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WATERSHED

Opeth

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Opeth Watershed album cover
3.94 | 893 ratings | 89 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Coil (3:10)
2. Heir Apparent (8:50)
3. The Lotus Eater (8:50)
4. Burden (7:41)
5. Porcelain Heart (8:00)
6. Hessian Peel (11:25)
7. Hex Omega (7:02)

Total Time 55:00


Bonus disc:
1. Derelict Herds (6:28)
2. Bridge of Sighs (Robin Trower cover) (5:55)
3. Den ständiga resan (Marie Fredriksson cover) (4:09)

Lyrics

Search OPETH Watershed lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

Search OPETH Watershed tabs

Line-up / Musicians

- Mikael Åkerfeldt / vocals, guitars, production
- Fredrik Åkesson / guitars
- Martin Mendez / bass
- Martin Axenrot / drums, percussion
- Per Wiberg / keyboards

Guest musicians:
- Nathalie Lorichs / additional vocals (Coil)
- Lisa Almberg / English horn, oboe
- Christoffer Wadensten / flute
- Karin Svensson / violin
- Andreas Tengberg / cello

Releases information

Released through Roadrunner Records on June 3, 2008. The album was recorded at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden between November 1, 2007 and December 13, 2007
Cover art by Travis Smith

Thanks to EliasMisael for the addition
and to LiquidEternity for the last updates
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OPETH Watershed ratings distribution


3.94
(893 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
36%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
43%
Good, but non-essential (16%)
16%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

OPETH Watershed reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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.

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Posted Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Review by 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.

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#173388) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars With so many reviews of this album appearing every day, I'll try to limit myself to a brief comment here.

I came to this album with high expectations. After all, I just saw the band playing life a few weeks ago, and they blew me away. Their previous albums were all at least good and two of them ("Ghost Reveries" and "Still Life") are masterpieces in my opinion.

The expectations, I have to say, have greatly surpassed the results, as "Watershed" is, by far, OPETH's weakest album to date (not counting the first three, which I haven't heard). The abuse of the soft- loud-soft-loud approach to building songs, plus the awful tendency to write longer- than-needed tracks are the reasons for this opus' failure.

Let's cut to the chase and say a few words about the songs, where I will illustrate my points of view.

"Coil" (8/10) starts with a quite melodic acoustic intro, with Akerfeldt and Natalie Lorichs singing together, in one of the band's most beautiful moments. Of course, people can say that this is not highly progressive, but I think this is good, which is better than just being "prog." That debate belongs someplace else, not in my review , so I'll continue to describe my reactions to the music.

"Heir" (9.5/10) must be one of the heaviest, most death-metal songs in all OPETH. The opening is just overpowering, impressive; the music then recedes to a quiet interlude with acoustic guitars and synths. The music picks up in violence and then goes back again to the dissonant interlude, but now it feels more ambiguous and dangerous. The first time one hears this, it feels like a chaotic mess. It takes a few listens but the song eventually appears as what it truly is: one of the band's best moments this side of "Ghost of Perdition". The final coda-like ending just releases the tension, and even if it feels a little out-of-place at the beginning, after a few hearings it makes perfect sense (music of any decent quality can't be seriously appreciated in just one sitting, a fact proven by the way the brain works). It's a shame that after this track, everything goes downhill.

"The Lotus Eater" (7/10) starts with a blast after a few humming noises by (presumably) Akerfeldt. The alternative use of clean and death vocals here works perfectly. The second section has a lot of energy and drives us towards the third, where the keyboards in the background add to the eerie atmosphere. Next we have one of the more sing-along-parts ever in OPETH, followed by more chaos which ultimately recedes into a very soft moment, which is not as successful as the preceding ones in the track. Next we have a very awkward sort-of psychedelic dance (?!) which leads to the final section. The song is somewhat uneven, and it's longer than needed. After such a terrific start, it starts to meander aimlessly halfway through.

"Burden" (8.5/10) brings back memories of OPETH's acoustic album, "Damnation". As with most of that record, this track is somewhat predictable but beautiful. No growling, a very strong classic-prog feel, all of which makes this the most retro song in the album, and maybe in all of the group's output. The song ends with an acoustic guitar section where the instrument is gradually detuned. It sounds weird but in OPETH's constantly-dark sound, it somehow manages to sound coherent.

"Porcelain Heart" (6/10) starts with a weak riff that eventually gives way to a quiet acoustic moment. As said earlier, If there's one thing I have to criticize in this record is the exaggerated use by Akerfeldt of this heavy-acoustic-heavy-acoustic structural approach, which takes the surprise factor away from some of the music. In "Ghost Reveries" the interludes worked better, as they were used more scarcely and not always in the same places. After this, another undulating riff starts, but it doesn't carry the weight to save this song from being mediocre. I've always had problems with bands that play either always loud or always low, or that play always fast or always slow. Note how many times I used the word "always" there. "Always" is not good for music . When something "always" happens, music loses surprise and power. This song is hurt by that: it's always "play it loud, play it soft, play it loud, play it soft." Boring song. And a waste of good ideas.

"Hessian Pearl" (5.5/10) starts with an interesting acoustic-atmospheric intro. When the electric guitar attacks with a nice little figure, the famous "wrong note" mentioned by another reviewer appears. In this case, I'll be forced to agree with the opinion that the note really adds neither "progressiveness" nor ambiguity to the music; it just makes it sound odd. What I won't do is blame the problem in poor musicianship. I think it's just an experiment gone wrong, a bad idea, something that could've happened to countless other artists. The song evolves into a weird kind of narcotic triple-dance that has a few moments of interests, namely the section when it fully sounds like Swedish (or Scandinavian) death metal, halfway through. A nice piano-solo interlude adds tension to the track, but the payback we receive is less compelling than it could have been, as the attack of the violence and the growling vocals is too sudden, and mostly, too recurrent in this album. It would seem that OPETH had lost the ability to go from soft to loud gradually; they can only do it by means of "big explosions" now. Also, this song feels like it was made longer artificially, as the final sections add nothing to the musical-story being told with notes, and just create chaos where a little coherence was necessary. It started with the weird "wrong" note, but actually, the beginning of the song was the better part. This song is another misfire, and again, mostly because of the repetitive structural technique of loud-soft and the artificial enlargement.

"Hex Omega" (4.5/10) starts slow again, but with no energy. Yes, energy can be found in soft, quiet acoustic passages: that stored, saved-for-later kind of energy, the energy of restrained tension, which may be the ultimate and most effective kind of force. But this sounds just like a poor attempt by Akerfeldt to sound "progressive", instead of actually being progressive, as he was in "Ghost Reveries" or "Still Life". The ideas are weak and uninspired, and we feel we're listening to an album that is at least 18 minutes longer than necessary. The worst track in OPETH's career. Horrendously boring.

It would seem that Akerfeldt has lost creativity. Apparently, his old association with Steven Wilson has come to be detrimental for the music, as it would seem that the Swede is trying to chase and catch the English's ghost, without ever actually doing it. In previous albums, the music was much more atmospheric, much more progressive. Nowadays it seems OPETH just wants to record as-long-as-possible albums, no matter how many senseless notes they have to add. This doesn't work as a good progressive-death-metal album and the last three tracks are horrendous as honest-to-god (or-Satan) death-metal.

I hope the great OPETH get back on track with their next release. I hope Akerfeldt realizes music can be progressive without being boringly long, and surprising without the "surprise" being always the same.

I give "Watershed" 2 stars. In a perfect world with a better rating system, I'd give it 2.5. But I give it this rating because I think the last three tracks (especially the atrocious final one) destroy everything that the first tracks in the first half of the album accomplished. I give it 2 stars because this is a band that has proven to be capable of much, much more. I give this album 2 stars because, sadly, it's what it deserves.

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Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008

Review by 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

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Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
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.

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Posted Saturday, July 05, 2008

Review by 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

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#176273) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 07, 2008

Review by 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)

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Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Saturday, September 13, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Monday, September 29, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Saturday, October 04, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Sunday, October 12, 2008

Review by 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.

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Posted Thursday, March 05, 2009

Review by 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.

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Posted Sunday, August 02, 2009

Review by 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!

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Posted Thursday, September 03, 2009

Review by 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.

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Posted Sunday, October 04, 2009

Review by 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.

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Posted Thursday, November 26, 2009

Review by 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.

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Posted Friday, February 19, 2010

Review by 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)

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Posted Saturday, May 22, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion 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.

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Posted Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Review by 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.

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Posted Monday, November 15, 2010

Review by Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Site and Forum 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.

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Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review by 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.

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Posted Monday, April 04, 2011

Review by Any Colour You Like
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Only the next album will fully reveal if Watershed has been indeed a watershed in the progression of Opeth. I was initially quite surprised by the quality of this album, with its brazen and eclectic fusion of classic retro-sounding prog rock and typical Opeth melodic death metal. The concept of such fusion isn't new, especially not to any fans of Opeth, yet there is a foreboding atmosphere here which defies their discography.

Building on the darker (gothic?) overtones developed in 'Ghost Reveries', Watershed contains a number of sinister sounding mashed up death-folk (or whatever you fell like 'categorising' the music as) tracks, complete with razor sharp riffs, pretty string arrangements and some generous smatterings of mellotron. Indeed, Per Wiberg's influence on this album is unmistakeable, and elevates it to a level beyond what it would have otherwise been. A hat tip is necessary here. The balance struck between Mikael's typically powerful metal compositions and his equally dark progressive movements provides a great disconnect, one which like releases past continues to enthrall upon repeated listens. The tracks that stand out include; 'The Lotus Eater' for its seamless fusion of genres and styles (including some brilliant breakdowns and solos), 'Burden', a brilliant showcase of Opeth's overall skill and especially Wiberg's lightning sharp and emotional keyboard solo. The album closes with 'Hessian Peel' and 'Hex Omega'; some cite that these tracks drag too much, however I disagree. The lucidity and ephemeral nature of these compositions hints at a drastic path Opeth may take in the future. I would not be disappointed if Mikael chose to pursue further work down this path - twisted, dark, somewhat jazzy ambient fusion.

There are a couple of sticking points however. Mikael's usually throaty and deep growls seem to have lost some of their volume and depth. This is saddening but unfortunately a part of the existence of a death metal vocalist, nonetheless, his clean vocals are as dreamlike and serene as ever. I also think that the percussion in parts feels a bit 'stiff', or perhaps 'inorganic'. This isn't some swipe at Axenrot (nor a lament of Lopez's exit), but I feel that in some sections the percussion feel could have been improved. But for the most part, like Watershed in general, it's excellent. All in all, Watershed is another solid, occasionally brilliant Opeth release.

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Posted Friday, April 15, 2011

Review by 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.

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Posted Friday, June 03, 2011

Review by 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.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#547396) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, October 10, 2011

Latest members reviews

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#455882) | Posted by Juuberi | Thursday, June 02, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#441804) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, May 02, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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", th ... (read more)

Report this review (#404693) | Posted by The Block | Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#356716) | Posted by Luna | Saturday, December 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 aco ... (read more)

Report this review (#310880) | Posted by Prog Geo | Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 creati ... (read more)

Report this review (#299405) | Posted by bartosso | Thursday, September 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 perf ... (read more)

Report this review (#279382) | Posted by Ant_Barnett | Sunday, April 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 Damnat ... (read more)

Report this review (#273806) | Posted by mscbox | Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 soun ... (read more)

Report this review (#263540) | Posted by wanderer | Saturday, January 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 consid ... (read more)

Report this review (#262951) | Posted by Robinanimate | Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#243134) | Posted by alanight | Monday, October 05, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#231145) | Posted by mono | Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 someth ... (read more)

Report this review (#229652) | Posted by mel from hell | Monday, August 03, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#228476) | Posted by amjch70 | Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 fro ... (read more)

Report this review (#225501) | Posted by natewait | Thursday, July 09, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 a ... (read more)

Report this review (#221669) | Posted by Thonolan | Thursday, June 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 addi ... (read more)

Report this review (#215488) | Posted by bonzo4684 | Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 fou ... (read more)

Report this review (#203617) | Posted by Metal_Style | Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#196504) | Posted by Luke. J | Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#187272) | Posted by Arnold | Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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