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OPETH

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Sweden


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Opeth biography
Yes, some people would consider OPETH to be a pure (melodic) Death Metal band but you have to differentiate a lot. The four guys from Stockholm/Sweden feature a lot of different elements on their albums. We have the aggressive death metal with Mikael's growls (which are not generated with help of a computer, it's actually his voice) with lots of breaks, mostly acoustic including Mikael's clear voice. Mr. Åkerfeldt himself always underestimates his clear voice and often points out that he is a novice regarding this kind of singing. But that's not true, false modesty is the term here. His clear voice is warm and simply beautiful. The whole music is guitar orientated, on the one hand we have great riffing for aggressive parts, awesome melodic solos and on the other hand acoustic breaks with admirable melodies with some Scandinavian folk influences here and there and of course Mikael's clear vocals. Sometimes you even get some PINK FLOYD or PORCUPINE TREE like parts or whole songs.

Sure, the band started out as a pure Death Metal combo regarding to their first release" "Orchid" but from their second release on the prog elements got more and more. The second album "Morningrise" for example features a pure Prog song with PINK FLOYD like parts as well as epic song lengths. Mikael Åkerfeldt who also is the indispensable head of the band, often mentions that he is a proghead and mostly likes bands like CAMEL and PORCUPINE TREE. No doubt, you can hear those influences on albums like "Still Life" and "Blackwater Park" but their highlight regarding to pure Prog for sure is their 2003 release "Damnation" which features an entire album in the style of PORCUPINE TREE. Not really astonishing regarding the fact that Steven Wilson of PORCUPINE TREE is a good friend of Mikael and Peter and even worked together with the band for their double release "Damnation" and "Deliverance". Steven Wilson also produced their album "Blackwater Park" which is regarded as their best work so far, not only by death metal fans but also by many others normally disliking death metal growls (like me). "Damnation" for sure is the album most of you would be interested in because it is a pure Prog album. But Mikael said that the band will not do something similar again, he even announced the next album to be their most heavy, we will see. Sure isn't that this release opened the door to new fans and certainly displeased some of their old fans coming from the death metal origin.


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Pale CommunionPale Communion
Roadrunner Records 2014
Audio CD$7.47
$10.33 (used)
Blackwater Park: Legacy EditionBlackwater Park: Legacy Edition
The End Records 2010
Audio CD$8.25
$10.66 (used)
Ghost ReveriesGhost Reveries
Roadrunner Records 2005
Audio CD$4.59
$3.98 (used)
DamnationDamnation
Import
Sony Import 2007
Audio CD$4.23
$2.93 (used)
WatershedWatershed
Roadrunner Records 2008
Audio CD$4.95
$4.93 (used)
Still LifeStill Life
Special Edition
Peaceville 2008
Audio CD$7.44
$17.66 (used)
HeritageHeritage
Roadrunner Records 2011
Audio CD$7.87
$3.43 (used)
DeliveranceDeliverance
The End Records 2007
Audio CD$2.82
$2.14 (used)
The Candlelight YearsThe Candlelight Years
Box set
Candlelight 2009
Audio CD$12.91
$8.96 (used)
MorningriseMorningrise
Extra tracks
Candlelight 2003
Audio CD$6.98
$5.49 (used)
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OPETH shows & tickets


  • Opeth + In Flames + Red Fang at Terminal 5, New York on 18 Dec 2014
  • Opeth + In Flames + Red Fang at The Palladium, Worcester on 19 Dec 2014
  • Opeth + In Flames + Red Fang at Métropolis, Quebec on 20 Dec 2014
  • Opeth + In Flames + Red Fang at Kool Haus, Toronto on 21 Dec 2014
  • Sweden Rock Festival on 3 Jun 2015
  • Rock in Vienna on 4 Jun 2015
  • Tons of Rock on 18 Jun 2015
  • Wacken Open Air 2015 on 30 Jul 2015
  • Bloodstock Open Air 2015 on 6 Aug 2015
  • Pstereo 2015 on 21 Aug 2015
  • Opeth at London Palladium, London on 18 Oct 2015

OPETH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

OPETH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 483 ratings
Orchid
1995
3.71 | 552 ratings
Morningrise
1996
3.92 | 574 ratings
My Arms, Your Hearse
1998
4.33 | 1192 ratings
Still Life
1999
4.25 | 1217 ratings
Blackwater Park
2001
3.76 | 705 ratings
Deliverance
2002
3.93 | 998 ratings
Damnation
2003
4.24 | 1134 ratings
Ghost Reveries
2005
3.94 | 927 ratings
Watershed
2008
3.83 | 956 ratings
Heritage
2011
4.26 | 424 ratings
Pale Communion
2014

OPETH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.02 | 89 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd Bush Empire 2003
2006
4.08 | 168 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2007

OPETH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.01 | 187 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush
2003
4.05 | 123 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2008
4.70 | 197 ratings
In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall
2010
3.89 | 9 ratings
Live at Enmore Theatre Sidney Australia
2011

OPETH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.23 | 44 ratings
Limited Edition Box Set
2006
3.78 | 63 ratings
The Candlelight Years
2008

OPETH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.85 | 20 ratings
Apostle in Triumph
1994
4.30 | 37 ratings
The Drapery Falls
2001
3.89 | 28 ratings
Deliverance
2002
4.49 | 37 ratings
Still Day Beneath the Sun 7''
2003
3.05 | 21 ratings
Selections From Ghost Reveries
2005
3.22 | 35 ratings
The Grand Conjuration
2005
3.00 | 19 ratings
Watershed - Radio Sampler
2008
3.66 | 37 ratings
Porcelain Heart
2008
3.62 | 36 ratings
Mellotron Heart
2008
3.69 | 53 ratings
Burden
2008
3.45 | 60 ratings
The Throat of Winter
2011
3.66 | 81 ratings
The Devil's Orchard
2011

OPETH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Damnation by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.93 | 998 ratings

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Damnation
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TCat

5 stars All I can say about this album is Thank God that it was released. Without it, I would probably have never listened to Opeth or explored the sounds of other bands under the subgenre of Tech/Extreme Prog Metal. People say this was a huge departure away from Opeth's sound. Some blame the departure on Steven Wilson's influence on the album. As for myself, I am a huge Steven Wilson fan, but I honestly didn't know he had any tie in to this album or "Departure" when I first heard them.

At the time of my first hearing of this beautiful album, I was just starting to get to know Porcupine Tree's discography. A friend of mine had bought the box set that had "Blackwater Park", "Deliverance", "Damnation", and "Lamentations". He had been a huge Opeth fan, but he was pissed when he heard "Damnation", enough so to swear off Opeth for good. He gave me this box set. Nice guy, right? Yes. Anyway, the first disc I put on was "Deliverance" and, even though the first listen was not a thrilling one for me, after I listened to "Damnation" I was very enthusiastic about the band and listened to them with new ears after that. Suddenly, the growling vocals weren't so foreign sounding in this or other extreme bands, except for when that is all they do. Because of this album, I now appreciate other bands like Agaloch, Baroness and Orphan Land who I probably would have just written off as useless noise bands otherwise.

It is true that this album is not typical Opeth, but it still has the ingenuity that exists in their harder albums. I don't know why I had to have the growling element taken out to hear how much genius is in their music. But this album strips the noise back so you can hear the interesting rhythms, the changing dynamics and the other prog elements. Some people say this album lacks emotion, but I disagree. The music is still dark, just like it is when it is heavy. The vocals are expressive and beautiful. The guitar is passionate at another level than it is when everything is loud. The mellotron, when it exists, adds a new element not present in their music before. I'm not expecting to sway the lovers of the old Opeth over to the new sound, but I'm hoping that maybe those that are a little afraid of the old extreme sound of Opeth might be convinced to give this album a try and maybe it will become a bridge to tech metal and other talented band the way it has for me.

I call this a masterpiece because it did prove that in a wall of noise, you can still find genius and beauty if you strip it down to the basic elements first, then add them back in. You might be surprised what you discover. 5 stars.

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 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.26 | 424 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Gallifrey

5 stars I think I'm going to have to retract some of the statements I have made about classic prog revival in the past. Sure, 95% of it is crap, and aims for a sound that can never sound good and fresh in the 21st century - namely the Yes/Genesis style of symphonic prog, which always sounds corny and cheese-ridden, with floaty synths and floaty Jon Anderson vocals all bubbling up like some soup of glittery nonsense, with absolutely no punch or impact, and none of the insane compositional and structural ability of those classic bands. But if one thing has been proven to me by Motorpsycho and Jess and the Ancient Ones and Hail Spirit Noir and even Steven Wilson, while Yes revival prog may sound terrible, King Crimson revival prog can truly be awesome.

Many have said this is the record that Heritage should have been, but I'd still be hesitant to say that. Heritage not only had the hard time of being the first album after a big stylistic change, but the fact that it was also their weakest album compositionally since My Arms, Your Hearse made it the focal point of a lot of harsh statements towards Opeth. And although their compositional skill is back with a vengeance on Pale Communion, I can't help but feel if this was released where Heritage was, it would still get a fair bit of [&*!#] flung at it. But yes, this is pretty much Heritage, Part II: Actually Good Version. The stellar riffs and melodies are back, Akerfeldt's vocals are sounding as great as ever, and there are even some new parts that sound like Opeth being truly fresh, as opposed to taking their old sound and painting it 1970's like they did on Heritage.

But despite my comments on this sounding like King Crimson, what this really sounds like is actually Steven Wilson's The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories). Yes, of course, that album sounds like King Crimson and therefore this does too, but the best description of this album is "literally Raven with Akerfeldt singing". The nods to Wilson in both composition and style are everywhere on this record, and not just because his incredibly distinctive backing harmonies are also everywhere on this record. Opener "Eternal Rains Will Come" is possibly the biggest tribute Mikael could make to his boyfriend's latest album, complete with flute setting on the organ, huge ramped up refrains (think "The Holy Drinker"), and the aforementioned vocal harmonies coming in at full volume. But it's not just that - "Cusp of Eternity" is this album's version of "The Pin Drop", "Faith in Others" is Raven's title track, and the proggy instrumental section of "River" and "Goblin" are the equivalents of "Luminol". And although this is certainly a tad uninspired in that regard, I'm sure as hell not complaining. If Raven was proof that prog revival albums could actually be good if done by the right people, then Pale Communion is the consolidation. Although this does slip a bit in comparison to Raven from a compositional and inspirational perspective, the thing that makes this album so great is in fact the point of difference - Akerfeldt's voice.

When Opeth dropped the growls, many people were complaining their new material would lack the awesome light/dark, soft/loud, yin-yang sort of songwriting style that Opeth had become known for, and the albums would start to become one-dimensional and unchanging. And sure, although I am still not a fan of harsh vocals, I loved the power that Mikael's brilliant roar put into the heavy sections, in contrast with his beautiful melancholic cleans. But I think, on this record, he's found a way to give that same contrast with only clean vocals, ever increasing the number of strong melodies in this album. The choruses here are immense - Mikael's voice is smothered in reverb and delay and he's belting it at the top of his lungs, and it's majestically good. It's the sort of thing that Steven Wilson wishes he could do with his songs, but he obviously doesn't have the lungs for it. Vocally, this is potentially Akerfeldt's strongest, his voice is right in the centre of the album, creating powerful, epic melodies in the heavy sections and moody, melancholic ones for the quiet sections. The ending of "Moon Above, Sun Below" is probably the best example of the former, even if the rest of the song leaves much to be desired. The vocal effects give a quite dark, haunting vibe to his voice, and in addition to the slightly psychedelic guitar tones and trembling, atmospheric organs, it does bring that kind of evil and twisted vibe that many early 70's psych rock and early metal albums went for.

Outside of the vocals here, we have a bit of a mixed bag instrumentally. Ever since Martin Axenrot took over the drumkit for 2008's Watershed, he has been slowly crawling up my list of favourite drummers, and while this isn't the impressive technical onslaught that Watershed was, he still gets some fairly good runs, bringing his awesome as hell hi-hat work into a couple of moments, and working with the flattest snare since In the Court of the Crimson King, gets to play some fills that take influence from nearly every great drummer from the early 70's. And in combination with Mendez' much more prominent bass guitar, they get some insanely good grooves going. "Cusp of Eternity" is probably my favourite track here for the combination of the insanely catchy guitar/bass groove and Akerfeldt's epic chorus vocals. As for the guitars, Akerfeldt's playing here is still proficient and good, although it is nowhere near the focal point that it was in their older albums. He can still clearly come up with some nice fiddly acoustic parts (although one here is directly ripped from Blackwater Park), and his heavy guitar has shifted from slide riffs upon slide riffs to a development of the twisted psychedelic riffing he started venturing into on Heritage.

But as with any prog revival album, we're going to have some negative effects, and the negatives here are quite a bit more notable than they were on Raven. For starters, the organ on this record does slip into some rather corny and embarrassing cheesed out parts. The very start of this album, in fact, opens with the organ playing a pretty gross tone, and while it hides away and plays Steven Wilson-esque flutes for a while, it does rear its head again during "Goblin" and the second half of "River". "River" in particular, is a weird one, considering that the first half is honestly the happiest I have ever heard Opeth be. It's quite delightful and pretty actually, with awesome harmonies and serene atmospheres, but then for some reason the warbling noisebox comes in and [&*!#]s all over any atmosphere or mood, before breaking into a rather wanky and unrefined jam section. "Goblin", despite being an instrumental track, isn't quite as bad, but it isn't really good either. Some decent grooves come into play, but some terrible organ parts and wanky guitar solos cancel them out, making it overall pretty forgettable and unnecessary.

But the organ isn't all too bad, and in fact it is a deciding factor in one of my favourite songs on this album - closer "Faith in Others". Taking another page out of In the Court of the Crimson King, the organ isn't here to fart corny melodies all over the place, it's there in the deep background being atmospheric and casting a mournful haze all over the track, even reminding me a bit of the way Dire Straits used organ in their mid-career. Some beautiful strings add to the organ ambience here, as well as on "Voice of Treason", which is my other big favourite from this album. The melodies on the closer are some of the best, and despite running a few minutes overtime, is honestly one of the best slow moody tracks that Opeth have ever done.

Honestly, I feel this is not only Opeth's best record since Ghost Reveries, but it's their best overall behind the holy trinity of progressive death metal (Still Life, Blackwater Park, Ghost Reveries). Aside from "Goblin", I enjoy a great deal of every song here, with Akerfeldt's melody-finding ability being truly back on song. It has problems - the 70's worship does pull a bit of corny stuff in with it, and some of the tracks have the classic Opeth patchwork songwriting problem ("Moon Above, Sun Below" just sounds like a stack of (admittedly good) segments with no coherence between them whatsoever), but overall this is a really impressive return to form. I don't expect Opeth to return to the status they were on in the early 2000's - this is too derivative stylistically to gain the status of pioneers, but it's good to see that they can still put out a compositionally strong record, and now that they're out of the spotlight as the biggest prog metal band in the world, they can quietly put out great records of whatever they want in the corner without anyone really caring.

8.6

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.26 | 424 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Gosh, this is not what I normally would expect from a band like OPETH! They never have totally disappeared off my radar, but I seem to remember that Mikael Åkerfeldt has been a friend of death metal and growls in earlier times, which is not my cup of tea in general. Now yet this sounds like a radical turn somehow, spirtually akin to Pain Of Salvation with their album 'Road Salt Two' maybe. Well in any case, while trying to regard this music totally unbiased firstly, 'Pale Communion' marks a great leap towards melodic heavy progressive rock, for what it's worth.

Some may say this comes because Steven Wilson is involved in the production. This might be only half of the story though - I'm quite sure Mikael Åkerfeldt and his mates wanted to produce such a thing with intent, and so they've invited him to get on board, just in order to make it good, really good. Wise idea, isn't it? Take your chance, as not every artist or band will ever get the possibility to collaborate with such a prolific musician and sound engineer. Anyway, now to the songs as such which are arranged like a chain of pearls.

The opener Eternal Rains Will Come makes it immediately clear - the keyboards are placed with a symphonic touch overall, due to the vintage expression, which also includes mellotron and Hammond organ. Åkerfeldt's voice is beneficially charming, yeah, especially proved on the following groove rocker Cusp Of Eternity. Like on Elysian Woes beautifully relaxed parts are given featuring acoustic guitar and piano. The fantastic Goblin steps out of line a bit, as the song appears like a fusion infected jam, probably in reminiscence to the eponymous Italian band.

Provided with some oriental delicacies I do like the dramatic Voice Of Treason very much, excellent musicanship, a real treasure. With 'Pale Communion' the band offer a rather accessible, though by far not trivial album, which excludes nearly any (extreme) metal approach this time. Provided with symphonic and jazzy touches here we have a recommendable production which by now belongs to my 2014 top ten list. Congrats! That makes my day in the end, as I'm fond of being surprised here and there!

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 Ghost Reveries by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.24 | 1134 ratings

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Ghost Reveries
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by MusicalGluttony

5 stars Ghost Reveries is in my humble opinion an essential album in the Opeth catalog. This was the first album to break my preconceived notions of extreme-style vocals. At the time I was rather squeemish to anything resembling the metalcore style I'd grown the loathe. But when I was lent this album by a friend I found it impossible to ignore the melodic bombast and the dynamics within a song, let alone across the length of the album. This is one of those experiences that changed the way I listen to music, at least in terms of being less snobbish in regard to extreme music

The track 'Ghost of Perdition' opens the album with a few clean chords being strummed leading to a wall of distorted guitar and Mikael Akerfeldt's signature growl. Really hits you in the face. This song maintains a heavy feel while shifting abruptly to gorgeous harmonized vocal pieces sung over immaculately picked acoustic arpeggios. This song entertains a drama that builds through poly-rhythmic grooves and mighty Hammond organ to a satisfying crescendo at the very end. A classic melodic-metal epic. 'The Baying of the Hounds' takes the heaviness up just one more notch and drives headlong into a real headbanger. Organs are prominent on this track as well, beefing up the attack of the guitar. This track takes its detour into the quiet and gentle, great bass pulse, only to let the tension build again into an even heavier headbanging groove. 'Beneath the Mire' is definitely the oddball on this album, opening with an almost evil carnival keyboard intro. I like the lyrics of this piece, it almost reads like someone fighting with an impending demonic possession, eventually succumbing to the entity. There's also a great guitar and keyboard unison solo that's quite impressive.

'Atonement' is quite a change of pace, harking back to the sound of the album, 'Damnation'. This track has a middle-eastern feel with sitars buzzing throughout, hand drumming and soaring choruses of "Ahhhh". The track finishes off where the next track means to notate, 'Reverie' refers to the strumming chords and soft ascending keys that closes off 'Atonement'. 'Harlequin Forest' is one my favorite lyrically penned Opeth songs, and even for it's length takes quite the dynamic journey. The heavy approach as the death metal vocals kick in is juxtaposed by a beautiful 12-string strumming section. 'Hours of Wealth' is the second song to take a breath. It takes it's time building a melancholy instrumentally, and then Mikael sings over this mellotron chorus of flutes and Rhodes keys. The song closes with a mournfully painful guitar solo that feels like it has so much to say.

The album's apex, 'The Grand Conjuration' grabs you right by the throat, gets your attention and then drags you slowly passed this persistent thump of bass drum and jangly keys before once again grasping your neck. Opeth is known for milking a riff to really develop a mood and this song is a great example. The heavy parts aren't really all that heavy, but are given that impression by how they are being built up. 'Isolation Years' may be the prettiest song off the whole album. The narrative is very depressing, with crying guitar leads flying over these mournful lyrics. 'Soldier of Fortune' is an excellent cover of the Deep Purple piece taken from a live recording including Opeth's then to be permanent drummer Martin Axenrot, and is a great addition that fits the feel of the album's mellower peices.

In my opinion 'Ghost Reveries' sits as Opeth's magnum opus, not at all to discredit their work to follow, but this album encapsulates that signature Opeth melodic death metal sound. The composition of these songs is stellar, varied and progressive but all the while hooking your attention. It may not be extreme enough for some, but then I don't believe it's supposed to be. If I were to suggest an album to break through a fellow music enthusiasts extreme vocal disdain I would likely choose this album.

10/10

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 Watershed by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.94 | 927 ratings

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Watershed
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by brainsuccasurgery

4 stars Outside the rain hits the glass with a dry sound, depending on the speed of my fingers on the keyboard, writing slowly at first then faster. I looked at the object I need to review, the 2008 Opeth record. I thought, another book to the twilight atmosphere. I shivered contemplating photos on the front and back cover. I felt something cold, incomprehensible. The sensation of touching a dead tree. I write as the good old days of first spectral Black Sabbath. An avalanche of blinding lack of pictures then make me waver. A moment of 1980 when I listened for the first time this old thing. I pause, look back at all that has been written on Watershed, rubbing my temples. Oboe and medieval death metal? Headache overtakes me. The overwhelming rhythmic heaviness does not help. From the beginning, the work of Opeth seems certify room presence, effective, an army of shadows moving. All his ghostly iconography, carrying a very nineteenth century Gothic despair. Watershed does not alter the case. Ideal for dark days, it contains some of their essence. The apparent clarity of "Coil" which opens the album with hot and sweet voice of Nathalie Lorichs (Remember Julianne Regan of All About Eve) is not sufficient to relieve a general feeling oppressive. But I see nothing serene or bucolic there. Watershed tends to the gods his heart like poison coated dishes we pass in a divine meal.

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

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 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.26 | 424 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

5 stars After being impressed with Opeth's wonderful "Heritage" album my hopes were set very high on "Pale Communion". I make no secret of my dislike for really abrasive growls in Prog. I believe Opeth's finest hour is the melancholy and haunting "Damnation" and now they are blending that beautiful vocal approach with the progginess of "Heritage" to produce one of the albums of the year.

"Pale Communion" is a stunning album on every level, opening with a soundscape of keyboard layers, capturing a dramatic ambience from the start. The vocals are harmonized and sound not unlike the style of Yes in some ways. Perfect harmonies, and easily decipherable lyrics on "Eternal Rains Will Come".

This is followed by the one that hit the online community in the initial stages, "Cusp of Eternity". Akerfeldt's voice is sensational as always, he won't be growling on this album. The catchy chorus hook will settle in your brain after a few listens. Definitely a keeper in the Opeth greatest hits package.

"Moon Above, Sun Below" is an 11ish minute mini epic with a steady rhythm and some glorious guitar and keyboard flourishes. There is a darker feel on this with the vocal style, more aggression and heavier riffs, though this is still as far removed from the style on "Deliverance" as you can imagine. The hypnotic mantra of the title will engrave itself upon you, then there is a gorgeous twin guitar section. After this tranquility Akesson launches into a blinding lead break. Then it settles into a haunting keyboard motif and reverberated vocals. This is so catchy it always jumps out on the album. The melodies are as good as Opeth gets.

"Elysian Woes" is driven by somber acoustics and vocals at first. Akerfeldt's voice is crystalline clear; surely one of the greatest vocalists this year. The influence of Steven Wilson shines through. The melancholy approach is startling, with beautiful guitar interplay and some angelic keyboards at the touch of Svalberg.

"Goblin" is an instrumental driven by raging keyboard finesse and quirky time sigs. "River" returns to quiet solitude with acoustics, sweet harmonies and pleasant lead guitar soloing. I love how the time sig changes and locks into a twisted meter and some incredible lead guitar trade offs. The Hammond is delicious and oh the sweetness of the Mellotron!

"Voice of Treason" has a fantastic drumming performance from Axenrot and those keyboards are absolutely divine. This is a powerhouse track that springs from nowhere and it keeps building with amazing vocals and ominous musical embellishments. The bass solo of Mendez works nicely with the drums. The staccato violin style keys remind me of the recent James Bond theme song. This track is a definitive highlight that gets better on every listen.

"Faith in Others" closes things with Mellotron soundscapes encapsulating a Pink Floyd atmosphere. The mood swings from dramatic tension to a very heartfelt gentle emotion at the end. Mellotrons float lambently to the end as Akerfeldt croons softly. It is an effortless light approach from Opeth that may surprise some with its consistence ambience.

There's not a shred of metal on "Pale Communion" so headbangers keep your distance. This album is more symphonic than anything Opeth have done previously. It is another "Heritage" style exploration of retro prog?and I like it!

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 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.26 | 424 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Pale Communion" is the 11th full-length studio album by Swedish progressive rock/metal act Opeth. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in August 2014. There´s been a lineup change since "Heritage (2011)" as keyboard player Per Wiberg has been replaced by Joakim Svalberg.

With "Heritage (2011)", Opeth more or less took a left turn fully embracing a 70s influenced progressive hard rock sound and leaving their death metal past behind. They did a similar thing on "Damnation (2003)" but returned to their trademark progressive death metal sound on the next couple of albums. This time around they seem to mean business though and as "Pale Communion" is now their second album in a row which features a 70s influenced progressive hard rock sound, we can probably safely assume that the band´s death metal days are now behind them and that a new chapter in the band´s history began with "Heritage (2011)".

So the music on "Pale Communion" is a continuation of the progressive hard rock sound on "Heritage (2011)" and as such has little to do with metal although there are some hard rocking riffing on the album and references to artists like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, and Atomic Rooster are valid enough (also because of the dominant use of organ). But there are references to a lot of 70s artists and musical styles on the album. Vocalist/guitarist/main composer Mikael Åkerfeldt are known for his broad tastes in music and you´ll hear elements from both hard rock, symphonic progressive rock (the sections with mellotron and the sections with orchestration are beautiful), folk rock, and even a whiff of jazz rock on "Pale Communion", which is ultimately a pretty varied album.

The description above can more or less also be applied to "Heritage (2011)", but "Pale Communion" is not a sequal clone of that album, as the band have opted for a more structured and melodic sound on this album compared to the more messy sounding "Heritage (2011)". "Heritage (2011)" often sounded like Mikael Åkerfeldt had 10.000 ideas and was hellbent to cram them all on the album. That ultimately made that album quite an adventurous ride but at the same time not the most memorable or well composed one. With "Pale Communion" it seems that Åkerfeldt has cut a bit more to the bone and focused on the actual compositions and the longivity of the melody lines. As a result "Pale Communion" is instantly memorable and quite a bit more accessible compared to it´s predecessor.

"Pale Communion" is produced by Mikael Åkerfeldt and mixed by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and not surprisingly the album is graced with a warm, detailed, and organic sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. The musicianship are as always of high class. The instrumental performances are organic and tight and Mikael Åkerfeldt´s vocals are distinct sounding and delivered with conviction. The use of choirs and backing- and harmony vocals on many tracks are great assets to the music too.

The album features an overall great flow and all tracks are memorable after only a few listens although complex enough to ensure longivity. It´s not easy to pick standout tracks on an album where all tracks are equally great, but I´d like to mention the closing trio of tracks, "River", "Voice of Treason", and "Faith in Others", as some of the highlights. The former because of the surprising shift in atmosphere (here is a track where several different sounding compositional ideas work well together) and the two latter (which seque into each other to form a sort of mini suite) for their intriguing emotional impact and use of orchestration. But then again I could have mentioned any track off "Pale Communion" and call it a highlight.

While "Pale Communion" certainly digs deep into the 70s progressive rock and hard rock scene for inspiration and does feature a retro sound, it doesn´t feel as forced as it´s predecessor did. It´s more fresh sounding, more musical, and overall just a better and more memorable release. I was beginning to wonder where Opeth were heading with "Heritage (2011)", but with "Pale Communion" I think they are back on the right track. A track that brings promises of even greater future output in this style. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

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 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.26 | 424 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Einwahn

5 stars Opeth are a band undergoing a radical, and for myself very welcome, evolution. By their frenetic standards, Pale Communion is a mellow and at times almost commercial album. But the magical guitar work, and fascinating drumming, are ever-present in this superb production. The instrumental side of Opeth has always excited me, but I have never been able to leave square one as far as the dreadful growls were concerned. Now two consecutive albums with clean vocals mean we can begin to believe the growls are gone for good. For myself, Pale Communion does not quite match the excitement and constant surprises of its magnificent predecessor Heritage, but the musical mastery and innovation still deserve masterpiece status. And a top 20 chart position in my own country - prog bands do not often achieve that these days, well done!

Verdict: destined to become a classic.

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 Ghost Reveries by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.24 | 1134 ratings

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Ghost Reveries
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Obsidian Pigeon

3 stars I first encountered Opeth quite a few years ago, through their album Still Life. I was enthralled by the album cover, and decided that I wanted to hear the music that potentially warranted the artwork. I wasn't shocked by what I heard, since I had heard descriptions of what the music sounds like, but I did really enjoy it. However, Opeth is something that I simply can't listen to often. I do, though, acknowledge their abilities.

Ghost Reveries is an album that I checked shortly thereafter, and I found it to have some fairly nice songs. Yet like other Opeth albums, I grew fairly tired of it, and I cannot listen to it the whole way through. Many of the sections within the songs are very nice to listen to, and are fairly brilliantly written and arranged. However, Opeth's style is something that I cannot listen to much of at the same time.

I know that this album is well-written and is great for fans of the genre (which I'm not necessarily one of), and for those reasons I believe it merits a 3 out of 5 stars from me, because my personal tastes come in the way of my enjoyment of the album.

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 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.26 | 424 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars There was too much 'talkabout' on Opeth's new album. I loved Heritage (2011) thought it was a fantastic new sound for the band. Now, all this talking about the band kind put me off a bit, especially after the horrific weak single released before the album ('Cusp Of Eternity') so I waited to listen to their new album, Pale Communion (2014).

Now, I'm giving it a spin on it through Spotify and what can I say, track one 'Eternal Rains Will Come' is simply outstanding, amazing track. Then off we go to 'Cusp Of Eternity' that's way too much SW for me, and Opeth is better than him, doesn't work really. Good that 'Moon Above, Sun Below' comes in to erase the previous track very well indeed. 'Elysian Woes' continues the high quality path, but acoustically.

While 'Goblin' indeed reminds the classic Italian band, 'River' is a folk ballad in the same path of Rush's 'Rivendell'. 'Voice Of Treason' and 'Faith In Others' continue the good path of the album.

Pale Communion (2014) is able to bring all the classic Prog Rock that I love with a fresh air to it, and that's why this is so interesting and one of the great releases of the year that so far was so week.

4.5 stars really!

Recommended!

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