockholm in 1990 and led by Mikael Åkerfeldt has reached its thirteenth release. From the beginnings more focused on Death Metal sounds, with the passing of the years, the Progressive component has become more pronounced, shifting the balances on symphonic terrains. “In Cauda Venenum” has been published in two versions, one in Swedish and one in English. It is available from 27 September 2019 in Vinyl, CD and Digital published Nuclear Blast Entertainment the album contains 10 tracks. “Livets Trädgård / Garden of Earthly Delights” the intro start with keyboards and a Gregorian choir, before the beginning of a round of four repeated notes, background noises, a retouching bell tower and close the voice of a child. “Svekets Prins / Dignity” immediately catapults us into the Prog atmospheres with the omnipresence of the organ, solid bass lines. The guitar alternates between acoustic and electric, and the drum marks exceptional variations of time. The voice alternates falsetto parts with warmer ones, excellent the union between different styles. “Hjärtat Vet Vad Handen Gör / Heart in Hand” is also the first single from the album, based on a powerful and robust riff, the vcal is particular, resulting however direct and immediate. Between accelerated and swerved, the track ends with a calmer and symphonic moment. An excellent choice to propose it as a single, summarizing the characteristics of the entire work. “De Närmast Sörjand / Next of Kine” opens with a short cap, which immediately leaves room for a full-bodied and energetic riff, with the entry of the sung Åkerfeldt offers a great test, with a dynamic vocal. An acoustic interlude and the song gain power again, with the hammond and the guitar in great evidence, while drum and bass draw remarkable times and variations. The piece ends with the entry of the strings to make the track more substantial. “Minnets Yta / Lovelorn Crime” begins with the piano and the great voice of Mikael, the melody is calm and dreamy, even after the entry of the other instruments one remains on melancholic atmospheres. A simple track, completed by the strings and by a single guitar in the final, very far from the heavy sonorities to which they accustomed us, but today the band proves to be more complete and mature. After the calm atmospheres of the previous one, with “Charlatan / Charlatan” we return to a Prog ground, from the decisive start and with fast and sophisticated drum. Even the bass lines are more technical, the scratchy guitar and keyboards offer intricate melodies. The vocal changes and returns to more complex tones, after a more linear detachment the track closes with a Gregorian chant. “Ingen Sanning Är Allas / Universal Truth” is a less sophisticated track than the previous one, the vocals are melancholy and the strings return. The guitar is sometimes arpeggiated, the frequent changes of tempo and the passages from acoustic moments to other electric ones, the accelerated ones and the symphonic openings make this piece one of the highest moments of the disc. The ending is an acoustical decrease between vocal and guitar arpeggio. In “Banemannen / The Garroter” after an intro of acoustic guitar and soft piano, that immediately leave the space to a jazzy song. With a sung and dark melodies, the guitar performs a beautiful solo. A particular and atypical track, but it surprises, a good choice. In “Kontinuerlig Drift / Continuum” between snare drum and acoustic guitar, a warm voice and a deep bass, the instruments gradually enter and the song increases in intensity. The interchanges between the acoustic and electric guitar are fabulous, light orchestrations enter and the guitar reproduces itself in only a cutting edge. The track close with an intense vocal and a more symphonic atmosphere. “Allting Tar Slut / All Things Will Pass” is the song that close the album and is in line with the stylistic choice of all the work, without particular twists. The continuous alternation between acoustic and electric power plays a decisive role. The restarts are always constituted by solid riffs, like the rhythmic session between Bass and Drum with the keyboards to mix everything. The less incisive track of the album, but still an excellent track. The sound of Opeth now have definitively abandoned the Death Metal style and the growl vocals, passing to a Prog sound with intricate structures. However, the heaviest detachments are a component of their sound, no longer central, but functional in a sound that is definitely more mature. One of the best works released this year. The mix of different styles is impressive and the compositions always offer amazing passages. The voice is another strong point and a security, both in the Swedish version and in the English one it expresses all its quality. For all Progressive lovers, it will be a pleasant listening, for the public of the Death period the turnaround will have changed their opinion. Another pearl in Opeth‘s discography, a band that never ceases to amaze.


CD 1 – Swedish version
01. Livets Trädgård (3:29)
02. Svekets Prins (6:37)
03. Hjärtat Vet Vad Handen Gör (8:30)
04. De Närmast Sörjande (7:10)
05. Minnets Yta (6:34)
06. Charlatan (5:29)
07. Ingen Sanning Är Allas (7:22)
08. Banemannen (6:44)
09. Kontinuerlig Drift (7:23)
10. Allting Tar Slut (8:31)

CD 2 – English version
01. Garden Of Earthly Delights (3:29)
02. Dignity (6:37)
03. Heart In Hand (8:30)
04. Next Of Kin (7:10)
05. Lovelorn Crime (6:34)
06. Charlatan (5:29)
07. Universal Truth (7:22)
08. The Garroter (6:44)
09. Continuum (7:23)
10. All Things Will Pass (8:31)


Mikael Åkerfeldt / Lead & Backing Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Producer
Fredrik Åkesson / Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Joakim Svalberg / Grand Piano, Fender Rhodes 88, Harpsichord, Moog, Mellotron, Hammond C3, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Martín Méndez / Bass
Martin Axenrot / Drums, Percussion

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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