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Opeth - Watershed CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.95 | 1111 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Moving Towards More Traditional Prog-Rock

Opeth's debut album Orchid was pure melodic death metal with a few progressive tendencies. By Still Life they had established themselves as a progressive death metal act, and they've maintained that label since. On Damnation they created a pure prog-rock album, and Watershed seems like a balance between their progressive death metal albums and the soft prog-rock on Damnation.

While a good amount of the album is still fairly heavy at times, there are rarely growled vocals. Mikael Akerfeldt sings with his beautiful clean voice most of the time, and I think he does an excellent job. Watershed can be viewed as a mellowed-down version of their previous album Ghost Reveries. This has keyboard player Per Wilberg who was present on the last album as well. The addition of keyboards into Opeth's sound alone makes them sound more like a prog-rock band, but this does have much more toned down compositions.

I was skeptical about not having Martin Lopez or Peter Lindgren present on this album, but Martin Axenrot and Fredrik Akesson do a great job on their respected instruments. Let's face it; no one can replace Martin Lopez, but Martin Axenrot is one hell of a drummer.

The compositions here are strong, and this contains some of Opeth's finest songwriting moments. It keeps their dark contrasts between heavy and light using acoustic instrumentation, as well as heavy electric guitars. There are some songs like "Burden" that sound different from anything Opeth's ever done, but for the most part, it's easy to tell this is an Opeth album.


"Coil"- The first song is surprisingly light, as Opeth usually opens an album up with heavy and crushing riffs. This is just a beautiful acoustic song with woodwinds that compliment the song well. This features a female vocalist as well as Mikael's vocals, and I think it works very well.

"Heir Apparent"- After the soft opening track, this song is dark and heavy. This is actually one of the heaviest Opeth's ever done, with a lot of crushing death metal moments. There are silent parts, but this is easily the heaviest song on the album. I absolutely love the dark mood of this song, and I think this is one of the stronger songs on the album. Heavy yet melodic riffs, furious double bass pedals, and the excellent ending make for a great progressive death metal song.

"The Lotus Eater"- The third track opens with Akerfeldt humming a melody with an oboe. Almost out of nowhere the song gets really fast, and it sets a great mood. The tradeoffs between clean and growled vocals work well, and I think Akerfeldt delivers an excellent vocal performance. This has a really proggy keyboard section in the middle, and it makes for an excellent instrumental section. This song is one of my favorites from the album.

"Burden"- Opeth doing a mainstream rock song? Believe it or not, it works surprisingly well. This is mostly an emotional song, but I think the musicianship is excellent. My favorite section has got to be the excellent organ solo from Per Wilberg. It fits the song perfectly, and it really shows the versatility of the band. This has a kind of jazzy feel at times, but the frequent use of mellotron reminds me of Porcupine Tree. A great song!

"Porcelain Heart"- After the drum roll a melodic metal riff enters. This is a fine example of a metal Opeth song without growled vocals. This song actually does tire a little bit, and it is not my favorite from the album. I really do like a couple of moments from this song, but overall this is not my favorite.

"Hessian Peel"- This could possibly be one of my favorite Opeth songs. I absolutely love the acoustic instrumentation, the overall mood of the song, and to be honest everything about the entire song is excellent. After the bluesy riff, one of the main themes enters. It sets a great tone, and it shows how great Opeth is on acoustic instruments. I love the addition of woodwinds into the instrumentation as well. This has excellent drumming, and it shows that Martin Axenrot does a great job in Martin Lopez's place. There are some growled vocals thrown in, and I think it works perfectly. This album is worth buying for this song alone in my opinion.

"Hex Omega"- The closing track has some really good riffs, but I think it's a weak way to close the album. This is the only passable track on the album, even though the mellotron is at least enjoyable.


Watershed is another great album from Opeth. This is highly recommended to people who aren't huge fans of metal. Damnation is pure prog rock, but this is a much stronger album and shows Opeth's true potential. If you are a metal-head like myself, you will still find much enjoyment out of this album. I don't consider this to be a masterpiece, and this is far too good to be worthy of a three star rating. Therefore, the natural rating would be a four.

4 stars.

J-Man | 4/5 |


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