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Opeth - Watershed CD (album) cover

WATERSHED

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.93 | 809 ratings

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The Crow
Prog Reviewer
3 stars For many reasons, I consider Watershed a transitional album... And the weakest Opeth's effort since My Arms, Your Hearse!

This is a transitional album because is their first recording after the departure of two important members of the band. The co-founder of the group and second guitarist Peter Lindgren is gone, and the lack of the drums genious Martín López is even more decisive. And the transition is also in the music... Watershed is maybe the most variated and open-minded Opeth's album. The musical direction is diverse, and Akerfeldt shows all his influences here.

The brutal progressive death metal in the Deliverance style appears in Heir Apparent... After the folky guitars of Coil, with the ¿surprising? female vocals. Then, in the experimental The Lotus Eater we have even a funky interlude! Burden is a clear and pleasant tribute to the 70's rock, specially Deep Purple... In Hessian Peel we have an obvious entering in the symphonic rock, with a lot of Camel influences and even some string arrangements, being Porcelain Heart the most typical (and previsible, because part of its riffs are recycled from The Grand Conjuration...) Opeth track of the album. Hex Omega is just boring, and the only bad mistake of the album. Is a song wich starts good, but after the three first minutes it losts all its interest.

So Watershed is like an opening of the Akerfeldt's rich muisical mind... But in this way of finding new musical directions, I think that he has lost a bit of inspiration. Opeth started to loose the typical melancholy and deep sadness of their music in Ghost Reveries and in Watershed, this is even more evident. This is maybe the most happy Opeth's release... And this is not bad, but part of the originality and distinguishable feeling of the band is gone with it, in my humble opinion.

Nevertheless, this album really deserves a good listening... Despite some experimental and weird fragments (like the odd guitars at the end of Burden, and the hypnotic keyboards in Hessian Peel...), Watershed is maybe the most commercial and accesible Opeth album, so is not a bad point of entry to the band for newcomers (although is easily surpased by almost all the rest of the Opeth's discography...) And of course, despite the little deception this album is, I think that all the Opeth's fans will enjoy the ride, like I do.

The sound is also better than in Ghost Reveries, in my opinion... The Per Wiberg's keyboards are not so loud in the mix, having the guitars more weight than in the previous release. Nevetheless, the Wiberg's work is excellent again, and he has more protagonism in some parts. But I'm still missing Steve Wilson here... Watershed is far from the outstanding sound of Deliverance and Damnation, specially in the acoustic guitars, althouhg the improvement since Ghost Reveries in this fact is evident.

A pair of words about the new members: Martin Axenroth does a good job... But he obviously lacks the outstanding quality of Martín López, specially in the mellow parts, where he is not very inspired (you just have to hear the noisy cymbals sound in the final part of Burden...) Nevertheless, he rocks in some hard fragments... He is obviously a extrme metal drummer! And the new guitarist, Akesson, is really competent. He does a great job in the solos, specially in Heir Apparent, and the short solo he plays in Hessian Peel. This man is a guitar hero, and he can bring some interesting things to Opeth in a future.

Best songs: Coil (great opening, and a different acoustic Opeth's track... I specially enjoy the lyrics), Heir Apparent (the Deliverance feeling it has is great... Because Deliverance is my favourite Opeth's effort), The Lotus Eater (an irregular, but funny experimental song...) and Hessian Peel (the highlight of the album... I love its arabic feeling, and the symphonic elements. But the last hard minutes are not necessary... I think these minutes spoils part of this song's geniality)

Conclusion: this transitional album makes me have a good feeling about the Opeth's future... After loosing two important members, the band is still alive and they have released a very good album. But not a masterpiece and hardly excellent, being easily surpased by Still Life, Blackwater Park, Deliverance... And it's even a step under the irregular Ghost Reveries. Nevertheless, some new ideas are interesting, and the Akesson addition is a good fact in my opinion... So I'll wait impatiently for the next Opeth's release, and I'll take this Waterhsed just like a point of inflexion in the Opeth's discography, where they misleaded part of their typical sound and quality in the search of a new personality.

My rating: ***1/2

The Crow | 3/5 |

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