Not your milkman's heavy metal band, Sweden's Opeth stands out among a crop of identical, young wanna-be demonic metal acts. In the space of one eight-minute-long opus, they combine death metal's Cookie Monster vocals, black metal's creepy-Scandinavian-forest vibe, prog rock's variegated chord progressions and elfin mystique -- and find room to break into some acoustic guitar and end the song with solo piano.
Opeth's music reeks of art school or, perhaps, serious study of classical guitar. The songs on their epic records veer in multiple directions at once, have that emotional resonance usually lacking in metal, and, most important, rock on the gargantuan scale of, say, Thor battling Godzilla.
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Also moodier than your average head-bangers, Moonspell is a Portuguese band that plays melodic, almost relaxing goth metal with some nifty Sepultura-style percussion. Like Opeth, Moonspell doesn't give a damn about being heavy.