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Opeth - Orchid CD (album) cover

ORCHID

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.20 | 484 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Marc Baum
Prog Reviewer
4 stars It’s not very often that a metal band completely redefines a listener’s outlook on heavy music. Opeth’s Orchid is a collaboration of so many different genres and styles of music that it is nearly unclassifiable. There are definitely elements of death metal, traditional metal, doom metal, progressive rock, and even jazz. There are definitely more elements, but Opeth takes all of these different styles and molds them together seamlessly. Exceedingly heavy riffs turn into death metal crunch, which then turns into a haunting acoustic passage, almost as if it was completely natural to bend a multitude of genres into a new sound. That is definitely one of the highlights of this album: it sounds so effortless, yet so perfect at the same time. Well, for the sake of argument, I will just call Opeth a progressive-death metal band.

When one takes a glance at the length of the tracks, some things may come to mind; progressive rock bands like Rush, doom metal, and epic styled Black/Death Metal. While Opeth does have progressive tendencies, like playing incredible complex chord patterns and different riffing patterns, they do not have the “soft” tendencies that many progressive rock bands have. Opeth happen to be a death metal band playing extremely long, well thought out songs. The length of each track doesn’t sound forced. It is important to note how comfortable the band seems to be playing each track for around ten minutes. A lot the time with longer songs, I tend to get bored, but each of Opeth’s songs have so much variety in them, that it is nearly impossible to get bored while listening.

The production is not the greatest, as there are tinny sounds with some of the cymbals, but that is just a minor qualm. The musicianship is excellent. One should notice the difficulty of the riffs that are played immediately, especially if they’re a guitar player as well.

The base of Opeth’s music is definitely death metal. It seems that music is built around a certain death metal styled riff and the other elements the band brings in seem built on top, almost like stone is laid for a wall. The songwriting is excellent; everything seems to have its place. I believe Opeth have found a certain type of perfection in their songwriting that few bands have ever found. To be able to write a ten minute song, and have every part fit perfectly is an outstanding feat!

Each track on this album is exceptional on its own. There is definitely no need to do a track by track analysis; it would be to repetitive and redundant. Each track has a very somber, sad feeling to it, and the acoustic passage help to highlight that feeling even more. The general guitar tone is almost melancholic, while still retaining heaviness and crunch. Even the track that is solely piano has a melancholic vibe. I’m not sure if it is because it is in minor keys or not, but sadness and gloom just ooze out of the track “Sihouette”.

The vocals on this album are definitely influenced by death metal and black metal. There is a very cool rasp to some parts, and some excellent deep growls. More amazing yet may be the clean vocals. They are very haunting, and definitely help to set the melancholic tone even further. The clean vocals, in most parts, are almost whispers; very eerie and almost haunting.

The guitars on this album range from a deep distortion to a very clean, natural sounding acoustic style. The acoustic passages sound very natural to the music, and not forced like some bands seem to do. There are some really amazing tempo changes and some even more amazing riff changes throughout the music. Also are some really cool solos. Once again, not forced, and by no means showy; just another element that fits in really nicely.

Sometimes it is difficult to discuss the bass playing in metal, because frankly, I find it hard to hear on a lot of albums. Well the bass on “Orchid” isn’t the type of bass that can’t be heard. The bass has a nice place in the mix, and there are some really cool lines that the bass player uses. The bass is definitely used as another instrument (instead of like some other bands that simply play the bass as if it were a guitar). There are some really cool parts that, once again, fit in very well in the songwriting scheme of things.

The drumming is definitely not just standard metal drumming, by any means. This is where Opeth fits the jazz element in a lot. The drums, especially in the slower, doomier passages, seem to be played much like a jazz drummer would play. There are some complex patterns, but it is not flashy or all speed like a lot of metal drummers. The drummer definitely shows he can play both fast and slow; when the speed picks up, the drums are spot on!

As one can see, each element of Opeth definitely knows how to use their respective instrument very well. This album is definitely an exciting listen, as it compasses so many genres and molds them into metal. It is hard to believe that an album of this quality came from a band’s debut album. This album definitely gave hints as to the road Opeth would take with later albums.

This album is highly recommended to all who are into Opeth and Progressive Death Metal, as well prog-rockers who want to hear some more extreme music, without letting their sensibility for prog down on the other hand. I think there is definitely something everybody can enjoy on this album. It truly must be listened from start to finish for it to be appreciated fully. Opeth showed the world that they were the masters of progressive-death metal. Like I said before, it is rare when album can redefine how one looks at metal, and this is one of those albums: it’s even rarer when a debut album can do this. This album shows why Opeth would one day climb to the top of the metal world, even the overall-package seems to be lacking in some places yet. But that is tolerable in focus on the age of the musicians at the time of Ochid's recording.

album rating: 7.5/10 points = 73 % on MPV scale = 4/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Marc Baum | 4/5 |

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