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Opeth - Damnation CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.98 | 1330 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Damnation, despite lacking the harder elements of Opeth's music, is in fact one of their strongest efforts that I have heard thus far. I credit this to the sheer versatility of Opeth's musicians, most particularly their drummer, Martín López. López has mastered a wonderful softer style now that is very much like a session musician who has worked with artists including Peter Gabriel and Rick Wright: Manu Katché. Katché, incidentally, is one of my most respected drummers ever; it means a lot for me to compare someone else to him. What distinguishes López and Katché both is the cymbal work, and (as it was once called in Katché's case) their "ornamented grooves". As for López, he shows off his style wonderfully here, especially in songs like "Windowpane", "In My Time of Need", and "Closure".

Unlike its companion album, Deliverance, Damnation is supremely listenable by itself-- remarkable perhaps exactly because it is so different from their prior work. The use of the Mellotron here is outstanding, to produce those eerie string and choir sounds--the Mellotron works particularly well on the opener, "Windowpane". The next song, "In My Time of Need", has some of the best lyric work on the album even with the strange pacing in their delivery, as well as an amazing drum sequence from about 2:40 to about 3:08 (if you like that, I recommend checking out Rick Wright's album, Broken China, for the drum sequence in the song "Far from the Harbour Wall".). "Death Whispered a Lullaby" is most notable for its vocal harmonies. "Closure" is probably one of the strongest tracks of all on this album; the middle and ending jams make it one of the wildest Opeth songs there is--yet without having to raise the volume to ear-splitting levels! The abrupt ending is absolutely a moment of genius.

"Hope leaves" took a long time to grow on me, I'll admit. But once I realized just how personal and how beautiful it is, I actually came to think very highly of it. "To Rid the Disease" is absolutely haunting, and another lyrical highlight, especially because of the delivery of the line, "I have lost all trust I had in you!" The obsessive, cold piano riff is sure to send a chill down the spine, as well as the final synth chord just left hanging there. "Ending Credits" is pretty, but its main function seems to be to lead into the most experimental Opeth track of all time: "Weakness". This, the softest song of all on Damnation, is best appreciated in a quiet room with headphones; that's the only way to pick up on all the subtle, beautiful things being done with the keyboards.

Don't look down on Damnation simply because it's a "soft" album; rather, I suggest listening to this as a way of appreciating the skill with which the band members approach their instruments. Even if you are not normally a fan of "metal" at all, I highly recommend picking this one up, because otherwise, you will be missing out. Opeth is not a one-trick band, and I think this, more than any other thing they have going for them, will provide them with the true staying power that so many bands lack (especially these days). It's hard to believe Opeth has been releasing albums since 1995--but I think, judging by this, that they are going to be around for a whole lot longer.

FloydWright | 5/5 |


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