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Opeth - Watershed CD (album) cover

WATERSHED

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.99 | 1202 ratings

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Luke. J
3 stars Watershed - just take it literally

To name a new album that way is almost a prediction about how people react to it. Indeed, Watershed turned out to divide their river of a fanbase into two: The ones who appreciate the band moving in a more progressive direction, neglecting their early roots and developing into a 100% progressive metal band (while at first being mainly a death metal act), the others are missing exactly the hard riffs, the growling vocals and brutal drums. All in all, this album is more melodious than previous efforts and has a clear focus on the more progressive side of the band, incorporating unusal time signatures or more breaks into their songs. This way, the watershed lives up to its expectations, however, I am going by land right between the two rivers.

The album indeed is an effort full of strong songs, which excel one another with well-thought melodies and atmosphere, virtuosity, as well as interesting and unexpected moments. For instance, the first song, Coil, being rather an introduction than a song, is floating from a very mellow, acoustic guitar and keyboard driven piece into the slow, heavy riffing of Heir Apparent. This contrast of soft and hard has been a trademark of Opeth, in this album it is even carried to an extreme, with nearly all songs having their breaks. While being a more ''progressive'' technique of writing music, this also makes it harder to listen to the song as a whole, and, celebrated in this exaggerated way, takes all the diversity. There no longer is the ''surprise'' acoustic moment, yet every break seems to be expectable. Also, more examples of the, in my point of view, almost forced progressive moments ruin, or extremly distract from actually solid songs. The band had the ideas, yet squeezes more out of them than necessary. Things such as the jazzy keyboard solo in The Lotus Eater or the mysterious ''out of tune'' riff of Hessian Peel can be heavily disturbing.

The whole band are excellent musicians and the high level is visible throughout the record, however, in a more subtle way. Brash tour-de-forces do not exist here, as it is the case with many progressive metal acts, as, sad but true, has become cliché of this genre. There have been changes in the line-up, most notably the keyboards being involved since Ghost Reveries, giving another aspect to Opeth's sound. All in all, one could consider this a step in a more ''progressive'' direction, yet this is only a formular, one might be looking for the result. Watershed seems transitional, neither brutal metal nor complex progressive music. Where the band is going we will likely see with their next album.

My conclusion is that Opeth have delivered one more solid album, though it still is far behind previous masterworks such as Blackwater Park or Ghost Reveries. Yet this is only my point of view. This album is extremly polarizing and therefore I strongly suggest anyone to listen some samples on their own. I consider this one to be a good, but non-essential effort, and, due to this, the rating of three stars seems the most appropriate one.

Luke. J | 3/5 |

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