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Google classifies Opeth as “doom metal,” which falls under the larger heading of “heavy metal.” They’ve also been tagged as “black metal” and “avant-guard [sic] progressive gothic rockers,” both of which apply to some extent. Call them what you will, but the brooding Swedes create music that defies easy categorization. Since their inception in Stockholm almost 15 years ago, they’ve released seven records that systematically emphasize both melody and malady, ultimately coming off as a less-cheeky Type O Negative. Sure, they’re dark and gloomy, but they’re also musically interesting, capturing elements of ’70s art-rock and Ride the Lightning-era Metallica in their big, black sonic beartrap. Mikael Akerfeldt is one of the more surprising vocalists in his field, as he actually shows off some real singin’ chops to complement—or contradict—the growly Cookie Monster voice that tends to dominate the genre (and yes, he does that pretty well, too).

Opeth’s latest LP, 2003’s Damnation, earned them the Swedish equivalent of a Grammy award. Their latest U.S. tour is in support of a new DVD release titled Lamentations: Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, a collection that displays the band’s two dramatically different faces. The “acoustic set” features mellow (by their standards, anyway), stripped-down arrangements of the band’s material, while the “heavy set” predictably delivers a bundle of brutal thrash, along with more of those Cookie Monster vocals. Expect a little of both when Opeth hit town this week.

Opeth will perform Saturday (Feb. 21) at 8 PM at Saratoga Winners (Route 9, Cohoes), with Devil Driver and Moonspell opening. Tickets are $22. For more information, call 783-1010.

Albany Symphony Orchestra

David Alan Miller and the ASO will honor Black History Month with concerts tonight (Thursday, in Saratoga) and tomorrow (Friday, in Troy). As local audiences have come to (we hope) appreciate, the Albany Symphony Orchestra will be presenting two local premieres.

First, there is The Spirituals Project, for which seven composers—including John Harbison—have created new transcriptions of traditional Negro spirituals for voice and orchestra. Baritone Nathan Myers will be featured on this work. Also, there will be the world-premiere performance of composer David Dramm’s Underground Railroad, inspired by a true, local story: the dramatic, April 1860 rescue of an escaped slave led by Harriet Tubman. Tubman physically attacked the cops transporting 39-year-old Charles Nalle, as abolitionists clashed with the law and slavery supporters on the streets of Troy and Watervliet.

Also on the bill: Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 in E-flat. (Beats me, too.)

The ASO will present A Tribute to Black History Month tonight (Thursday, Feb. 19) at 7:30 PM at the Canfield Casino (Congress Park, Saratoga Springs) and tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 20) at 8 PM at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (State Street and Second Avenue, Troy). Tickets are $37.50 to $19. For the Saratoga Springs performance, call 465-4755 or 584-4132 for reservations and information. For the Troy performance, call 273-0038.

The Tricky Part

Beyond talent and commitment to craft, an aspiring celebrity actor would do well to possess one other quality: a willingness to maintain an iron-fisted control over the management of his or her public image. Audiences are fickle, unpredictable and unforgiving, so savvy celebs and/or their duly compensated representatives need to spin, spin, spin—and to sue a tabloid or two when necessary. An actor’s image is his brand, and the besmirching of a brand’s good name can mean disaster. So, celebrities are often, professionally, risk-averse. Fortunately, not every actor aspires exclusively to celebrity; Martin Moran, for example. Despite Moran’s appearances in movies such as The Next Big Thing and Private Parts, and proven Broadway hits such as How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, one would be hard-pressed to make a case that this actor-playwright is sidestepping difficult work.

Moran’s one-man play The Tricky Part tackles a very challenging subject, and in a particularly personal manner. The performance details Moran’s decades-long attempt to reconcile his Catholic faith with the memory of the sexual abuse he suffered as an altar boy. Though recent coverage of church-related abuse has brought the issue to widespread public attention, the decision to dramatize and expose such private trauma is a bold one. Moran has explained his motivation in bold terms to match: “What is inside of you, if you get it out, will save you; if you keep it in, it will kill you.”

The Tricky Part will be performed Tuesday (Feb. 24) through Sunday (Feb. 29) at the Arts Center of the Capital Region (265 River St., Troy). On March 4 the play will move to the WAMC Performing Arts Studio (339 Central Ave., Albany) and run through March 7. Tickets for the 8:15 PM performances are $15. For more information, call 465-5233 ext. 4.

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