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Opeth - Damnation CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.96 | 1213 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Morose, melancholy, and extremely mellow: who knew Opeth had it in them? Devotees surely knew of their softer side, but the addition of more keys and mellotron is certainly surprising. Indeed, this may be some of the most effective mellotron use since the glory days of symphonic prog thirty-plus years ago. Bands often need to experiment with albums that veer from the rest of their discography, but few produce results for the listener that are as captivating as this piece. So from the sense of Opeth's previous output, Damnation is definitely progressive.

I'm not usually one to shy away immediately from Opeth's intense metal, but I often become a bit annoyed by the extremity of the contrasts. I know that's also one of their unique strengths, but I just prefer not to have to adjust my volume constantly. However, this album is consistent if nothing else: it has a very sinister, restrained intensity and evocativeness that is present in each of the songs. If you are in a morose mood and need music to match, Damnation will do the trick every time.

Highlights include Windowpane, In My Time of Need, Death Whispered in a Lullaby, Closure, To Rid the Disease, and Ending Credits. The first five are fairly formulaic, but it's a tried-and-true prog format, and one that I prefer (and also the kind of composition that Opeth produces less frequently on other albums). Basically, soft vocals and guitar introduce the song, which eventually lead to absolutely gorgeous choruses awash with mellotron. Specific highlights for me include the eerie middle instrumental of Windowpane, the hauntingly beautiful chorus of In My Time of Need, the spacey guitar freakout to close Lullaby, and the possibly Arabic-influenced conclusion of Closure. Let's also not forget Ending Credits: beautiful guitar harmony over floating mellotron. It seems to simple, yet sounds so good. I always wonder why I can't find more music like this in general.

Lowlights include Hope Leaves and Weakness, which are mellow throughout and really fail to go anywhere in my opinion. They are not bad by any measure--just a bit boring.

I for one am thrilled that Opeth released this albums. Hardcore fans may not feel the same way. My appreciation for Opeth's talent (especially in song-writing and creativity) went up considerably from this album, and it has also helped me to appreciate their harder work more than I otherwise would have.

Flucktrot | 3/5 |


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