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Opeth - Pale Communion CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.15 | 1000 ratings

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Symphonic Team
5 stars After being impressed with Opeth's wonderful "Heritage" album my hopes were set very high on "Pale Communion". I make no secret of my dislike for really abrasive growls in Prog. I believe Opeth's finest hour is the melancholy and haunting "Damnation" and now they are blending that beautiful vocal approach with the progginess of "Heritage" to produce one of the albums of the year.

"Pale Communion" is a stunning album on every level, opening with a soundscape of keyboard layers, capturing a dramatic ambience from the start. The vocals are harmonized and sound not unlike the style of Yes in some ways. Perfect harmonies, and easily decipherable lyrics on "Eternal Rains Will Come".

This is followed by the one that hit the online community in the initial stages, "Cusp of Eternity". Akerfeldt's voice is sensational as always, he won't be growling on this album. The catchy chorus hook will settle in your brain after a few listens. Definitely a keeper in the Opeth greatest hits package.

"Moon Above, Sun Below" is an 11ish minute mini epic with a steady rhythm and some glorious guitar and keyboard flourishes. There is a darker feel on this with the vocal style, more aggression and heavier riffs, though this is still as far removed from the style on "Deliverance" as you can imagine. The hypnotic mantra of the title will engrave itself upon you, then there is a gorgeous twin guitar section. After this tranquility Akesson launches into a blinding lead break. Then it settles into a haunting keyboard motif and reverberated vocals. This is so catchy it always jumps out on the album. The melodies are as good as Opeth gets.

"Elysian Woes" is driven by somber acoustics and vocals at first. Akerfeldt's voice is crystalline clear; surely one of the greatest vocalists this year. The influence of Steven Wilson shines through. The melancholy approach is startling, with beautiful guitar interplay and some angelic keyboards at the touch of Svalberg.

"Goblin" is an instrumental driven by raging keyboard finesse and quirky time sigs. "River" returns to quiet solitude with acoustics, sweet harmonies and pleasant lead guitar soloing. I love how the time sig changes and locks into a twisted meter and some incredible lead guitar trade offs. The Hammond is delicious and oh the sweetness of the Mellotron!

"Voice of Treason" has a fantastic drumming performance from Axenrot and those keyboards are absolutely divine. This is a powerhouse track that springs from nowhere and it keeps building with amazing vocals and ominous musical embellishments. The bass solo of Mendez works nicely with the drums. The staccato violin style keys remind me of the recent James Bond theme song. This track is a definitive highlight that gets better on every listen.

"Faith in Others" closes things with Mellotron soundscapes encapsulating a Pink Floyd atmosphere. The mood swings from dramatic tension to a very heartfelt gentle emotion at the end. Mellotrons float lambently to the end as Akerfeldt croons softly. It is an effortless light approach from Opeth that may surprise some with its consistence ambience.

There's not a shred of metal on "Pale Communion" so headbangers keep your distance. This album is more symphonic than anything Opeth have done previously. It is another "Heritage" style exploration of retro prog?and I like it!

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |


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