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Opeth - Blackwater Park CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.25 | 1566 ratings

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4 stars An album that you should not miss .

I never considered the band was in progressive scene as I heard the band name at the very first time from metal community mailing list. When someone posted an email mentioning that Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree did contribute in Opeth's album, I started to ask who this band is. So it's clear that Steven Wilson was the linking pin that connected me to Opeth. I was actually quite hesitant to know the band as people telling me that the singing style was growling. I don't know why I was not bothered at all with growling style the band produced. It's probably because I assumed that vocal has the same role as other instruments - it produces sound as part of total music. Having this in mind, I could accept any sound produced by the band.

Track by track review

The album opener "The Leper Affinity" starts off with ambient keyboard sound that increases in volume followed suddenly with heavy riffs in relatively fast tempo music, growling vocal and double bass pedal sounds typical in metal scene. The music is so loud and fast but for some reason I like the melody as well as the rocking guitar work and dynamic drumming style. Interesting to note here that during the lyrical part, the drummer (Martin Lopez) does not use double pedal bass drum sounds. It's basically a hard driving style with heavy guitar work. The music turns into quieter passage to feature vocal in slower tempo with excellent acoustic guitar work.. It reminds me to Porcupine Tree's sound. What surprises me is that this track ends up unexpectedly with an excellent piano which influenced by classical music. Overall, this is an excellent track with some variations in melody and complexity.

The second track "Bleak" is still a hard driving track in a little bit slower tempo than the opener but it still produces another nice melody. The intro part contains a nice combination of acoustic guitar and drum work followed with stunning electric guitar fills. When the growling voice enters the music, guitar provides simple sounds at the background and gives a gothic style. The combination of growling voice and the music is excellent especially it is accentuated by a dynamic drum work. In transitions to quieter passages the acoustic guitar fills the gap nicely. When the music accompany non-growling lyrical part, it reminds me to Porcupine Tree music. In the middle of the track the music turns into a blues-based style featuring voice line. The music turns louder suddenly with faster tempo. Overall, it's an excellent track with relatively complex structure and frequent tempo changes. It forms a solid and cohesive music.

"Harvest" brings the music to a more relaxing mood with beautiful acoustic guitar rhythm that features vocal in an ambient medium tempo style. Structurally, it's a relatively simple track with excellent clean guitar solo in the middle of the track. It's a reminiscent of Porcupine Tree's Light Bulb Sun or Stupid Dream nuance. The fourth track "The Drapery Falls" opens with a nice acoustic guitar rhythm followed with full music in medium tempo style built around long sustain and distorted guitar work. The music turns into a quieter passage with main feature of acoustic guitar rhythm followed with distant vocal singing style. What a great sound produced in this part! The music flows smoothly with a nice tagline melody. The vocal part changes to a growing style in a faster tempo music with louder volume. Overall, it's a song with relatively long duration that basically comprises two styles: the light one at the beginning and the heavy one at the other part.

"Dirge For November" starts off with a mellow singing style with acoustic guitar work, followed with a stunning guitar solo in a bluesy style accompanied with excellent acoustic guitar fills. Unexpectedly, the music turns louder with a distorted guitar work in gothic nuance. The electric guitar solo takes the melody of this opening part and bring the music with growling singing style. A very nice segment. The music turns suddenly into a break followed with a combination of guitar fills and soft keyboard at background. This quiet passage brings the song to the end.

The sixth track "The Funeral Portrait" starts beautifully with an acoustic guitar work that brings the music into a hard driving style in fast tempo with growling voice style. The music reminds me to power metal band's rhythm section where the energy moves upward in line with the lead singer's voice. Even though this track can be considered straight forward structure, there are some excellent transitions with great acoustic guitar work that fills the gap between musical passages.

"Patterns In The Ivy" is a short track that explores excellent acoustic guitar and nice piano work. It provides a nice break after hard driving tracks performed previously. It continues with a hard driving style album title track Blackwater Park. It has heavy and distorted guitar sounds at the beginning part. As the music moves, there are some transitions into quieter passages exploring clean guitar fills accompanied with acoustic guitar . This track has a wide variations in terms of styles as well as density. The structure is relatively complex because it changes as the music flows with various singing styles.


In summary, this is an excellent album with tight composition, exploring various sounds that can be produced from musical instruments, frequent tempo changes which sometime occur abruptly. The style can be categorized under progressive metal. However, this is not the kind that might appeal directly to those who like Dream Theater, Threshold, Symphony X, Kamelot or Rhapsody. For those who hate growling vocal, I suggest that you change your perception from vocal's role to deliver message with lyrical part with vocal as musical instruments. This might help. I would say, this album might favor death metal fans immediately.

Gatot | 4/5 |


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