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Opeth - Blackwater Park CD (album) cover

BLACKWATER PARK

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.25 | 1142 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Opeth's Blackwater Park is another of the more popular Opeth albums that receives high ratings.

I am no fan of death metal growling vocals and when they infiltrate the songs on this I am completely turned off. The final title track closer is simply brutal growling and it just goes on and on, though I know many Opeth death heads will adore this. However there are true moments that capture my attention on this. Leper Affinity is death growling layered over unintelligible lyrics, and repetitive metal riffing. The riffs get better as the song progresses. The drums are double kick speed precision percussion. The lead solos are excellent on this. There is a breakneck choppy rhythm that locks in at 3:30 and brutal death vocals accompany. Subtle it aint! The acoustic flourishes eventually chime in and very nice gentle vocals with a dreamy quality. Not for long as the aggressive vocals that make it sound like Akerfeldt has been gargling gravel return. Man, these sections are dark. The lead guitar is sustained and ascends and descends as the growls continue. The lead breaks are wonderful and a true highlight for me. It ends with peaceful piano that brings the mood down, though it is still bleak and sombre, perhaps melancholy.

The Funeral Portrait begins with acoustic guitar patterns. There is the threat that it may explode and eventually distorted guitars crash in slicing up the tranquillity. Very intense death metal vocals follow. This is as heavy as the band gets on this album. There are some brilliant riffs on this and the lead breaks are fantastic. I always admire the guitar work on these lengthy Opeth tracks. It really takes off in the section at 6:33, perhaps some of the best death metal I have ever heard; absolutely spine chilling metal, with an incredible wall of sound. The time sig is frenetic, the drums crash down, and the harmonies are excellent. Lead guitars soar over a very complex sporadic riff, the fret work is incredible; this is a definitive highlight on the album.

Harvest is as peaceful and well sung as anything from "Damnation" and one of my favourites for that reason. The acoustic work is excellent, and it keeps a steady tempo, and has a pleasant melody. The film clip showing band members recording in the studio is worth digging out too. This is the softer side of Opeth, and really the thing that appeals to me most.

Bleak has quite a brutal vocal and some bizarre riffs but the melody is infectious. Even as the vocals change to a clearer sound, the lyrics become more grim, "Devious movements in your eyes, Moved me from relief, Breath comes out white clouds with your lies, And filters through me, You're close to the final word, You're staring right past me in dismay, A liquid seeps from your chest And drains me away, Mist ripples round your thin white neck, And draws me a line, Cold fingers mark this dying wreck, This moment is mine? Night fall again, Taking what's left of me, Slight twist, shivering corpse?" Certainly the content is centred around death, as is expected with Opeth, but the darkness does not appeal to me, though I can see that it would to others.

I really like the intro melody on guitars to A Drapery Falls. There are some really ethereal passages of guitars here and Steven Wilson style vocals chime over. The vocals are incredible and the lead breaks are killer metal. It builds gradually into some full on riffs and then death vocals return as expected. The lyrics are interesting "This test I can't persist, Kept back by the enigma, No criterias demanded here, Deadly patterns made my wreath, prosperous in your ways, Pale ghost in the corner Pouring a caress on your shoulder Puzzled by shrewd innocence, Runs a thick tide beneath, Ushered into inner graves, Nails bleeding from the struggle, It is the end for the weak at heart, Always the same A lullaby for the ones who've lost all Reeling inside, My gleaming eye in your necklace reflects Stare of primal regrets." The tension and release between light and dark are inspirational. A Drapery Falls reminds me of Riverside sometimes, and has beautiful passages of acoustic and swells of melodic guitar with very emotive vocals. The band play this many times live. The style heard on Damnation are always welcome to my ears. Many times Akerfeldt's vocals are actually layered over each other. It is quite a sound he generates with those death metal vocal chords; very deep, nasty, spiteful vocals that always turn the room dark. The lead guitars are chaotic at times, with off kilter drumming and crashes of rhythm guitar distortion. Eventually, the song settles down again and the clear vocals return, a very good tone that resonates or even competes with the aggressive drumming and guitar smashing. The cookie monster vocals cease suddenly and then acoustics and gentle vocals return. The riff to end locks in the head with it's transfixing melody. This track is a definitive highlight of the album.

In general the majority of the album is too brutal and over the top for me, but this will appeal to death prog metal freaks, and there's a lot out there! So I can suggest that this is an album only for those who like their prog metal dark and brutal with death metal vocals as they are prevalent throughout. It is a good album but I have heard better from Opeth.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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