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Opeth - Blackwater Park CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.25 | 1568 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Historic Album Has Lost a Little Lustre in Time

Tell a random guy on the street that you're going to play some progressive death metal for them, and he's going to love it, and you're going to get some funny looks. That is, or was, before Opeth. It would be a lie to say that melodic death is commonplace now, but before BLACKWATER PARK, very very few recognized that this kind of metal could be a music of nuance. Not that there weren't great examples out there, but Opeth opened the door. BP was more of a breakthrough / crossover album for the entire genre. Without a doubt, it has changed the landscape of metal dramatically in the last decade. Mikael Akerfeldt and Steven Wilson have probably done more to revitalize prog than any other pair during that time, and this was their opening scene together.

Since that time, many bands have run with these ideas. Most haven't reached these heights, but a few have. A select few have eclipsed the album. And one of the bands that have done it is Opeth themselves. Which has left Blackwater Park as a sign of its times, not unlike that icon of prog in general, In the Court of the Crimson King. Still containing magnificence but carrying some flaws, some ebbs in the energy, Blackwater Park has confused a few of us who have discovered Opeth going backwards rather than chronologically. The level of production is clearly higher than the previous STILL LIFE, and many of the songs have been honed to be ready for the spotlight. But there is no song to match "The Moor," "the Lotus Eater", and certainly not "Ghost of Perdition" here. "The Drapery Falls" still stands as perhaps THE prototype of an Opeth song which is melding of light ending in a ferocious finish, but on the album it is placed directly after "Harvest." "Drapery Falls" already suffered a bit of Opeth's penchant for over-repetition, but following after the strummy "Harvest," it is really defanged. One of the greatest gifts given to me by ProgArchives was the fact that I listened to "Drapery" over and over streaming here BEFORE and WITHOUT ever hearing "Harvest." This is perhaps the worst bit of album sequencing in the history of a major album...enough of that rant. (Actually one of the few reasons I reviewed this well hashed album was to make that point, but let us continue.)

After the "Leper Affinity" (a typical Opeth grinder with some great riffs), we get "Bleak." If there was ever a 'pop' death metal song complete with plenty of dragonvoice, this is it. (Ghost Reveries' "Grand Conjuration" will reuse this idea later, and maybe better). The three successive easier to digest songs are, in my opinion, what makes this album Opeth's most popular, but also lesser than other works, including the softer but more daring WATERSHED. I must admit that the final title song is a classic prog metal epic, and there are no bad songs anywhere. But "Drapery" is the only essential track for me.

Just to be clear, average Opeth is better than 90% of so-called progressive metal. BP is still an excellent addition...4/5 stars.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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