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Opeth - Damnation CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.96 | 1214 ratings

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5 stars Of their finest...(written August 25, 2003)

During Opeth's co-headlining tour with Porcupine Tree in Cleveland, singer/guitarist Mikael √kerfeldt remarks, "For those of you Porcupine Tree fans who don't know what's going on, we are Opeth from Stockholm, Sweden. We are a death metal band. We believe in Satan." The crowd shared a laugh at Mikael's matter of fact statement, which was in the middle the set where Damnation was played in its entirety.

Damnation is the much-anticipated "other half" of the contrasting set of recently released Opeth albums. 'Deliverance' released November, 2002, was a blistering record of heavy, blasting death metal while still retaining Opeth's signature sound, probably their heaviest recording yet. Damnation released April 2003, is obviously their softest recording yet. Always being heavily influenced by 70's prog rock, Opeth plug into the atmosphere found on earlier recordings by Pink Floyd and King Crimson and even hint at such singer-songwriters as Nike Drake and Joni Mitchell

I've heard statements like "Porcupine Tree is rubbing off on Opeth," or "Opeth is making Porcupine Tree heavier," or even "Opeth wouldn't be where they were right now if it weren't for Steven Wilson [Porcupine Tree]." This is entirely not true. The way that Steven Wilson came to become Opeth's current producer, producing not only Damnation, but also Deliverance and Blackwater Park, is that of an avid fan. Wilson was slipped a copy of Opeth's Still Life during an interview being told that Opeth were huge fans of the Tree. Wilson instantly hooked onto Opeth's progressive approach that was similar to the progressive genre that Porcupine Tree so obviously fell in. Thus, a professional relationship was born. Not only did Wilson produce the last three Opeth records, but he also played guitar, piano and provided backing vocals for each album. He even went so far as to write lyrics to "Death Whispered A Lullaby." Has he become the fifth member emulating what Sir George Martin was to the Beatles? Highly unlikely.

Opeth has never compromised their own sound as part of an ever growing Swedish metal scene, even with Steven Wilson at the boards. Opeth is not part of that scene and Damnation proves that. Full of soft acoustic passages and lush mellotron which graces just about every song, this is Opeth at their best. Warning: At the Gates fans looking for the trademark death metal growl should pick up the new Enslaved album. Here you will find Mikael's clean melodic voice soaring vibrantly with sorrow and sadness sitting on his shoulder (a lot of the album was written with regards to his grandmother's passing). One of the biggest moments comes in the closing track "Weakness" where Mikael proves his voice to be anything but weak only backed by a fender Rhodes and some subtle guitar playing. Highlighting the power of the bands softer side, this sounds like it could be a collection of "softer greatest hits," from the band, let alone part two of a pair of contrasting albums. Songs like "Windowpane," "Hope Leaves," and "Ending Credits" could easily fit on any of the previous six Opeth albums along side such classics as "Credence," "To Bid You Farewell" or "Benighted" the latter two even being featured on the bands current tour. Damnation has more in common with Red House Painters than Morbid Angel.

Mikael was trying to fool us all when he said, "we are a death metal band." Simply put Opeth is a progressive band. Progressive rock seemed to die along side the "album" in the late seventies, making way for disco and pop music. Opeth isn't reviving a movement to bring prog music back, they are and Damnation is their statement.

Nacho220 | 5/5 |


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