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Opeth - Blackwater Park CD (album) cover

BLACKWATER PARK

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.24 | 1168 ratings

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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
4 stars In all honesty, this rating is probably a bit low, but this is where it falls for me, among OPETH's albums--behind the "great three" of My Arms, Your Hearse, Still Life, and Damnation, but still ahead of Deliverance. When a band is a true favorite of mine, I can't help but go a bit harder on it because there is a higher standard for them, and each album is weighed carefully against all the others in that artist's catalogue. This was my first OPETH album, and I guess it just hasn't made the same kind of impression as those three did, even after later listens. I'm the type who likes concepts, and this is the one OPETH album that doesn't have one. Still, it must be said in fairness--this WAS the album that got me hooked on the band, and for its strengths it must receive proper credit.

The strongest points of Blackwater Park are, in my opinion, "Bleak", "The Drapery Falls", "Dirge for November", "The Leper Affinity", and "Blackwater Park" itself. "The Leper Affinity" is probably the best for its piano outro, which is strangely reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky", without being a direct copy. "The Drapery Falls" was actually my first OPETH song ever, and without this one I would have never given the rest of their catalogue a chance. What's odd about "Dirge for November" is, on the official OPETH site, Martín Méndez names this one as his least favorite. Honestly, I can't even begin to understand what his problem is with it. It has some achingly beautiful vocals at the beginning, and it's quite interesting to hear the gentle acoustic theme reiterated in the metal section. "Blackwater Park" is another extremely good track with some very catchy and original riffs (a definite classic rock influence here), in both loud and soft sections. The opening and closing are both interesting, and the middle section is truly a haunting one. Probably my favorite moment is in the transition from the middle section back to the metal style.

"Bleak" is a personal favorite, with some genuinely touching parts in the lyrics. It seems to be a revisit to the spirit in MAYH, perhaps that would have fit in right before "Demon of the Fall"--even the fadeout into those distorted sounds suggest it, as well as the lyrics which indicate his beloved is beginning to threaten suicide (which you hear in "Demon of the Fall"). It's very well balanced between metal and acoustic, and the clean-vocal section on this one is especially powerful. The lyrics, too, I love, especially as the spirit begs of the woman he loved in life, who is now turning away from him and drowning in her grief, "Help me cure you, atone for all you've done / Help me leave you, as all the days are gone." You can even hear some of Martín Méndez' excellent bass work in here, during the acoustic section (whereas he starts to be undermixed in other places on this album). This is probably my favorite song on the album: I can't seem to pass it without listening twice.

There are some other songs, though, that, while they are certainly not bad, don't seem to do much for me, and they are part of the reason I can't give Blackwater Park above a 4. "Harvest" is the first one that comes to mind here. Personally, I think that OPETH has got better acoustic works to offer, and this one doesn't quite come up to the same standard. "The Funeral Portrait", for whatever reason, isn't as interesting either, until the harmonies at the end, which are quite nice. "Patterns in the Ivy" has only one flaw: it's too short, and it just begs to be developed further. The final reason I give Blackwater Park a 4 is because the bass starts to be undermixed here on some songs (although excellent on "The Drapery Falls"), a problem that would become even worse on the next album, Deliverance due to technical problems in the studio, in that case, but as far as I know, there were no such problems here--so it's just a decision to undermix that I don't quite like as much. Still, I imagine many fans will like this album, especially those who do not pay as much attention to lyrics and concept. I do also think it makes a good starter album for beginning fans--but in my case, I ended up moving on to other works of theirs.

FloydWright | 4/5 |

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