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Opeth - Blackwater Park CD (album) cover

BLACKWATER PARK

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.25 | 1551 ratings

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ale73
5 stars Now Opeth is one of the most affirmed prog entity (and it is all deserved), but there was a time when they were something different. I started listening to them with the former album "Still life", and immediately I came back to their older stuff. Now mixing death metal and prog could appear nothing revolutionary, but in the 90's it sounded completely new. And I think no one else did it with the same feeling, technical expertise and great songwriting as Opeth.

I remember buying this record with big expectations and some doubt, as I was thinking "Still life" could have been unmatchable. But at the first listening to "Blackwater park" I understood my expectations were not only fulfilled but even exceeded. It was 2001 and at that time I was totally into metal music. Even though I was listening to some prog as well (I was listening to Marillion since I was13), my ears were not prepared for a total prog immersion. I know prog purists would not like this record, but for me (it is something difficult to explain) it represented my complete acceptance of the genre, probably because it was a prog record recorded by metal musicians. From then my prog explorations started, in parallel with Opeth journey: mastermind Mikael Åkerfeldt changed his creature through different paths, always sorrounded by great musicians, alternating prog, metal and even acoustic music, clean voice and growling.

In this album Opeth have my favorite line-up. Mikael Åkerfeldt is simply perfect: I love both his growling and clean voice, and his guitar sound is superb; the rhythmic section is well-matched, with a technical setting that seems almost jazz based: it was particularly evident in live sets, and it is something I now regret, new bassist and drummers are great but this feeling misses; Peter Lindgren was the perfect complement to the main-man guitar soloing.

All the album is a mix of aggressive and harsh death metal with growling voice and delicate acoustic parts with a very delicate voice. Every song is very intricate and if you listen to the whole album it is like you are on a rollercoaster. All of them are very long, from 8 to 12 minutes each, with two exceptions: the mellow interlude "Patterns in the ivy", a very short song but at the same time very beautiful (there is a second part of it in "Damnation" album) and the acoustic ballad "Harvest", in my opinion one of the highest creative peaks in Opeth career. But all the album is a sort of "best of", so that at least there are three songs that they often play live still now: "Bleak", "The leper affinity" and "The drapery falls".

Two last observations: the record was produced by Steven Wilson (and production is great); the cover art is fantastic and perfectly shows the mix of melancholy and hope that is the backbone of this masterpiece.

ale73 | 5/5 |

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