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Opeth - Blackwater Park CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.26 | 1771 ratings

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3 stars I will openly admit I was apprehensive about listening to anything the Tech/Extreme genre had to offer. I like mostly stuff that is melodic, bombastic, wacky, and/or fun. Before I gave this album a chance I tried to force myself to have an open mind. I'm sure I'm being more critical of some faults of this album that I would easily gloss over in pretty much any other genre, but at the same time I'm looking harder for any positives to try to see what people see in this band. I also can't stand growling.

"The Leper Affinity" is one of the heaviest songs here and yet I like it. It has some nice playing throughout and would easily be a 4 star song if not for the growling. The song backs away from the super-heavy stuff for a couple minutes halfway through. The loss of growling is a plus but judging from this interlude I'll say Opeth cannot do light music. Clean vocals get a chance here but I'm not a fan of Åkerfeldt's voice regardless of the style. Things return to the heaviness of before but there is a good bit of instrumental work here to enjoy before the growling returns. The vocals cut out after 8 minutes and we're left to enjoy some more enjoyably heavy music with relatively simple yet catchy and pleasant guitar for a minute. We spend the last two minutes with a painfully boring and out-of-place piece of piano.

Next up we have "Bleak." The guitar takes a bit of an Egyptian influence at times which I like. I believe Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree takes up some clean vocals during some of the choruses and harmonizes well with Mikael. Soft music comes in for a couple minutes about halfway through to song again and I say they pull it off well. As the heavy music returns we are treated once more to the chorus of before and the growling doesn't return until the last minute. The minimal amount of growling here coupled with the pretty good music makes this one of my favorite pieces on here.

"Harvest" is a throwaway acoustic track. It's mildly catchy but not all too memorable. There's a minute-long guitar solo here that has no soul.

"Drapery Falls" ? another highlight. It starts off mildly heavy with a lot of exciting interplay between the instruments. If the whole album could do something along the lines of this complex and technical display then I would be a happier person. We then shift moods to an acoustic bit with some wah wah wah guitars beautifully sprinkled in and trade on and off with Mikael's clean vocals. The first 5 minutes are excellent with the acoustic pieces playing well with the higher intensity pieces. An unimpressive guitar solo leads us into the heavy stuff with plenty of growling. This song keeps the heavy attitude and, at times, applies it to the music from the first half with mild success.

The album takes its biggest dive with "The Dirge for November." Mikael tries to cleanly sing the opening 30 seconds with very little instrumentation and it's painful to listen to. It starts out light, instantly changes to heavy then decides to finish out light again. There is absolutely no transition either time. It's also the most boring track on the album. Try as I might I can't find one redemptive quality in this song.

"The Funeral Portrait" is musically interesting but it's also has the most growling. It would have been a pretty good song if not for the growling which is so overdone I will likely never want to listen to this song again.

"Patterns in the Ivy" is a nice short acoustic piece with some piano. There isn't a whole lot to say about it.

The titular track sounds like it has the biggest Steven Wilson influence on the album. While I'm not completely familiar with Porcupine Tree, I think there are a few minutes in the first half that could easily be lifted off of their albums. The rest of "Blackwater Park" contains nothing we haven't already heard on the album. It kind of seems like Opeth was limping to the finish line with this one.

If you are already a fan of this type of music, you probably wasted time reading my review. If this is your first foray into this genre I cannot recommend this. To the untrained ear this gets stale halfway through. There are certainly times when the music awakens me from my stupor, but those are far and few between. The drumming is probably the least-inspired I have heard in a prog album. This barely ekes out a 3 star rating as there are certainly parts that are great pieces of prog and I think this could maybe appeal to more than fans/collectors only. I'm almost certain I won't attempt another foray into this type of music for a few years because I found so little potential in something so revered.

TheCaptain | 3/5 |


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