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Opeth - In Cauda Venenum CD (album) cover

IN CAUDA VENENUM

Opeth

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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4 stars OK, so I don't get bombed with negative comments. PLEASE KNOW - I LOVE the new Opeth - In Cauda Veneum!

But the surround mix has a huge digital error. The glitch is there between 9. Continuum / 10. All Things Will Pass. It doesn't do it on the stereo mix / CD's, just the Surround mix. As the drums continue from the end of Continuum, into All Things Will Pass, there's a glitch / stop for a moment, obnoxious interference in the wonderful transition.

Not that I'm an expert engineer, but I have done a lot of mastering, and it sounds like the "marker" between the two songs hasn't been programmed to be silent.

Anyone else here have this issue with the surround mix (which overall is quite good!)? _____________________________________________________________

On a note of the album - the music is stunning and very well crafted. I can't wait to see them here in Kansas City, MO USA in March of 2020!

Report this review (#2263979)
Posted Saturday, September 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is time to recalibrate the place of Opeth in progressive rock. We are now 4 albums away from the death metal growls that marred their otherwise brilliant music of decades past, and both 'In Cauda Venenum' and its precursor 'Sorceress' belong squarely in the Heavy Prog genre. In other words, Opeth are now a mainstream prog band and this new release puts them in a leadership position. EVERYONE should listen to 'In Cauda Venenum' because it is a majestic triumph of the prog genre.

I had a feeling the follow-up to 'Sorceress' was going to be good. 'Sorceress' was a very clear shift in their musical style, and while it was a very good album in itself, I always felt Opeth were not quite firing on all cylinders by their standards. The music lacked much of the intricate complexity of a typical Opeth release. But that is the last criticism one could make of the new album. Complex, captivating, powerful, heavy but melodic - every single track is straight five-stars. Progressive rock at its absolute finest.

Verdict: Einwahn's #1 album of 2019.

Report this review (#2264952)
Posted Sunday, September 29, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars In Cauda Venenum is the fourth Opeth album since they've drastically changed their style with Heritage, and shows their most mature effort after building it up in the last three releases. It's their heavest take on this new style, keeping the dark, sinister and folkloric atmospheric from the previous works, while also containing lots of catchy choruses and riffs. The songwriting here is impressive, very consistent and with really beautiful payoffs. After a couple of listens, I've started to enjoy a lot most of the songs.

1. Garden of Earthly Delights: It's a nice intro with some sort of psychedelia that mix some voices with an eletronic appergio remind me of Pink Floyd's On The Run.

2. Dignity: Their second single released. The songs starts with a lot of power, especially from the vocal harmony that will stuck in your head for days and the following guitar solo. It's short for the structure it has, but very proggy!

3. Heart in Hand: Their first single, and one of my favorites songs of the year. Again, it starts furiously with a duo of guitar + organ before reaching in the vocals and it's very catchy chorus. Then you have a moment of psychedelia that leads to the final act, which is a really beautiful and calm section, showing the strength and beauty of Akerfeldt vocals.

4. Next of Kin: Here the strings takes the main seat, contributing to be one of the heaviest tracks in this album. It's very dark, slow and heavy, especially towards the end with a very exotic and powerful riff.

5. Lovelorn Crime: A really beautiful piano-oriented ballad, their most beautiful song since Watershed's Burden, with a really moving guitar solo towards the end.

6. Charlatan: The song has no guitars at all, but actually three very distorted basses. This is the most close Opeth has gotten in doing djenty stuff, but at same in a very original and unique sounding way. The song then ends with some sort of spook radio speaking, which is proeminent through the whole album.

7. Universal Truth: A very moody song that switches between gentle acoustic guitar with a really beautiful orchestration and some heavier sections. It took some time for me to "dig" it, but now I love that song.

8. The Garroter: Here, Opeth tries to create a dark jazz song, which reminded me a bit of Nepenthe from Heritage. Not a favorite of mine, tbh.

9. Continuum: It starts with a remarkable drum beat followed by groovy acoustic guitars, before reaching into the explosive chorus. It has a really beautiful payoff in the end, that lead to the last song of the album.

10. All Things Will Pass: A very hypnotic drum beat goes through to the whole tracks, in a way that reminded me of Porcupine Tree's "The Sky moves sideways" middle section, but with much more weight and a darker approach. The song then ends very magnificently with a beautiful display of Akerfeldt vocals and a melancholic tone.

Overally, Mike and his band showed their most mature and well-crafted album from the "new proggy opeth". Even though, In Cauda Venenum shows lots of original ideas while retaining Opeth's essence. For their next album, however, I'd like to see a bigger shift in their sound, maybe a return to the death metal grounds while keeping the dark sinister folkloric mood? There's still a lot of uncharted territory for the band to explore!

Final rating: 9/10

Report this review (#2265497)
Posted Tuesday, October 1, 2019 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars These days there are literally a gazillion metal bands that come and go with even some of the bigger names which often blur into the massive number of albums that emerge every single month and then there are bands like OPETH, a band that has become so legendary that it actually creates quite a stir even over two decades after the band's debut with "Orchid." This Swedish band founded by lead vocalist / guitarist / songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt all the way back in 1989 has successfully straddled the fence between the disparate genera of death metal and progressive rock often blurring the distinctions. While fans on both sides of the fence have been routing for the band to take one path or the other, OPETH for the most part has successfully remained staunchly in hybrid mode at least until the last few albums.

While starting out as the former and taking the leap into the latter beginning with 2011's "Heritage," the group has successfully created some of the most lauded albums that decorate both the prog and metal top album lists and with the band's 14th studio album IN CAUDA VENENUM ("Poison Of The Tail"), OPETH shows no signs of slowing down and have crafted yet another album of intricate melodies teased into progressive sprawlers that are bathed in aspects of psychedelic rock, folk rock and progressive metal. Only the growly vocal death metal elements have been jettisoned as OPETH has decloaked any traces of its earliest aggressive tendencies and have instead seemingly adopted the permanent features of clean vocal styles and King Crimsonian style prog rock circa the "Red" area. And still going strong which started all the way back in the very beginning are those beautiful arpeggiated acoustic guitar segments are still riding high in the mix.

OPETH tried something new on IN CAUDA VENENUM, which was somewhat common with Italian prog bands of the 70s but not so for the Scandinavian scene. This album has been released twice both in English and the band's native Swedish. Despite the differences in language, the music is exactly the same and both albums clock in exactly at 67 minutes and 44 seconds. While the choice of language may appeal to some, for those like me who are less concerned about lyrics and much more into the compositional meat and potatoes, i personally don't care if a song is titled "Universal Truth" or "Ingen Sanning Är Allas." Having said that, Swedish is a beautiful language and although this review is based upon the English version of the album, i will inevitably want to absorb the majesty of an OPETH album in its native lingo. After all, Swedish is the language that sings and love him or hate him, there's no denying that Åkerfeldt is one singing MF and becomes more nuanced with his vox box as time goes one.

After releasing "Sorceress," the band received a lot of criticism for jettisoning too much metal and becoming just another retro prog band. Yeah, those metalheads can get really testy about things. Even on the prog side of the music world, they got shot down in some circles for not being original enough, by recycling 70s sounds and jumping on the bandwagon that seems to be all the rage today which may be fine for, let's say a band like Wobbler, but for metal superstars like OPETH? No way, just ain't cuttin' it. IN CAUDA VENENUM corrects that faux pas and adds some extra metal oomf to the mix once again however in many regards, this album is a lot like "Sorceress" in that its progressive elements are the main focus, the clean vocals shine in the forefront and the music is lushly orchestrated to create pleasing atmospheric counterpoints to the folk-tinged melodic developments. As far as the psychedelic rock aspects are concerned, IN CAUDA VENENUM is drenched in piano, Fender Rhodes 88, harpsichords, Moogs, mellotron and a Hammond CD to boot.

The metal almost seems like an afterthought that is there solely to add a bombastic contrast to an otherwise super chill album. So much for the band's original intent of becoming one of the most evil bands in the world. Now much closer to Pink Floyd than to Mayhem, OPETH seems to have nurtured this new path into the prog world quite well. IN CAUDA VENENUM is an amazingly consistent album that may be a much more metal-free zone than say albums like "Morningrise" or "Deliverance" but still manages to sneak in some ferocious guitar riffing and power chords amidst the proggy time signature rich passages as they tick off all the proper prog check lists.

Out of the newer OPETH albums that rely less on the metal aspects, IN CAUDA VENENUM is actually one of the most diverse of the lot so far expanding OPETH's sounds into new arenas (such as the jazzy "The Garroter") to the more familiar (which is most of the album.) One of the main tricks up Åkerfeldt's sleeves has always been those appropriately placed classical guitar segments which tastefully starts off the album intro on "Garden Of Earthly Delights." The twin guitar attacks of Åkerfeldt and Frederik Åkesson are still in action especially in the more metallic tracks like "Heart In Hand." There are new developments in OPETH's arsenal such as the overdubbed choir parts in "Dignity" and let's face it lots and i do mean LOTS of organ parts. Despite scouring the periodic table to add as many metal elements as possible, IN CAUDA VENENUM is firmly in progressive rock territory with just a touch of heavier bombast to hopefully entice the older crowds into the new OPETH show.

On a personal level, OPETH has never been a top band in my reality but i am amazed at how consistent the quality of the material is on every single album in its long never-ending canon and therefore they have my utmost respect and admiration. Åkerfeldt was born to bring to life catchy yet proggy tunes that while crafting the instant ear worms of pop music still have quite the catchiness factor even if it takes a few spins to sink in. Whether OPETH is in full death metal regalia or simply taking a siesta in organ drenched prog makes no difference to me personally. I find the Jekyll & Hyde peekaboo act to be amusing since the band so successfully masters both styles quite well and on IN CAUDA VENENUM, the band seems to find new ways of incorporating both aspects into a cohesive whole without deviating from the current trajectory of settling on the prog side of the equation.

IN CAUDA VENENUM will surely not win over those who ditched the band when "Heritage" declared the new OPETH was in town but it certainly won't disappoint those who have been digging the recent prog albums such as "Pale Communion" and "Sorceress." While taking cues from both, this one moves on into ever more diverse pastures and the great thing about OPETH is that it is a band that no matter what criticism is heaped upon it, is never afraid to just sally forth in whichever direction the musicians feel it right for them. While IN CAUDA VENENUM will receive ample amounts of hate from metalhead purists and equal amounts of love from retro-proggers, taken as a work of art, IN CAUDA VENENUM is a compelling album with rich seductive melodies and intricately crafted musical developments. Another excellent album in the OPETH camp.

Report this review (#2266267)
Posted Friday, October 4, 2019 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As my esteemed colleague siLLy puPPy stated in his review of this same album, the OPETH sound has never been one to draw me into the fold of Opeth lovers (or haters, for that matter). I totally respect and admire Mikael Åkerfeldt's tremendous talent and commitment to progressive rock music--it's on a par with that of prolific stalwarts STEVE HACKETT, STEVEN WILSON, and ROINE STOLT. And I completely recognize the masterful performance skills of all musicians involved, I'm just not drawn back to any Opeth music--songs, albums, periods, or styles. It all washes over me--wows me while I listen, but then I'm done, I leave and move on.

"Heart in Hand" is the standout song for me. It's awesome! It kicks some ass and haunts me like the ear-candy of Terry Jacks or ABBA. I happen to like the Swedish version better because I can't understand a word the singer is singing which plays perfectly into my disability of only hearing voices as other contributors to the overall weave of music--as creators of threads of linear melody making, just like another instrument. (I cannot sing the entire lyric of any song--even my favorite songs from childhood--because I do not have a compartment in my brain for the comprehension of their meanings). Still, the heavy first half and the gorgeous sensitive second work for me! Some of the others feel/sound like other OXYGEN radio play bands or like Grunge era classics, Jimmy Page acoustic stuff. I also like the subtle intricacies throughout "Continuum."

The hard-drivin'/heavy vs. soft/delicate interplay is okay once or twice but in every song (sauf the opener)? Not even Pearl Jam can get away with that! There are no bad songs, not even any "bad" sections of songs--I even enjoy/smile at the forays into new and unusual musical styles Mikael has the band explore (á la GINO VANELLI-like "Garroter").

1. Garden Of Earthly Delights (3:29) (7.5/10) 2. Dignity (6:37) (8.75/10) 3. Heart In Hand (8:30) (19/20) 4. Next Of Kin (7:10) (12.75/15) 5. Lovelorn Crime (6:34) (8.25/10) 6. Charlatan (5:29) (8.5/10) 7. Universal Truth (7:22) (12.25/15) 8. The Garroter (6:44) (13/15) 9. Continuum (7:23) (13.5/15) 10. All Things Will Pass (8:31 (8.25/20)

All in all this album sounds like a more complicated, more mature form of early 1970s URIAH HEEP.

86.96 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection despite the Jeckyll and Hyde musical circles it leads one in. Try the Swedish version, it's great!

Report this review (#2278186)
Posted Monday, November 4, 2019 | Review Permalink
ProgShine
COLLABORATOR
Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars I respect Opeth very much! And I still believe they are one of the most important/innovative bands of the last 30 years. As the world sank with regrets over the group's changes since Heritage, I was curious to know where the band was going.

It turns out that the band... keeps going! After the great Pale Communion Opeth released a very weak album with Sorceress and I really didn't have much hope for the next album, but here they are with In Cauda Venenum!

First of all I need to get out of my head two little things that I noticed right away that are little easter eggs in the album (maybe there are more): The title of the album was obviouslyce mezzo-stolen from Italian Jacula's In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum. The album's opening track, Livets Tr'dg'rd, is a clear 'tribute' to the Swedish group 'lgarnas Tr'dg'rd. Being Mikael 'kerfeldt an avid 70s Prog collector this is no surprise. This makes me a little unquiet, I still don't know why.

In Cauda Venenum is a record that should please fans of the band's new phase. Despite the completely unnecessary introduction (an instrumental introduction only makes sense if it is linked to the concept of the album, it is not the case here, at all) the album brings variety, weight and also a little freshness to the band's sound. The fact that the album was composed in Swedish is extremely pleasant to my ears (yes, there is an English version, but Mikael himself in an interview said that for him the official album is in Swedish). There are several times when the weight takes over the songs, but there are parts with strings and many vintage keyboards.

The production of the record did not please me completely, the sound seems too compressed, there is the attempt, it seems, that everything has to sound vintage, but obviously recorded in digitail system. The drums suffer the most, a shame as Martin Axenrot did a fantastic job. But at the same time the insertion of voices and dialogues in Swedish throughout the album comes in quite well done.

Now, speaking about how long it is... 67 minutes! Needlessly long, at least 20 minutes longer than it should and this weighs on the end result: hearing fatigue.

Nevertheless, in the end, the Swedes delivered an exquisite work that requires some auditions to enjoy the album (I needed 4 and counting) and can easily reach the ears of the band's Prog period fans.

Report this review (#2301999)
Posted Saturday, December 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not really an Opeth album - more of a Mikael Akerfeldt solo project. The atmosphere is more relaxed, more retro and very 70's. Akerfeldt seems very comfortable leaving the extreme prog-metal behind, although he knows that his fans still want the heavy stuff. Three major tracks are "Dignity", "Heart In Hand" and the orchestral "Next Of Kin". The album never recovers from there, trying to be eclectic but gets a bit boring and mundane, in the process. By the time I reach the closer "All Things Will Pass", not much enthusiasm is left. So it sounds pretty good from a production perspective, and Akerfeldt surely knows how to arrange his songs - but this is clearly not the Opeth metal monster of the great years (1999-2005). All in all, this new product will enable Opeth to expand its stage repertoire, reach an older audience and perhaps to get closer to the world of Steven Wilson and the long-gone Porcupine Tree. It's not Opeth's best work to date (far from it), but it's good enough to be listened to.

Report this review (#2302606)
Posted Monday, December 30, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Mikael 'kerfeldt and his merry men are back with their new album, available in either Swedish or English, or in a set comprising both discs. Actually it was originally envisaged that it would only be available in Swedish, until it was decided that possibly those that didn't speak the language (i.e. most of the rest of the world) may be put off by not being able to understand the words. I don't think anyone really knows what to expect from Opeth and a new album anymore, as there is a refusal to conform to any preconceived ideas, and certainly they have moved a long way since David Isberg (vocals) and 'kerfeldt (guitars) joined forces to create the 'most evil band in the world.' Of course, Ishberg left only a few years after the band started, but these days keyboard player Joakim Svalberg is the most recent addition, joining in 2011, so there has been a great deal of stability in the ranks in recent years.

When I first heard 'Ghost Reveries' back in 2005 I couldn't stop raving about it as it was a revelation, but since then I have learned to let each Opeth album just drip into my brain and not have any set ideas about what it is supposed to sound like before listening to it intently and repeatedly. This time around we have a band who in some ways sound like a modern Deep Purple when they jam such as on 'Heart In Hand', yet at others they display their Floydian influences and at yet others are far more like Tangerine Dream. It is an album which is incredibly diverse, mature, and absolutely fascinating. The production is sublime, and the acoustic guitars really shine on this, while 'kerfeldt is singing better than ever. It is highly polished, but not so much that one loses sight of the real emotion and desire behind this dynamic approach. Sure, if one were to hear just this album and no other then Opeth would be clearly described as being a progressive rock band with just a few metallic tendencies, which is a long way from the death metal act they started out as. Some bands lose fans as they change, and that has certainly been the case of me personally with Marillion and some others, yet I find each Opeth release to be an interesting event and always joyous.

Highly accessible, diverse with loads of different influences, this is an album any rock fan should listen to with open ears before making any calls on whether they are going to like it. Forget the name Opeth on the front, and just give it a good listen, as this really is a very good release indeed.

Report this review (#2348685)
Posted Thursday, April 9, 2020 | Review Permalink

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