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Opeth - Ghost Reveries CD (album) cover

GHOST REVERIES

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.24 | 1094 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

JLocke
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The first Opeth album I ever bought. I think it should be noted that when I held the SE copy of this album in my hands in the store, debating whether or not to slam my money down for the purchase, at the time the only Opeth song I had heard I didn't like, and as far as I was concered, they were just another growl-driven crushing death metal band with nothing original to offer, but knowing that they were associated with Porcupine Tree, one of my favorite bands ever, I decided to give them a real chance, and I bought the album. Damn, was that the right decision!

I felt like I should point that out, so that anyone who may have disliked Opeth upon first listen in the past vould possibly be encouraged by my story to go out on a limb and give the band another go!

First, let me just say how amazing the Special Edition packaging is. I know that Roadrunner records are notorious for re-releasing their band's albums unneccesarily, but in this particular case, the extra couple of bucks on the price tag is justified. It comes with a beautiful booklet with liner notes talking about the original (but ultimately abandoned) occult concepts behind the record, how the record label change was going to have no effect on the band's overall progression, and it even explains why the cover of ''Soldier of Fortune'' is present on this special edition (Deep Purple apparently is a huge influence on Opeth, along with Steven Wilson's work. Needless to say that knowledge had me feeling much more comfortable with the band now).

GHOST REVERIES is a fantastic album, and it proves that Opeth is truly a prog rock band, not a tech/extreme death metal band, not really. There are so many different genres to be found here (Jazz, Rock, Alternative, Death Metal, Acoustic, Space-rock, etc.). Too many to fit Opeth in such a stifling category of Death Metal.

Ghost of Perdition. It starts off with the typical cookie-craving growls I was anticipating, and frankly I am not too impressed usually by this sort of thing. I mean, I love it in any other context, but when it comes to prog, I expect more/ A band like Meshuggah's lead singer has a much more appealing 'yell- scream' quality to his voice, but the low, gravelly grunts I heard at the beginning of this song sounded to me like any other death metal band. But I stuck with it and decided to listen to the whole song before I made a judgement call. Smart move, because once the action slowed down and I heard the colourful rhythm guitar work come into play, I realized that this band actually liked to leave space, not just stay aggressive all the time. So I was relieved a bit by this, and then when Mike came in with his first bout of clean singing, I knew I was in for a great ride. Something else I noticed was how clearly I could hear the intricacies of the music and all of its layers. The instruments, including the distorted guitars, were very clear and apparent, showing that this band could also actually play. Around two minutes and thirty-five seconds in to the fray, and everything slows down and starts over with a completely different approach: acoustic guitar work. Never before had I heard something quite like this done. The heavy action stopped completely in its tracks and made room for this truly beautiful interlude of clean musical work. Absolutely amazing, I remember being very impressed by that.

Now, some people seem to not be able to see how this band and Porcupine Tree are alike. ''Well, one is death metal, the other is prog rock''. Wrong, my friend, wrong. Here is a perfect example where you will see just how close to PT Opeth can sound. A moment here when Mikael ┼kerfeldt does a vocal flourish merely by humming a haunting tune is very reminiscent of the song ''Lips of Ashes'' by Steve Wilson and company, as is the melodic clean guitar solo that follows, If one listens to that moment of ''Ghost of Perdition'' and truly cannot see the connection, then they never will. However, in my mind the similarities are very distinct, just not all the time. But when Porcupine Tree gets heavy, or Opeth gets softer, both bands share common ground, which by the way is a good aspect of both acts. Needless to day by this point I was hooked completely by how successfully Opeth had managed to frankenstein such polor opposing genres (Acoustic and Death Metal). Honestly, I was impressed beyond words by that. Alot of bands attempt to do this, and don't succeed, but Opeth passed the test with flying colours. It is official: they have talent.

At 04:54, a solo and riff combination thunders in almost like a bennediction, and the emotion is so strong in the music. Truly. So far I had been pissed off, calmed down, fustrated again, and then incredibly uplifted all within just the first song! Oh yes, this was proving to be quite the wise purchase, indeed. The line ''Ghost of Perdition!'' is barked out by ┼kerfeldt again in his growl voice, but see, this time it was different; I knew he could do so much more with his amazing voice by now that I no longer minded this side of him, because it is indeed only one side of him. Then before I knew it, the acoustic guitar and electric guitar were playing alongside of one another (Another Porcupine Tree trait). Another brillant but not showy solo, then at 08:26, one of the coolest heavy guitar riffs to hit my ears in a long, long time. Luckily this riff replayes several times until nine minutes in, then the acoustic guitar busts in again, reprising ┼kerfeldt's meloding humming in the background with echo. Really great work in keeping this very diverse and far-reaching track feeling whole and consise. By the end of it all, I could still see thw whole shape, and none of it seemed convoluted at all. Wow, unbelievable.

''The Baying of the Hounds''. Kind of the same opening as the song that preceeded it, but I wasn't worried about that, because had every song that followed gone along the exact same path as ''Ghost of Perdition'', I would have still been a happy man, that first track was just that good. Happily, however, each track that followed it on the album would rpove to stand alone in their own individual greatness. How this band has managed to elude my ears for so long, I will never know, but never again! At around 01:05, Mikael sings some truly catchy, 'hum-along' notes, while still not sacrificing originality for commerciality, and by three minutes in, the progressive elements show through brightly and majestically, with odd time signatures and mellotrons-a-plenty.

The song then becomes very quiet, and by the four minute mark, the song has become much more Jazzy, which is great! So, ┼kerfeldt's diction doesn't differentiate between soft and hard 's' and the word 'desire' is pronounced incorrectly, I guess the obsessive compulsive one within me could potentially get slightly annoyed by this, but it's ridiculous in the long run, because the vocal performance, especially at that particular moment, is breathtakingly beautiful. Back to the growling again, then we hear some truly head-bang-worthy guitar riffage, soon followed up by an otherwordly solo courtosy of dear Mikael. Oh my God! Then at 07:27, absolutely dazzling acoustic guitar playing takes the song in a completely new direction all over again, sealing the deal as a prog track yet a second time this record? Can all of the song really be as equally fresh and new as these first two? The answer is yes! Also, some great keyboard work in this particular section. One last blast of heavy metal stylings before the track ends.

''Beneath the Mire''. Haha, well, the riff here sounds very familiar (''Kashmir'', anyone?), but the keys in the background and the originallity to follow redeems that very quickly for me. The first of what you could really call the 'short' songs on the record, and even that is stretching it. To be honest, the track doesn't go anywhere different until around two minutes and fourty seconds in, but I suppose that is soon enough. The riffing is still the same, though, but the singing style changes. However, at three eleven, a huge change happens with some awesome guitar soloing. But at 03:23, the biggest change of all occures, and the song instantaniousely becomes a blues/jazz song, with some truly spine-tingling minor notes being peing played on piano and clean guitar. Ultimately, though, a great mystifying electric guitar solo comes into play and once again keeps the whole track feeling like the same song and not just bits and pieces from different ones. In the end, it all comes back around to the heavy side, and by five minutes, we have come all the way around the musical spectrum and landed back where we began at the song's opening. Seems to me that Opeth is very good at taking the listener through mini-adventures musically as many times as possible each song without losing structure, and they once again succeeded here. Ooooooh, a great guitar solo followed by some Meshuggah-esque riffing at 06:48. Ah, yeah, that's what I like! Give me those catchy but difficult guitar chords combos! Haha, Marz Volta-ish bass and guitar doodling can be heard in the background now, not to mention some more great 'tron work. A seemless segue leads us into the next song.

''Atonement''. The opening riff is Space-rock if I have ever heard it! Psychedelic to its fullest, and I relish every second. Bongos now, eh? Oh, and old-fasioned vocal distortion? On a death metal record?! Nah. On a prog rock record? Absolutely! At a minute fourty-five, more Porcupine Tree similarites, and awesome vocal work from Mr. Mikael ┼kerfeldt. It's more of the same until around four-and-a-half minutes when piano work comes into play, adding a very tastey flavor to the whole thing. I absolutely die of listening opleasure as the track ends abrubtly with some great synthed piano keys running together to produce a very chillingly wonderful sound. Very difficult to explain in writing, you're just going to have to listen for yourself to understand fully what I mean.

''Reverie/Harlequin Forest''. This is by far my favorite track on the entire album. Why? Because unlike the tracks that preceeded it, this one doesn't go in a different direction and back again only one, but twice, possibly even thrice. Still yet, it manages to stay a completely wonderful, mesmerizing song! I truly could never describe it well enough to do it justice, so all you have to know is this: It features some of the best acoustic guitar playing I have ever heard. Ever. I'm talking about something that rivals even Michael Hedges. Don't believe me? Listen for yourself. Oh, and as for the heavy parts? Superb as well. The most Meshuggah-esqu riff is at the end of this song. Odd time signatures, really, really catchy structure. I love playing along to that part of the song, trying to keep up with the complex but oh-so-sweet sounding rhythm guitar! The clean vocal work is also the best on the album along with anything and everything else. This song is perfect. I has no flaws. Seriousely. So how can I justifiably and correctly review a flawless song? What is the need? Just . . . haha, listen to the song for yourself. After a few intense listens you will know exactly what I mean. Perfect. Perfect. PERFECT!

''Hours of Wealth''. I LOVE this song! It is the bluesiest track on GHOST REVERIES, and the guitar solo featured here is just stunning. Amazing work that truly shows what all these guys can do. And apparently they can do anything, an assumption that I would consider not too far from the truth. They certainly show more versatility than any other artist on this site I have listened to yet. If that isn't progressive, I would love to know what is.

''The Grand Conjuration''. Well, this is the single form the album, but offers so much more the radio edited mutant that most of us heard before buying the real thing. Starts off with some brutal guitar playing, then it quiets down, and we hear Mikael singing some awesomely evil tunes, soon followed by a great heavy riff that I just love playng myself, because of how simply yet powerfull it is. Once again, the voice is growling here. The problems I have with this particualr song is that for one thing, it goes on way too long without changing anything up. It is probably the weakest track in this regard. Secondly, the main solo in the song is fabulous, but after that everything else feels a little too bland and frankly boring. Had the the track been shortened a bit (but NOT in the fashion the single edit was) and the solo come in later, along with some style switches along the way, it could have been just as good as the other tracks.

''Isolation Years''. Ahhhh, another great acoustic song! Just what we need to close the album with. I love singing along to this beautiful yet haunting chorus that Mikael has dreamt up. And once again, the clean guitar playing is probably even more impressive and intricate than the distorted guitar work. Quite impressive, coming from simply a 'death metal' band, wouldn't you say?

''Soldure of Fortune''. Only available on the special edition (along with a very cool DVD that gives some great background on the band not to mention behind the scenes of this particular studio release, band member interviews, and much, much more! Get this version if you can!), this song I felt was worthy of a mention. It is a pretty good cover, I guess. I mean, I have never heard the original Deep Purple song (I know, I know. I'm hopeless), but I loved what I heard. It clearly isn't an Opeth original, because the time signature, structure and overall vocal style is too straightforawrd based on the eight preceeding tracks I had just listened to, but noetheless, this is a very good song, and possibly an even better album closer than ''Isolation Years''. So please, do yourself a favor and get tis album, and hopefully you can get the Special Edition of it, because the extra expense is actually worth it this time!

Final verdict: I am impressed! I never knew Opeth would be one of my favorite bands, but now it is beginning to appear thwat way, and that is just fine with me. Mikael ┼kerfeldt, like Steve Wilson, is the mastermind and clear leader of his band. Not only does he come up with most of the concepts himself, but he contributes the most to the songwriting process, since the man can obviousely play anything he can think up. True talent, there, my friends. Observe it, appreciate it, because there aren't many people quite as talented as this around. When one finds it, especially if it is present in a genre as pretentious and self-indulgant as prog rock, it must be praised and complimented. So that is what I am doing, I am praising Opeth at great length, here, because I think they have something that most other bands-- of any genre, mnd you --will never even come close to obtaining. Now, that is something worth listening to! 4.5 Stars!

JLocke | 4/5 |

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