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Opeth - Blackwater Park CD (album) cover

BLACKWATER PARK

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.25 | 1179 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Shakespeare
3 stars Death Metal: monstrous vocals, crushing riffs, undeniable power, crossed with a cold-hearted life style and demonic lyrical content. (Perhaps that's a biased, slightly dogged, mildly overstating description, but nonetheless, is not altogether false.) Opeth have been tagged with many tags, terms, titles and genres, the most prominent and, supposedly, the best suiting one is "Technical Death Metal". So, picture the description above, except with an added ingredient: complexity for complexity's sake, which, in most cases, destroys the opportunities for beauty to surface, for melodies to be pronounced, and for atmospheres to be developed. Sounds reasonable. What?!?!? In no way has Opeth earned the label "Death Metal", and neither do they deserve the added insult "Technical". What Opeth have managed to do is create a gorgeous and evolving soundscape, in no way constricted by senseless complexity, with riffs and melodies being the focus - not the flamboyant musicianship.

The fact that the music follows in the musical style of Metal, or, to be described further, Death Metal, is of no consequence. I, being in no way a Metal fan - let alone a Death Metal fan, can honestly say that this album, and Opeth's music in general, is not exclusively for the Metal, or Death Metal disciples. The style the music is played - the arrangements, are Death Metal. The deep and thrashing vocals, the brutal guitar playing, the heavy drumming, the perfectly polished bass - it's all Death Metal. But what they happen to be playing, the compositions, are free of the constraints of genre or category. The music itself is genuine and, if you are capable of looking passed the intense and deafening delivery, or if you enjoy this sort of music, then you will easily be able to see. (Or rather, you'll be able to hear.)

After the hauntingly fragile opening of a slowly swelling keyboard/piano sound, the band explodes onto stage, and the dark and evil growling commences. Now, it took me some time to grow accustomed to the growling, but I did. For those of you who do not like growling, I assure you that once you look past it, or once you begin to enjoy it, you will find some great music. For those of you who already enjoy this style of singing, then you will see the greatness of the compositions instantly (unless you are a cloth-eared nincompoop). Opeth find a nice way to add dynamics and variation to their music by throwing in melancholic piano and delicate acoustic guitar sections, riddled with non-growling vocals (some of which come from the great pipes of now-legendary Porcupine Tree man, Steven Wilson [who also produced the album masterfully]).

Completed by a hauntingly stark cover from, what I find to be, a weak band when it comes to album aesthetics, and the perfect production/sound quality, Blackwater Park is undoubtedly one of Opeth's most polished and sharp albums. Intricate, yet not to the point that the music is drowned in its own density; heavy and ferocious, but not to the point that only Death Metal fans will enjoy it; dark and menacing, but simultaneously sorrowful and beautiful: it will not fail to please the listener.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |

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