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Opeth - Damnation CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.98 | 1304 ratings

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3 stars So what's all the fuss about categorizing Opeth as "prog?" Unless this album is a seriously dramatic departure from their earlier work, they certainly qualify, though admittedly "just over the fence." Although many reviewers have mentioned Porcupine Tree and Floyd as influences, I believe the more obvious influences are early BOC and the mellower side of Mettalica (which is not necessarily a bad thing...) [N.B. Based on the two PT albums I've heard, I must say I like Opeth better, since I consider PT a bad Floyd clone, riding the ragged edge of bombast, pomposity and pretentiousness.] Although this album is comparatively "simple" for prog, and has a very "restrained" sound to it, it is nevertheless quite creative and listenable. And although the lyrics are simplistic (and sometimes naive), they are appropriate for the music, and "do their job." I very much like Akerfeldt's voice, which here (as apparently opposed to elsewhere...) has a clear melodic quality (not unlike James Labrie of Dream Theater, or Neal Morse of Spock's Beard). I also really like Lindgren's tasteful, restrained guitar work, both acoustic and electric. It is nice to hear someone who is from the "less is more" school of playing after hearing so many guitarists who think they get extra credit for cramming 6,000 notes in 12 measures.

"Windowpane" opens the album in fine prog form, with a subtle shifting time signature and a tasteful, creative composition. (There is an especially nice passage at 6:10- 6:30.) "In My Time of Need" is a wonderful, mournful ballad. My only qualm is that it practically BEGS a screaming guitar solo during the last couple of minutes. (Indeed, this is my single biggest criticism of the entire album: there are quite a few places where a screaming guitar solo or tasty keyboard solo could really have added a great deal.) "Death Whispered a Lullaby" is another nicely crafted composition. "Closure" has some really nice guitar work, and a neat quasi-Middle Eastern jam from 3:35 to the fade-out. "Hope Leaves" is a standard "soft metal" ballad. "To Rid the Disease" is my favorite composition, and positively demands a second listen (after which you will almost certainly want it on rotation in your CD player). The cleverly-titled "End Credits" might not have worked with any other title. "Weakness" is the only Floydian-sounding composition, though it also has intimations of mellow Zep (in fact, the organ part that begins the bridge/solo section sounds suspiciously like the opening organ part from "No Quarter").

I have given this album three stars primarily "inter-subgenre." It is probably slightly less deserving vis-a-vis progressive rock as a whole. Still, I am not a huge fan of this subgenre of prog, and yet I found this album creative within its simplicity, and very pleasant to listen to.

maani | 3/5 |


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