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Opeth - Pale Communion CD (album) cover

PALE COMMUNION

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.18 | 935 ratings

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Progfan97402
4 stars I wasn't one of those people who knew of Opeth from Day One, after all death metal has never been my music of choice. I heard their name, often in collaboration with Steven Wilson, which was causing the group to go more progressive, but the death metal was still there. In 2011 I learned that their new release Heritage dropped the monster growls, and I took a chance on it. To my ears it has some nice stuff, but sounded like it needed room for improvement. For me, I am, like some people, find the growling vocals a bit hard to take them seriously (of course, many of the fans want those vocals). So it's little surprise those who felt alienated with Heritage will probably swear them off completely on Pale Communion. To be fair these efforts aren't too terribly different from Damnation, but then that was the "light" contrast with the "darkness" of the super-heavy Deliverance. I also have Damnation, mainly because it's more in tune with what they're doing now, despite being recorded during the very same sessions that brought you Deliverance (and released a few months after Deliverance). Apparently Mikael Åkerfeldt stated his growls have not improved so that's why he dropped them. Anyways, I am really delighted over Pale Communion. Make no doubt about it: they are now a heavy prog band. This album may still have heavy riffs, more more in tuned with heavy prog than death metal. Plus the album has its share of acoustic material, and even a wonderful orchestral piece (with Hatfield & the North and National Health's Dave Stewart conducting). "Eternal Rains Will Come" shows the group is totally at home with prog material, really like the nice keyboard work from newcomer Joakim Svalberg (Per Wiberg left following the released of Heritage,, hence the tree depicting one of the heads falling on the ground, that of Per Wiberg). Sampled Mellotron makes its presence felt on the album (Heritage did use a real Mellotron, an M600 that Per Wiberg was so happy to show on the Making of Hertage bonus DVD, included if you own the special edition CD of that album with the lenticular gimmick cover, but Pale Communion did feature the new keyboardist who hasn't yet had access to a real Mellotron). Also Hammond organ and MiniMoog Voyager is also used, showing how they're not afraid of prog. "Goblin" is in tribute of the famous Italian band of the same name, "Voice of Treason" has a rather Middle Eastern feel to it, while "Faith in Others" is a great closing piece, a moody orchestral number with help from Dave Stewart (as mentioned before).

As before, some long-time fans will be scratching their heads over this. Some felt betrayed by Åkerfeldt's clean guitar playing and vocal approach. I can only say, if they change, they better be good at the change, and that's what they deliver here. It's the change into a good heavy prog band, which I'm happy with. So if you enjoy heavy prog, I highly recommend this, even if you weren't exactly keen on the band in the past because the vocals or death metal approach.

Progfan97402 | 4/5 |

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