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WATERSHED

Opeth

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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3 stars Ok, so after another long wait, the prog metal masters are churning out their ninth album release. Expectations are high, very high. Will they live up to the success of Ghost Reveries? Read below, I hope I've managed to explain what I think in an as unbiased manner as possible.

1. Coil: Different from the start. I don't know of who it reminds me, but probably Deep Purple or someone similar. It has this subtle 70's feel which I like overall. Different, but good nonetheless. Mike's vocals are not to my liking however. ~1:20 there is a nice change that sounds very old proglike. The female vocals fit in very well, unlike what I expected. Crisp and dry, just like Mike used to record his voice. Very short song, about three minutes long. Good overall, but nothing spectacular, ending with something that reminds me of the series Lost: a kind of whooshing sound that increases in volume, leading to the... to the... [7]

2. Heir Apparent: ... to the Big Bang! There, right in the middle of your forehead, a huge smack composed of dissonant, hellish tones hits you like a speeding train. The childish part of me jumps up and screams @w3s0me!. Ok, great. But it really does sound good. And when the piano bit comes in, the contrast is just pure Opeth. Nice. 1:07, another train crash on your forehead. And then the processed growls. And I mean, really processed. They sound evil as hell. Cool stuff. The guitar riffing is also great, leading up the very good break at 2:30 on to my favourite riff. Very metal, yet proggish as can be. Around the three minute mark we get Akesson's solo, which though quite shreddy, does not jut out of the style. I must say I like it too, though it doesn't have the feeling of the Akerfeldt blues. This is followed smoothly by a quiet part with some layering, and herein we meet the first big problem. At this point, ~3:57 or so, the moody part transforms into a repetitive acoustic riff without warning, which in my opinion, simply lacks creativity. Moreover, this acoustic riff is suddenly followed by quick drum break and heavy riffing. No. Definitely lacking. This is not like the train wrecking your forehead in the beginning, which was a beautiful continuation. No. This is pure and simple disjointedness in the songwriting. One of the worst I've heard in any Opeth song. The heavy riff itself is quite uninspired too. Anyway, this goes into a very nice clean part overlaid with a moody dark guitar melody. Unfortunately, again we get the repetitive acoustic riff and the disjointed heavy riff at 5:30. Nothing much to say here. A typical hellish riff at around 6:30. Nice. This goes into another short but very well done crunching riff at around 7, rising up to a chaotic crescendo. And that's all... but no! There's more! Oh the beauty. The harshness of the orevious riffs transforms into a beautiful melodic ending ala Ending Credits or Epilogue. It sounds like pure gold to my ears at this point, and the transition is perfect this time. This repeats for a minute or so, but never feels repetitive or anything, finally fading out on a fedback note. Phew... Very mixed feelings on this one. Barring the jittery transitions and a couple of uninspired riffs, I would have given the song a 9, but I can't. Very good nonetheless. [8]

3. The Lotus Eater: Starts interesting, with Mike humming. Argh... this heavy riff kicks in, with Mike... well... singing. I dislike the singing. Very much. Definitely does not sound Opeth. I almost can feel a commercial tinge to it, but anyway. Same goes for the vox transition at around 1:00. The guitar riffing at this point alternates between proggish, interesting, and simply generic. 1:47. No. I don't like this at all. Neither do I like the happy sounding vocals. The music is on the whole very dark, and the vocals really strike a badly dissonant chord with the instrumental music. I like the extremely dissonant guitar melodies at around 3 mins. At 3:40 you get the typically beautiful and bluesy solo from Akerfeldt. It's very welcome here, though a bit on the short side. Nevertheless, very well done. The song calms down, sometime after the 4 min mark, turning very nicely prog rock for a short while. The transition at 5:10 sounds quite jittery too. An experimental part follows at around 5:50. Offbeat keys and interesting drums. Good. Then you get more happy sounding vocals. The growls are well done, however. The guitar riffing is very dissonant and dark. At around 8:00 the riffing stops to allow a cacaphony of whispers and talking through. I can hear Akerfeldt himeself at some point. Well, that's it. Not very much to my liking. [6+]

4. Burden: Beautiful piano intro, with whining guitar on top. Melancholic. As the drums and vocals kick in, first thought that lights up in your head should be Deep Purple!. Not a ripoff, and very well done. I like the vocals this time, although they are very different to what Opeth's done in the past. The song feels quite balladish up to this point. The prog keys are simply amazing. Wiberg knows his stuff. Still, the song feels quite a bit out of place at this point. I would have put it at the end, as it has this very closing feel to it. The prog influences are everywhere. The bluesy solos that start at 4 mins wail in a subtle yet heartfelt way. The melodies that start at 5:15 sound very familiar, similar to Heir Apparent's ending and Epilogue, etc... Then the song fades into an acoustic guitar which at first starts fine and then is progressively detuned until it all gets ridiculous. This is all concluded with a recorded laugh that is heavily processed and repeated. In my opinion, this last bit ruins the rest. Otherwise, a good song, though not in the best position. [7+]

5. Porcelain Heart: Drums and heaviness from the start. I like the riffing, though it sounds somewhat generic at times. A nice acoustic interlude at around 0:47 with subtle harmony. Very, very dark. Mike's singing brings up dark images of a desperate man in a gothic setting (as portrayed rather cheesily in the video). The heavy riffing from the beginning again. At around 2:15 there is this chaotic desynchronization between the guitars and drums that just about blows your head apart. Very well done indeed. Again the song calms down with more dark melodic singing. At 3:30 a guitar fades in, accompanied by a heavy chunky guitar. Hmm, nothing to die for at this point. 4:30, a sudden fadeout to a slightly distorted guitar. Sudden changes seem to be very common in this album, unfortunately. The next bit, with the Mike's falsetto singing, has very cheesy lyrics. Rest your head now, don't you cry. Please. 6:20 or so, a very Camel sounding melody fades in, with heavy riffing kicking on top. Nice, but not amazing. Some vocalizing and that's pretty much it. Not bad, not very good. [7]

6. Hessian Peel: Well, it starts off western sounding, hehe. Except for the bass that is. And then a quick paced acoustic and slightly distorted lead melody. An accidental every other bar keeps things interesting. Quite backgroundy sounding till this point. 2:06, reversed vocals (haven't tried putting them in order yet). This is followed by some Dream Theateresque sounding keyboards (sounds close to something off of their last album if I recall correctly). Some repetitive doodling on the same theme for quite some time. Not half bad though. I don't really like the elative guitar riff at around 4:20. A piano comes in at 5:22. A very welcome change, which transforms immediately into a short prog sounding interlude before a heavy quick paced brutal section kicks in. The transition may be too quick and sounds so so. The kick drumming is furious and heavy. This is followed by a prog section that yearns to be done on damped distorted guitars but is just perfect as it is. 9:30+ is a very dischordant part. There might be some overuse of dark dissonant melodies here. It all ends with some fading bass and techy sounding keys. I don't know what to make of it overall, but I don't feel like I've listened to anything very consistent here. It almost tends to become a jumble of individually good parts at times. *Sigh* [6+]

7. Hex Omega: Heavy from the outset, though quite generic sounding and not very inspired in my opinion. Chaotic concoction of drums, distorted, and clean guitars. This quietens down, with some synth playing a melody. The following bassline and overall setting sounds right off of Repentance in Dream Theater's last album. I don't know whether it was intentional or not (considering that Akerfeldt himself is heard on that track, along with Steve Wilson, etc.). Some more heavy riffing and a fast solo which does nothing much to me, followed by a forlorn sounding key section at around 3:20. Very beautiful indeed, throwing me back into a 40s kind of film-noir mood. The moody psychadelic section with the DT bassline follows yet again. Another gritty transition at around 5:30, leading into a very full sounding heavy guitar section. I bet they layered everything many, many times throughout the whole album, evident in parts like this. The repetitive melody fades out on the synth. Something seems missing. Not too good. [6+]

I can't say I wasn't disappointed. I am very disappointed. At the same time, this was not a complete waste of time. Being an avid Opeth fan, I can say that it is definitely better than most other releases you get in the mainstream market, but unfortunately I feel the band is taking a step in the wrong direction. Call it experimentation if you will, but it seems that most of the songs had a few extra minutes to them that were chopped down during the recording phase. Real intentions or external pressure? I cannot say. Furthermore, you get these wierd effects at times that sound like a failed effort to sound interesting, like the guitar detuning, laughing, and some overly processed sounding bits here and there. Some riffing sounds uninspired and generic like I've said. Otherwise, there are some pretty good parts, especially in Heir Apparent. I don't feel that the new band members had any real effect on the quality of the music. If anything, they are technically proficient. The problem (in my opinion, always) lies with the songwriting. The focus seems to be more on the general atmosphere than the complex guitar work we've seen in earlier releases, at times almost classifying the music as doom. Some will like it. Others, like me, won't. And the fits and stops that mar the album won't help. OVERALL, 7.0

Report this review (#168856)
Posted Sunday, April 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the great masterpiece The Ghost Reveries, the expectations were really high on the new album. And of course I am not dissappointed. Mikael Åkerfeldt is a genius and couldn`t fail with this album

1. Coil: A really nice opener on the album. A soft accoustic ballad with great singing by Mikael and a woman. (10)

2. Heir apparent: A really heavy opening on this track wich I think is the most brutal of the songs. At 01.20 a really brutal heavy classic Opeth riffing sets in. A little later some progressiv solos and riffing expands to some odd accoustic chords before totally chaos sets in. Slide guitars and odd accoustic chords is mixed with brutal death metal until 07.23 when the song softens to something like a Dream Theater outro. (8)

3. Lotus eater: Blast beats at the beginning with growling song but after one minute the song takes of in a really proggressiv style and with clean song from Mikael. Four minutes into the song it softens to some jazzy tunes before going into some soloing. 05.49 the most odd thing Opeth ever has made occurs, a jazzfunky riff between guitar and keyboard that immediately reminds you of DT. Then it progresses to a good outro. (8)

4. Burden: A master piece! A really beautiful song with great singing by Mikael. The song reminds me of the cover that Opeth made of Deep Purples Soldier of fortune. An accoustic ballad that seems a bit different from what Opeth usually do. But it works great! Great solos from both the guitarists and the twinguitar solo outro is really really beautiful and a really classic. The last thing with the tuned down guitar I don`t like, but it really doesn`t belong and affect the song. (10)

5. Porcelain heart: A slow and moody start of the song with accoustic guitar and piano, reminds a little like the grand conjuration. Then some heavy riffing comes in with some chorus song in the background, really nice. 04.58 begins a really beautiful part with clean voice and nice keybords. The song ends with same heavy riffing that was before. (8)

6. Hessian Peel: The most epic song on the album, begins with something that reminds me of something Iron Maiden have done, like Clansman for example. I really like that part. Then some odd part sets of with Mellotron and accoustic guitars. 05.49 the death metal part sets in with total frenzy, nothing that you expect at that moment. A really heavy bluesy riff progresses to a more catchy softer riffing. A really nice transition. This song is as progressive as it gets (9)

7. Hex Omega: The opening riff is really cool, heavy and riffy. But shortly after the song slows down for a moment and then progresses to some DT like riffing. at 03.15 the song softens down to something weird and moody. The outro is somewhat of a anticlimax. (8)

Report this review (#171621)
Posted Monday, May 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars As the title suggests, the new Opeth album can be considered a watershed in their discography for many reasons. First of all the line-up changes: Martin Axenrot and Friederik Akesson are the new members filling in for Martin Lopez and Peter Lindgren. But the album it's a watershed also from the musical point of view; in fact a lot of new elements have been included, while keeping the tipic Opeth style. Let's analyze it track by track:

- Coil: The first song is a really soft one, featuring also female vocals by Natalie Lorichs (swedish singer and girlfriend of Martin Axenrot). While being short it's a very melancholic and emotional song, and starts the album greatly, giving a feeling of freshness in Opeth music. (8.5/10)

- Heir Apparent: Right when the soft Coil ends, it starts the really heavy Heir Apparent, clearly the heaviest song of the album and one of the heaviest of the entire Opeth's discography (actually it's the only Opeth song with only Death Metal vocals). The song definetely has a lot of very good moments, the best one being the outro part. (8.8/10)

- The Lotus Eater: This is the strangest song of the album; it features blastbeats over clean vocals, a jazzy part and much more! Not connected together perfectly but still very good. (8.5/10)

- Burden: With the 4° track we return on softer sounds, clearly inspired by 70's prog rock. The song is very good itself, but to me it seems not very original (even if I guess it's a wanted thing..). Anyway in this song Mikael Akerfeldt does one of his best clean vocal performances, and there's also a keyboard solo by Per Wiberg! The outro is noticeable too. (8/10)

- Porcelain Heart: In my opinion this song, while still being good, is the worst off the new album. It starts with a doomy guitar riff, and goes on with contrasts between heavy and mellow parts, still never using death metal vocals. It has its moments, but clearly not a masterpiece. (7.5/10)

- Hessian Peel: From the worst song to the best one! Hessian Peel is the longest track of the album and in the first half is a very good and melancholic prog rock song. Then in the middle the Death Metal vocals suddenly come in, and the effect is awesome. After that the songs continues with beatiful atmospheres and again epic heavy parts. Clearly my favourite song of the album! (9.5)

- Hex Omega: This last song has a feeling similar to the previous one, but is much more static and less progressive. Still a very good track and a very good ending for the album. (8.5)

Overall Watershed is Opeth's softest album after Damnation, and features a lot of new elements, so it can be considered also the most experimental album by Opeth. Songwriting and execution are very good as always. Opeth, while not reaching the masterpieces of their career (My Arms Your Hearse, Still Life, Blackwater Park) confirm themselves as an excelent and still in progress band. (global rating: 8.7/10)

Report this review (#172016)
Posted Friday, May 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Watershed is a melting pot of new ideas and possibilities extracted from some of their old material that creates a very different flavor for the band. To me, it feels refreshing as a progressive band as well as a death metal band how they have finally found the right balance that they were experimenting with in Ghost Reveries. Watershed is probably their most diverse album song to song.

Coil - Mysterious begging to the album. Not a punch-in-the-face as most of their opening tracks are. A very beautiful piece. (9/10)

Heir Apparent - A powerful blast of pure Opeth thrown at you. My least favorite song on the album, but great nonetheless. (7/10)

The Lotus Eater - Chillingly disturbing! A strange mix of humming to open the track, followed by blast beats and clean vocals soon followed by growling. Although it is seemingly random at times with the jump in tempo and mood, it fits the piece. A dark piece that sounds medieval at times. (9/10)

Burden - Excellent! Sounds like Opeth with a twist of 70's prog rock. The bluesy rock organ solo is the highlight of the song. The detuning technique that they use in the end make the guitar sound so grim.(10/10)

Porcelain Heart - Very evil song. Screaming guitars, clean vocals, and haunting classical guitar all keep the mood alive in this song. The hours of wealth sounding guitar solo was perfectly placed. There are also some medieval sounding keyboards.(9/10)

Hessian Peel - The epic of the album. Some of the transitions between soft and heavy could have been better. A wide variety of progressive rock elements are present in this song, and is a very experimental piece. Very good nonetheless.(8/10)

Hex Omega - Great ending to the album. The use of death metal and progressive rock is a perfect balance. The last chord played is ironically a major chord. (9/10)

Great beginning to a whole new style of Opeth

** This album grows a little stale, and it isnt the sort of masterpiece it seemed at first

Report this review (#172351)
Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although not being a devoted Opeth fan, I really anticipated their new work. Opeth is the representative speciment of tech/extreme prog that fits to my needs. All their albums kept the balance of heaviness and progness. You alway feel that there is a multiple personality in the band's mind, that they explore all the interesting paths, not just adding impressive sounds. This feeling of exploration goes further on this album. Their sound has not changed, all their characteristics are still here. The music is still haunted and atmospheric, all the ghosts are swirling around you. Yes, it is a strong come back (actually they never left!!) true to their history and sound. Most songs have a complexed structure with various passages, in their usual style. Their melodic passages have a 70's melancholic sense (Burden). The process of widening their influences continues. I 've also have the feeling that in this album the music is more tuned up, tightly built and matured. Maybe this is the result of time and I say this as an advantage. To discuss about the band's abilities is not needed. They are true masters of their instruments and this record gives a lot of examples of this. They surely like to point this. So is this a step forward? IMHO yes. They didn't change, they evolved. It's hard to express the differences (maybe it is not so obvious) simpler, clearer, softer, heavier I don't know, but I feel that there is a new package and I like it. This band has a special place in the area of prog metal. They must try really hard to give as an indifferent and weak album and Watershed is not in the faintest idea like that. In fact, it is one of 2008's great works. I give it 5 stars for just one reason. Hearing this I felt like I was sitting in a chair, having in front of me a band's private live performance, that overwhelmed me. It was like a real experience. By the way that will actually happen at July 9 but not in a private way (Rockwave Festival - Athens). Let's see...
Report this review (#172395)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A provocative title for a provocative album, OPETH's 'Watershed' is indeed a transitional work.

Two new members means the music sounds different, and kudos to AKERFELDT for allowing this difference to show through. As a follow-up to 'Ghost Reveries', their US breakthrough record, this is astonishingly risky, with an emphasis on PER WIBERG's keyboards and some outright lunacy in the composition, but I think many of the choices made here are ill-advised. One example: the transition from standard to de-tuned acoustic at the conclusion of the otherwise straight-laced 'Burden' is straight-out disconcerting. It spoils the effect they've created, and if it's an in-joke, it's surely an example of poor judgment. The relative lack of growling is another error, in my opinion, lightening the atmosphere too much. Other innovations - a verse from a female vocalist in the gentle opener 'Coil', for example - work much better.

The fact it's a transitional album doesn't make it a great one. In fact, I believe it's a step down from 'Ghost Reveries' and, for all its good qualities, not a patch on 'Still Life' or 'Blackwater Park'. Lovely production and all that, splendid musicianship (AKERFELDT's clean vocals are now perhaps the best in metal), but there really isn't more than a couple of memorable songs here. 'Coil' and 'Heir Apparent' make a good beginning, 'The Lotus Eater' is a quintessential progressive metal track, and 'Burden' may well be the best of the gentler, 'Damnation' type songs OPETH have done, but as an album, this is mediocre, lacking a vital spark - this from a dedicated OPETH fan, who rates 'Blackwater Park' as the best metal album of all time. Mediocre because the compositions are over-fragmented. There isn't enough time for either the heavy or the gentle sections to develop. There aren't the plethora of staggering riffs here, and the few that crop up (at 1.30 from the end of 'Porcelain Heart' for example) aren't sustained. Develop the ideas! At their best OPETH crush the listener flat beneath giant slabs of sound. Not on 'Watershed'. Here I can breathe, and to my mind that's not a good thing. Destroy me, OPETH. Grind my soul into the dust with your sonic assault. Pile it on without mercy. Don't tease me like this!

That's my personal reaction. But I'm aware on an intellectual level that this album is actually the most progressive thing they've done. 'Hessian Peel' and 'Hex Omega' finish the album with a pleasingly sophisticated blend of gentle soundscapes and prog metal, and the latter has a killer finale, but again, hardly vintage OPETH. Perhaps this is a market-broadening exercise, or perhaps I'm missing something, but visceral, stomach-punching OPETH this is not.

Of the bonus tracks, 'Derelict Herds' is the most worthy, and ought to have been included on the album. The others are covers, curiosities at best. OPETH does the blues.

To sum up: there is little of the genre-defining stellar songwriting on display here. What they do is done well, but after repeated listens I'm nowhere near convinced that this deserves to be called a watershed. Too much has been given away to make a few gains.

Report this review (#172921)
Posted Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Three years have passed since Opeth's Ghost Reveries and it was the time for a new full length album. Frankly, I wasn't expecting such a huge bang against the wall from Opeth. Watershed, without doubt, maintains the typical Opeth sound but it brings many new elements along, a predictable fact actually due to the shifting that has been going on with the band's members. Surprisingly, almost all psychedelic elements have been erased therefore any relation with Porcupine Tree no longer exists, musically speaking. In stead of this, Akerfeldt has adopted a more brutal and terrifying metal marked by brutal/technical death metal drums and, also, some (true) gothic elements such as doom metal bass (see My Dying Bride) especially on Porcelain Heart and also frightening keys that can be heard on several Cradle of Filth songs. I find it appropriate to make a short statement regarding gothic metal. By adding true to the word a (few sentenced above) I was trying to reflect the idea that Opeth did their best in giving the listener a apprehensive state of mind which is one of the purposes of true gothic music, literature, etc. Because of the music industry, many soft, pop, easy listening bands such as Nightwish, Within Temptation, Leave's Eyes, etc were attach to the goth metal genre in spite not having anything to do with it. All this publicity has created a sort of confusion amongst metal fans and I wouldn't want the reader to think that Opeth have anything to do with Macbeth. (You just don't read Poe's short stories and sleep well at night !!!) Folk and blues have always been a signature of Opeth's music, but this time I feel the band has reached the climax of sensitivity with these influences. Similar to Blackmore's Night's songs, Coil is a masterpiece from this point of view, the female vocals being an excellent idea. Focusing on the mellow side of the music as well, The Lotus Eater contains a jazzy part accompanied by a dark cabaret piano, part which adds to the album's originality and swingness. The keyboard is more complex on this album than on others because, not only does it create the mystical atmosphere, but it also becomes the attraction point at some times, approaching a Dream Theater - Jordan Rudess style. In conclusion, Opeth have done it again, this album is better than Ghost Reveries and therefore it's my favourite. if only it had been released while I was still a big death metal fan.
Report this review (#173081)
Posted Thursday, June 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I would really love to give this album 4 stars. Even 3. But I can't. I JUST can't. It's really not believebale what these men can do with any given instrument. I love Still Life and Ghost Reveries to death(cannot and will not choose the ''better'' between the 2) and while every Opethian ''observation'' are near masterpieces, these two albums are just the meaniest heavyweight out there. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it seems we have a new contender, it seems, in fact, that there will be blood. Watershed has come to rise and shine like the golden dawn (get it? morningrise....). There's many suprises in this 55 minutes long opus and none will be left untouched. I guess that this CD is a gonna be a love/hate affair and I must say that I fell for it. It's easy to read some reviews on the gentle guitar and vocals on ''Coil'', the EFFING brutal riffs of ''Heir Apparent'' (not to mention mindblowing lyrics), the odd but excellent ''Locus Eater'', the emotional ''Burden'', the very gothic ''Porcelain Heart'', the haunting and epic ''Hessian Peel'' and the tasty final ''Hex Omega''. Every song has a very distinctive personnality and that's something I've rarely seen (even in an Opeth album). But even then, it's not about the songs, it's about the journey thorugh the ever growing Opeth forest this album represents. Every second of it will seem like a walk through seasons. The Opeth melancholic riffs have never been this touching, the soloing is somewhat and somehow better but not overplayed (Fredrik is indeed the fit needed),the ''slowhand'' solos of Åkerfeldt should settle him as one of the greatest songwriter ever. The keys are suprisingly have an important presence that really accentuates the guitar work. I never had problems with Axe's work on ''The Rounhouse Tapes'' and I must say that this album gave me the righteous right to slap a couple o' Opeth fans on the backof the head. Mendez is his usual groovy self. A very reliable bassmen with a very good bass sound. The only slightly remotely thing close to a weakness is the short length time. But afterall I'm just a whiny bitch. In the end we have a product polished to perfection with a great packaging form (special edition) containing more mysteries. I also must say that Travis Smith, the designer, is probably a modern genius. My ''Watershed'' enveloppe is not only a musical adventure it's also a time journey. The only thing that remains to be understand is the somewhat broken storyline behind ''Watershed'' and ''Ghost Reveries''. I think that there is many reccurent themes that links a story to one troubled main character. Although I tend to overanalyse any lyrics (why no thanks to you Peter,Ian and Maynard) the images and the photos similarities and reallt deconcerting. In the end, this will come to be a long admired work by truely great musicians. ''Watershed'' isn't a work of five men, it's a work of humanity.

Report this review (#173101)
Posted Thursday, June 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am not what you may call a death metal fan, but when it comes to Opeth, it's another story : I started Opeth last year with Still Life. Still Life was an incredible release, it sounded like something I had never heard before : while searching for other Opeth albums, I noticed that even though the sound is always kept the albums are always a huge step forward. So is Watershed, it is even exponentially increased on this album as Lindgren is gone.

The album features a beautiful and creepy introduction full of acoustic guitar : Coil. Then comes the Ultimately heavy and slow Heir Apparent, this song is definitely not for little girls. The Lotus Eater is full of changes and disturbing, while Burden is going out of Opeth style of music to rejoin with some kind of heavy Pink Floyd which is very enjoyable.

All in all, Watershed is full of very emotional content, but also some very violent moments,but as everything is dosed with great perfection, this makes another great Opeth Album : this may be the album of the year, there are no excuses to miss it!

Report this review (#173205)
Posted Saturday, June 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Watershed is a step forward from Ghost Reveries and an excellent album. Is this Opeth's best album..? I would say that it is far from that...but well worth a 5-star rating. This album is much more consistent than the past few albums, Deliverance, GR, and Damnation. Easily their softest release to date, next to Damnation, it delves into a new direction of Opeth and gives fans something new to look forward to...a more progressive approach, perhaps to the dismay of many death metal fans.

Coil: A great opener for the album. Love the female vocals and the mood it sets in for the rest of the album. [9/10]

Heir Apparent: Probably my least favorite song on this album. The outro is amazing. Overall I would give this song a 7.5, but after seeing it live I gained a new appreciation for this song. Don't miss them on tour next time they are around.. [8.5]

The Lotus Eaters: Different from the start. Blast beats are refreshing to hear and the high pitched vocals grow on you. Very catchy. [9/10]

Burden: The best song on the album. The outro is the worst part of this otherwise flawless song. Some of Mike's best soft vocals to date. [10/10]

Porcelain Heart: The first single on this album will not disappoint. Amazing vocals and catchy riffs. [9.5/10]

Hessian Peel: The best song on this album, part 2. This song is a tale of two halves. The first half has a nice feel and keeps you interested. The second half comes out of the gate and blows you away. A great song. [10/10]

Hex Omega: A good song. At this point on the album, I was hoping for something like White Cluster on Still Life to finish off an amazing album, but we were given this. And it's solid, but not great. [8/10]

63.5/70

Report this review (#173251)
Posted Saturday, June 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Swedish extreme, (truly) progressive metal band again shows how far ahead they are compared to any metal bands. Their extraordinary blend of brutal, heavy passages with gorgeous mellow parts is back, in more intense and weirder style than ever. Influence of 70s prog rock is again more evident.

Though it sounds like cliché, Mikael Akerfeldt is genius of songwriting, composing, arrangements and producing of our age. As an owner of godly clean, full voice, that he can switch in one moment to demonic growls, and he still gets better in that! As a guitarist he is one of the most tasteful players nowadays. He is accompained with Fredrik Akesson, master of creative speedy guitar solos. New drummer Martin Axenrot is even more powerful than Lopez, yet also extremely dynamic, skillful and diverse. I was afraid after Lopez departure about this post, but this man proved I was wrong. Mendez is great as ever, though bit lost in the mix. Wilberg's atmospheric vintage-keyboard work is the most prominent and most beautiful to date. Notable is use of gorgeous symphonic passages with decent (=not pompous as many annoying symhonic metal bands) strings and wooden instruments that add new majestic dimension.

Songs themselves won't let you breathe (though you need some spins to get into that fully, as usually). While Coil is gentle symphonic layered, female voice leaden intro, Heir Apparent is slow brutal, progressive, with lot of perfect mellow and disharmonic heavy flashes. Psychedelic, furious Lotus Eater ends with very odd but great evil jazz-funky part. It flows into Burden, one of the most painfully beautiful ballads of this world that struck in the head immediately. Dark slower number Porcelain Heart (only one that I consider as not perfect as the rest, but very good anyway) leads to apex of the album - longest track Hessian Peel. Mellow, peaceful intro flows to sorrowful acoustic part that is cut by demonic passage. Then incredible symphonic/curly-acoustic/psychedelic ride goes up to finale. Pompously constructed, melodic Hex Omega sounds like liberating and melancholic patos together, finishes the album with some beautiful flute-mellotron fadeins/outs and instrumental anthemic outro. Flawless.

As FoaBP from Porcupine Tree was album for last year, Watershed stands out for me in the same way in 2008.

Report this review (#173272)
Posted Sunday, June 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Wow, this was definitely an interesting album for me. Before I review the album, a brief word from the author of this review of how he came into possession of this album: I found it behind the counter of a local record shop.as a Vinyl. It seems 'Opeth' snuck out a Vinyl copy of this album, and by being a religious visitor to the progrock website, I recognized the album cover, and remembered it was getting great reviews. No one had warned me what exactly it was I was buying; no one said to me 'be wary, this contains sounds that even a King Crimson fan like yourself might find disturbing.' No one had cautioned me that this was in fact, what I call 'Death Metal' or at least something that sounds to my ears worthy of a name of death metal. My most 'extreme' band of my collection is 'Dream Theater'. So this was a leap of faith on my part. That being said, I can review the album.

To a guy who is not use to this kind of music, I find parts of it very difficult to listen to, mainly, the demonic growling found on every other song. I don't mind 'hard metal' music. In fact, at time, I rather enjoy it. I just can't listen to a singer who sounds like Satan. To my 'virgin' ears, it makes them shutter in fear.

Other then that small fact, the album is really beautiful. The songs that do not display the whole Satanic singing are true progressive Gems. Even the epical 11+ minuet song 'Hessian Peel' is a new masterpiece of progressive music (mind you, this is one of the songs which have the demonic style of vocals, presented in this fashion makes it an interesting addition to the song, thus making it listenable). It's the beginning six minuets of the song that make the song beautiful beyond words.

Another song to gain instant prays by myself would be 'Burden'. (Can you tell that I'm a newcomer to this type of music?) I truly love this song. I love how it carries the notion of madness through a mellow tempo. Right at the end with the sound of just an acoustic guitar slowly unwinding its tight strings becoming more and more out of key, slipping deeper and deeper into the madness the song delivers.

The rest of the album is quite good. Even given the whole possessed by the devil kind of singing that I can't stand, I can still find the album enjoyable. I can honestly say that I can listen to the album in its entirety and still find it listenable. It delivers very complex compositions and movements, along with very thought provoking lyrics (when you can understand them). Although there still are points that I can't listen to, and for me, this weakens my enjoyment and overall view of the album.

I would recommend this album to anyone who likes progressive music, even if they do not like 'Tech/Extreme Metal' genre (which I am a culprit of). But if I can love and cherish some songs on the album, which deserves a full listen through, see if the album is right for you.

3.5 stars from a guy who normally would never listen to this kind of music. It is good addition to any prog collection, but be very warned of it's content.

Report this review (#173337)
Posted Monday, June 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Alas, Opeth decides to release another record. To everybody's dismay, it's one of their masterpieces.

In contrast to their older records, (My Arms Your Hearse, Still Life, Blackwater Park) their releases after the latter haven't been that good. Releases like Damnation, Deliverance and Ghost Reveries, just haven't been the same caliber as the older releases. This is a return to that caliber.

Opeth is coming at us at full force, with a beautiful opener, Coil, which sounds like something out of a folk song. The vocals are absolutely gorgeous and the addition of a female voice really changes things up. (10/10)

Heir Apparent, probably the heaviest song on the entire album, is at the same level as The Lepper Affinity, the opener on their critically acclaimed album, Blackwater Park. Just non stop soul churning and the blackest of cookie monster vocals. The new drummers style is much more...soulful than Martin Lopez's. His style is more in the toms than the cymbals. The songs end is very interesting. (9/10)

The Lotus Eater, starts off with a little vocalising, then follows through with something I've never heard Opeth use; Blastbeats. The blastbeats accompany Mikael's harmonic voice perfectly. The high pitch singing and constant time changes and riffing make this song very good. But then a sudden stop, followed by Opeth's signature guitar interludes. This leads into a psychotic mellotron jazz riff, which in turns leads into the best vocal lines ever. The amazing song ends, like most on the album, very mysteriously. All you can hear is voices in the background talking in Swedish. (9.5/10)

Burden, which starts off a little like Paradise Lost by Symphony X, reminds one of The Spirit Carries On. One of the best ballads ever written by Opeth, it's up there with Face Of Melinda. The ending, again, is very interesting, with the lone classical guitar slowly detuning. (10/10)

Porcelain Heart, slowly chugs away at mine, like a hammer hitting a nail. Sort of reminiscent of something on Ghost Reveries. But with one difference. THE AMAZING DRUMMING. Some of the best drum fills I've ever heard in a death metal record. Overall solid song. (9/10)

Hessian Peel, the epic 11 minute monster, is like two songs put together by a lone organ riff. The beginning is like something out of a Pink Floyd record, beautifully played. Then, around the halfway point, hell breaks loose. Another mess of death metal riffs. Beautiful song. (9.5/10)

Hex Omega, starting off a little like Karma from My Arms, Your Hearse, is sort of a dissapointment. The beginning is very well written and the drums are amazing as usual. But, I was expecting something a little more epic. Not bad, but the ending dissapoints greatly. (8/10)

Overall, the addition of Martin Axenrot on drums and Fredrik Akesson on guitar has paid off. Anyone who was worried about the sound being ruined by these two should listen to it. Also, the flute and cello parts are very nice. I have to admit, this album took me two or three listens beofre I finally absorbed it's greatness. Overall, I give this album 10 out 10.

High Points: Coil, Burden, Hessian Peel.

Low Point: Hex Omega.

Report this review (#173353)
Posted Monday, June 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Just got it today by mail. Watershed seems to me like a necessary and eventual evolution for a band that plays a benchmark style no band bothers (or is able) to play.

More that reviewing the songs, I'll review the band members (as if had any right to do so):

Akerfeldt: he's Akerfeldt...dark, disharmonic and filthy riffs

Akesson: may be too soon to tell, but stands now next to Mikael. Not to underestimate Lindgren, but if I ever missed anything at Opeth it was a technical smooth solo, and Akesson comes as a perfect replacement. Great guitar duo, just look at the DVD duelings

Axenrot: complex drummer for such complex songs, I see no better replacement for López

Mendez: shy but still present... loyal to the cause

Wiberg: such a good outcome since his slow introduction through Ghost Reveries; again, something Opeth needed to fullfill a distinguishing sound, never mind the prog element. Greater and darker keyboards this time

4.5 out of 5 stars (excellent addition)

Report this review (#173379)
Posted Monday, June 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my first progarchives review, so I'll make it a good one! And there's no better album for it in my collection than this one. It's amazing. On to the review! First, some general statements:

THE LAZY MAN'S REVIEW: for those of you who want a quick summary, the album is tremendous. It will probably appeal to many more of the traditional prog people who are usually skeptical of metal. This is true about most Opeth albums, but it is especially true of this one. I have a feeling that, over time, a vast majority of people in prog circles will get this album, and not getting this album will be a lot like flatulating loudly in a crowded elevator: everyone will stare disdainfully and wonder what's wrong with you. You will cry and hang your head in shame.

As the title of the album states, this really is a breakthrough album for Opeth. This is far-and-away their most progressive and original work. There isn't a weak track on the album, and there are several incredible passages, especially in the 11-minute epic track Hessian Peel. The main problem lies in the fact that some if it is slightly disjointed, but as I keep listening to it, I find that this actually fits the album very well. It conveys somewhat of volatility that I think reflects the main character's mental unrest. I'm not going to say anything for certain as to the storyline, but I'm FAIRLY certain of two things. The main character leaves his wife/love in the first track, but I also think it has a happy ending. Maybe they get back together? Not sure.

That brings me to another good point: they don't print the lyrics. That's not such a problem in the clean passages, because Akerfeldt has some his best vocal work ever in this album, but I can't understand a single word of Heir Apparent. There's a shroud of mystery around the heavier passages, because, to me, they sound like some of Opeth's most brutal and haunting work yet.

The heavier passages also reflect a shift toward regular death metal as opposed to melodic death metal, as once they get going, they rarely take a breather in Opeth's middle ground between heavy and light. Production did a great job with Akerfeldt's vocals processing, as his growls are just outright disturbing at times, and I never found that to be the case on any of the previous albums.

The lighter passages, by contrast, are much more upbeat than your usual Opeth. This is partially because they often go into triplets instead of duple meter (I hope I'm using the terminology correctly), creating a swing feel on a lot of the songs. They've toned down the melancholic riffs somewhat, replacing them with a lot more classical guitar and other instrumentation (possibly done on the keyboard), all of which fits in like a politician at a vampire convention (which is extremely well).

Both new members of the band are incredible, and I actually like them both better than the previous members -- no offense to them. Axenrot and Akesson both seem more technically proficient than the two they replaced, but there are no pointless solos that lead nowhere.

One interesting thing to note is that I heard in an interview with Mikael that he had been changing a lot personally as a result of having his daughter. I think his words were something to the effect of I didn't think I could care about anyone but myself. This shows on this album, as it shows a distinct shift away from all evil and melancholy all the time. I think this has some of the first funny passages in an Opeth album, and it definitely shows a more relaxed side of Opeth.

And then they lived happily ever after until the sequel, where he reviewed the songs themselves:

Coil: the opening track is pretty great, and I think it sets the stage pretty well. Unlike most of their other albums, it starts out with a very soft song, but it's not as melancholy as a lot of their other soft songs. Also, they do an excellent job of incorporating the voice of their new drummer's girlfriend, who has an amazing voice. Save for the first half of Hessian Peel, also on this album, I'd call this their best soft work (which is ironic because...). 10/10

Heir Apparent: ...this their best heavy work, hands down. You have crushing riffs that don't seem to drag on like they do in some of their other work. It's interesting to note that this may not only be their best heavy work, but their heaviest, because there are no clean vocals in the song. The growls throughout have been processed to sound amazingly creepy. The first time I heard this song, I was just overtaken by the speed and haunting brutality of this song. 10/10 (I'm not trying to be a fanboy, I just really like the first two songs)

The Lotus Eater: starts of with Akerfeldt humming, which quickly gives way to blast beats and raging guitars over -- surprise -- clean vocals! It took a few listens to get used to it, but it now sounds wonderful. There are actually a few growls thrown into the mix, but it's mostly clean. There are some other pretty interesting parts, like the jazz piano section toward the end, which is very reminiscent of Dream Theater (Dark Eternal Night). It makes sense, since they're touring together now, and Akerfeldt appeared briefly on DT's last album to do a spoken part (Repentance). Good song overall, though not as mind-blowingly amazing as the first two tracks. (9/10)

Burden: a more typical soft Opeth piece. They've moved away from the 70's prog feel, though, and more toward a classical theme mixed with maybe the 1920's in Europe. That's actually true about the whole album, but especially so here. Also not as melancholic as their usual soft songs. The most memorable part is the ending, where the classical acoustic guitar riff slowly falls apart as someone detunes the strings while he's playing, and it ends in laughter. Some great keyboard work that really goes after it but still fits within the context. Despite lavish reviews of this song from some other people, this is the low point in the album for me, but it's up against incredible competition. (8.5/10)

Porcelain Heart: a haunting track with some pretty heavy instrumental parts, but no growls. It makes me think of slow songs in power metal in some ways, with guitars driving things along smoothly. Wonderful song. The piece sounds very gothic and tense. The only thing that mars this song in any way is that they had the drummer go a bit overboard about a minute into the song. The part is kind of cool, but it doesn't quite work. For once, I think the music video actually applies to the song, but I still haven't figured it out completely. It also makes the Aaaaahh parts infinitely more disturbing. (9/10)

Hessian Peel: AMAZING. Their general best track ever. The intro sounds almost medieval. The classical instrumentation fits in so well, and the transition directly from the soft to the heavy part actually works in my opinion, despite some people's complaints. It goes along with the guy's decaying mental state. This track makes me feel warm inside. (10/10 -- 11 if that were possible)

Hex Omega: not as good as the previous, but it's a tough act to follow. It seems like a fitting ending, provided that the album ends positively. I think this is where the main character gets rid of his curse or something of the sort (hex omega -- end of the curse?). Majestic chords bring the album to its conclusion, and the drapery falls on what is, in my opinion, Opeth's (and for that matter, metal's) greatest album. (9/10)

Using a weighted average based on track length, the album receives a 9.35/10 (I made a spreadsheet). Definitely 5 stars.

Report this review (#173385)
Posted Monday, June 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Despite Opeth losing the lovable Martin Lopez and the essential secondary guitar player, They still produced another masterpiece, definitively their best since Still Life. However, this album should not be compared with Still Life, it is quite different and I was surprised when I heard it. The album uses the brutal elements of My arms, Your Hearse while mastering the dynamics and non-metal songwriting of their previous two albums. There is quite a bit of 'prog' experimentation, mostly on the softer moments of the album, but there is no mistaken that this is still Opeth.

There are many surprises here. The first is how well the new musicians fit here. The guitar player is more technical, but his playing is generally restrained and harmonizes with Mikael very well. The drummer is also more technical, but it actually helps as he makes fantastic drum patterns throughout the album. Secondly, Per Wilberg's keyboards take a larger role and are well integrated with the music. His playing is restrained and very tasteful, with no cartoony synths nor cheesy orchestra sounds. Lastly, it surprised me that while the leader hyped this as the heaviest and darkest album, it has minimal use of growls, and has some 'less sad' parts. This helps create a soft/heavy balance that is ideal for me, as I need my death grunts to a minimum, and want plenty of soft sections in order to have the metal parts make a bigger impact when they come.

Other positive aspects of the album are the great sound engineering which helps make the metal parts more crushing, and the overall consistency.

"Coil" is an unorthodox introduction. It sounds like Mikael sending a letter to a loved one, who replied back. Yes, this song has a female vocalist and her voice shines. The fantastic singing is backed by gorgeous acoustic guitar work and other instruments appear during the choruses, which are absolutely beautiful. Orchestral sweeps, complex acoustic patterns, and great vocal delivery mark them. 10/10

"Heir Apparent" is easily the heaviest song in here, and one of the most evil and brutal songs they have ever done. It opens with a very evil Doom Metal riff and dark piano lines, until it leads into the first growls of the song. There is an amazingly brutal guitar riff later with guitar soloing on top which leads into the first soft part which has flutes and acoustic guitars. Afterwards, a very brutal theme alternates with a complex acoustic part. After an intense crescendo with strings, the song ends with a melodic metal theme. 9/10

While Heir Apparent is a nod of "My Arms Your Hearse", "Lotus Eater" is a more experimental piece. Experiments include having clean vocals over brutal metal, putting a funky keyboard solo, being extremely tight/dynamic, and ending with a very sinister mellow atmosphere with a crowd talking. 9.5/10

"Burden" is next and it is one of the songs where Mikael indulges himself with his progressive rock fantasies, but do not fear as this is another magnificent piece. If I can name three influences, they would be Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, and Deep Purple. The vocals are great, the keyboards are more prominent, and the guitar melodies and soloing are very moving. The ending is odd, with acoustic guitars detuning while they are still playing. Overall, this is my favorite Opeth ballad alongside Coil and Face of Melinda. 10/10

"Porcelain Heart" is the most commercial-sounding song of the album, but it works in all levels. The acoustic guitar verses are haunting, the guitar riffs carry a lot of punch, the drumming is fantastic, and the orchestrations in the last soft interlude are gorgeous. If you do not mind, a riff or two from "The Grand Conjuration" were recycled. Fortunately, they work much better here. 9.5/10

"Hessian Peel" begins bluesy. The first four minutes is made up of very well-constructed and well-arranged folk-classical music until an elegant metal riff appears, which gives a hint that the song will soon turn heavy. It does, and death metal vocals finally return, if briefly. What comes afterwards borders on genius, and I would let you hear for yourself. The song finishes with a staccato Hammond organ beat and a neat bass beat that gives it a slight electronica feel. 9.5/10

"Hex Omega" was a song I expected to be brutally heavy, but the song is a growl-less metal song with a heavy emphasis on clean vocals, soft atmosphere, and a bit off jazz touches. Not much to say here, except that it is another excellent tune. 9/10

As for Bonus Tracks: Derelict Herds is a quite neat song that sounds very much like Riverside with a growling section in the middle which sounds quite different for Opeth. The covers are quite nice and faithful to the originals. The one sang in Swedish is the standout for me. It is simple, but gorgeous. Bridge of Sighs also is worthy of notice due to the solos at the end.

It all sounds like if the band is very inspired and is not afraid to experiment. This gives it a 'transitional album' feel which gives hope in that the band could actually top this with a more perfected album in the future.

I do not know whether I like more Still life or this one. Still life is stronger on lyrics, coherence, and storytelling, while this one sounds more philosophical, reflective and mature instrumentally-speaking. If you're more of a metal-head and are not familiar with Opeth, start with Still Life, which is some of the best heavy metal you'll come across. If you're a prog rock fan, this one might be a better place to start as the soft and melodic elements are plentiful, balancing out the brutal parts.

Report this review (#173388)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I listen to Opeth, (and I have been doing so for a few years now) I hear a band that is SO far beyond others that it is just comical. As far as progressive metal goes, Opeth is the most mature, interesting, and the just plain BETTER band than the rest. Their heavy music is heavier, and their light, musical moments are at the top as well. The amount of range this band displays is simply amazing, and Watershed is just a pinnacle of this band's career. I am not going to give any song by song breakdown, but to just make this short and simple. This is great music. It's heavy, touching, musical, mysterious, rhythmically interesting and in my opinion on of their best albums. And when I say one of their best albums, we are talking about a band that has a few other MASTERPIECES. Opeth; I thank you. You have put out a solid release and I see this band getting better and better as time goes on. Simply essential.
Report this review (#173389)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opeth - Watershed: 4.64 Stars

Being one of my favourite bands from 90's and 00's (along with TMV, PT, Symphony X) I've impatiently waited for this album. After the first spin my feelings were quite mixed. It sounded like classical Opeth record and it was not anything they've ever done before this album. So, before writing this review I've listened to Watershed at least 7-8 times and can share my opinion.

What's different from other Opeth records? Focus on complexity. Song are very much diverse, has got lots of tempo and mood changes. To my opinion it does not really work well in Heir Apparent and Hessian Peel where parts of the song seem to be disjointed and do not quite fit together. Much more keyboards. And this is a very positive thing. Per's keyboards sound just great and not overplayed. Two new members of the band (Frederik and Axe) definitely bring in new sound and even more completixy than it used to be with Peter and Martin. Are they better than Peter and Martin? Hard to say... just different and not worse.

The best thing about this album that Mikael decided not to stick with GR sound and move forward. Yes, there are some doubtful moments on the album (like guitar detuning at the end of Burden or a change of the mood in the middle of Hessian Peel or sonic effects more appropriate for TMV, for example), however, this is a step forward - no doubt about this. And it will be even more interesting to hear their next record (hopefully we would not have to wait another three years).

Coil (10/10), Heir Apparent (8/10), The Lotus Eater (10/10), Burden (9/10), Porcelain Heart (9/10), Hessian Peel (9/10), Hex Omega (10/10).

Overall: 4.64

Highly recommended for everyone.

Report this review (#173413)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Not really Progressive Music - Let alone a Masterpiece!!!

Here is an album that really makes me wonder who its audience is, as it's too tame for Death Metal, too lacking in complexity for Prog fans, and really, so predictable, average and lacking in catchy tunes overall, that I would think that even the average rock fan would turn their nose up at it.

The opening would have you think you were about to listen to Nickelback.

An acoustic guitar, picking out a simple pattern that suggests Pink Floyd, and the vocals, which sound not dissimilar to Chad Kroeger, with the same earnest delivery, even if delivered through a rather odd filter, all conjure up a very familiar landscape.

This makes me wonder how this is even vaguely related to progressive rock - without being unfair to the band, as it's a nice sound - just all sooooo familiar (and what, exactly, is familiar about progressive rock?).

This album is gonna have to unleash some compositional fireworks and unheard of textures in order to save itself from such a bland and tired introduction.

After 30 seconds, the drums don't pile in - so Opeth save themselves from going totally Nickelback, but the song pans out as the next verse unfolds similarly to the first, and keyboard layers add a vague proggy sound - it's the similarity to the Mellotron that does it. The female vocals and folk-like bass runs take the song into an almost Fairport Convention kind of sound, and the wind synth voices add a kind of Moodies touch, which for a brief moment sounds like (and sounds like is the key phrase!) proto-prog.

A wind-like filtered synth voice leads predictably to crashing metal riffs and plectrum sweeps, with flavours of Black Sabbath and Metallica for Heir Apparent. This is dropped away to a very simple, noodly piano line, and even more predictably back to the crashing riffs, over which the vocals roar, and the riffs go irritatingly over-complex (by which I mean you can hear the band striving to avoid the obvious and try to go for the wow-isn't-that-complex factor, rather than developing the music. There's even that pinched harmonic sound that I associate with bands like Slipknot and b>Pantera - and Loudness before them.

Nothing interesting happens until around 3:30, when this is broken down into a quiet dissonant passage, filled with short, repeated phrases and dissonances generally for their own sake rather than to promote dischord or drama in the music. This is followed by a bliteringly fast riff, which drops away to another quiet section. This latter is odd, as it seems to feature leads from Echoes over simple picked riffs into which tritones have been crowbarred.

Then it's a return to the blistering riff, which, incidentally, has far less character and drama than, say, Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir, and reminds me strongly of both (but much less interesting).

This drops away to a more melodic section... every time I listen to bands like this, I suddenly find myself hearing the music in sections - that's just not how it's supposed to work, to my ears. A piece of music is just that, not a contrived bolt-on kit, like Lego or something.

When we analyse music, we chop it into sections to make it more digestible - to allow us to focus in on interesting features in the music.

When we write music, we let it flow - there's as much flow in this music as there is in the average cliff. The whole off-at-tangents, quiet-loud-quiet-loud thing has been so done to death that I immediately recoil in horror at the first inclination that this unadventurous pattern is about to be used yet again. Some bands manage to pull it off by concentrating on the overall flow of the music and how this technique can add power - it's not a bad technique in itself (no technique is), but it's all in the way it's used. Here, it's predictable and dull as a consequence.

The Lotus Eater is another near 9-minuter, and already, I'm filled with dread. Can Opeth pull something out of the bag - after all, I've actually liked a couple of things they've done on earlier albums - or is this going to be more predictable contractual obligation nonsense?

The introduction is reasonably interesting - humming over a synth bass line, then a fast, thrashy riff with those Kroeder-alike vocals dropping back to death metal growls. A smooth segue to a more mid-paced riff shows promise - this is certainly better than the first two tracks. Trouble is, as it progresses, you can hear the various sections jumping out at you, and the first rhythm that was introduced at the segue dominates, as the sections leap into one another, creating an overall sense of wondering when it's all going to eventually kick in.

Another tritonic riff suddenly puts me in mind of Spinal Tap - and that's exactly what's going on here. Opeth have become the Spinal Tap of Death Metal with this album.

A drop to Hammond around 4:30 gives a very vague Purple flavour, and then there's the dreaded acoustic/Mellotron section - a couple of minutes of very uninteresting meandering about that leads to an almost comical two-chord jam section around 6:00 - but no feeling of artful musicianship or of an overall song direction, just a continual feeling of when is it going to end. In this sense, the song is successful - from the start, the big riff should be keenly anticipated, and towards the end, signals should be put up so that surprises can leap out on the listener as the piece reaches its climax and finale - but Opeth seem to have no concept of this, just a keenness to prolong the agony and reach 9 minutes no matter what.

Burden has a nicely textured introduction, but after that little 5-note piano motif has hit you for the fifth time it does start to feel old. Underneath the Mellotron and ARP-style strings, a simple ballad song unfolds - and again, I can't help thinking of Nickelback, even though this is miles away from their style - the vocals do it, I think.

As it continues (I'll avoid the word progresses, in case it gives the wrong impression), the bass stands out quite nicely, with little touches of Pete Trewavas here and there. There's a pentatonic-based Hammond solo, and the whole has a 1970s rock ballad flavour through and through, but with modern production that makes it a little to pristine for my tastes. A later guitar solo pairing (or is that bad mixing?) carries flavours of all your favourite 1970s blues-based guitarists, with nary a note out of place - but the I-VI-VI-V7 chord progression (well known to all beginner piano students for that famous duet that drives music teachers crazy around the globe) gets very old very quickly.

I hate the de-tuning of the guitar at the end - but that's probably just me.

Easily my favourite song so far - utterly predictable, but nice because of it.

Porcelain Heart features a lugubrious Sabbath-style riff, which feels like it should be building up to something, but disappointingly and irritatingly drops away to more of that very simple acoustic guitar stuff that permeates this album. It doesn't even suggest anything emotionally, which is what irritates me most. Predictably, the big riff from earlier returns - but it's not a very satisfying riff, punctuated as it is with all manner of little percussion details and rhythmic mucking about that only serves to annoy rather than build any kind of unfolding dramatic picture.

An uninteresting song follows, with more of that simple acoustic guitar - I'd read somewhere else that the acoustic guitar on this album is complex, but it quite definitely is not. For complex acoustic guitar, I recommend you go and listen to some Jan Akkerman - he's pretty good.

When the big riff comes, you think it's going to go somewhere, but no. Disappointingly, more solo guitar, then back to the song. I'm bored, and there are 3 whole minutes left... tick... tick... tick...

There's more of that acoustic guitar to kick off Hessian Peel, which seems to reference a number of famous songs - Icarus Dream Suite is the first that springs to mind, followed soon after by Voodoo Child (Slight Return), but without the emotion of either Hendrix or Malmsteen.

But what's happening next? A clear wrong note - but played deliberately. Hmm. Without resolution or precedent, that note stands out like a sore thumb, and to my relatively untutored ears at least, suggests poor musicianship in a way that the rest of the album has only hinted at. The problem is, it sounds played for - to me, it sounds like a failed experiment that should have been edited out.

However, it sits right on the crest of a cadence, in a passage that has a decidedly traditional feel, so such a non-traditional note really has no place at that point being as far out of the harmony as it is - unless the cadence was artfully modified to cope with it. 51 seconds is the exact point, according to my media player - yours may vary. The cadence is re-approached, or repeated, to be exact, and the offending note corrected - but then, mysteriously, the wrong-note version is also repeated, as if somehow repeating it is going to make it sound right.

I've heard Opeth (and other metal bands) do this - repeat something bad often enough and it begins to sound right - intent being stronger than the basic underlying rules.

All of which is gibberish, of course.

When the song starts, it's THE SAME as most of the others - Kroeder vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards - but this time, with that WRONG note. And it IS wrong. Simple as that.

The rest of the song pans out horribly predictably - don't bother with this one at all, it's terrible. 11 minutes of anyone's life wasted.

Hex Omega begins as a continuation of Hessian Peel, and a dark feeling comes over me. OK, Opeth, in a way you win - your music is supposed to inspire a dark feeling, but surely not like this...

What to say about this song that hasn't been said about earlier songs? There are exactly the same elements in it, exactly the same techniques of loud bits and quiet bits, the same instrumental textures, and a few poor compositional techniques. It ends on big chords, as you'd completely expect.

Summary

An album with no surprises or Progressive ideas, and only one song I actually like.

For collectors of Death Metal, I suppose - although this is certainly the limpest Death Metal I've ever heard - and, judging by the responses so far, definitely one for the Opeth fans.

I could not possibly recommend it to a fan of Prog rock, however - they would laugh long and loud.

I guess it's not really poor, as there was one track I liked - but as an album of Prog, it really is very poor.

Hence my (rare) castigation of awarding a solitary star.

Report this review (#173419)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Everyone knew Opeth's ninth "observation" was going to be different. The group lost drummer Martin Lopez and co-founder Peter Lindgren and replaced them with Martin Axenrot and Fredrik Åkesson (respectively), metal musicians who didn't seem to have any progressive tendencies or experience. We trust Mikael's judgement, but a safe assumption would be that Opeth would be at their heaviest and fastest with their next release. So, with these new players in tow, Opeth have made Watershed their easiest listen yet...?

That's what I said! And it's true! Looking at the album as a whole, Damnation aside, this album has the fewest growls of any Opeth release to date. Three tracks don't have any! This was true of the band's masterpiece Ghost Reveries, but that album was 11 minutes longer and had one more track. This could be good news for music fans who have been stuggling to get into the band because of the death metal aspect.

Mikael serenades us with the aid of a female vocalist in the intro, "Coil." The music is in traditional Opeth fashion with a huge dose of 70's prog rock, but it does have a new atmosphere about it, one that almost has a trace of hope. That doesn't make sense! The female vocals are a nice touch, and a sign that this album will have a lot of experiments. This moves immediately into the heaviest track on the album, "Heir Apparent." I can't say Mikael's growl has been deeper than it is here. It's also clear that keyboardist Per Wiberg is finally going to get some attention with this release. This track is all over the place, and for a while you're not going to be sure whether this is a mess of riffs or a carefully crafted song. This is going to come up again, and it will suffice to say that this album doesn't have the flow of past albums, but it also is not a mess. "The Lotus Eater," being available before the album's release, really got the hype up. And it's no wonder why, this one is loaded with new ideas from, from blast beats under clean vocals to a macabre dance party keyboard riff. Oddly enough, this all works very well! The song proves to be the most interesting, fun and awesome one on the disc. By this point we should all be convinced that the band will be fine without the lost members. Truth be told, Axenrot relies more on the technical aspect of drumming and is consequently far less tasteful than Lopez, but I think the band works with the new members' gifts well. After a strange outro of voices with eerie keys, we are hit with "Burden," Opeth doing full-fledged 70's prog rock. Another track with all clean vocals, and loaded with Hammond organs, this one is going to be the track that arouses all the people on this website. But in the wake of the last track, I'm limp. I love the song, and I love that kind of music, but not as much as "The Lotus Eater." I get the feeling that "Burden" is slightly underdeveloped. Just slightly. This one has another interesting outro, but one that is much more interesting and creative. Mikael has someone manually detune his guitar while he plays the outro riff. Interesting indeed, but of course there is an unecessary laugh thing following the acoustic ditty. "Porcelain Heart" may be the most boring, mainstream oriented track on the record. It's only a bit boring in spots, but the fact that I'm getting bored is a bad sign. Not Opeth's best, but not bad. "Hessian Peel" brings the band back to where they should be. The long one here at 11+ minutes is largely reliant on clean vocals, but does have a few growls in the middle. So even the tracks with growls don't have many! I forgot to note that Porcelain Heart was the same way. This track is fantastic, though. Quite a bit of fun. Among the highlights on the disc, the closer "Hex Omega" doesn't stand out, but it is a worthy track.

After such an album as Ghost Reveries, and with a new lineup, it was time for a transitional album. Considering this is a transitional album, it is a darn good one. There is a lot to get out of the album, so it's worth grabbing, but it simply doesn't have the consistency of the band's best, some of the experiments aren't natural yet, and it's just not as compelling and powerful. There seems to be a lack of complexity in the finer areas of songwriting; the transitions aren't as clever, and the song endings don't seem to have been given much thought. For intance, look at the end of "Coil" being the plucked root chord and "Hessian Peel" ending in an unresolving way only made more so by a repeated keyboard chord from earlier in the song for 30 seconds. The emotion also seems forced in spots. These are things I hate to say but can't help saying. Fortunately, the musicianship is still top-notch, some of the experiments work very well and most of the infractions are minor. By any other band's standards, this would be brilliant, but for those who know Opeth, some of their sophistication is just missing.

If you're not an Opeth fan, this may change your mind about the band. If you're a fan, you're going to like this record to some degree. It's no Ghost Reveries, Blackwater Park or Still Life, but it competes with the rest of the catalog. It's score is kind of on a sliding scale, but it's high points are definitely high enough to earn Watershed 4 stars.

Report this review (#173444)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was pretty sceptical after 'Ghost Reveries'. They used the same formula again and I was quite disturbed by the lack of progression. With 'Watershed' they finally got back on the road of make ground breaking music. 'Watershed' is like the metal counter part of any 70's King Crimson record. On top of that they added some fusion elements to a song like 'Hessian Peel'. What bravery does it take to start a metal record with a acoustic duet? Brilliant!
Report this review (#173484)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Opeth are in my opinion a death metal band, plain and simple. The fact they have an acoustic guitar evident does not make them prog.

Unfortunately I made the stupid mistake I made with their previous album 'Ghost reveries' of trying this band out again, since I DO like heavy metal. So I dove in again, and once again I found the same awful drum sound the same lack of melody and of course the vocals of a well know muppet character who rarely actually ingests the cookies, though he is monumentally more entertaining than the utter dross Opeth has offered the 'prog' fans again.

So, to sum up: If you are a fan of prog rock; avoid like the plague. If you are a fan of heavy metal; I suggest you look to Slayer or anything that actually has a tune and melody. Goes without saying if you don't like this style of vocals then you might be wise to give this a wide berth.

1 out of five, no question.

Report this review (#173556)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A terrific album by a classy band.

This is their best since Blackwater Park. More organic than Ghost Reveries, it is brightly executed, fresh, atmospheric, melodic, and haunting. Unlike most of their other albums, this one doesn't hit you in the face straight away. It grows on you slowly with each listen. It is an introspective album, focusing more on ambience rather than over-the-top pryotechnics. It is also very consistent all the way through, with no major drops in quality. The seven pieces here are very much part of a larger whole, even though they each have their own personality.

Nine albums in and Opeth are still putting out music of the highest quality. Recommended to anyone who loves the finer things in life.

Report this review (#173571)
Posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I'm on the fence with this album: on one hand you have some great tunes, a new exciting drummer and the interesting addition of keyboards in the works, on the other hand you have the lack of direction and the fact that it sounds... it pains me to say it but in parts it sounds way too much like dream theatre (who i don't like)! It wouldn't seem immediate, but give it a few listens and that is what it sounds like to me: Dream Theatre gone extremely heavy. As far as the overall new sound goes, i'm not as keen as i was. As far as the songs go, it's hit and miss. Let's face it, this is no Still Life or Blackwater Park!

Coil is a nice little mellow number to kick start the album, quite contradictive to typical Opeth as they normally start with the most intense song on the album, e.g. Still Life - The Moor, Blackwater Park - Leper Affinity. I like mellow though, so i rate this song quite highly. This then leads into the massive Heir Apparent, probably the heaviest, most death metal like off the album, and i love it! The best track IMHO. It has everything an Opeth fan looks for, from the death metal growls, modest complexity and great guitar lines to the beautiful mellow sections that define Opeth from other metal bands.

The Lotus Eater however is a mess. I love complex music, like Gentle Giant and Mahavishnu, but Opeth are NOT complex. There is a bloody good reason why i can't stand DT, that is because metal + complex = mess, and i'm not keen on mess. This is Opeth trying to be overcomplicated, and i'm not pleased with the results! That said, this song has a killer drumbeat and a great melody at the finale, so it's worth listening to.

Here comes the real shocker: Burden is NOT Opeth, i don't care what anyone says, i do not listen to Opeth for blues/classically orientated POP music. Yes, you heard me say it, this song is radio friendly, and you know how much we hate radio here on PA! I'm not knocking the tune however, and there is also a well played organ solo in the works, so it's a good track. It really does stick out in the Opeth repetoire however, and if i'm in the mood for an Opeth song, then i sure as hell aint in the mood for this one!

Porcelain Heart is more like the classic Opeth we know of on Still Life and Blackwater Park and is a very heavy number that makes good use of Åkerfeldt's clear voice. A semi-ostinatic melody flows through this song on top of some heavy and acoustic guitar breaks, however i do wish the growling was present in this tune, it brings the up and down contrast that makes Opeth so great, and i think that this song lacks it. It's a bit of a growling song without the growling, for want of a better expression. It doesn't feel like 8 minutes either, which is a good thing, however i do still think it needs some more interesting sections.

The next track is almost the exact opposite of the band's previous work, and is fairly average with a slow build up and some strong blues influences (especially at the start with the Muddy Waters-esque nickel-stringed acoustic guitar play). Despite its length, it doesn't pack too many interesting moments. The only real ones that stick out for me is the first distorted guitar riff and the final 3 minutes of the song. Yet again, a valid criticism is that they are trying to be too complicated, like Dream Theatre, and it just simply isn't working out

This is more like it! Back to Opeth's traditional style for the second time on the album, it ain't half that bad. The mighty Hex Omega will probably appeal to fans of Still Life with the harmonic minor scale dotted around here and there. However, i still cannot find an effective arrangement in this tune, and it reflects exactly what the rest of the album lacks: solid arrangement that works. The ending also doesn't sound like an ending, demeaning the album a considerable amount.

This album has its moments, no doubt in my mind about it, but i find myself just cutting the crap and fast-forwarding it to those parts. The album also lacks continuity and nothing really connects the tracks like in previous albums, which is a disappointment. It would've also been nice for a better intro and ending as well, and perhaps more of what non-Opeth fans hate: the growling. Looks like i will still be playing Still Life, Damnation, Blackwater and Morningrise for quite a while still! 2.5/5 at the very best i can give, which rounded to the nearest star is a 3. Sorry guys, but this one seemed a little rushed and overcomplicated.

It is also worth noting that these guys probably have realised they are prog and are trying harder and harder to gain prog fans. I preferred them when they tried to be metal if i'm honest, i'm not a big fan of pomposity for the sake of it, and this is their most pompous album. They have lost the death metal side that i loved them for and i'm not keen on the direction they are heading. I'll just be praying for a better tenth album for now.

Report this review (#173593)
Posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars There is no doubt that Opeth is a band with great musicians and composers. This one in my opinion is the most original album by Opeth.You get a mix of songs of the old Opeth with Damnation and add some jazzy times,symphonic rock times,neo prog,fussion etc...So you get always surprised.
Report this review (#173595)
Posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album picks up right where Ghost Reveries left off but with a twist. Starts slow not like Ghost of Perdition. An acoustic intro with female vocals may make you think they've changed then Heir Apparent starts and it seems familiar but then as you go through the album it progresses as if telling an underlying story. mixing in jax interludes and modulating back to the acoustic passages. Overall A+. they can't make a bad album.
Report this review (#173676)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Okay, Opeth's 9 album and some interesting reviews. I believe the album is up there as one of the best Opeth have offered(together with Orchid and Blackwater Park). The introduction in the studio of a new guitarist and drummer has certainly added something to the mix. Akerfeldt is a visionary with his melancholic lyrics. There can be no question that this man loves his music and has strove in pushing the boundaries of this genre of music. Opeth have always been slightly left of field when they emerged with others who were purveying the Gothenburg sound. Watershed has moved on from Ghost Reveries and there are certainly some experimental sounds on show. I mentioned Orchid earlier and it was this album which introduced Opeth to me - If I remember rightly it was originally advertised as progressive death metal and intrigued me. I really have not looked back since and Opeth have progressed onwards and (mostly) upwards. Muscally there is a bit of everything here for everyone - the cookie monster lryics are there and need to be there as they add the necessary impact as and when required - Akerfeldt's clean vocals have improved - but have never been bad to start with and the painful emotions he stirs match perfectly with the more subtle tracks. All is not perfect, however, and there are times when listening I wish why did they do that? for example on Burden at the end of the track. These are minor blemishes and overall the album exhibits a well constructed soundscape sometimes enthralling at other times unnerving. If you are a fan of Opeth, Dark Tranquility, At the Gates, etc. you will not do too badly in purchasing this album. I would also say that if you are new to Opeth, then start with this album first. If you had nightmares about Sesame Street and I'm not talking about Big Bird - and cannot abide death growls and full tilt pummelling drums etal - albeit only on about 20% of the album then look elswhere I'm afraid. I purchased the single CD version - and if there was one disapointment- there are no lyrics printed- a shame really as Akerfeldt writes some really miserable, esoteric and thought provoking stuff. To sum up - worth the wait? Yes - and I cannot wait to see them at Bloodstock and on the UK tour in November. Best Opeth album ever? Better than Ghost Reveries and on par with Blackwater Park. Best album of 2008? Of what I have purchased this year - yes. Finally - Enjoy the Opeth experience!
Report this review (#173824)
Posted Friday, June 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I've never been an OPETH hater, I like band's stuff, both early and late albums. 'Ghost Reveries' was far more interesting effort, dare I say, but maybe the thrill of it all is that OPETH have found the universal formula of a good album and now trying to make it work again. Sorry, but it failed.

'Coil' is the only track here I really like, it's my favourite, though it's nothing close to what the band had ever been doing before. 'Heir Apparent', 'Porcelain Heart' and 'Hessian Peel' serve as usual OPETH tracks here: some riffing, some growling, some melodic places, but the formula doesn't work that good. Not now. Maybe, there's something wrong with ME, but the further we go the least captivating songs we hear: pseudo-experimental 'The Lotus Eater', harmonically too banal 'Burden' ballad and closing 'Hex Omega' track, sounding like some 'Damnation' outtake. I know, it's unfair to judge it that way, each song bears some intimate and personal feelings and emotions from musicians, and as we read in Akerfeldt's blog, he thinks 'Watershed' is their best album so far (quite predictable statement, isn't it?). But each of us has opinion and has the right to voice this opinion out loud. So, I think 'Watershed' is nice yet uneven record, it's not OPETH's best for sure, it has some its moments, but you won't lose much if you miss it. Let's leave recommendations for 5-star rating givers.

Report this review (#173933)
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Sad to say it.. but I'm totally disappointed with this release. Ghost Reveries was poor, but this? This is just copying the ideas from other albums mixed with clonning other bands. There is no progression at all on this record.. It's too smooth, light and slow for extreme metal, and too hard-edged, bad produced and predictable for progressive.. only good track is first track: something really new, fresh and good. Rest is a bunch of boring, predictable songs with patents copied from the previous releases of Opeth, or other bands LP's (not only progressive- you may find even part totaly ripped of from Yasonuri Mitsuda )... Very disappointing and uncreative collection of songs here.
Report this review (#173942)
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I really love this album. It has a mood that is right for me. The songwriting is stellar as usual and a few more chops on lead is nice. I have read some of the naysayers but thats par for the cliche with Opeth albums. Do please get over the light/dark crit guys, its pretty old. Another outstanding release. I hear new stuff and old heaviness and some 70's prog rock like never before. If you think Opeth is death metal that is fine. I love death metal. Enjoy the ride.
Report this review (#174040)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've been eating this up, the best album I have dined on in awhile. It was eagerly anticipated and it did not disappoint. Opeth clearly is moving in a different direction and I for one hope they will not stop. Though there are flashes of Death Metal throughout, the music and voices have mellowed quite a lot. Mellow, mystical, melancholy but with plenty of punch and power. Blackwater is Killer, Still Life is insane, Ghost Reveries the same, and Watershed? I will be feasting on this fine piece of Prog for quite a long time.....
Report this review (#174127)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Can these guys get any better? What an album. I actually started listening to these guys when I was in my third year of university. Pretty much everyday, Id wake up, have my coffee and drive for 45 min to school listening in awe to the album Ghost Reveries at the time. I remember feeling bad listening to the heavy growls but now I think what am I ashamed of ? Opeth is the type of group to me that brings tears to my eyes. These guys work extremely hard on their music and it definetly shows. I actually got the privilege of catching Opeth in concert in Toronto and had the time of my life. Thanks for coming to Canada guys. As for the review of Watershed, here goes:

Coil : What an awesome opener. Opeth sets the pace by letting the listener know that they still have their softer side. You can see that they've gotten more mature with their music especially with the inclusion of a female vocalist who can really set the mood for what's to come!

Heir Apparent: Wow. This is the darker side of the band. Good riffs, drums and overall good tune. Growls are even more brutal than before.

The Lotus Eater: As the band said in the DVD, this song sums up where the band is headed in termsof musical direction. Love the drums on this track and the dream theater break in the middle. Good vocal melodies as well.

Burden : Another nice soft, mellow track.

Porcelain Heart (Åkerfeldt, Åkesson): Great song and single. Cool intro riff by the new guitarist. Nice blend of the mellow/heavy here.

Hessian Peel: Great singing on this song. Good blend of vocals and both guitars. Love the growls and transition near the end. Killer.

Hex Omega: Good ending track. Mellow song with a little heaviness to it.

Overall great album. Love everything these guys have done thus far. Keeps getting better and better.

Cheers,

Chad

Report this review (#174995)
Posted Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars CLOSE TO A MASTERPIECE

Opeth albums are never terrible. Despite some one- and two-star reviews of this album, it's hard to see how it could be viewed as less than average. It is not, however, a nearly-flawless masterpiece that is implied by a five-star review.

The truth lies somewhere in between, but it is significantly closer to the 5-star side than the 1-star side. I would give it 4.5 stars if I could. Instead I had to give it 4. Here's a breakdown of my opinion of each song:

Coil - A beautiful melodic opener. I personally think that the female vocals work really well.

Heir Apparent - A crushing death metal song with a great acoustic breakdown in the middle.

The Lotus Eater - One of the best Opeth epics ever. As Mikael himself said, this song has pretty much everything that an Opeth song should have in it. The funky riff in the middle is one of my favorite moments on the album.

Burden - A great ballad with nice vocals and good solos. The detuning of the ending, however, is an interesting but failed experiment. It simply is grating on the ears, and I am forced to skip over it when I listen to the album.

Porcelain Heart - Speaking of skipping over parts of the album, I skip this song in its entirety. I really just dislike it. Aside from the great melody of the falsetto-ish part about 2/3 in, it really is just a boring song.

Hessian Peel - I can't really describe this song, but suffice it to say I love it. It is a great, almost Genesis-like prog epic that also includes some brutal death vocals.

Hex Omega - A great closer. This is not a stand-out track, but still it's an above-average Opeth song.

I honestly think Watershed is the best thing from Opeth since Still Life, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has an open mind for music and doesn't cringe at the idea of death metal. Particularly since the death metal aspects of the band's sound have been significantly downplayed on this album.

Report this review (#175057)
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Undeniably well-crafted and executed, Watershed hooks the listener immediately with its fine playing and expert production-- but once the excitement of the fine introduction wears off it becomes apparent that this album is definitely style over substance.

For starters, the instantaneous and relentless energy present in the band's other key albums is very wishy- washy here; mostly due to Akerfeldt's now predictable songwriting (light/heavy/repeat). There are few (if any) really memorable moments, and I did not feel much emotion while listening-- something I get quite a bit of during, say The Moor, or The Grand Conjuration. So, while I commend and acknowledge the band's fine playing, it doesn't go nearly so far with these songs; they lack direction and power. Half-way through, the listener will probably looking to see how many tracks are left.

I do not recommend Watershed to Opeth newcomers-- it is a poor example of the kind of sounds that makes this band so great. To fans of the band, I would say to take it with a grain of salt; there is a lot of experimentation here and enough Opeth goodness to maintain some interest... but don't be surprised if Watershed turns into background music.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Report this review (#175061)
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Five star albums are like buses, one doesn't come for ages and then two come along at once. I refer to the superb new album from Beardfish and hot on its tail comes this new musical behemoth from Opeth. Joking aside, although Opeth have released a number of excellent albums in the past with Watershed they have hit a new peak with an album combining all their past elements and produced their most diverse release to date. There are less Death Metal vocals than in the past (with the exception of largely acoustic Damnation of course) and Mikael Akerfeldt's seventies Prog influences show more than ever with some of their most beautiful quieter moments. As if almost in apology to their older fans for this they also hit us harder than ever with some of the most brutal riffs they have ever produced.

Coil is a lovely way to open up Watershed: a beautiful melodic acoustic piece with a fine vocal performance from Akerfeldt and also featuring guest vocals from Nathalie Lorichs, who's lovely voice adds greatly to the feel of the track. The sublime nature of Coil makes following track Heir Apparent even more hard hitting. Opening with a powerful slow paced intro giving way to melancholic piano for a few bars, after a repetition of the intro the song bursts into life with Opeth at their most brutal underpinned by excellent new drummer Martin Axenrot. Like many Opeth fans, I was worried at the loss of former drummer Martin Lopez. However Axenrot proves to be a worthy replacement, not as subtle as Lopez but a fine dynamic technically skilled player nevertheless. The track goes through many changes throughout its nine minutes, for the most part retaining heavy riffing but still leaving space for acoustic interludes. Excellent stuff and one of the best Opeth tracks ever.

The Lotus Eater keeps up the momentum with some of the bands fastest playing to date in places with some thrash metal style drumming from Axenrot. Again much diversity is present including a lovely mellow keyboard dominated lull from Per Wilberg: his addition to the band being one of the best moves Opeth made.

Perhaps Opeths most beautiful piece ever follows. Burden features one of Akerfeldts best vocal performances and the tracks notable for a superb Hammond (?) solo from Wilberg. The track reminds me a bit of Uriah Heep in their quieter moments.

Porcelain Heart opens with a grandiose sounding powerful riff before giving way to an acoustic guitar dominated verse. When the riff returns it's notable for Axenrots excellent drumming, playing across the riff rather than with it with some excellent fills. Another strong piece.

Hessian Peel, the longest track on the album opens with a bluesy sounding acoustic guitar before changing to more classical styling underpinned by a nice shuffley drum patern from from Axenrot. Opeth have the ability to combine the most beautiful sublime music yet bludgeon you senseless (in a good way) in the same track. Much use of light and shade is present once again here and although the track is over eleven minutes such is the quality and diverse nature of the piece, it appears to be over far too quickly. It's about time I mentioned new boy helping Akerfeldt out in the guitar department, Fredrik Akesson. As with Axenrot he proves to be a more than worthy replacement for his predecessor and holds his own against his boss. Martin Mendez on bass, although as usual low in the mix holds together the rhythm section with Axenrot admirably.

Hex Omega takes us out in fine style. After opening with full force it turns out to be a moody atmospheric piece. Although it has its heavier sections it's largely understated and melancholic before closing with a powerful repetitive riff.

So there we have it, Opeths best and most diverse and Progressive album to date. A strong contender for album of the year and with not a weak track present easily worthy of five stars.

Report this review (#176146)
Posted Saturday, July 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars For many reasons, I consider Watershed a transitional album... And the weakest Opeth's effort since My Arms, Your Hearse!

This is a transitional album because is their first recording after the departure of two important members of the band. The co-founder of the group and second guitarist Peter Lindgren is gone, and the lack of the drums genious Martín López is even more decisive. And the transition is also in the music... Watershed is maybe the most variated and open-minded Opeth's album. The musical direction is diverse, and Akerfeldt shows all his influences here.

The brutal progressive death metal in the Deliverance style appears in Heir Apparent... After the folky guitars of Coil, with the ¿surprising? female vocals. Then, in the experimental The Lotus Eater we have even a funky interlude! Burden is a clear and pleasant tribute to the 70's rock, specially Deep Purple... In Hessian Peel we have an obvious entering in the symphonic rock, with a lot of Camel influences and even some string arrangements, being Porcelain Heart the most typical (and previsible, because part of its riffs are recycled from The Grand Conjuration...) Opeth track of the album. Hex Omega is just boring, and the only bad mistake of the album. Is a song wich starts good, but after the three first minutes it losts all its interest.

So Watershed is like an opening of the Akerfeldt's rich muisical mind... But in this way of finding new musical directions, I think that he has lost a bit of inspiration. Opeth started to loose the typical melancholy and deep sadness of their music in Ghost Reveries and in Watershed, this is even more evident. This is maybe the most happy Opeth's release... And this is not bad, but part of the originality and distinguishable feeling of the band is gone with it, in my humble opinion.

Nevertheless, this album really deserves a good listening... Despite some experimental and weird fragments (like the odd guitars at the end of Burden, and the hypnotic keyboards in Hessian Peel...), Watershed is maybe the most commercial and accesible Opeth album, so is not a bad point of entry to the band for newcomers (although is easily surpased by almost all the rest of the Opeth's discography...) And of course, despite the little deception this album is, I think that all the Opeth's fans will enjoy the ride, like I do.

The sound is also better than in Ghost Reveries, in my opinion... The Per Wiberg's keyboards are not so loud in the mix, having the guitars more weight than in the previous release. Nevetheless, the Wiberg's work is excellent again, and he has more protagonism in some parts. But I'm still missing Steve Wilson here... Watershed is far from the outstanding sound of Deliverance and Damnation, specially in the acoustic guitars, althouhg the improvement since Ghost Reveries in this fact is evident.

A pair of words about the new members: Martin Axenroth does a good job... But he obviously lacks the outstanding quality of Martín López, specially in the mellow parts, where he is not very inspired (you just have to hear the noisy cymbals sound in the final part of Burden...) Nevertheless, he rocks in some hard fragments... He is obviously a extrme metal drummer! And the new guitarist, Akesson, is really competent. He does a great job in the solos, specially in Heir Apparent, and the short solo he plays in Hessian Peel. This man is a guitar hero, and he can bring some interesting things to Opeth in a future.

Best songs: Coil (great opening, and a different acoustic Opeth's track... I specially enjoy the lyrics), Heir Apparent (the Deliverance feeling it has is great... Because Deliverance is my favourite Opeth's effort), The Lotus Eater (an irregular, but funny experimental song...) and Hessian Peel (the highlight of the album... I love its arabic feeling, and the symphonic elements. But the last hard minutes are not necessary... I think these minutes spoils part of this song's geniality)

Conclusion: this transitional album makes me have a good feeling about the Opeth's future... After loosing two important members, the band is still alive and they have released a very good album. But not a masterpiece and hardly excellent, being easily surpased by Still Life, Blackwater Park, Deliverance... And it's even a step under the irregular Ghost Reveries. Nevertheless, some new ideas are interesting, and the Akesson addition is a good fact in my opinion... So I'll wait impatiently for the next Opeth's release, and I'll take this Waterhsed just like a point of inflexion in the Opeth's discography, where they misleaded part of their typical sound and quality in the search of a new personality.

My rating: ***1/2

Report this review (#176273)
Posted Monday, July 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A relatively weak release by Opeth standarts, Watershed, like Ghost Reveries before it, proves that Opeth really is past it's prime, forced to stick to it's traditional formula instead of treading new ground.

Fortunately, that formula is an effective one, and Akerfeldt manages to squeeze enough new ideas to make Watershed quite an entertaining listen. 'Burden' is the only track that really sounds like nothing the band ever did, but there's quite a few unpredictable moments throughout the album, such as the funk-like riff in The Lotus Eater, or the female vocals on 'Coil'.

Unfortunately, the album also suffers from several other problems: Akerfeldt's death growls are not used nearly as prominently as they should, damaging the famous Opethian dynamics, and the songs are relatively short in length, and therefore fail to achieve the famous 'adventure'-like listening experience that the band usually provides. these major flaws, along with many smaller ones (such as Axenrot's inferior drumming and the weak guitar tone), lower the album's grade even further.

Overall, this is still a bit of an improvement over ghost reveries, despite not being as good as Opeth's first 7 albums. 3.5/5

Report this review (#176411)
Posted Wednesday, July 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, this album really got me by surprise! After the masterpiece "Ghost Reveries" (and releasing lots of albums with long, long songs), I thought that Opeth was losing inspiration and creativity. After all, it's hard to top a piece like "Ghost Reveries", but "Watershed" turned out to be an amazing record, a record that still sounds like typical Opeth but that also introduces new things to the band's sound (remember, innovation is good!).

First of all, there are two things that made me feel very anxious about "Watershed". The departure of the excellent Martin Lopez and of the essential Peter Lindgren, the latter the only musician, together with Mikael Akerfeldt, that already played with the band when the first album, "Orchid", was released, twelve years ago. The biggest consequence of these departures is the excessive control of the band by Mikael Akerfeldt. In the past, Mikael Akerfeldt wrote all the lyrics, but the music was composed by the [i]band[/i]; Martin Lopez was responsible of creating the drum beats, Mendez the bass lines and Lindgren some solos and riffs.

Now, Opeth isn't a [i]band[/i] anymore, it's more like a solo project of Akerfeldt. The music is no more composed by the whole group, now it's just him who is allowed to compose. The new members of the band don't have any writing credits on the record (okay, the new guitar player co-wrote "Porcelain Heart", but that's just ONE track) and the lyrics are, obviously, all penned by Mikael. I was expecting this thing to turn the record into an authentic disaster. Fortunately, I was wrong.

But wait - first, let's talk a bit about the two new members: Fredrik Akesson and Martin Axenrot. About the latter, I was extremely upset about him; after all, Lopez is a terrific drummer that was absolutely essential to the band's sound on the other records. After listening to "The Roundhouse Tapes", I concluded that Axenrot was a good drummer, which was obvious, but he lacked something, maybe that killer tone that Lopez has. On "Watershed", he proves that he is not a Lopez-clone, that's for sure, but he's great nevertheless, his performance is very technical at times and there are beats and patterns that are amazingly great. "Hessian Peel" is where he shows his skills the most, with soft beats on the intro and some very effective double-bass parts here and there. "Burden" shows him adopting a more simple, straight-forward, but still good approach and he even tries some blast-beats on "Lotus Eater" and poli-rhythmic fills on "Porcelain Heart". I heard many people criticizing the blast beats and poli- rhythms, saying that they didn't fit with the band's sound, though. I strongly disagree with that, the band surely never tried something like that, but some originality is a good thing, don't you think so?

About Akesson, the guitar playing is very similar to the other Opeth records, maybe more solo-focused this time, but that's a good thing. Akerfeldt and Akesson solo more this time, some bluesy solos on the calmer parts and aggressive ones on the heavier parts, that's what you can expect. Another important thing about "Watershed" is the fantastic use of keyboards; on "Ghost Reveries" they were one of the most important instruments, because they were very audible, too audible at times, but it turned out to be great, because the keyboards gave to that album a warmer atmosphere that isn't very common on the other Opeth records. This time, the keyboards are more laid back, complementing the other performances very well, especially on the softer parts, where they play an important role (the softer part of "Porcelain Heart" or "Hessian Pell" are both dominated by the excellent keyboard lines that perfectly complement the acoustic guitars). The bass guitar is audible this time, especially during "Hessian Peel", which is great, since some good bass licks always add something new to the songs.

Another important thing is that, like I have already mentioned in my "Ghost Reveries" review, Opeth is now slowly becoming a true, 100%, progressive metal band, instead of a "progressive death metal" or "extreme progressive metal" band. The death metal elements are still here, but the double-bass attacks, that made albums like "Still Life" or "Orchid" what they are, are less used, and so are the growls. Here, Akerfeldt uses his clean voice more often and seems to avoid growls, a thing that can be clearly recognized during the heavy parts of "The Lotus Eater", when he uses his clean voice while Axe is playing blast-beats.

Anyways, the heavy side of Opeth is present here with basically three songs: "Heir Apparent", "The Lotus Eater" and "Hex Omega". "Heir Apparent" is one of my favourite songs of the album, being very, very heavy and containing a lot of nice double-bass parts. The riffs are powerful and the growls are ferocious; probably the fastest song of the record. "The Lotus Eater" is another favourite and it's hard for me to pick the best aggressive song of the album, since those two tunes are both amazing. The highlight of this song is the beautiful breakdown, which contains a funky/jazzy part that is just AWESOME. You have got to listen to that breakdown, folks, top notch stuff. About the closer, "Hex Omega", it sounds like a pretty standard Opeth song to me and it's the only one that I don't like. It isn't horrible, though.

The soft side is present with "Coil", "Burden" and "Porcelain Heart. "Coil" works as the intro of the record, featuring a duet between Akerfeldt and a female singer, which sounds better than what I expected. Not a masterpiece, but a beautiful song to begin the album. "Burden" sounds like some progressive rock ballad out of the 70's; the keyboards absolutely dominate this song, with some nice solos and catchy riffs. The vocal performance of Mikael is also ASTOUNDING, it's incredible how he improved his singing over the years. "Porcelain Heart" is a song that I consider somewhat calm, despite it contains some bone crushing riffage. Again, the vocals are the best part of it. Anyways, if you are looking for a detailed description of this track, you can read my review of it, as a single. And now, the best track... HESSIAN PEEL! The title is somewhat stupid (I don't know what it means, in fact), but the song is just amazing. It is the longest tune and has a very epic feeling throughout it, comprising lots of different sections, ranging from aggressive to beautiful, from raw to soft. The keyboards play again an important role, especially on the acoustic parts. Because of the existence of all those sections within this tune, i don't consider it calm nor heavy, it's like an hybrid of both.

The production is simply great, almost everything is audible, even the bass guitar, my only complaint is about the bass drums of Axenrot, since they are barely audible. Otherwise, excellent work. So, all in all, Opeth does it again. This piece is just amazing and despite containing some moments that are reminiscent of Opeth's past works (the main riff of "Porcelain Heart" reminds me of "A Fair Judgement" and there is a section of it that reminds me of "A Grand Conjuration"), but the album still contains fresh aspects and elements, like the duet on "Coil" and the funky parts on "The Lotus Eater". Akerfeldt is a terrific vocalist and here he proves it again, the guitar playing is great, pretty much in the vein of "Ghost Reveries", the drum work is nothing short of amazing and the bass is always present and audible. The record is also very varied, with all the breakdwons, calm and heavy parts within the songs and the whole listening experience is also better because of that. This album is more accessible than the other Opeth works too, since the songs aren't so long and calm songs like "Coil" and "Burden" can be appreciated for people who aren't into metal or extreme metal at all, that's for sure.

Anyways, I don't give away ratings above 4 stars easily, so this record is absolutely essential and recommended to anyone into progressive metal. If you love the death metal side of Opeth, I'm not sure you'll like this, since the calm parts absolutely dominate "Watershed"; it's a great record, nevertheless. A bit different than the traditional Opeth record, but good... VERY, VERY GOOD.

Best MOMENT of the CD: -the jazzy/funky part on "The Lotus Eater". But there are also lots of other nice moments, they are almost countless.

Great work, Opeth, brilliant!

Report this review (#176668)
Posted Sunday, July 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Watershed" is Opeth's ninth album following up their previous studio CD "Ghost Reveries" which was named the best album of 2005 by some music critics. Coupled with the signing with Roadrunners, there must have been great expectations from Opeth fans on this album. Exemplified by a couple of lineup changes for Opeth in the past couple of years, including the departure of longtime guitarist Peter Lindgren and drummer Martin Lopez, the situation had been tough for the band. Their replacements are guitarist Fredrik Akesson (Arch Enemy) and drummer Martin Axenrot. The latter has been with the band for a while, but this is his first studio album with Opeth. This seems not a big issue as Mikael Akerfeldt wrote most of the material for the album.

Dynamic, variety, excellent musicianship and great songwriting .

My first impression with this album was that this is an excellent album that every home must have it. The music combines excellent dynamics and energy that, if used properly, can elevate the life spirit - even though the nuance of the music is dark. Credits for this album include great songwriting (by Akerfeldt), a lot of varieties in the music and excellent musicianship even though there are new members.

Opeth has confirmed their clear musical direction since their "Still Life" album, I think. The band has developed a unique style over the years that differentiate them from others - no one like Opeth. "Watershed" continues the refinement of that style. This album marries heavy side of the band in "Deliverance" album with soft side in "Damnation" album. There are beautiful acoustic passages which lead into intense death metal with heavy riffs followed with all kinds of lengthy progressive and experimental passages. The progressive elements are larger ever before.

Observe the opening track "Coil, which is basically an acoustic song featuring duet melodic vocals by Akerfeldt and guest female vocal from Nathalie Lorichs. You might not believe that Opeth has ever made a song as mellow as this. The track "Heir Apparent, brings you to usual Opeth music with louder and more extreme notes that lead the album into the different styles in the same song combining mellow and deat metal riffs and growling vocal. I personally enjoy this track because I cannot expect what happens next. Each passage flows wonderfully to the next one with relatively unexpected fashion. The guitar and drums work so dynamically. There are musical breaks with acoustic guitar and flute-like sound which make the music is rich in textures. The death metal part does not seem to threaten me because there are many excellent melodic breaks.

"The Lotus Eater" starts acapella in the vein of PFM and I have never expected that suddenly the music blast off louder in death / black metal vein using high register notes growling vocal. It's a great surprise to me! There are musical break with mellow guitar solo combined nicely with piano. The next track "Burden" starts mellow with long sustain keyboard sound. The song is in relatively slow tempo with great guitar work. I have listened to "Porcelain Heart" (edited version) from bonus CD provided by Classic Rock magz previous month edition. It's truly a great song with some flavour of Porcupine Tree music. It's a wonderfully composed song.

"Hessian Peel" starts ambient with nice acoustic guitar improvisation. For the first 2 minutes the song moves in mellow style followed with drum it moves louder even though the tempo is still slow. In the middle of the track the song goes crazy with its blast of death metal music. This is very nice for me because I love metal music. Akerfeldt sings wholeheartedly followed with great guitar solo. On the remaining three minutes the song turns down into softer style. "Hex Omega" concludes the album nicely. The music reminds me somewhat with the style of Porcupine Tree "Fear of A Blank Planet". This is an awesome concluding track.

Overall, I rate this album by Opeth highly and I believe this is the best Opeth album I have ever heard. I have no hesitation giving this album with a five star rating due to its brilliant songwriting, composition with high degree of diversity and excellent musicianship. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Report this review (#176949)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A BRIEF STOP TO OPETH.

The album doesn't sound bad, in fact it's a really good work (as always, OPETH making outstanding records) but I think this time that all generosity and musical greatness from previous albums aren't present for this Watershed. Definitely, this record shows a band oriented to explore a more progressive rock style (mainly from 70's influences) however not as much as on records like Deliverance and mostly on Damnation, but keeping the old formula to elaborate all the compositions and leaving slowly from death metal sound (not entirely but using it on less quantity).

Opeth has been one of the greatest progressive metal bands in years inside the musical scene around the world, but as everything I think their creative roof is coming soon (I hope to be wrong), at least that impression gave me this recent release, their characteristic touch as their classy music are untouched, maybe the absence of power in music affected the final result. Its sound is near to Ghost Reveries album and much closer to previous works like Blackwater Park or Still Life (Classics, doubtless) but not enough in comparison to its category and songs quality, of course it's just a personal opinion.

Highlights on the record:

The inclusion of a female voice (experimentally speaking) and Coil, The lotus eater and Burden, are really cool tunes!.

By: Epsilon.

Report this review (#177596)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Really, just not that great.

As the site's most avid Opeth fan, I must say, this record severely disappoints on many levels. While it may be their most progressive effort, it is also one of their worst. Oh sure, there are times when the band shines and shows why it continues to be one of the best modern bands around today, but there are so many parts on this album that just leave me befuddled and ultimately uninterested. After the shock of first hearing it is gone, there are a few things to note.

Take Coil, which sounds like a track that couldn't make the final cut on Damnation. It's just insipid and boring. Porcelain Heart is a why? track. As in, why the hell is it on the record, it's the kind of songwriting I'd expect from a mallcore band, not Mikael Akerfeldt. Anyways, the good parts are Hessian Peel, Burden, and Heir Apparent. More or less, these songs hit the right spot and show why this band has accumulated the following that it has. Really outstanding songwriting during the last half of Hessian Peel, it's probably the best song they've done since all of Still Life. Unfortunate the rest of the album couldn't be this good.

While this album fails on many levels, I must point out that Per Wiberg has quickly become the 2nd most indispensable member of the band. His effort here on many levels keeps this album afloat and from being what I would consider a complete disaster (see Deliverance). One can only hope that the most important member (Mikael) has not run out of ideas.

Report this review (#177967)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A perfect blend from the death metal of Still Life, Blackwater Park, and My Arms, Your Hearse, the monolithic riffage of Deliverance and Ghost Reveries, and the prog/classicism of Damnation. The intro (Coil) is pure magic with Nathalie Lorichs angelical voice singing the precious second verse and leaving me without breath in my first listening. After that, a pure death metal exercise a la Blackwater Park in Heir Apparent with Akerfeldt growling better than ever. I don't really like classic death metal, but this band challenges me every album more and more. In The Lotus Eater they try to take further than ever the progressive metal territories with King Crimson modern touch. This is the more experimental song. Burden it's absolutely 70's prog-rock with and incredible acoustic guitar work (there's a funny surprise at the end...). It could be perfectly a song written and played by Genesis or Pink Floyd in their golden era. Porcelain Heart it's a clever mix between killer riffings, epic chorus and acoustic and very very dark verses. Hessian Peel is a little masterpiece, a lesson to undersand what Opeth is at this time. The end, Hex Omega, is a new journey throught the dark in the Opeth reign. Not a song for a David Letterman show... really.
Report this review (#179763)
Posted Sunday, August 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars For those with a short attention span, I'll put it bluntly. Watershed, Opeth's ninth studio album, is their best effort since the masterpiece that is Blackwater Park, far surpassing the attempts of the last three albums; Deliverance, Damnation and Ghost Reveries.

The major problems of the most recent albums have been eradicated here and combined with a distinct shift in their approach to the music. Gone are the needlessly extended songs, as is the poor judgment that they displayed on one or two occasions in the accompaniment, and back comes the dark and melancholic atmospheres that have been missing since the aforementioned Blackwater Park. Since the release of Ghost Reveries, Opeth has undergone a fair bit of upheaval in the line-up with Drummer Martin Lopez being replaced by Martin Axenrot and Guitarist Peter Lindgren with Fredrik Akesson, changes that seem to have done something to re-invigorate the bands music. These changes have led to a noticeable increase in the technicality of the songs on offer here. With both new members coming from a more traditional style of Death Metal band where technicality can be king, this isn't overly surprising, but it is welcome and in no way, shape or form does it detract from the feel of the music. Its also noticeable that Keyboardist Per Wiberg also has a much more prominent role on this album than he did on Ghost Reveries, where he was rather unnecessary, and nowhere does this come through better than on Burden.

I've already touched on the reduction of song length being a good thing. Nowhere on here does Akerfeldt feel the need to extend musical passages for minutes at a time and this has lead to what is a very concise album with no fat, resulting in it weighing in at only 55 minutes. This has also affiliated the return of the dark, melancholic and gloomy atmospheres of the past, replacing the unsuccessful attempt at a more upbeat mood on Ghost Reveries, and the concise nature of the albums musical themes allows this mood to breath, to flow without feeling contrived. Its this point that I feel is the most important of the album as Opeth's unique, dark atmospheres were always the bands Ace up their sleeve, though it still falls short of the feel of Blackwater Park.

The increased technicality of the band is also a very good change here. I'm finding that those intriguing and excellent touches that all great music has is more abundant on here than previously. A few highly intricate acoustic parts, the sound of an acoustic guitar slowly falling out of tune at the end of Burden, the inclusion of female vocals, courtesy of Nathalie Lorichs, on Coil, the keyboard solo(!) on Burden and many more besides make for good listening here. Many people have noted that their is a wrong note early in Hessian Peel that gets repeated, but personally I don't hear anything wrong there at all, the same goes for the sudden changes between heavy and soft. Opeth have always had these changes and quite a few of them have been very sudden, for me it still works very well. The big surprise is that there is considerably less use of Akerfeldt's growl on here with Coil, Burden, Porcelain Heart and Hex Omega all been clean vocal only. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what to make of this as the music is still great and Akerfeldt still sounds good whatever voice he uses.

Overall a very good album, but not quite a match for Blackwater Park or Still Life, and equal to My Arms, Your Hearse. That last part might be telling, because My Arms, Your Hearse was a transitional album for the band and Watershed feels as if it might also be just that, so watch this space.

Report this review (#180108)
Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a very good album. After a couple months of listening I can honestly say that I enjoy listening to this one frequently. It's a good one to blast in the car when I'm going somewhere, and it seems like the kind of record that is good whether you listen to it all at once or in different parts. It's got some beautiful parts, and some very brutal parts. Akerfeldt's growling voice is awesome, and I like his acoustic writing, particularly when classical and folk type individual string picking is required. Axenrot's drumming is also quite impressive, and he's got a good groove going on in most of the songs. Overall, this record goes through several dark moods, and explores a bit of what is possible in the death metal genre. Very good stuff.

Coil is a good short intro to the album. Nice and simple, and it features a beautiful female guest vocalist. It's not particularly beautiful, but it helps to give the beginning of the album a nice push before it actually takes off into metal territory. The only instrument used is a basic acoustic guitar. Maybe it's a bit repetitive, but it's nice that it is structured a bit uniquely. It ends with some static and dusty noise fading in.

That leads into Heir Apparent, so well that you may not expect when the first crash of electric instruments will blast in, that you might just jump in place out of surprise. This track starts off rather slow, repeating itself a bit for a minute, until the drums pick it up and Akerfeldt's growl comes in. As soon as that comes in, you realize you are in for. After a verse, the drums put it into a great swing groove, and the guitar riff turns more agressive. This track continues with this swing style for the rest of the song, until about the last minute, when a melodic closure of the song comes. It is a bit of a repetitive outro, but that's just fine, because this song is a good quality one, so not a lot can make it too bad.

After that is The Lotus Eater. It starts off with a strange humming, with an oboe in the background. You will wonder what kind of song this one is. Suddenly, the drums drop in and a brutal wall of distorted guitar blasts the listener loudly. The melodic singing and the guttural growls trade places frequently in this song, and the vocal rhythms are interesting. For example, in a couple verses there's a little pause before the last syllable of the last line, making the last word, Die a little more emphasized and desperate in my opinion. About halfway through, nothing's left but a keyboard orchestral soundscape and some acoustic guitar. After a while of that, a bit of feedback drones in a bit and the drums pick up in a up tempo beat. Suddenly, all the instruments turn into a funk session and play a groovy beat for a few measures. The song finally ends with more distortion and clean singing. A defenite good track.

Next is Burden. I'm always trying to compare modern songs to early 70's recordings, because when people compare modern bands to earlier ones, I find the production too different to make a similar sound. On this song, however, I figure it would fit in the earlier era and be played on the radio quite often. It's got some good keyboards reminiscent of the ballads of the 70's, a good organ sound. The end of the track, though is very unique compared to any song. An acoustic guitar picks up near the end and strums in a folk-ish style. As it goes on, it sounds like another person detunes the strings of the guitar as it continues to play. A very interesting sound.

Porcelain Heart is a nice track, though a bit repetitive. The acoustic parts are nice, but the vocal melodies do repeat themselves a bit too much. But there are parts when it seems all of the instruments drop out, and an interesting electric guitar fades in slowly. This song has a nice gloomy mood to it, but in my opinion it is a bit stretched out.

Hessian Peel is great. It starts off quietly with some beautiful acoustic guitars, and has a beautiful riff to it after a minute. It builds itself quite nicely, with a good swing rhythm. After about five minutes, everything drops out. You wonder, This one still has 6 minutes to go. What's going on?. Suddenly a bass rhythm seems to eerily appear, though it is very quiet. A couple of cymbal taps, and suddenly everything explodes into a hugely brutal and angry song. The growls go on, and after a bit of that, Akerfeldt starts singing again. After that huge dynamic crescendo, everything seems to calm down. It slowly loses the energy and calms down, and closes up with the bass rhythm. This is definetely the best track on the whole album.

Hex Omega is a bit of a let down of a closing track. Although the metal guitars are playing through the whole album, you don't get to hear Akerfeldt's inpenetrable growl. This song is mostly filler, there's not much notable about it. Maybe if it had been shortened, it would have been a nice closer, but otherwise it's just fine.

So there you have it. This album has quite a few excellent tracks, a few very good tracks, and only one track that is alright. But it's a very good overall listen, especially if you are a death metal fan but you have diverse tastes. It's got a good gloomy atmosphere through the whole of it and mixes a lot of folk and classical style acoustic guitars through it. It's not an essential Opeth album, but it's definetely not a bad one.

Report this review (#180737)
Posted Monday, August 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A previous reviewer, a confessed Opeth fan disappointed with this album made the paradoxical comment that it was Opeth's most progressive album. I would have thought this was the point. This album is flawed; echoes of previous Opeth albums come to mind in some songs and there is a definite flashback to anthem rock with the discordant approach to the end of Burden which has obviously antagonised some people, but perhaps we need to look a little deeper at the purpose of the album and the artist. The songs are part of them and reflect their own development and creative concerns. This is an artist who is searching for the boundaries of his creativity and it is a flawed masterpiece as far as I am concerned. Opeth calls on a greater variety of influences and investigations into the genre they have been previously associated with. Akerfeldt is impatient and on his own admission tends to break things that aren't working for him. This is a group in transition and there is a palpable feeling that the gradual metamorphisis of the band will give rise to new superlatives for their music in the future. I do not think that this album has been particularly well understood, possibly because of the attention drawn to it by the artist and the previous work. It causes me to consider a need for a reasonable time of reflection before any album is reviewed.
Report this review (#181866)
Posted Saturday, September 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I wonder if it is possible that some Opeth ''fans'' find the Watershed a fair album. I wonder if it is possible that some Opeth ''fans'' were expecting something much better than Watershed. I wonder if it is possible that Watershed has 3.95 as a rating after 104 rating reports.

Watershed is a masterpiece of Progressive Metal. Nothing less, nothing more. Starting with an acoustic song, reminding the Damnation days. Continuing with tracks that manage to leave everyone surprised. Tracks that make you wonder: ''This man, Michael Akerfeldt, is such a genius. He is still composing extreme, difficult, progressive music with such an easiness!! He is inexaustible.!!''

Anyone can hear that the 70's influences make part of this masterpiece. Influences from Groups such as Camel and King Crimson appear in many parts. The voice of Michael is so better, so mature, so perfect than each past album of Opeth. Mendez is always there, infallible and awesome. Per's keyboards are so marvellous and take more place respect to the Ghost Perdiction album. Martin Axenrot approves that he is the next drummer for Opeth. His playing is perfect. Fredrik follows, with his charateristic wonderful playing.

Opeth are still ALIVE!! Michael, after the leave of two basic members, manages to continue to compose awesome music. OPETH are still kings...!! Due to the group difficulties, after the leave of Peter and Martin, everything seemed impossible and bad. For that Watershed deserves a 5 star rating!!!

Report this review (#181876)
Posted Saturday, September 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Opeth's Watershed album, is in lack of other words, a fantastic album. I can´t rate it however asa masterpiece, but definitely it´s almost there. Akerfeldt made the best move he could've done in the compositional direction this group takes in this adventure. The days of black metal meets progressive rock have long ended, and nowadays we found progressive rock meets progressive metal-bordering-sometimes-in-the-black-metal-world kind of songs. Some say they're doing it wrong; others say they're maturing and evolving. I say neither,and both, at the same time.

I won't depict each song, as there are better reviewers than me for that job, however the album starts with the track Coil, which I was surprised for a soft introduction like this with Akerfeldt singing and then another singing by a female vocalist with such great voice (and I like it!) because next YOU and I KNOW that the next track will be a killer! And it is.

Heir Apparent and Lotus Eater are some of my favorite tracks in this album. Heir... for doing what they know best (soft acoustic passages with killer progressive metally riffy moments) and for somehow bringing fresh air to the sound they've created throughout the years, Lotus Eater coming to mind, when I hear that piano solo, I just get a smile in my face...

Burden is the weakest song for me in this album however. I like the song, there's no questioning in it, the thing is, it just seems I've heard this somewhere, maybe in some 70´s group, who knows? Great track however, with good guitar solos but too simple for my tastes however. Porcelain Heart is somehow the single from the album. It lacks a chorus but it is however the single (with a videoclip for it and all! Which is very well done by the way.) for the album. I like this one, really, it has strength and its sad. (maybe only for me)

The next two track are for me, the best way to end a fantastic album like this! Hessian Peel, just shows (like Lotus Eater had) that they want to showy 'all progressive music fans, that they're not only about metal or black metal or whatever. Akerfeldt is doing some nasty progressive stuff, the track changes throughout it, giving some ambient moods, and this I like! Hex Omega is like a farewell-see-ya-next-time-hope-you-come-back kind of track. Either makes you feel well I want their next album NOW!!! or makes you feel well I'm gonna hear the album again! or for other purist makes you feel well...I miss the old sound, I'm just gonna hear Still Life again... well, either way, has long as you listen to Opeth, you wont go wrong...right?

ll in all it's a killer four stars to me, a great transition album from their usual but great nonetheless sound and it shows they're going to do some experimenting in their next effort, at least I hope. You can't go wrong with this album folks. No way. Believe me.

Once You Go Prog You Never Go Wrong. Have a good day proggy folks!

Report this review (#182190)
Posted Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There are two types of Opeth fans, and that must be made clear.

There are those who like death metal and the devil's diaphragm, and those who tolerate it for good music.

I am of the second type. I was introduced from my most prog friend to Opeth through Damnation, which I loved, and failed to get through the heavier stuff, until now.

Because of this fact, Watershed is the Opeth's best album for me. It is the Proggiest, most Akerfeld clean vocal combined with heavy guitars album they have, and to me that is combining their best elements. One additional plus is the addition of a new 2nd guitarist who is willing to blow some chops and to me this is Opeth's best album.

1. Coil - 8/10 - this one has grown on me. Most importantly, this announces that this album is not going to be the Opeth of old. Some nuance here, strange choice in the female vocal but the more I listen the more I like it.

2. Heir Apparent - 8/10 - this is a shout to the old fans and even still the breaks are great. The most death metal of all the tracks and plenty of the best dragonvoice of all time. Yes, I've come to handle it. For those like me who avoid the voice, don't discard this track because there are some very strong moments.

3. Lotus Eater - 11/10 - Akerfeld has been quoted as saying this is his favorite track off the new album and I totally understand why. There are two prog masterpieces on this album and this is the heavier of the two. The funk break in the late middle section totally works for me, and is just branching of a creative mind and adventurous band. If Thick as a Brick combined all of the elements of modern music in its time, Lotus Eater combines 2008 elements as no other track does.

4. Burden - 6/10 - I hated this track at first, frankly. Somebody's sig here is something to the effect of We wrote this one to get groupies and at first I thought this track was exactly that. But in fact their are some nice moments, and especially nice instrumentation choices here. The detuning is a strange exploratory choice that really didn't work but who cares.

5. Porcelain Heart - 8/10 - A very solid Opeth track, my previous favorite track of theirs was Drapery Falls and this continues in that feel. It doesn't break new ground for them but is a very strong Opeth track which does what I want Opeth to do, combine brutal guitars with Akerfeld's clean voice

6. Hessian Peel - 11/10 - A masterpiece of prog rock. Period. The Wrong note of the intro is a tension used by Steve Hackett frequently in early Genesis. IMO the best Opeth track of all time. No further explanation needed.

7. Hex Omega - 9/10 - another strong prog track, which left me wanting more which of course is what the last tradck should do. Not as strong as Hessian Peel or Lotus Eater, but still good.

If you like prog, this is the album for you. Not hampered by the constraints of being clean for an entire album, energized by new members, learning from Wilson but now free of him, Opeth produces a prog masterpiece, worth of the five stars I award it.

Report this review (#182381)
Posted Saturday, September 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Opeth is a band that could very easily get stuck in a rut and put out the same music constantly. In the past, that is what they have done.

Thankfully not for Watershed.

Mikael Akerfeldt has long been known to have a sense of humor, though that has been hidden in the layers of lyrics about Satan and death and so forth. Here, at last, the band seems to sit back a little and actually enjoy themselves on a record. Not only that, but they go ahead and try some new things out. Some people don't really appreciate these little ideas, but since I am always looking for bands who progress not on account of playing in an awkward time signature but in trying new and creative things, this mindset makes Watershed a particularly entertaining album to me.

The new drummer, Axenrot, steps up to the plate here for this album, too. He's good and talented and very fast. The new guitarist, Fredrik, happens to be good and talented and very fast, as well. With the addition of these fellows, the band runs the risk of being a more conventional speedy death metal outfit. Thankfully, Mikael's not letting that happen. The album opens with Coil, featuring a female singer for the first time in Opeth history. The next track, Heir Apparent, is classic Opeth. The Lotus Eater features odd combinations of really fast death metal and really gentle clean vocals, as well as a funky midsection. This song proved to me that Opeth is not letting themselves play the same game they always have.

Next comes Burden, a wonderful clean track with traces of Camel and Yes. Mikael's voice has never, ever sounded so good, to my ears. It concludes with a silly repetition of a guitar lick while the guitar is being downtuned, an element that bothers some people and tickles the fancy of others. From there, the album continues to be interesting and quality, while not as unique.

This album gets four stars from me not because it's a perfect album, but because Opeth finally put out a CD with their hearts in the place I most like them: looking for ways to be creative. I can enjoy standard music, but I highly recommend adventurous songwriting.

Out of all of Opeth's releases, this is my most highly recommended.

Report this review (#184032)
Posted Monday, September 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Are lotuses even that good for you?

Opeth's ninth studio album is quite a mixture of styles. While they're all familiar styles from the band, this album tends to be a more eclectic mix than some of their previous works. It seems that on this album the band really decided to make use of Mikael's singing voice instead of just letting him growl away (not that there's anything wrong with his growls, really), and the band makes numerical uses of severe speed changes to make the prog heads drool with excitement while keeping the metal fans entertained with heavy riffs. While the hardcore fans have been all over this release, praising it like there's no tomorrow the album has also met with more controversy than its predecessor, the acclaimed Ghost Reveries. Both sides have their merits and reasons for liking and disliking the album the way they do - since the album has love and hate parts abound.

One of the noticeable things off first listen is just how much the album likes to mess with speed and tempo. Apparently Opeth really didn't want to be accused of keeping their songs the same speed because every song will meet with its slow and fast parts to the point where it almost becomes annoying. While the prog head in all of us can appreciate the changes there's some points where one just wishes that Akerfeldt would have just let the song rock through its entirety so that the listener could raise the horns and rock out with it. There are some exceptional uses of the technique, however, as in the first song to be overly heavy on the album, Heir Apparent, one of the album's biggest standouts with its fast and blistering parts turning into smooth guitar riffs in the middle and nearing the end. The Lotus Eater was the album's first single, and for a good reason, it has a very fun guitar riff that picks up soon after the singing turns into growling. A good mix of vocal styles on this one makes for a nice transition for people who were more into the Damnation phase of the band. More heavy and silent combination on this track starts to test the patience of people who just want to rock out on this track, but in general it still works well.

But while the album has some very good moments it lacks something that could make it a real masterpiece. While there's a lot of heavy parts, some of the slower parts that come in feel a bit forced, and overall the album feels like the playing could have been kicked up a notch, but the musicians decided not to. Granted, there's some great soloing by each of the members, but after listening to a good dose of classic prog it's pretty easy to see that this is a good album that is no where near essential for a prog fan. Opeth may be the leading band in the Tech/Extreme Progressive Metal subcategory, but they've had better than this. The most memorable part of the album is actually the opening track, Coil, which is the slowest and most calm on the entire disc, this one harking back to the band's Damnation days. Some nice female vocal parts make this rather short intro track a wonderful tune to gets things started. Burden follows up this sound sometime into the album with its slow moving progression, making for another quite good moment - with some wicked keyboard soloing in the middle bringing memories of old-school prog, but that out of tune guitar at the end it incredibly irritating, even if it was on purpose.

The rest of the album from there makes use once more of the heavy and quiet segments. Porcelain Heart is another heavy as hell song, slowing only for the vocal parts, as is the 11-minute Hessian Peel. By the time Hex Omega rolls around the audience is quite worn out by heavy music, but with the album sitting at 55-minutes in length it hasn't gone on so long as to be annoying. Other than that - the album is nicely produced, but one can expect a big band like Opeth to shill out enough coin to have a nice mix on their albums. The liner notes are fairly scarce in the normal edition (the special edition might be better, though), but at least the art is fairly disturbing as to match what the band was aiming for style wise.

The sum it all up this is a good album which abuses some of its strong points, but is still worth a few listens. Opeth fans and fanboys will no doubt praise the album like a god, but casual listeners may want to start somewhere else with the band. A solid effort, but not entirely mind-blowing, this one is going to get 3.5 Lotuses out of 5. Just don't eat them. That's bad for you.

Report this review (#184753)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Coil, the first track on the album is the typical acoustic track for Opeth. It features a female vocalist, and she blends quite well with the mood of the track. The only probably I have with this song is the missed chance for the two to harmonize. 9/10.

Heir Apparent could be straight out of My Arms, Your Hearse, and is definitely the hardest track on the album. Mikael's grows sound as harsh as ever, and made me grin when I first heard it. 9/10.

The Lotus Eater is probably my second favorite track on the album. The beginning of the song opens up with Mikael humming along with a mellotron, and a small bass line, and it gives me chills every time. From there, it goes into a blast beat, which I know Axe, the new drummer recruited halfway through the middle of the Ghost Reveries tour, can do in his sleep. Once again, Mikael's growls sound harsh and evil. 10/10.

Burden was my favorite song my first way through the album. The organ solo in the middle always makes me happy. 9/10.

Porcelain Heart is probably the only song I have a complaint with. The song follows typical Opeth structure, but most of it is completely unnecessary. The single version is much more fitting. 7/10.

Hessian Peel. Ah, my favorite song on this album. The beginning folk lick drives me crazy. The over all folk atmosphere is one of my favorite things about it. Then, halfway through, it takes a turn for the heavy. Mikael belts out more growls, and this hard section is probably one of my favorite Opeth moments. 10/10.

Hex Omega is a slightly forgettable track, but not forgotten to myself. There isn't much going on, but it's pleasant to listen to. 8/10.

Overall, Opeth's taken a turn, some will say for the worse, but I say it's just change. It still sounds like Opeth, and it's still good. 8.5/10 or 4/5.

Report this review (#185399)
Posted Sunday, October 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
JLocke
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The problem with this album, at least in my view, is that it constantly toys with the listener. The potential to be even better than their last masterpiece (Ghost Reveries, one of the best Prog albums-- or indeed, of ANY genre --in recent years as far as I'm concerned) is always looming, and every once in awhile can even be heard in full clarity, but most of the time, Watershed merely pretends to be original.

The songs within the attractively-presented package all seem to follow the same pattern. They are heavy for awhile, then soft, then heavy again, and sometimes if the track length allows, softer once more. Ah, but here is the problem: changing tempo and mood constantly doesn't impress anybody. It's more about what you change it TO that makes the songs unpredictable and interesting. In the past the Opeth guys have always seemed to be mindful of this. That is why theirlast album was so great; they didn't just change back-and-forth between two extremes, they changed from one unique thing to the next.

That isn't to say that this album is complete garbage, but progressive it is not, and originall it is not. What it is, in fact, is an above-par extreme Metal album that floors most people who are hearing it because the majority of those people are strictly Metal fans. Looking at Watershed from that perspective, I can clearly see the appeal, but my 'Progressivly-inclined' ears (like that? I made it up) can tell pretty well by this point when a band is truly trying to be original and when they just go into the studio and lay down more of the same, and the latter happened with this entry, in my opinion.

Hell, even then musical complexity and technical prowess seems almost completely absent for long stints in this record. Power chords galore, anyone? I'm not saying that simplicity is bad at all, but this is Opeth. They don't do simple, at least not very well, if this album is any example. This record relies on alot of sound effects and half the time, the tracks are drawn out way too long, meaning that the substance wanes a bit thin after the same boring riff has been repeated for the tenth time and there are still a good five minutes to go.

So, is Watershed a good album? I suppose, but it's not hiugh on my list of favorite Opeth records. I appreciatre bands being different wioth each release, but I really didn't feel like the guys were all that conerned about freshness this time around. It was more about getting out of a slump. If releasing a new record that sounds like it's made up of throw-away tracks from the last one is what they needed, then I will look at this as a necessary evil and hope for the next masterpiece to emerge in a couple of years.

Two stars, and even that is a little too much credit.

Report this review (#185411)
Posted Sunday, October 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5; A transitional album and a victim of my ever growing standards...

I've had and still have incredibly mixed feelings about Opeth's latest release as of this review, Watershed. In a sense, it's Opeth's masterpiece; in a sense, it's Opeth's worst effort since My Arms, Your Hearse. Even more strange, when I think about this album while I'm not listening to it, I don't think well of it, but when I am listening to it it's amazing. I love the tracks individually but the idea of the album as a whole isn't very good. Both die hard and casual fans (myself somewhere between the two) either adore or despise this album, and I can kind of see it in both respects.

A few things are sure, however. It's a transitional album to a new period of Opeth's music, which is saying a whole lot considering Opeth's music evolves with each consecutive album to begin with. This is probably the result of the inclusion of a new drummer and guitarist, and Åkerfeldt having more control on what is happening with the song writing. The album is also more preferred by those who listen to Opeth despite the death metal influence rather than because of it, while the fans of the band's early not-very-prog period tend to dislike if not loath it. Probably the most progressive of Opeth's record, it incorporates much more symphonic and psychedelic elements with more extensive use of the keyboard and wind instruments than ever before. We even have a dance funk section in Lotus Eater (my personal favorite track on the album, one of my favorite songs really). And seeing as it is a transitional album, we can probably (well, hopefully) expect to see some incredible albums following this release.

Other than that, I'm not even too sure what I think of the album. I love it and dislike it at the same time. I guess I can conclude that it is essential for the Opeth fan to understand the leap the band took with this album. It is indeed a Watershed of an album, meaning it reflects on everything the band has accomplished and is at the same time covering much ground the band hadn't really even flirted with. Conclusion: one small step for prog, one giant leap for Opeth!

Report this review (#186306)
Posted Saturday, October 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars After a long 3 years of waiting, the new Opeth record has finally arrived to the public. It wasnt long ago that Opeth were just this little band from sweden. Now, especially since signing to Roadrunner Records in 2005, they become one of the world's most in demand metal bands today. This new found fame and fortune left many of Opeth's long-time fans to worry about where the band was headed. The 2005 release titled 'Ghost Reveries' did not depart far from their signature progressive death metal sound but many of the die hard fans still felt alienated by the band, after they've become a household name across the globe. This new release will do one of two things for current fans of the band. One, they will either feel further away from the Opeth they fell in love with in the beginning or their love of the band will grow stronger.

One thing an Opeth fan first notices about this new record is the almost complete absense of Mikael Akerfeldt's trademark death growl. Sure, 3 out of the 7 tracks do contain the growling to some extent, but by no means do they dominate the sound of this record like they do on albums past such as 2001's Blackwater Park and 2003's Deliverance. This time around the sound of the record is more than ever focused on the actual songwriting itself. With songs like 'Burden' and album opener 'Coil', Opeth demonstrate a new found maturity and an even sort of adult-contemporary-esque vibe to the package as a whole. The loss of former guitarist Peter Lindgren and drummer Martin Lopez do nothing to hurt the band's quality of music and to be honest, it is most likely their departures from the band that allowed for this style of an album to be created in the first place. New drummer Martin Axenrot and guitarist Fredrick Akesson allow for these songs to grow into soft, beautiful blends between jazz, folk and blues rock to create an all new Opeth sound. But dont let these songs fool you, there are still songs like Heir Apparent that give enough death metal punch within 8 minutes to satisfy the hunger for the more metal-minded fan.

The highlight(s) of the album come on two different levels. As far as the cleaner songs go, nothing can come close to topping the heart wrenching ballad Burden. With smooth jazz lead guitar played flawless by new guitarist Fredrick Akesson, hormonized with the folky acoustic guitar of Mikael Akerfeldt, the song leaves one feeling very overwhelmed with emotion. Not to mention the Hammond Organ solo by Per Wiberg is literally to die for, 'Burden' is the song that will go down in history as Opeth's best. For ones looking for more of a classic Opeth feel, the song The Lotus Eater is the album's true highlight as far as metal is concerned. With blast beat drumming blended in with clean singing, rapid fire rhythm guitar, start-stop death growls and even a short funk breakdown this is one that will keep the older fans of Opeth hungry and thirsty for more.

Overall this album is by far a huge step forward in the careers of the five men that make up Opeth. This band is heading somewhere new, where that exactly is is yet to be seen but one thing is for certain. If Opeth were to disband today, Watershed would go down as thier true classic. The only question remaining is what could possibly come next for these Swedish metal titans?

Report this review (#186630)
Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first opinion when i bought Wathershed was that this was a true masterpiece. But now, a few months later, I can say I was wrong. I belive many people makes this mistake. They listen to an album, gets excited and rates it five stars, even though the album probably isn't that great. Well enough about that...

Wathershed starts off with beautiful Coil, I truly love the balance between Åkerfeldt and Lorichs voices. Then it gets heavy, really heavy. Heir Apparent is the heaviest track on Wathershed that is Opeth's least heavy album ever (except Damnation of course.) Next track The Lotus Eater is another heavy track, but this one is more progressive. I love the way that Opeth experience new things without getting bad. Next track Burden is quite different from their original sound. It's a bit Dream Theater kind of ballad with some great solos and a strange outro. Porcelain Heart was the first single from the album. It's really not that good and I don't like the way the pieces is put together here. The song doesn't develope and the feeling I get is that this is just some random pieces of music that they have put together in a bad way. Then it's time for the highligt on Wathershed; Hessian Peel. A masterpiece which I would say is one of the ten best Opeth songs ever! The album ends with Hex Omega which is another boring track that doesn't develope.

Among the bonus disc tracks is Den Ständiga Resan a very beautiful Marie Fredriksson cover. Very similar to the orignial but Åkerfeldts voice adds an extra dimension to the song.

It's not a masterpiece but still a good album. It's bad that I can't find the feeling of the album as whole but there is still 4-5 great songs and this is an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Rate: 4-

Report this review (#187272)
Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Watershed - just take it literally

To name a new album that way is almost a prediction about how people react to it. Indeed, Watershed turned out to divide their river of a fanbase into two: The ones who appreciate the band moving in a more progressive direction, neglecting their early roots and developing into a 100% progressive metal band (while at first being mainly a death metal act), the others are missing exactly the hard riffs, the growling vocals and brutal drums. All in all, this album is more melodious than previous efforts and has a clear focus on the more progressive side of the band, incorporating unusal time signatures or more breaks into their songs. This way, the watershed lives up to its expectations, however, I am going by land right between the two rivers.

The album indeed is an effort full of strong songs, which excel one another with well-thought melodies and atmosphere, virtuosity, as well as interesting and unexpected moments. For instance, the first song, Coil, being rather an introduction than a song, is floating from a very mellow, acoustic guitar and keyboard driven piece into the slow, heavy riffing of Heir Apparent. This contrast of soft and hard has been a trademark of Opeth, in this album it is even carried to an extreme, with nearly all songs having their breaks. While being a more ''progressive'' technique of writing music, this also makes it harder to listen to the song as a whole, and, celebrated in this exaggerated way, takes all the diversity. There no longer is the ''surprise'' acoustic moment, yet every break seems to be expectable. Also, more examples of the, in my point of view, almost forced progressive moments ruin, or extremly distract from actually solid songs. The band had the ideas, yet squeezes more out of them than necessary. Things such as the jazzy keyboard solo in The Lotus Eater or the mysterious ''out of tune'' riff of Hessian Peel can be heavily disturbing.

The whole band are excellent musicians and the high level is visible throughout the record, however, in a more subtle way. Brash tour-de-forces do not exist here, as it is the case with many progressive metal acts, as, sad but true, has become cliché of this genre. There have been changes in the line-up, most notably the keyboards being involved since Ghost Reveries, giving another aspect to Opeth's sound. All in all, one could consider this a step in a more ''progressive'' direction, yet this is only a formular, one might be looking for the result. Watershed seems transitional, neither brutal metal nor complex progressive music. Where the band is going we will likely see with their next album.

My conclusion is that Opeth have delivered one more solid album, though it still is far behind previous masterworks such as Blackwater Park or Ghost Reveries. Yet this is only my point of view. This album is extremly polarizing and therefore I strongly suggest anyone to listen some samples on their own. I consider this one to be a good, but non-essential effort, and, due to this, the rating of three stars seems the most appropriate one.

Report this review (#196504)
Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars After a long 3 years of waiting, the new Opeth record has finally arrived to the public. It wasnt long ago that Opeth were just this little band from sweden. Now, especially since signing to Roadrunner Records in 2005, they become one of the world's most in demand metal bands today. This new found fame and fortune left many of Opeth's long-time fans to worry about where the band was headed. The 2005 release titled 'Ghost Reveries' did not depart far from their signature progressive death metal sound but many of the die hard fans still felt alienated by the band, after they've become a household name across the globe. This new release will do one of two things for current fans of the band. One, they will either feel further away from the Opeth they fell in love with in the beginning or their love of the band will grow stronger. One thing an Opeth fan first notices about this new record is the almost complete absense of Mikael Akerfeldt's trademark death growl. Sure, 3 out of the 7 tracks do contain the growling to some extent, but by no means do they dominate the sound of this record like they do on albums past such as 2001's Blackwater Park and 2003's Deliverance. This time around the sound of the record is more than ever focused on the actual songwriting itself. With songs like 'Burden' and album opener 'Coil', Opeth demonstrate a new found maturity and an even sort of adult-contemporary-esque vibe to the package as a whole. The loss of former guitarist Peter Lindgren and drummer Martin Lopez do nothing to hurt the band's quality of music and to be honest, it is most likely their departures from the band that allowed for this style of an album to be created in the first place. New drummer Martin Axenrot and guitarist Fredrick Akesson allow for these songs to grow into soft, beautiful blends between jazz, folk and blues rock to create an all new Opeth sound. But dont let these songs fool you, there are still songs like Heir Apparent that give enough death metal punch within 8 minutes to satisfy the hunger for the more metal-minded fan.

The highlight(s) of the album come on two different levels. As far as the cleaner songs go, nothing can come close to topping the heart wrenching ballad Burden. With smooth jazz lead guitar played flawless by new guitarist Fredrick Akesson, hormonized with the folky acoustic guitar of Mikael Akerfeldt, the song leaves one feeling very overwhelmed with emotion. Not to mention the Hammond Organ solo by Per Wiberg is literally to die for, 'Burden' is the song that will go down in history as Opeth's best. For ones looking for more of a classic Opeth feel, the song The Lotus Eater is the album's true highlight as far as metal is concerned. With blast beat drumming blended in with clean singing, rapid fire rhythm guitar, start-stop death growls and even a short funk breakdown this is one that will keep the older fans of Opeth hungry and thirsty for more.

Overall this album is by far a huge step forward in the careers of the five men that make up Opeth. This band is heading somewhere new, where that exactly is is yet to be seen but one thing is for certain. If Opeth were to disband today, Watershed would go down as thier true classic. The only question remaining is what could possibly come next for these Swedish metal titans?

Report this review (#203617)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Watershed' - Opeth (8/10)

With 2006's 'Ghost Reveries,' Opeth burst out onto the world stage and became a household name in the world of metal. Now, with new members and a fresh new perspective, Opeth has released yet another fantastic album. Falling just short of perfection, 'Watershed' offers a dose of some great Opeth material, paired with some rather half-baked material. There are some instant classics on this album, such as the innovative track 'The Lotus Eater,' which stands as being both the highlight of this album and one of the best, strangest songs Opeth has ever recorded.

The new band members, while they will obviously meet criticism from hardcore purists regardless, are in fact incredibly talented. The new drummer, Martin Axenrot is a fair improvement from his predecessor, and although the jazz percussive influences can't be heard as much anymore, there's an added dose of metal to be heard here, which compensates for the added focus on prog-rock. This album can be thought of as one part 'Ghost Reveries' and one part 'Damnation.' While Opeth is typically thought of as a death metal band, only three of the songs to be found here have death growling! This is a sign of the future for Opeth... Potentially they will come to the point where they scrap death metal altogether? Hopefully not, because the growls on this album are some of his best yet. 'Heir Apparent' offers some of the most bone- crushing death metal Opeth has ever done, and stands as being one of their heaviest songs yet.

The beautiful ballad 'Burden,' while being something of evidence of Roadrunner's commercial pressures on the band, still works out to be a really nice prog-rock song, reminiscent of classic 70's prog. The only song on this album that dissapoints is the closer 'Hex Omega,' which although having some good riffs, doesn't really pass as being a very fitting closer. In fact, if 'Hex Omega' had been replaced with a better finishing song, this album would have received five stars. But as a final impression, it injures the album's overall effect. Despite this shortcoming, the album pulls through however, and stands as being a great Opeth release, and does not dissapoint. Definately worth the purchase.

Report this review (#205518)
Posted Thursday, March 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album in my opinion is near PERFECTION. I always thought that Opeth's "softer" more musical side was what made them great. In this sense, this album is a perfect representation of this side of Opeth. Not only is the recording and mixing more polished than all the other Opeth records, the addition of Martin Axenrot on drums and Fredrik Åkesson on guitar, has evolved Opeth from a great Prog band, to an absolutely masterful progressive band. The guitar work itself would qualify this album as a masterpiece, yet the song arrangements and not to mention the AMAZING drumming make this as one of my personal favorite albums of all time. The "growl" vocals are used a little more sparingly, which makes the metal portions that much more significant making them stand out more. I will admit that this album took time to grow on me, as it definitely takes a few listens to appreciate. The chemistry between Akerfeldt's and Åkesson's playing is absolutely amazing, and is one of main things that make this album so special. Every song is amazing, Heir Apparent is a great "metal track" with a very epic ending. Lotus Eater is a bizarre yet extremely technical song that is definitely a highlight of the album. Burden, which is completely clean vocals and barely metal at all, is a PERFECT example of the guitar work i mentioned before. The Vocals are amazing and this is the most emotionally touching song on the album. Hessian Peel and Hex Omega, I believe are the best songs on the record. DEFINITELY GET THIS ALBUM
Report this review (#215488)
Posted Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I thought that Opeth had reached their peak with the magnificient "Ghost Reveries", but once again they proved me wrong. With Watershed, the Swedes have released their most experimental, dynamic and versatile album yet. And last but not least, one of the most inspired.

I see the album opening as a very strong stamement about Opeth's versatility. "Coil" is an extremely beautiful short, acoustic track with some uncommon musical elements for Opeth such as female vocals (sung by lovely Natalie Lorichs) and oboe. The oboe makes a great effect playing a backing melody in the chorus. But right after it there's "Heir Apparent", which might be the most aggressive song they've ever done. It starts with a dissonant doom metal riff, and after a short piano interlude it turns into technical death metal. Great riffing, growls and also some short acoustic interludes that remind me of Anglagard (use of flute and overall atmosphere). No clean vocals at all, by the way.

"The Lotus Eater" is quite an uncommon track for Opeth, with ultra-fast blast-beats supporting Akerfeldt's clean vocals and then slower parts with growls. The soft, eerie interlude with clean guitars before a brilliant jazz-flavoured break seems to be inspired by the album "The Drift" (Scott Walker), an important source of inspiration for "Watershed", according to Akerfeldt. Fantastic song!

"Burden" is a proggy, epic ballad a bit in the vein of early King Crimson ("Epitaph", "The Court of the Crimson King) featuring an amazing Hammond organ solo by Per Wiberg and emotional leads from both guitarists. This is one of the best vocal performances Mikael Akerfeldt has ever done when it comes to clean singing. "Porcelain Heart" has the most classic Opeth sound from the whole album, being mostly acoustic and mellow, plus some metal riffs with a doomy feel.

The longest song here is "Hessian Peel". It starts mellow, with acoustic guitars and then we get some real strings (violin and cello) playing a beautiful melody between the verses. The track becomes more agressive towards the middle, and a brief growling part appear before a fantastic guitar solo. Some impressive riffing follows and then it fades out into a mellow passage, similar to the first part of the song. This is one of the best Opeth tracks ever, with cool dynamics and lots of creativity. "Hex Omega" ends the album and it's my favourite song. Not a typical Opeth song indeed, even though it's as dark and haunting as the rest of the album. The atmosphere has somewhat a Middle-Eastern feel which I really love. Clean vocals, keyboards a la Porcupine Tree and finally an incredibly bleak, desolating (in a positive way) guitar riff. Nice ending.

The special edition contains 3 bonus tracks: "Derelict Herds", which reminds me a lot of Riverside, "Bridge of Sighs", a dark, bluesy Robin Trower cover, and "Den Ständiga Resan", Marie Fredriksson cover that suits Opeth's style very well. They're all worth listening. Furthermore, that edition includes a 5.1 mix of the album. It's well done (by Jens Bogren) and it really enhances the listening experience, especially the dynamics and some arrangements that are hardly heard in the stereo version.

"Watershed" is not only the best Opeth album in my opinion, but also one of the, if not THE, best progressive releases of this decade. Essential.

Report this review (#221669)
Posted Thursday, June 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Opeth is not the type of band that I typically like, and I indeed have a difficult time listening to most of their albums. However, Watershed is an exception, and I think it is a brilliant album. I consider it brilliant just for the mere fact that it completely changed my view of this band from a bunch of useless noise to a masterful progressive metal band. The main thing I didn't like about this band is their use of "Cookie Monster" vocals that I felt ruined the great metal music being played underneath. Fortunately, the "Cookie Monster" vocals on this album are sparse and it gives room for Mikael Åkerfeldt to shine with his pleasant pure voice.

The opening track, "Coil", is a good indication of the different direction this album is headed. It is a pleasant track where the vocals switch between Akerfeldt's clean vocals and those of a beautiful female vocalist on top of acoustic guitar. It is a beautiful start to the album. Then, the complete contrast is the next track, "Heir Apparent", that shows the typical heaviness and "Cookie Monster" vocals that Opeth is known for. I have really grown to love this song and I love the contrast it provides from the serene begining. The musicianship in this song is amazing and Akerfeldt's vocals fit the dark mood of the track. "The Lotus Eater" is a favorite track of mine because it allows the heavy Opeth sound to coexist with Akerfeldt's clean vocals. I especially like the funky break in the song with extremely proggy keyboards. It is perhaps the most proggy moment of the whole album and it always gets me excited.

"Burden" starts off with a brilliant light piano before Akerfeldt sings with his pure clean voice. This is a wonderful track, one of my favorites on the album. I love the organ solo in the middle. This track makes me wonder why Akerfeldt doesn't use his clean voice more often in Opeth. The ending of the track is wacky with an acoustic guitar that increasingly gets more and more out of tune. It is strange, but I love if for some odd reason and feel it fits within the context of this album. "Porcelain Heart" is probably the weakest track of the album, but it is still good. It features some great acoustic guitar and Akerfeldt once again doesn't resort to the growling vocals that are so common on Opeth songs. "Hessian Peel" is a brilliant epic, perhaps the strongest song on the album. It begins with the signiture acoustic guitar that is all over this album. The beginning is magical with Akerfeldt's clean voice singing over a wonderful interplay of acoustic and electric guitar with some flute added in with great effect. Towards the middle, the growling vocals return, but I find it a good effect to show the contrast between the relatively serene beginning section. "Hex Omega" is a great closer to the album that really rocks.

Watershed is an album that gave me an almost revelatory experience and made me desire to repeatedly listen to it to get the same experience. It changed how I felt about Opeth and the technical/extreme metal category in general. It made me realize that growling vocals could have a place in the music (as long as they are used sparingly). Above all, this album is enchanting to me and creates a certain mood that I can't quite describe. During the summer of 2008 I couldn't get enough of this album and it was on constant repeat in my car. I would have never expected that of an Opeth album.

Report this review (#225501)
Posted Thursday, July 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.95

I've been holding on this review for a long time but right now I'm listening to this album so I think it's time to do the review.

The first time that I heard this album I thought: "It's nice, but it doesn't have anything extraordinary (except Lotus Eater, I loved that song since the first time that I heard it)". Right now I've heard this album like 30 times I think and I can say: "It's an excellent album, although it doesn't deserve a 5 star rating."

Some people say that this is a transitional album and maybe they're right, it certainly sounds different than the other Opeth records, but I really appreciate Fredrik's addition in the band. I always thought that Mikael's and Peter's guitar playing was too similar, now with Fredrik they add a new way to make solos and it sounds GREAT (If you want to verify it, listen to the final solo of Burden where Mikael and Fredrick make a "Question and Answer" solo, it sounds amazing!!!).

So, it's a great album, different from the previous releases but it makes me wonder: how it's going to be the next record? I look forward to hear a new album of Opeth, hopefully it would be a masterpiece.

Report this review (#228476)
Posted Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Oh how would this be great without these horrible death metal things. Well, they're bad for me, but perhaps not for everyone. I'm symphonic prog type. But as I can appreciate this genre, I quite a like this album as well. I can simply suffer through these parts and enjoy great melodic death metal. But melody isn't only thing important, it's more like something which keeps me hooked on, otherwise meaningless death metal growls. I have good feelings about this album. And I'm not afraid to tell that it's complex one. Huh, did I've just heard mellotron ? Track by track, it's like minefield for me. I'm trying to avoid death, seeking guitar solos, his clear vocals and so on.

Minefield, this fits perfectly. If not DM, I would give it five stars.

Report this review (#229534)
Posted Sunday, August 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is this album a watershed for Opeth or not?Partially,it is.It is not definitely their best release but it keeps the quality level very high. Before referring to each song I must say that their sound is diverse and different from their previous releases, more progressive rock maybe which is something commendable, because stagnancy is not a step of evolution. The minus in this release is the absence of enough death metal growls. Some songs could have been accompanied by brutal vocals. Also, mr.Axenrot is not as skillful as Lopez, but he tries.

1-Coil: A very short track for Opeth(less than 3 minutes) but with a beautiful melody which hides a melancholic touch. The addition of female vocals which are actually very nice, works perfectly. Akerfeldt shows again his range and quality of his clean voice. An ideal opener-4/5

2-Heir Apparent: Wow,what a heavy and furious song! Many prog listeners did not like it due to the fact that combines mainly doom with death metal and then progressive. Akerfeldt's brutal voice is in its more hellish performance than ever. I like very much the part when Mikael growls and the drums follow his misanthropic tones in frenzy tempo. The ending is brilliant with that melodic part played by the guitarists. One of the harsher and best songs Opeth ever recorded. 5/5

3-The Lotus Eater: Probably the best song in this album. Akerfeldt is crazy enough to sing melodically while Axenrot punishes its drum kit with his double-pedal(I do not know if this is the right definition)beats and then switches to his top notch brutal taste. Very intelligent melodies and complicate playing. Who said that funky cannot be incorporated in Opeth music?Ask Per Wilberg and his keyboard cool stuff that he adds after the middle of the song(in sixth minute). Mendez also can be heard with his bass tones. To my opinion, Mendez is one of the most important members of Opeth, as it comes for the music. After the keyboard medley follows the main melody of this song with brutal vocals and it finishes with whispers in the background. Perfect song-5/5

4-Burden: The best till now ballad Opeth have ever written. It has a magical touch full of sentiments. Very good guitar work here along with the keyboard surrounding. It has though a stupid ending with a fade-out false tone guitar but it does not detract from the beauty of this song. 5/5

5-Porcelain Heart:The first official video and the first mediocre track in 'Watershed'. This is exactly the song that could have some death metal growls in some parts. Axenrot tries to prove that he is an able successor of Lopez and he plays really good but he is not as his predecessor. The song repeats itself and it is too big in comparison to its musical content. Not a bad song,just good nothing more. 3/5

6-Hessian Peel: The structure is typical of Opeth. It starts with a mellow part with clean vocals and ethereal melodies and then switches to a death metal vocal segment and a very progressive feeling. The second half of this song(after the sixth minute) is a perfect example of how progressive Opeth can be. In my opinion, the first part shoyld be shorter and the death metal growls more but generally it is a very good song.4/5

7-Hex Omega: A promising start which can deceive you to believe that it is a heavy song but it is softer than it is expected. Not bad. The keyboards have a significant role in this track along with Mikael's fragile impeccable vocals. There are also interesting riffs and percussion work. 4/5

Generally, a very good album to Opeth's career.

PS:Just one irrelevant question. How can Porcupine's Tree work 'The Incident' be rated while it has not been released yet? Is there only censorship to the content of your review and not to abnormalities like this? Please read the review in Porcupine's Tree 'The Incident' and wonder if it is written by a redneck or not.

Report this review (#229652)
Posted Monday, August 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3- (minus) This Opeth release is the result of an important line-up change. Martin Lopez on drums left (for mental stability reasons...) to be replaced by Martin Axenrot (Axe), and Peter Lindgren is replaced by Fredrik Åkesson. The first line-up change is a disappointment to me, as I find Lopez to be extremely talented and subtle, whereas Axe is just effiscient. There are even some breaks he does that are surprisingly untasteful... Guitar-wise, I think Akerfeldt wanted a guitarist who could play solos, and help him more than Lindgren did, and maybe come up with some new riffs. Bad idea? I don't know yet, but I personnally like the fact the Akerfeldt had just a basic guitarist with him, so that he doesn't get carried away, and doesn't try reviving his classic rock influences. The music on the album is fine, though nothing new is introduced here (for Opeth there is, but not so much for the listener...). The songs sometimes lack coherence, which is understandable with a new lineup, I simply hope it would be run otherwise on the next album. You will still find some crushing riffs, but the drummer change has a big impact on the Opeth mood which was heavily relying on Lopez... And guitarist who can do solos doesn't mean you have to double solo time, which was practically what happened here, and the music lost a lot of its charm, and darkness. The calm songs such as Coil didn't convince me a bit, and Akerfeldt seems to be a bit short on ideas, probably trying to manage the band the best he can...

Some fine elements, but definitely a setback compared to the great Ghost Reveries. Let's hope the new lineup works better on the next album, but I'm afraid I won't be able to swallow Lopez's departure...

Report this review (#231145)
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Since the release of Damnation, Opeth has gradually turned into a 'retro rock' act. The addition of keyboard player Per Wiberg on Ghost Reveries and his full integration in the Opeth sound on Watershed have made their seventies leanings very explicit. A song like Burden could almost have been on Deep Purple's Burn. (Maybe it's even a pun!).

Now there's nothing wrong with that. On the timeless Still Life and Blackwater Park you can also hear plenty of seventies references but then they were tightly integrated with crushing and merciless metal outbursts. Here, I am not really thrilled by the (sparse) metal growls. They don't seem to serve any other purpose then just being there, as if they're pasted in for good measure, simply because they should be on an Opeth album. There's no need for them, none of the songs come to a level of intensity that makes them indispensable. Which brings me to the heart of my disappointment with this release: I find no sparkling creativity in it, no urge or enthusiasm. Hessian Peel is exemplary in this: it's the typical mix of mellow prog and death metal but there's not one inspired melody in sight during the whole tedious 12 minutes of it. It's easily one of Opeth's weakest songs. Only The Lotus Eater really delivers the goods

The days when Opeth used to crush you down with a wall of sound, with vintage riffs and deep and pure emotionality seem to be gone. Are they gone for ever? I'm sure the next album will prove me wrong!

Report this review (#236694)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I have to admit that I didn't like this album until maybe the fifth listen. I always thought it would be amazing to hear a heavy OPETH album with only clean vocals, but the truth is that those brutal vocals are too important to their violent sound as proven here. Anyway i've still grown to really like this record and it's quite different from their previous recordings. A new lead guitarist and drummer on this one as well.

"Coil" sounds so beautiful with the acoustic guitar and clean vocals. Bass joins in then flute around 1 1/2 minutes.The female vocals really do work well here as they arrive before 2 minutes. Some aboe here as well. "Heir Apparent" is a great contrast to the opening track as it is crushingly heavy with only brutal vocals throughout. Heavy to open but a calm with piano takes over quickly then all hell breaks loose with death vocals. Ripping guitar after 3 minutes then a calm returns. Heavy again after 4 minutes as the contrasts continue. "The Lotus Eater" opens with Akerfeldt humming and some cello before it kicks in with clean and death vocals taking turns. A calm after 2 minutes before the band explodes back in. Nice guitar before 4 minutes followed by another calm. Check out the drum/keyboard section before 6 minutes (haha). I love it. Kicks back in to end it. Great tune. "Burden" opens with piano as mellotron floods in and the guitar cries out. A fuller sound with vocals takes over as the mellotron continue. Fat bass lines too. Such a moving section. Killer organ before 2 1/2 minutes. I like the vocal melodies followed by a tasteful guitar solo after 4 minutes. Amazing tune.

"Porcelain Heart" is another favourite. Nice heavy intro before settling right down a minute in. Vocals join in reminding me of "Damnation" then it kicks back in before 2 minutes. Contrasts continue. Great section before 4 minutes. Love when the heaviness returns 6 1/2 minutes in and vocal melodies join in. The drumming sounds great. "Hessian Peel" is laid back with vocals a minute in. I can't tell you how much I like the sound here. Some aboe as well. Kicks into a higher gear 3 minutes in then another gear before 4 1/2 minutes before it calms right down with flute and piano. Contrasts coninue. An all out assault 9 1/2 minutes in. "Hex Omega" is uptempo and heavy to start but it settles before a minute with vocals and flute. Contrasts continue. Ripping guitar after 3 minutes before another calm with piano. Heavy to end it.

Well it took a while but there's little here that I can find fault with. And it's still getting better. Easily 4 stars.

Report this review (#242980)
Posted Sunday, October 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, this is an amazing heavy progressive metal album. Really great music with new important members in the new sound of the band. I really like Opeth because of the evolution in their records, they try to do new things, experiments, things that they have never done. Coil is a sweet song, very sweet and dark at the end, an end to Heir Apparent, one of the most heavy Opeth songs. The Lotus Eater is FANTASTIC, a [%*!#]ing amazing progressive piece of music, not only progressive, a mix of a lot of styles. Burden is excellent, we can hear the big 70s influence on the band, the keyboard solo, the feeling, Mikael voice, nice. The rest of the album is very very good, Porcelain Heart and Hessian Peel are strong songs with a lot of variation in the music, the instruments, even in Mikael voice (The clean shout is incredible). Hex Omega is another progressive piece, not a ballad but soft, an excellent album closer to an excellent album.

Despite of bad coments, Opeth is always great (and I'm not a death metal fan), is just one of the best bands at the moment, and we all have to admit it.

Report this review (#243134)
Posted Monday, October 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Moving Towards More Traditional Prog-Rock

Opeth's debut album Orchid was pure melodic death metal with a few progressive tendencies. By Still Life they had established themselves as a progressive death metal act, and they've maintained that label since. On Damnation they created a pure prog-rock album, and Watershed seems like a balance between their progressive death metal albums and the soft prog-rock on Damnation.

While a good amount of the album is still fairly heavy at times, there are rarely growled vocals. Mikael Akerfeldt sings with his beautiful clean voice most of the time, and I think he does an excellent job. Watershed can be viewed as a mellowed-down version of their previous album Ghost Reveries. This has keyboard player Per Wilberg who was present on the last album as well. The addition of keyboards into Opeth's sound alone makes them sound more like a prog-rock band, but this does have much more toned down compositions.

I was skeptical about not having Martin Lopez or Peter Lindgren present on this album, but Martin Axenrot and Fredrik Akesson do a great job on their respected instruments. Let's face it; no one can replace Martin Lopez, but Martin Axenrot is one hell of a drummer.

The compositions here are strong, and this contains some of Opeth's finest songwriting moments. It keeps their dark contrasts between heavy and light using acoustic instrumentation, as well as heavy electric guitars. There are some songs like "Burden" that sound different from anything Opeth's ever done, but for the most part, it's easy to tell this is an Opeth album.

THE MUSIC:

"Coil"- The first song is surprisingly light, as Opeth usually opens an album up with heavy and crushing riffs. This is just a beautiful acoustic song with woodwinds that compliment the song well. This features a female vocalist as well as Mikael's vocals, and I think it works very well.

"Heir Apparent"- After the soft opening track, this song is dark and heavy. This is actually one of the heaviest Opeth's ever done, with a lot of crushing death metal moments. There are silent parts, but this is easily the heaviest song on the album. I absolutely love the dark mood of this song, and I think this is one of the stronger songs on the album. Heavy yet melodic riffs, furious double bass pedals, and the excellent ending make for a great progressive death metal song.

"The Lotus Eater"- The third track opens with Akerfeldt humming a melody with an oboe. Almost out of nowhere the song gets really fast, and it sets a great mood. The tradeoffs between clean and growled vocals work well, and I think Akerfeldt delivers an excellent vocal performance. This has a really proggy keyboard section in the middle, and it makes for an excellent instrumental section. This song is one of my favorites from the album.

"Burden"- Opeth doing a mainstream rock song? Believe it or not, it works surprisingly well. This is mostly an emotional song, but I think the musicianship is excellent. My favorite section has got to be the excellent organ solo from Per Wilberg. It fits the song perfectly, and it really shows the versatility of the band. This has a kind of jazzy feel at times, but the frequent use of mellotron reminds me of Porcupine Tree. A great song!

"Porcelain Heart"- After the drum roll a melodic metal riff enters. This is a fine example of a metal Opeth song without growled vocals. This song actually does tire a little bit, and it is not my favorite from the album. I really do like a couple of moments from this song, but overall this is not my favorite.

"Hessian Peel"- This could possibly be one of my favorite Opeth songs. I absolutely love the acoustic instrumentation, the overall mood of the song, and to be honest everything about the entire song is excellent. After the bluesy riff, one of the main themes enters. It sets a great tone, and it shows how great Opeth is on acoustic instruments. I love the addition of woodwinds into the instrumentation as well. This has excellent drumming, and it shows that Martin Axenrot does a great job in Martin Lopez's place. There are some growled vocals thrown in, and I think it works perfectly. This album is worth buying for this song alone in my opinion.

"Hex Omega"- The closing track has some really good riffs, but I think it's a weak way to close the album. This is the only passable track on the album, even though the mellotron is at least enjoyable.

Conclusion:

Watershed is another great album from Opeth. This is highly recommended to people who aren't huge fans of metal. Damnation is pure prog rock, but this is a much stronger album and shows Opeth's true potential. If you are a metal-head like myself, you will still find much enjoyment out of this album. I don't consider this to be a masterpiece, and this is far too good to be worthy of a three star rating. Therefore, the natural rating would be a four.

4 stars.

Report this review (#252802)
Posted Thursday, November 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Good... Not excellent

A bit disappointing from Opeth's side this time. It's not a bad album in any way, but since this is Opeth, I was expecting more. There is no doubt some killer tracks on this record as well, bet it is a bit of an anticlimax. Especially since it was following what I consider to be Opeth's best album, Ghost Reveries. The beautiful mixture of extreme metal and elements inspired by 70' progressive rock isn't as prevalent as before. Still, when it kicks in there is no one who even comes close to Opeth's brilliance. This album still confirms Opeth place within progressive extreme metal. As number one. But compared to their earlier works it just seems to be missing something.

Heir Apparent is as expected. A powerful excellent extreme metal song, spiced up by progressive elements. Still, it's not as memorable as I would wish. The Lotus Eater on the other hand is very memorable, and probably one of their most interesting songs ever. This song shows Opeth at its best, in addition to showing lot of originality in the song structure. Clearly the best track on the album. Following this monster track is the ballad The Burden. A ballad that I also think is one of Opeth's best ballads. The rest of the songs are quality in both production and performance, but they seem to be forgotten as quickly as they appeared.

If this change is due to the band changing half of their members or not, is hard to say. I would like to not think so since their new members play the old songs to perfection. The new drummer really deserves honor. His technical performance is beyond words. For the fifth time I saw Opeth live last summer, and I must admit that Hex Omega and Porcelain Heart made me lose concentration there for a minute.

It is with sadness in my heart that I appoint this album only three stars. Opeth is after all one of my all-time favorite bands. Maybe that is why I expect as much of them as I do. I am sure they will be back soon, stronger than ever.

Report this review (#262951)
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars I was very excited to hear Watershed when it came out. Opeth had previously made an incredible album, Ghost Reveries and taken a significant step forward in writing music. They also had recently made Per Wiberg a fulltime-member of the band, so I expected a more dominant role of the keyboard sound, like in most prog. I was expecting another huge progression. However, I was terribly disappointed, not just by the unfullfilled expectations but also their de-evolved writing skills. They obviously have wanted to do something cool and technical here (even though they are not a very technical band) at the expence of musicality. I sense no soul here. I should have guessed some of this beforehand since Peter Lindgren had just left the band due to lack of energy. Whatever the reason (perhaps the extensive touring after Ghost Reveries?), the same thing was propably affecting the other members of the band. And here we hear the result, a lack of inspiration covered up with a professional sounding heavy/pop record. Not to say I totally dislike it: Heir Apparent includes some decent bashing and there are a few good moments along the album.
Report this review (#263540)
Posted Saturday, January 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Quite unusual and experimental album by Opeth. From the very first song ,acoustic and melodic, with female vocals, you understand, that possibly you would not be attacked by death metal storm during all the album. And you are right. In fact all the album is combination of melodic softer mellow prog songs and death metal ones. This combination brings some positive balance to the sound of full work, but often looks too much calculated.

Whenever I believe, that not endless death metal drones are strongest Opeth side ( there are many death bands all around doing this job with bigger enthusiasm and almost religious repetitiveness), I think this album is showing Opeth progressive abilities even better than some previous albums.

For sure, this combination of hard/soft, light/dark, beautiful/ugly is not Opeth invention in such kind of music, but they are using it quite successfully on this album. Every listener will find enough to listen there, and no-one will be bored.

Strong 3,5 from me.

Report this review (#266968)
Posted Friday, February 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I do not like "grunting". I am really wondering who ever got the idea of misusing your voice in this way. As if you cannot show emotion or anger without it, I mean grunting. Some months ago, I "discovered" Damnation, an excellent cd with excellent vocals. It was quite a shock to me that Damnation had to be considered as an exception for Opeth and that Mikael Akerdfeldt would never release an album with Opeth again without him grunting. Giving the fact that his vocals are excellent, I was amazed to read such a statement. However, It seems that some kind of emotional shock is needed to grasp the significance of "grunting". Because something happened and suddenly the anger of grunting and the emotion of Opeth, certainly the combination or contrast of both grips me. This is a truly a very good album of Opeth. Maybe it is time to carefully try some older work of Opeth!
Report this review (#273806)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Considering this is my first ever review, I have decided to pick an album I am very familiar with I have listened to this album time and again, and it's absolutely fantastic. Competing with the previous album 'ghost reveries' I feel would have been counterproductive considering it was near perfect, so opeth this time round went for something different, Involving much more melodic and acoustic intervals between the heavier thrash riffs, a much more experimental and gentle Opeth emerged which derived from the use of complex soundscapes and more sophisticated Prog song writing. The album starts with the softest song a three minute track involving some female vocals which is a new for opeth, this track gives me the impression that akerfeldt is destined to go solo in the near future with he himself saying that he would like to, 'coil' which is the name of the track doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the album and should have really been a bonus track showing akerfeldt's soft vocal talent, on the other hand it does feature some very nice acoustic guitar almost reminiscent of the damnation album. The second track 'heir apparent' starts off where 'ghost reveries' left off a very nice heavy track but not to the quality or standard of anything like beneath the mire or reverie/harlequin forest of the previous album. It does boast a lot more keyboard orientation, and is a much slower track to the rest of opeth death metal songs, and does have some lovely guitar work including a very nice solo coming towards the middle of the song which urges a great solo ending time change into acoustic opeth. This type of heavy to soft time change opeth has grown accustomed to but it's always a welcome break in every song. The song then re- enters the heavy metal guitar and growling from akerfeldt and after a minute or so breaks out into an amazing guitar riff accompanied by some lovely drumming and mellotron to end a nicely worked song. The third track starts with some unusual humming which I personal feel is a great way to start such a heavy track like 'the lotus eater', as the name suggests this very heavy melodic metal, is a fine example of opeth's better work. And although it packs a very fast paced beat and features a lot of thrash guitar work the growling is combined much of the time with the clean vocals of akerfeldt this only improves the heavier bits and makes a fresh change. Akerfeldt himself admitted this is one of his favourite tracks saying it was very unusual and weird. The track throws in some very unusual yet impressive guitar and keyboard combinations and gives us some more of opeth trademark brilliant heavy riffs. This track is without doubt one of opeth's best and it was extremely welcome on this album. 'Burden' is single handily opeth's greatest soft track it brings together a soft mellow Prog tone with a somewhat sombre mood. This song like the album is very experimental in terms of opeth combining lots of keyboard and some more great guitar, the powerful feeling given to the guitar is something of a miss in most of Opeth's more gentle tracks, but just like the guitar in 'Windowpane' from 'damnation' it adds so much to the mood created by the piece. The track ends with a transition from normal to de-tuned acoustic adding some more unusual aspects to the songs in this album, in a way it ruins the complex momentum built up in the track, yet it also expresses the willingness to experiment and try new things this can only be good to the build up of Opeth's next studio length album. The fifth of the seven album songs is 'porcelain heart' this eight minute track combines one long heavy metal riff that throughout the song breaks down into the gentle very sombre and haunting acoustic guitar, soft vocal parts where Mikael Akerfeldt really shows his talent. The riff then reoccurs getting more distorted with some great drum work, some more soft vocals in sue and as the last interlude ends, Then enters the staggering riff which builds in power, until the end of the song. Hessian peel at the start feels very inspired by the softer classical folk Prog than anything you would expect from opeth, considering it is in my opinion the main song of the album. The very powerful feeling created by the acoustic guitar starts the song in a very typical opeth way, but then comes in the strangest riff of the album very classic folk rock; the song from then on carries with the well constructed tuneful singing and acoustic guitar topped with melodic keyboard, and almost as expected a beautifully powerful and elegant metal riff emerges from gentle melody (one of those hair stand on end moments) and as softly it started it fades back into more soft and tranquil acoustic guitar and piano tuned keyboard. Then as if to relive the past heavy tracks on the album comes some death metal vocals, at last and although they are brief what comes next is simply sublime, so powerful and meaningful are the guitar sounds and that mutates into a nice metal riff followed by some clean vocals over impressive drumming and more melodic keyboard, the song finishes on an organ beat similar to that on 'porcelain heart' which fades out giving an end to a strangely beautiful opeth masterpiece fitting for any album, but perfect for this one. 'Hex omega' the last track on the album I thought would have finished where 'hessian peel' left off with much more death metal growling, but it was on the contrary this song had more emphasis on akerfeldt's clean vocals which gave rise to a softer atmosphere, akerfeldt's voice is stronger than usual in times and he obviously favours this song because he was very powerful when they played this live, this song also introduces more of Per Wiberg onto the album with his almost jazz inspired keyboard playing. Overall a good Finnish to the album but was lacking that more epic ending like 'Blackwater park' back in 2001 or the 'grand conjuration' on 'Ghost reveries'. Out of the bonus tracks 'Derelict Herds' is by far the strongest combining the heavy riffs of opeth with the some quite unique sounding vocals, I really don't know why they didn't include this as the first track replacing coil as a bonus track because it truly is a wonderful song. The two covers are also pretty good, 'den standiga resan' is sung beautifully and there are some memorable solos in the end of 'Bridge of sighs', but the song is very repetitive. Overall the album as a whole is a much more sophisticated and progressive experience, everything is well constructed and has clearly been thought through, some of the experimentation and decision making has been a bit unusual and unsettling however as a whole it's brilliant. Songs such as 'Burden' and 'hessian peel' are a fantastic inclusion to the album and a more sinister melodic tone has been created in opeth's work. The only downside to the album is that when compared to albums like 'Ghost reveries' and 'still life' the songs seem less meaningful and the album doesn't flow or intertwine as well. So given all the circumstances and taking everything into consideration id give this album 4.2/5. A truly wonderful journey through the sombre and melodic atmosphere of one of Opeth's finest albums.
Report this review (#279382)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars After being underwhelmed by the both critically and commercially acclaimed Ghost Reveries I began doubting that Opeth would be able to comeback to the magnificent sound of their past. Then came The Roundhouse Tapes with its new take on many of the band's earlier compositions that got my hopes up for the next studio release! Unfortunately Watershed was yet another disappointment.

After the departure of the two long time collaborators Martin Lopez and Peter Lindgren the band was now in complete hands of Mikael Åkerfeldt, that is not to say that this was not the case to begin with although this time it must have been even more challenging for him since Mikael had to not only write the material but also coach the two new members into the Opeth way of life. I'm sure that most people found this album enjoyable but that's because the band is trying to please a wide audience that they acquired with their previous album. Meaning that they have just become another one of the generic bands that currently exist in the Roadrunner Records roster. I'm not sure how that label manages to time and time again strip the talented band's that they sign from every bit of originality that was there but that's nonetheless what has now happened to Opeth.

Watershed shows me a band that struggles to hold their ground while still trying bits and pieces of sound that already exist within the label's roster and ultimately falling short at both of these attempts. This is also the first Opeth record that features a real single in the shape and form of Porcelain Heart. To me it sounds like a complete parody of the band's sound with the worst transitions that I've ever heard. When I heard this single for the first time I honestly thought that it was good Opeth knock-off but I was shocked when I actually saw the video and realized that it was in fact an Opeth composition! Seeing Mikael perform this mess is truly a painful experience and the lengthy cuts between the video sections completely slaughters the experience.

Heir Apparent is the only piece that remotely constitutes for an Opeth composition that offers a complete experience but seeing that it's the only shred that maintains the bridge between the band I liked and their current state doesn't make me want to run out and purchase any more of their future recordings. Watershed gives me everything I disliked about Ghost Reveries but now with no truly noteworthy compositions meaning that this is almost a complete disaster. I'm most definitely going to be more careful before purchasing any new Opeth releases in the near future.

**** star songs: Heir Apparent (8:50)

*** star songs: Coil (3:10) The Lotus Eater (8:50) Burden (7:41) Hessian Peel (11:25) Hex Omega (7:00)

** star songs: Porcelain Heart (8:00)

Report this review (#283044)
Posted Saturday, May 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Here it is, the long awaited positive Opeth review from Evolver.

The album is tithed "Watershed", and a watershed it is. This is the type of album that this band seems to have been moving towards with their last few releases. Much less death metal, and much more subtlety and texture. Sure, the "growling", or as I have been calling it "vomiting" vocals are still there, but they are few and far between. The best use of this "technique" is in Hessian Peel, where it is used for emphasis only a couple of times, and the stark contrast to the normal vocals makes the effect work.

And the compositions to me are much better than usual. There is quite a bit of fine acoustic guitar work, and more good keyboards that I can recall on the other Opeth albums I have heard.

I understand the die hard (pun intended) fans of Opeth may be disappointed in the direction they are going, but I like it.

Report this review (#296999)
Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars 2,5 rounded up.

For many years Opeth, along with Tool, has been my favourite band. My throat was tight with emotion while listening to beautiful "The Moor", breathtaking "April Ethereal", epic "The Leper Affinity" and many more. In my opinion, the ability to combine musical originality and creativity with genuine passion and emotions is the most important thing in music. Opeth used to have this ability. Until 2008.

When I bought "Watershed", I was trying to convince myself it isn't bad. Indeed, the first impression was quite good, "Heir Apparent" or "Hessian Peel" seemed to be very good songs, but now I know that their main merit is originality - there is no a true beauty though, except for a few captivating moments. Actually "The Lotus Eater" is the only song there I really enjoy as a whole.

Thinking of eight other Opeth' albums I would be able to mention two, maximum three weak songs but none of them is embarrassing. However, when I've heard "Porcelain Heart" for the first time I thought I was dreaming. And it was not a good dream, rather a nightmare starring two ugly vamps. It might be their weakest song and definitely is the weakest song on that album - repetitive, boring, banal. I'm not delighted with "Burden" or "Coil" too, but at least these are interesting.

In my opinion, Mikael Åkerfeldt got lost. Maybe he's tired with constant touring and isn't able to create spontaneously. "Watershed" is written on the basis of hermetic concept - the mood, calculated composistions and lyrics are based on the one idea, but unlike "Still Life", there is no place for a higher level of musical imagination. "Watershed" is generally interesting and eclectic but it doesn't have soul. It is the weakest album by Opeth so far, and I hope it always will be.

Report this review (#299405)
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think that most people will consider this album the most progressive from Opeth.It doesn't look me strange.Because there are classical instruments and not only the metal instrumentation.There is a jazzy/funky moment(the lotus eater)too.The variety exists.My favorite tracks are:Coil(a wonderful acoustic/folk song with nathalie lorichs),Heir apparent(heavy track with a great melodic ending.maybe the 2nd best track),The lotus eater(very progressive for the reason I said at the beginning),Burden(a very nice ballad in the vein of scorpions or nazareth) and Hessian peel(the best track).There are less death metal vocals but the reason is that sometimes don't fit with the lyrics.But generally in this album Akerfeldt has achieved a high level to his vocals.

The artwork is mysterious but very good.The man at the image looks to be a poet.Or a man that he writes on his diary.

There's no need to say again that especially this album is a must-have for music lovers.I believe that can appeal many listeners.Because it's progressive enough for the past of the band.In 2011 I feel that will come a bigger wave of progress in Opeth's music.

My grade:8,7/10

Report this review (#310880)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Watershed is the 9th full-length studio album by progressive Swedish death metal act Opeth. The album was released in May 2008 by Roadrunner Records. There have been a couple of significant lineup changes since the release of Ghost Reveries (2005) as the two longtime members, drummer Martin Lopez and guitarist Peter Lindgren, left the band in 2006 and 2007 respectively. New drummer was Martin Axenrot and new guitarist was Fredrik Åkesson.

The music on Watershed is generally no surprise if you know how Opeth usually sound. The combination of progressive doomy death metal and 70s progressive rock is still delivered in the trademark Opeth fashion. Mikael Åkerfeldt´s vocal style varies from deep brutal growls to emotional clean singing. He performs both styles to perfection. Songs like Coil and Burden where Mikael Åkerfeldt solely sings clean vocal parts, really show how much he has grown. His clean vocal delivery is stronger than ever and the melodies are more intricate than on earlier releases. His growling is also in a class of its own. He is one of those rare death metal vocalists that are almost instantly recognisable. The above mentioned Coil features a guest female vocal performance by Nathalie Lorichs. That´s a new feature in Opeth´s sound and a nice surprise. Actually Coil is quite a surprising opening song, but what a beautiful song it is. The 7 track, 54:54 minutes long album not only features beautiful and emotional tracks like Coil and Burden though but also great progressive death metal tracks like Heir Apparent, The Lotus Eater and the epic Hessian Peel where the two styles are more integrated. The former features some of the most brutal riffing yet in an Opeth track. As always the songs are very intricate and quite challenging both structurally and when it comes to technical playing. Both Porcelain Heart and Hex Omega took me a while to warm up to and I still feel they are a bit sub par to the rest of the material. We´re still talking high quality compositions though.

The Japanese version of the album has the track Derelict Herds as a bonus. The special edition version of the album, which is the one I own, include a DVD where Derelict Herds and two other bonus tracks are also included. The other two bonus tracks are Bridge of Sighs which is a bluesy Robin Trower cover and Den Ständiga Resan which is a pop/ folky type Marie Fredriksson cover. The latter features Swedish language singing by Mikael Åkerfeldt. Derelict Herds is a progressive death metal track which could well have fit on the original album ( those lucky bastard Japanese). The DVD also contains DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes of the entire Watershed album plus a making of Watershed documentary with interviews and video footage from rehearsals. A pretty good bonus in addition to the original album IMO.

The two new members fit perfectly to the lineup, which means that their addition don´t have consequences for the core sound of the band´s music. New drummer Martin Axenrot is a bit more hard hitting and less subtle than Martin Lopez, but he does a great job and Fredrik Åkesson adds a slighty faster solo style to the album than the solo style we´re used to from Peter Lindgren. We´re talking small details here though. The rest of the band are well playing as always. I remember I was afraid of what a keyboard player would do to Opeth´s sound but with his performance on Ghost Reveries, Per Wiberg convinced me that his addition to the lineup was only a new and exciting feature in Opeth´s sound. Fortunately he continues his tasteful approach to playing on Watershed and his choice of retro sounding keyboards really gives the music the right mystical and at times epic atmosphere. more modern sounding synths would have ruined Opeth´s sound IMO. One of the center elements on Watershed are the many acoustic guitar sections and those sections are still as amazing than on any of the preceeding albums. Just beautiful.

The production is warm and detailed. Maybe the most professional and well sounding production yet on an Opeth album. I think it´s the first time I´ve been completely satisfied with the drum sound on an Opeth album.

So all in all after having listened to Watershed now for a couple of years, I´m very satisfied with the album and while there are some tracks that don´t do as much for me as others, the quality of the material is extremely high. As such there are few new features on the album compared to the preceeding albums but when the outcome is a great as it is on Watershed I´m pretty much content. Opeth produce extraordinaire albums and have been doing that for years now. If any band deserve the masterpiece stamp for several of their albums it´s definitely Opeth. Watershed is another extraordinaire album in a now long line of extraordinaire albums by the band and fully deserves a 5 star rating.

Report this review (#320824)
Posted Monday, November 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A transitional album.

This album is one of the more different ones from Opeth. With much less growling, it seems like the band is changing it's style.

The first song, Coil, is an acoustic song with clean vocals that is very atmospheric and even uplifting at times. The female vocals on this song adds a nice touch to it, giving it more of a "whole" feeling. 8/10

The second song sounds more like the "typical" Opeth. It starts out with a droned, guitar chord that sounds almost out of tune. After this a soft piano part begins, making the song sounding a little bit lighter. Now the growling starts, with lyrics of rage. After about a minute or so, a fantastic guitar solo kicks in, keeping your attention and reminding you that this is still a (progressive) death metal band. The solo is then balanced out by an acoustic guitar part before the growling starts again. But then, what is this? A keyboard part with some soft guitar parts. But again the acoustic guitar starts leading to the growling. Overall I think that this will please the people who did not like the first song. 9.5/10

The Lotus Eater starts out with clean vocals, which in my opinion, are better than some (not all!) of the growling done in this song. After a line or two of growling, we hear more clean vocals and... a flute? I think that this song has a good balance of non growling and growling, while it is very diverse (there is even a keyboard section!), there is nothing that really grabs me here. 7/10

Burden is a fairly soft song that is very touching. There is no growling in this song and mainly acoustic guitars. After the second chorus, there is a keyboard solo that will bring Keith Emerson to his knees! It is simply wonderful! The last minute of the song is led by an acoustic guitar the gradually becomes out of tune. I think that overall, the song is one of the best ballads in a long time. 9/10

Porcelain Heart can best be described as dark. There is a metal section that transitions to acoustic while reatining the song's integrity. But there is really nothing too memorable about the track. 7.5/10

Hessian Peel I think best represents Opeth's current sound. The first part of the song starts off acoustically, and it's a little boring. The second part of the song is just brutal reminding me of Blackwater Park. I think this song will either be loved by fans of growls and clean vocals alike, or hated by both. 9/10

Hex Omega is a metal song that shows that Opeth can still be metal without the growling. Although there is really nothing special about this song, there is nothing to dislike either. 6.5/10

Overall I think this would be a good starting spot for Opeth if you don't like the growls. This album shows many changes in style and is very consistant, but sometimes boring. I would recommend this to anyone who likes prog metal, but I don't think that it is essential. 4/5

Report this review (#356716)
Posted Saturday, December 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Retired Admin
4 stars Melodeath mastery.

Opeth, after a string of fantastic albums, have continued a rather enjoyable trend of great progressive melodeath metal. The band, combining Akerfeldt's diverse influences from 70s rock like Camel and Yes to extreme acts such as Death and Atheist, are able to pull off a rather incredible feat, with some of the most dynamically acceptable death metal available. While the vocals can still be a bit harsh for the non-death metal lover, Akerfeldt's soft clean vocals still permeate the album like a calming perfume. Musically, as always, the band pulls off an amazing feat, synthesizing extreme metal and prog rock elements into a cohesive and dynamic release.

Coil starts the album off with a soft acoustic melodic piece of music. Akerfeldt's soothing acoustic guitar and equally soothing classically trained voice meshes quite nicely with Lorichs' vocals, which contrast Akerfeldt's in a musically beautiful way. Mellotron sounding keyboards back the guitar, adding a spectacular texture.

Heir Apparent fades in slowly and then crashes down with a deliberate power and thrust typical to Opethian epics. The song builds and recedes and builds until a final crescendo with the growling vocals. Some great Opethian riffing is heard, with some fantastic keyboard textures added. Fantastic jazzy breakdowns pepper the track, along with stupendous instrumental sections and psychedelic guitar solos, making this track another fantastic Opeth track, and the official start to this great album.

The Lotus Eater essentially picks up where Heir Apparent leaves off, using some of the same ideas to kick start the track. The advent of Akerfeldt's clean vocals on the metal section of the album is heard on this track, making this a go-to track for the more melody- loving metal heads. Some more psychedelic and 70s inspired instrumental sections are present on the track, with more Opethian riffs and rhythms. The major upside and most inventive part of this track is the funky keyboard solo with some great jazzy drumming, great funky guitar chords, and some great funky bass, too. That one feature is really what makes this track special and not falling into the monotony of Opethian riffs and solos.

Burden is a slower, more melodic ballad-like track with a much more melancholy outlook, with lots of modulated piano and great mellotron-strings textures. Great melodies are the main pro to this track, with some cool jazzy rhythms and solos. A great Hammond solo is another plus to the track, making this one of the more jazz inspired tracks on the album and a really great addition to this great album.

Porcelain Heart is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The song has one of the best mixtures of melodic rock, especially with that infectious acoustic section, and some great melodeath metal. The song again features some of that great liberating jazz influenced rhythms, with some great instrumental sections fronting them.

Hessian Peel, the longest track on the album clocking in at over 11 minutes, and it packs in 11 minutes of very epic music. Another melodic metal fusion track, the track poses both fantastic musical value and a rather haunting lyrical value. The song opens with a rather lengthy melodic section with mostly acoustic and clean guitars with mellotron textures added. About halfway in, the song starts to build, and then erupts into a death metal frenzy. The frenzy may leave you out of breathe, but fret not, because a beautiful melodic breakdown awaits. An absolutely genius acoustic riff is a major plus of the album, spicing up an already hot melodic breakdown. The song speeds up again, the fades out with an eerie Hammond riff. Spooky!

Hex Omega is one of the more "traditional" Opethian groove metal songs. It starts out as a steady metal song, with great groove-based Opethian riffs, and then breaks down into a more melodically based track. The two feels frequently switch back and forth, making this one of the more dynamic, if not more uninteresting, tracks on the album. The track ends the album in a more average fashion, ending as most of the other tracks on the album end, with a slow fade out of a keyboard texture.

ALBUM OVERALL: Watershed is one of Opeth's better albums in a string of great albums. Starting with still life way back in 1999, Opeth hasn't failed to deliver since. The album contains all of the essential Opeth elements: melody, intensity, death(ity), extremeness, acoustic beauty, and great backing band qualities, from the fantastic Melotron textures to the jazzy freestyle drumming. Each track has a little spice to add to the album, making it one hell of an album. However, this particular style, with riff then solo then Opethian riff than solo can get a little stale when a more inventive solo like a jazzy Hammond or mellow acoustic solo isn't thrown in. That is truly the only reason this album is short of a masterpiece label. 4+ stars.

Report this review (#382697)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Heir Apparent

My introduction to Opeth was this album. For me they had to stand up to the greats, in my mind, which were Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation, though I only had "The Perfect Element" at the time. At first I was telling myself to turn it off every time I got to "Heir Apparent", the first song I had ever listened to with growling. But in the end I began to like this album, and then, all of a sudden, I loved it.

With songs such as "Coil" with its great acoustic flavor, and "Hessian Peel" it's hard not to like this album. "Coil" starts off the album on the right foot with great acoustic guitars and very nice clean vocals by Mikael Åkerfeldt that lead nicely into "Heir Apparent". Right from the start "Heir Apparent" offers nice heavy riffs that bolster the melodies very nicely. This song has great contrasts in it, going from soft, lightly placed beats to heavy metal laden riffs that transfer perfectly into Åkerfeldt's growling. The keyboards on this album are also quite superb, showcased in "Burden" a long with many others. "Burden", besides having really cool keyboard solos, has some great guitar work by both Mikael Åkerfeldt and Fredrik Åkesson.

Now the vocals are what really make this album, and Opeth what they are today. They, and more specifically Mikael Åkerfeldt, are the pioneers in progressive death metal with their signature sound. Since Opeth has been going from clean vocals to death growls in the same song many bands have caught on and incorporated this technique in their albums, such as Haken's "Aqurius" which just came out recently. Another reason why I like the vocals on this album is that now they are almost the standard for most of the metal and progressive metal that I listen to. Mikael Åkerfeldt is a complete genius in everyway, and his vocals show that.

The production on this album is great, providing great boosts to the highs and support to the lower sounds. Opeth's ability to transfer from dark to light in one song can be credited to the production a little bit since you can hardly tell the difference all throughout, providing a nice smooth feel.

"Watershed" opened my eyes a long time ago and I can see it doing the same to anyone who is a bit tentative about heavier progressive metal. If you don't already have this album I propose that you stop reading this review and go out to your local record store and buy it. For a great album Opeth gets 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#404693)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Watershed' is Opeth's eleventh studio album, but it still amazes me how the band became a true progressive rock band only with this release. 'Watershed' is most definitely Opeth's most ambitious and experimental album to date, a lot more than 'Blackwater Park', 'Still Life', or 'Ghost Reveries'. Sure, it's not as good as these mentioned albums, but it is one fabulous piece of art.

I certainly didn't expect 'Watershed' to be like this, and probably neither did all the fans. These were in fact very excited in particular about this album, since it had been three years since the band had recorded anything ('Ghost Reveries'). So when it came out, the album was a hit album, with many songs released as singles. Paradoxically, like I said, the album turned out to be very quirky and even eerie in some moments, even though the typical, Death Metal Opeth moments, alternated with soft melancholic ones, are still here. Now, more than ever the band bring use instruments such as flutes or electric pianos, that can dominate a really large part of the song.

'Watershed' has probably one of the best album structures that Opeth has ever accomplished; Seven songs, almost all of them quite long. It feels sometimes like this album was intended as an opera, as a sort of concept album that perfectly flows through the songs. It's something in the atmosphere that unites all the tracks,and it could easily be what I like to think of 'light darkness', a sound that isn't quite dark, but still has some mysterious moments. Songs like 'Heir Apparent', or the opener 'Coil', have now become two of my favorite listens on my Ipod. And 'The Lotus Eater' is even better; it is the perfect synthesis of the album, in almost nine minutes of changing styles, rhythms, and music. Then though some other songs a bit weaker and not as convincing; 'Porcelain Heart' is a typical Opeth song, but it is somewhat predictable at moments. 'Hessian Peel' has some pretty cool and eerie moments, but the metal parts don't give to much feel to me. 'Hex Omega' is then a little too similar (even thanks to the once again use of flutes, that don't seem to be as 'mind blowing' as before) to some of the previous songs. Special mention to 'Burden', a great, slow retro prog song, with tons of mellotron and haunting vocals by Akerfeldt.

An album that I strongly recommend, despite the negative views, and that I'm sure all the Opeth fans, even though at first they would be a little shocked and surprised by it, would love sincerely.

Report this review (#427374)
Posted Monday, April 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Watershed ? 2008 (3.4/5) 11 ? Best Song: Burden? After revolutionizing death metal and reinventing progressive folk rock, you'd think the band members would be content with sitting on their asses ordering fancy Swedish pizzas from pizza delivery companies with names I couldn't pronounce. They probably did that for a time, but now, a few years after their excellent Ghost Reveries, they up and decided to give the fans another. My first reaction to the thing was: Gosh, this is an older record. Let me rephrase that. My first reaction was: Gosh, this is a more mature record. It sounds as if the band's aged a good ten years. 'Coil' is haunting, with a female singer thrown in to make things sound more reverent. If anything, Watershed seems to showcase the band in a state of willingness to retread old ground. It's a shame but it's true. The material is still more than solid. 'Heir Apparent' rocks several levels of ass, with a thick-as-concrete riff. They also know how and when to solo ? a trait lost on most metal groups of the epoch. As much as I enjoy the overall style, I can't help but feel as if they're not taking any risks anymore. Watershed feels a lot more like Still Life than it does either Blackwater Park or Ghost Reveries. 'Burden' is undeniably beautiful, though. They haven't lost their touch for bracing melodic sense, though. 'Porcelain Heart embraces dreary hard riffing and gothic calmness like the best of their work', but this is possibly the first case of Opeth going through the motions and delivering product built around an inherent formula.
Report this review (#441804)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Watershed (2008) is a Swedish progressive metal Opeth's ninth studio album. This album went on to lighter direction from previous albums (if Damnation does not count). There are lots 70's prog familiar elements. Mikael 'kerfeldt has also put that kind of material to this album that I am forced to wonder Opeth continuously brilliant music. There isn't one bad album or even mediocre album in the career of Opeth.

A great opener for a great album is beautiful Coil, which lasts only three minutes, but in my opinion it should have been longer. In the song, there is also a woman singing, which I would have liked to hear more later on the album. The album continues with its heaviest piece: Heir Apparent. Heir Apparent remids me most from the old Opeth - sound, which is really not a bad thing. Song just isn't a full bullseye. The Lotus Eater is a cozy and versatile piece and in the song you can hear pure blast beat and also the 70-prog stuff. Burden is the album's second calm song, in which 'kerfeldt manages to present the best aspects of his own compositions. The ending of the song was annoying at first, but then I got used to it. Porcelain Heart is not a progressing song, and it is kind of boring. Album's last two songs have a little more bleak atmosphere and that is why they have not become awfully close to me. Both are pretty good compostions , but especially the last song, Hex Omega leaves me cold everytime.

Watershed was a wuite succesful album by Opeth. It still does not quite maintain the level of previous albums, but still it deserves a good rating. I would recommend this to people who are familiar with Damnation and want to continue to a heavier stuff by Opeth. The album is good way to get used to the growls. It is incomprehensible how the Opeth albums and songs will remain fresh and atmospheric year after year.

(sorry for my mistakes, english is not my native language)

Report this review (#455882)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Getting high on louts...

Seven tracks. The one with the melodic duet. The one with the seismic chords. The one that starts like hmmm... The one with the dissonant outro. The one with the screaming guitar crescendo. The one with the screaming mellotron crescendo. And the one that you didn't really want to be seen with, but your mum told you 48 minutes isn't long enough for an album nowadays so you let it tag along anyway.

The Good: Watershed was my first exposure to the genius of Mikael Akerfeldt although I initially wasn't impressed. This was largely due to my previous aversion to death growls which did take some time to develop from general disdain to acceptance and finally appreciation. Since then it has become one of my favourite albums of 2008 and prompted a retrospective journey through the Opeth discography. With the exception of Deliverance and Damnation each successive release has gotten slightly less death metal and slightly more progressive. Watershed is no exception and marks a transistion stage for the band in terms of both style and lineup, with new guitarist Fredrik Akkeson and drummer Martin Axenrot.

The Bad: Lacks the power of previous outings.

The Verdict: Opeth continue to push creative boundaries.

Report this review (#456654)
Posted Friday, June 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Transition to greatness.

I was inspired to check this one out after having seen Live at the Royal Albert Hall DVD so indulged in more Opeth, almost hoping that the brutal growling vocals would be used sparingly. The opening track did it for me. Beautiful acoustic Mikeal's wonderful clean voice and a guest from gorgeous vocal from angelic Nathalie Lorichs. The lyrics are filled with passion and pain; "Yes I can, see you, Running through the fields of sorrow, When you get out of here, When you leave me behind, You'll find that the years passed us by." A fantastic start.

'Heir Apparent' is a killer thrashing dark thing with tons of black metal influences and caustic brutal vocals. The riffs are even Morbid Angel meets Sepultura sound alikes. This is perhaps as heavy as Opeth get referencing their earlier material. It settles into synth flute and acoustic but only for a moment and then more riffing from newcomer Fredrik and speed double kick drumming from Axe who also does a great job on his first Opeth album.

'The Lotus Eater' is a great track I first heard on the Albert Hall DVD. I liked it better there but this is still full of innovation. The transition from clean to growling vocals is okay with me, and the lyrics are inventive; "All years caring for a liar, Benefit road is winding higher, You're a moth too close to the fire." The creepy interlude of synth is fantastic as are the lead breaks. The psychedelic passage of music is estranged but with a wonderful time sig culminating in the final moments and some of Akerfeldt's best singing. The end is talking to some girl about nonsense but it is effective.

'Burden' is an acoustic dreamy piece with some gorgeous vocals and atmospherics. The lyrics are somber and melancholy; "Some will ask goodbye, A broken line but underlined, There's an ocean of sorrow in you." Per's keyboard solo is fantastic. The song features a specific out of tune guitar outro that is rather chilling. It would be a pain doing that downtuning effect in concert as the guitar would be useless for the next number.

'Porcelain Heart' is another of the light and dark tracks, with quiet verses at the start and reeking of sadness and despair. The riff is okay, but the real drawcard is the sarcastic or cynical lyrics and Akerfeldt's vocal technique on sections such as; "I see roads beneath my feet, Lead me through wastelands of deceit, Rest your head now, don't you cry, Don't ever ask the reason why". The fade in of lead work and blasts of distortion are an effective augmentation.

'Hessian Peel' is a strange one with some interesting moments, even beginning with the weird note that doesn't belong there. The lyrics are melancholy expressions; "Will the children cry, When their mother dies, And in the autumn of their lives, Will they feel the same?" the reversed lyrics that follow are actually "My sweet satan I see you" and before one gets on their hobby horse about this backmasking, the whole thing was a joke reference to the backmasked words of Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to heaven' that is now legendary ("here's to my sweet satan, no other made a path for it makes me sad who's power is satan"). I don't know how I acquire all this information. Anyway the song here is rather well structured with a heavier guitar sound in the middle, and growls at the end that explode suddenly and make me reach for the volume switch.

'Hex Omega' ends it all with an organ driven track. This is a rather pedestrian track without a lot of innovative moments. It has nice vocals for most of it singing about the demons we lock inside over the years become harmful to our sanity. The riffs are good but I prefer other tracks, though I love Per's majestic keyboards and his gentle piano.

So overall this album is a transitional album breaking in the new members but has nothing masterful on it unlike other Opeth albums to follow. It is what it is, a good album with average to good songs. If you are used to master works of the band you may be disappointed. At least I can say it is not as bad as the mess of Deliverance, but sits in between 3 or 4 stars for me. I will stick with 3 stars as I know the band are capable of so much better.

Report this review (#547396)
Posted Monday, October 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Opeth on Watershed sound like a band that either thought Ghost Reveries were too catchy for their own good, and tried to do some convoluted stuff even by Opeth standards, or thought that they achieved all they could with their trademark lets-hop-from-death metal-to acoustics-every-minute style, and indulged experimental tendencies. A folksy duet with female vocalist Coil, a melodic vocal over a blast beat, a wholly classicist track Burden, and is that a laugh at the need of Burden? Now thats progressive death! (Although the death stuff is still very much prevalent here). However, to my ears all this sound more like a lets through in some weird stuff and see what happens, rather than musically logical.
Report this review (#1284992)
Posted Saturday, September 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Outside the rain hits the glass with a dry sound, depending on the speed of my fingers on the keyboard, writing slowly at first then faster. I looked at the object I need to review, the 2008 Opeth record. I thought, another book to the twilight atmosphere. I shivered contemplating photos on the front and back cover. I felt something cold, incomprehensible. The sensation of touching a dead tree. I write as the good old days of first spectral Black Sabbath. An avalanche of blinding lack of pictures then make me waver. A moment of 1980 when I listened for the first time this old thing. I pause, look back at all that has been written on Watershed, rubbing my temples. Oboe and medieval death metal? Headache overtakes me. The overwhelming rhythmic heaviness does not help. From the beginning, the work of Opeth seems certify room presence, effective, an army of shadows moving. All his ghostly iconography, carrying a very nineteenth century Gothic despair. Watershed does not alter the case. Ideal for dark days, it contains some of their essence. The apparent clarity of "Coil" which opens the album with hot and sweet voice of Nathalie Lorichs (Remember Julianne Regan of All About Eve) is not sufficient to relieve a general feeling oppressive. But I see nothing serene or bucolic there. Watershed tends to the gods his heart like poison coated dishes we pass in a divine meal.

After "Coil" Watershed continues with "Heir Apparent," a continuation of Ghost Reveries, this very personal vision has Mikael Åkerfeldt of death metal. "Burden" is more surprising with its unbridled solo Hammond organ and a final daring flamenco and detuned guitars. As usual, Mikael is ubiquitous: only "Porcelain Heart" is co-written with guitarist Fredrik Åkesson faithful. As a bonus to the special edition, the heroic "Derelicts Hands" (6:28). And three times, including the rampant Blues, "Brigde of Sighs" (6:55). The storm that moved away, rumbling east (the voice of giants?). I put in the drive and Watershed plunges me into reading an old Bram Stoker demonstrating that nothing is shorter than our life and death is only silence. Voice and music of giants!

Report this review (#1302407)
Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 | Review Permalink
FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Watershed" is a crucial turning point in the musical trajectory of Opeth. A major line-up change saw the departure of long-time guitarist Peter Lindgren (since before the debut) and drummer Martin Lopez (since the third album "My Arms, Your Hearse") and the recruitment of drummer Martin Axenrot and guitarist Fredrik Åkesson. Keyboardist Pir Wiberg who joined the band for the previous album "Ghost Reveries" remained on board.

With "Watershed", Mikael Åkerfeldt and company developed the band's two sides even further. The death metal side shows its fastest and most aggressive-sounding ever in the songs "Heir Apparent" and "The Lotus Eater". However, Opeth's progressive side, which I felt really began to broaden on "Ghost Reveries", pushes the envelope even further hear, and in fact, I feel there are hints of the album "Heritage" that would come three years later.

The album opener is the surprising all-acoustic track "Coil" which includes not only some beautiful woodwinds with the acoustic guitars but also the guest vocals of Nathalie Lorichs, the girlfriend of Martin Axenrot at the time. A lovely though curious first track, the album's real worth for me lies in the next two tracks, "Heir Apparent" and "The Lotus Eater" which, as I stated above, not only includes some of Opeth's fastest, most aggressive metal to date, but also some fabulous progressive parts that go beyond what the band has managed before. Just listen to that funky dual keyboard passage with the groovy wah-wah guitar and drumming!

"Burden" is a classic, seventies type of heavy and slow number with harmony vocals and an organ. It's almost so perfectly written that I feel it's too much like stuff I've heard many times before on much older albums. Nevertheless, it gets some pretty good ratings on Opeth song ranking sites. "Porcelain Heart" is the third killer track for me. Slow and heavy and showing more technical playing in parts, it's both haunting and brooding.

The last two tracks seem to me like the band is trying to decide where to go next. "Hessian Peel" is more like several short songs stitched together to take us on a journey that includes progressive acoustic-type music as well as heavy metal with death vocals. I might add here that Mikael's vocals sound deeper and more sinister on "Watershed" than they do on most older recordings. It took me time to warm up to this track but I can finally appreciate and enjoy it. The final track, "Hex Omega" though is a little of a disappointment. I feel it has no solid direction and even after many repeated listens, I can't keep my concentration on the song if there are any distractions. The one impression that remains is the sparseness employed in one part, which I recognize from a couple of tracks on "Heritage", except that I rather like them on that album. Here I think the album is left to close with a song that begs the question, "Where are we going now?"

So here we see an all new Opeth (two new key members) taking bold steps but still keeping their death metal sound but for the last time. As history has shown, no future albums over the subsequent ten years ever included any death metal, but instead saw the band plough full onward with their progressive rock styling.

Report this review (#1731975)
Posted Saturday, June 10, 2017 | Review Permalink
TCat
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Team
5 stars Watershed is Opeth's 9th full length album. It features a new lead guitarist, Fredrick Akesson, and a new drummer, Martin Axenrot. It also features both clean and dirty vocals from Mikael Akereldt. There is more usage of keyboards, including the mellotron which was becoming a staple in Opeth's sound. The band also adds other instruments performed by several guest musicians to add variety and texture to the sound, they do this to expand the sound of their music, which shows the band's penchant for exploration. The music on this album shows their increase in utilizing progressive techniques.

Interestingly enough, the album starts out with a relatively short and soft song 'Coil', which features Mikael sharing lead vocalist duties with Martin Axenrot's girlfriend at the time, Nathalie Lorichs. It's a nice song and is very effective in providing the sudden contrast that explodes in the heavy 'Heir Apparent'. This track also contrasts in the dirty vocals that are apparent throughout this piece, but not to the point that it ruins the track. It is obvious that Opeth wants to continue in their exploration of Progressive Rock and dark, heavy metal. This is an excellent track to make any Prog lover happy, with a lot of mood changes and meter changes, but also with the development you expect within all of Opeth's melody and theme changes.

'The Lotus Eater' features a combination of clean and dirty vocals, but still retains its heaviness throughout. Except for the occasional, somewhat experimental drop offs, the song remains heavy, alternating vocal styles, and remaining progressive and amazing throughout. I love the use of dissonance in various parts of this track and the complex melodies. Of course, the guitar is featured heavily, but there are contrasting uses of acoustic and electric, plus plenty of spacey keyboards. They even enter 'Dream Theater' territory at one point with a very cool, rapid-fire keyboard segment which fits into the song nicely.

'Burden' starts out with a slow tempo piano riff surrounded by atmospheric guitars. On the 2nd verse, a mellotron comes in and intensity builds, but the tempo remains slow. Then there is that amazing organ solo that comes out of nowhere. Mikael proves that he can sing clean vocals with amazing emotion and there is a very melodic guitar theme here too. This is not a track you would have heard on earlier Opeth material, but I welcome the variety as long as the music quality remains, which it does, in fact, the foray into new styles creates more variety and more interest. At the end there is an acoustic guitar solo, but as it nears the end, it gets warped downward in tone, which surprises me every time.

Fredrick Akesson shares song writing duties with Mikael on 'Porcelain Heart' which at first sounds like something from the softer album 'Damnation', but it soon explodes with a heavier interlude between the verses. After this, it moves into a new thematic element becoming heavier and harder, then calming again with a complex melody, acoustic guitars and a new keyboard melody. Then it goes to a dark and heavy instrumental section.

'Hessian Peel' is the longest track on the album at over 11 minutes. It starts with a keyboard drone under an acoustic guitar, which changes to acoustic and electric playing together when vocals start. This track returns to the more complex song structure moving away from the verse/chorus structure and more towards the feel of the first 3 tracks. Again, there is some excellent mellotron going on over the top of arppegiated guitar patterns. Suddenly, at the half way mark, the song explodes and the dirty vocals return after being absent since 'The Lotus Eater'. This excellent track is an amazing Progressive song that is one of their best.

The last track on the regular edition of the album is 'Hex Omega'. There is a great mix of guitars and mellotron on this one. It has a nice prog retro sound to it, but still retaining the modern prog feel. Again, this one features a nice use of contrast with the change of soft and loud.

The Special Edition has 3 more tracks, namely 'Derelict Herds', 'Bridge of Sighs' (a Robin Trower cover, which is quite true to the original, but with a better guitar solo), and 'Den Standiga Resan (The Eternal Journey)' (a surprisingly beautiful acoustic song with vocals).

This is a definite highlight of Opeth's discography showing the band's growth into being a full time Progressive Metal band. The contrasts and dynamics have never been better, even though they have existed in past albums, they are so much more effective and better used all around on this album. There is a lot more restraint on the growly vocals, which is also a good thing since Mikael's singing voice is really good, but the growls would disappear completely again on the next few albums. However, the band proves that the growling vocals in this album are another way of expressing dynamic, and do a stupendous job of integrating them into the more progressively heavy music. But, honestly, when they are not there, I really don't miss them.

With their emphasis on progressiveness on this album, and their continued use of dynamics, this album reaches the 5 star pinnacle it so deserves. This is an essential example of how a band can still be metal and dynamic at the same time. This is an excellent album that should be owned by not only all Prog Metal fans, but all Progressive music fans. Opeth sets the bar for all Prog Metal bands with this album.

Report this review (#2037792)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2018 | Review Permalink

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