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Opeth - Damnation CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.96 | 1213 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Opeth with "Damnation" prove once more how eclectic and surprising they are. This is most definitely their most haunting and delicate record, the one album of the band's whole discography that does not present one single growl or even one metal riff. Some people loved, some die hard fans got bored by it, not being under any point of view a metal album. Personally, I think that, even though Opeth has done a better job with this type of music in different moments from different albums (obviously!), this is a great, very well done LP, extremely chilling and melancholic.

Let me start with saying that this band has one of the most gifted metal singers of all time, Mikael Akerfeldt, both when he sings clean vocals or when he growls. I was very happy to see that he was able to use all his clean singing capacities in here, and in such a stunning way too. But Mikael has also a band behind him, each one of them might just be as gifted as the leader. So, generally, the musicianship of this album is intense and at times phenomenal, very precise playing, but without being too rigid or dull. What better element of an album can go better with excellent musicianship? Amazing production, of course. And "Damnation" has this as well. The mixing is perfect as well, no instrument tries to be louder than the rest, but all instruments are perfectly balanced and equalized.

As far as the music is concerned, I think I made clear how different it is from all the other Opeth albums; no metal pieces, tracks guitars, riffs, but just soft, melancholic prog rock, influenced by the greats such as King Crimson (especially in the use of mellotron), Pink Floyd, and a little bit from a band very well known in the modern prog scene, Porcupine Tree (no surprises finding that Akerfeldt produced it with the leader of the band and friend Steven Wilson). While they are some electric guitars here and there, put to enrich the sound or perhaps to have a solo, the acoustic ones are the main instrument, accompanied with beautiful retro sounding keyboards, especially mellotron, and Mikael's gentle but very emotional voice. The rhythmic section though does not stay passive, and in almost every track there is excellent drumming by Martin Lopez, and precise bass by Martin Mendez.

The mood and atmosphere of this album is never quite relaxed and mellow, but the songs always have a sort of tension and sadness to them, a sadness that will most definitely affect you somehow. At times the songs can flow very easily, like something that slowly but without being disturbed passes by, in a passive way. Other times though you can't not stop for a second and listen carefully to the warm and pleasant sounds that come out of this record.

"Windowpane" is a great, haunting but very gloomy song, that perfectly represents the feeling of the whole album; a catchy rhythm, but with very deep and sorrowful melodies. "In My Time Of Need" has one of the most stirring mellotron riffs I've ever heard towards the end of it, "Death Whispered A Lullaby" a beautiful but again dreadful song, co-written with Steven Wilson. "Weakness" a bleak, electric piano driven song, presenting no drums, and barely no other instruments. Sure, they are some moments that didn't move or convince me as much as these mentioned ones, but it' still a really enjoyable listen from start to finish.

"Damnation", even though progressive rock in 2003 isn't exactly your "thing", is a wonderful experience, something that I recommend strongly to anyone.

EatThatPhonebook | 4/5 |


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