Aside from instrumental progressive metal, another lighter genre that’s breaking barriers among the modern heavy metal community, particularly djent fans, is prog-rock. For those of us who have love for the Rush-like bands who helped influence progressive music, we have Opia from Perth, Australia. Prog-rock is their specialty, and they are a very soothing, catchy, fresh alternative to the earth-shatteringly downtuned riffs that we’re used to. The first song I found was their single, “Undone”, and it put me in a much more positive mood the same way Periphery or Haken would, but with less aggression. For anyone who is a fan of a balanced, laid-back groove along the lines of Teramaze or Fates Warning, this band belongs in your library. Simply put, it’s just nice to listen to.
I hit “repeat” on this song several times before moving on to hear the other songs they’ve recorded, and the rest of them had an equally psychedelic vibe. Their style is that of musicians who enjoy djent, but want to rock-n’-roll instead of throw bodies everywhere, and it’s very refreshing. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if they hopped on a show with a band like Northlane or In Hearts Wake and delivered the same punchiness and “oomf” that these bands do. After all, I did say that Australia has some of the best bands, right?
Opia bassist Dan Zarb expanded more on the band’s composition and nucleus:
Opia is Michael Bok on guitar and vocals, and [myself] on Bass. Opia formed in 2007 in Perth WA, and have been hitting the Australian music scene hard ever since. There have been some lineup changes over the years, but 2017 is gearing up to be big. A new single is under way soon to be released, as well as the follow-up to Opia‘s debut 2016 album “Eon”. 2016 also saw Opia appear on numerous Australian tours. “Eon” was released worldwide with the Australian label “The A&R Department” and received very positive feedback.
Opia was derived from the word ‘myopia’, referring to ‘short sightedness’, taking on the meaning at the time that we need to look beyond our conditioning, look a little bit further, and ask more questions.
Bands like Opia are part of the genre that spread progressive song structures and melodies to a more “radio soundtrack” audience, while still appealing to fans of the underground community. Listeners can also observe the increasingly progressive and diverse usage of music theory in Opia‘s music as their discography has already evolved during their career. One of their more recent releases from Eon, “Still Standing”, is comprised of a captivating ambient overlay, driving double-time pulse, and masterful percussive handiwork behind vocal dynamics.
Zarb had more to say about the gear, influences, and future for Opia:
Growing up with all sorts of music, there are so many influences, but here are a few we like: Tool, A Perfect Circle, Kyuss, Alice in Chains, Fear Factory, The Dandy Warhols, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Refused, and Pearl Jam to give you a brief idea. We could go on forever. These days, inspiration is drawn from so many directions, and we are utilizing new sounds/gear, different tones, etc. There’s a lot of synth and programming sitting in the background of our music too, which can blend really well with the guitars.
Mike is constantly experimenting with gear and always looking for new and old sounds. At the moment, guitar-wise, it’s a Les Paul Custom and standard, PRS custom, Fender Tele, alongside a Peavey 5150 and Marshall cabs. Effects wise, there’s a lot of analog pedals on a separate board, accompanied with an Axe-Fx, and TC Electronic gear. Dan uses a Warwick Corvette 6 string, Ampeg amplification, and Ashdown cabs, and also a solid board of analog effects and dirt. We also use a few analog synths. Drums on the album “Eon” are DW collectors, and a selection of snares that sounded right for each song.
2016 was huge for Opia; our album did great things worldwide for an independent band from Perth. We’re really excited about that. This year, we are striving for more all round; we’re constantly pushing ourselves, and the songs and sounds. We’ll be releasing a fresh single early in the year, accompanied by a music video, and looking into touring Australia again, along with hopefully broadening our horizons with overseas touring, fingers crossed!