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Opeth - Watershed CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.98 | 1184 ratings

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The Pessimist
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I'm on the fence with this album: on one hand you have some great tunes, a new exciting drummer and the interesting addition of keyboards in the works, on the other hand you have the lack of direction and the fact that it sounds... it pains me to say it but in parts it sounds way too much like dream theatre (who i don't like)! It wouldn't seem immediate, but give it a few listens and that is what it sounds like to me: Dream Theatre gone extremely heavy. As far as the overall new sound goes, i'm not as keen as i was. As far as the songs go, it's hit and miss. Let's face it, this is no Still Life or Blackwater Park!

Coil is a nice little mellow number to kick start the album, quite contradictive to typical Opeth as they normally start with the most intense song on the album, e.g. Still Life - The Moor, Blackwater Park - Leper Affinity. I like mellow though, so i rate this song quite highly. This then leads into the massive Heir Apparent, probably the heaviest, most death metal like off the album, and i love it! The best track IMHO. It has everything an Opeth fan looks for, from the death metal growls, modest complexity and great guitar lines to the beautiful mellow sections that define Opeth from other metal bands.

The Lotus Eater however is a mess. I love complex music, like Gentle Giant and Mahavishnu, but Opeth are NOT complex. There is a bloody good reason why i can't stand DT, that is because metal + complex = mess, and i'm not keen on mess. This is Opeth trying to be overcomplicated, and i'm not pleased with the results! That said, this song has a killer drumbeat and a great melody at the finale, so it's worth listening to.

Here comes the real shocker: Burden is NOT Opeth, i don't care what anyone says, i do not listen to Opeth for blues/classically orientated POP music. Yes, you heard me say it, this song is radio friendly, and you know how much we hate radio here on PA! I'm not knocking the tune however, and there is also a well played organ solo in the works, so it's a good track. It really does stick out in the Opeth repetoire however, and if i'm in the mood for an Opeth song, then i sure as hell aint in the mood for this one!

Porcelain Heart is more like the classic Opeth we know of on Still Life and Blackwater Park and is a very heavy number that makes good use of Åkerfeldt's clear voice. A semi-ostinatic melody flows through this song on top of some heavy and acoustic guitar breaks, however i do wish the growling was present in this tune, it brings the up and down contrast that makes Opeth so great, and i think that this song lacks it. It's a bit of a growling song without the growling, for want of a better expression. It doesn't feel like 8 minutes either, which is a good thing, however i do still think it needs some more interesting sections.

The next track is almost the exact opposite of the band's previous work, and is fairly average with a slow build up and some strong blues influences (especially at the start with the Muddy Waters-esque nickel-stringed acoustic guitar play). Despite its length, it doesn't pack too many interesting moments. The only real ones that stick out for me is the first distorted guitar riff and the final 3 minutes of the song. Yet again, a valid criticism is that they are trying to be too complicated, like Dream Theatre, and it just simply isn't working out

This is more like it! Back to Opeth's traditional style for the second time on the album, it ain't half that bad. The mighty Hex Omega will probably appeal to fans of Still Life with the harmonic minor scale dotted around here and there. However, i still cannot find an effective arrangement in this tune, and it reflects exactly what the rest of the album lacks: solid arrangement that works. The ending also doesn't sound like an ending, demeaning the album a considerable amount.

This album has its moments, no doubt in my mind about it, but i find myself just cutting the crap and fast-forwarding it to those parts. The album also lacks continuity and nothing really connects the tracks like in previous albums, which is a disappointment. It would've also been nice for a better intro and ending as well, and perhaps more of what non-Opeth fans hate: the growling. Looks like i will still be playing Still Life, Damnation, Blackwater and Morningrise for quite a while still! 2.5/5 at the very best i can give, which rounded to the nearest star is a 3. Sorry guys, but this one seemed a little rushed and overcomplicated.

It is also worth noting that these guys probably have realised they are prog and are trying harder and harder to gain prog fans. I preferred them when they tried to be metal if i'm honest, i'm not a big fan of pomposity for the sake of it, and this is their most pompous album. They have lost the death metal side that i loved them for and i'm not keen on the direction they are heading. I'll just be praying for a better tenth album for now.

The Pessimist | 3/5 |


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