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Opeth - Damnation CD (album) cover

DAMNATION

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.92 | 887 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Shakespeare
3 stars Death Metal, when stripped of its vulgar grunts, overpowering guitar, vicious drums, and gruesome bass, yields surprinsgly beautiful, complex, and tight compositions. At least, Damnation would make it seem so. This album is Opeth's calmest output, where most guitars are acoustic, and no twin pedal is used, and keyboards and mellotron are given a massive role. The result of this shift in Opeth's sound is drastic: spacey psychedelic passages emerge, beautiful melodies are more pronounced, and non-Death Metal fans are given a chance to appreciate Opeth's music without the entire Death Metal hubbub in the way of the writing. This is the perfect Opeth starting point for those of you who do not necessarily appreciate grunts, growls, or crushing guitar riffs. It isn't, however, constricted to only fans of non-Death Metal, as many fans of their harder albums love this album as well.

There's always been something genuinely haunting, lingering, intriguing: dark about their sound. Here, with the dry acoustic sound to give it the nudge out the door, that facet is further developed. Don't expect an album full of those second-long blurbs in Opeth rockers where depressing acoustic guitar or melancholic piano take over: expect a regular Opeth album, only played to please a pop-fan's ears, and half the time unplugged. The addition of Porcupine Tree man Steven Wilson is utterly stellar: his production of the album is five star worthy, his vocals fit the sound perfectly, and his influence on their vocal work cannot be overstated, and his piano and mellotron playing not only fills an otherwise empty place in the music, but completes the atmosphere, and adds another layer of sophistication.

One may assume that in the environment provided by a mellow album would hinder the player's musicianship. But it is not at all so: in fact, I find that the soft textures give each member a chance to showcase their skills at melodic playing, but also at focusing on feel and creativity, as opposed to primitive speed and virtuosity that sometimes dominates their playing. And not all the songs are wholly low-key. In fact, many of the songs would be considered quite normal for most bands. Furthermore, this would be a loud Dashboard Confessional album! Some sections are not at all acoustic, and some more electric - but symphonic - music takes center stage. Both aspects to the album are full, and cohere perfectly.

In the end, Damnation has a larger appeal than Opeth's Death Metal outputs. Moreover, nothing has suffered from the soft nature of the album, including virtuosity, energy and creativity. Never have they put out a more captivating, compelling, and engaging album as this. Production and sound quality is absolutely perfect, and with the exception of, what I find to be, a silly album cover, this album is fantastic, and virtually flawless, but not necessarily perfect.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |

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