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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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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)

3.25 | 552 ratings
Orchid
1995
3.72 | 628 ratings
Morningrise
1996
3.93 | 657 ratings
My Arms, Your Hearse
1998
4.32 | 1397 ratings
Still Life
1999
4.26 | 1433 ratings
Blackwater Park
2001
3.76 | 804 ratings
Deliverance
2002
3.94 | 1122 ratings
Damnation
2003
4.25 | 1334 ratings
Ghost Reveries
2005
3.95 | 1031 ratings
Watershed
2008
3.85 | 1089 ratings
Heritage
2011
4.24 | 847 ratings
Pale Communion
2014
4.07 | 42 ratings
Sorceress
2016

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

4.10 | 105 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd Bush Empire 2003
2006
4.09 | 186 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2007

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

4.02 | 199 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush
2003
4.08 | 138 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2008
4.68 | 217 ratings
In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall
2010
4.58 | 12 ratings
Live at Enmore Theatre Sidney Australia
2011

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

4.55 | 40 ratings
Limited Edition Box Set
2006
3.98 | 63 ratings
The Candlelight Years
2008

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

4.25 | 20 ratings
Apostle in Triumph
1994
4.47 | 40 ratings
The Drapery Falls
2001
4.02 | 29 ratings
Deliverance
2002
4.72 | 39 ratings
Still Day Beneath the Sun 7''
2003
3.07 | 24 ratings
Selections From Ghost Reveries
2005
3.25 | 38 ratings
The Grand Conjuration
2005
3.03 | 21 ratings
Watershed - Radio Sampler
2008
3.72 | 41 ratings
Porcelain Heart
2008
3.64 | 42 ratings
Mellotron Heart
2008
3.71 | 57 ratings
Burden
2008
3.47 | 64 ratings
The Throat of Winter
2011
3.68 | 84 ratings
The Devil's Orchard
2011

OPETH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Still Life by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.32 | 1397 ratings

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Still Life
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by VianaProghead

5 stars Review Nº 85

"Still Life" is the fourth studio album of Opeth and was released in 1999. It was the first Opeth's album to be released through the Peaceville Records, following their departure from the Candlelight and Century Black Records after the release of their previous third studio album "My Arms, Your Hearse".

As with "My Arms, Your Hearse", "Still Life" is also a conceptual album. In short, it tells the story of a man who was expelled from his home town because he hasn't got the same faith as the rest of the inhabitants, the Christianity. He returns for his love Melinda and he finds out that she isn't now a free person. He does his best to reach her, and once he manages to do so, Melinda is killed and the man, now enraged, goes on a killing spree and only succumbs due to exhaustion. He is executed and finally he reaches serenity. Each song concentrates on the different parts of the story.

The line up on the album is Mikael Akerfeldt (vocals and guitars), Peter Lindgren (guitar), Martin Mendez (bass guitar) and Martin Lopez (drums).

"Still Life" has seven tracks. All songs were written and composed by Akerfeldt. The first track "The Moor" lyrically tells that the protagonist of the story has been banished from his own village and now he is coming back to take his love Melinda with him. Musically it begins with a mystical acoustic sound which leads to a great acoustic riff. After that, the song becomes fuller by aggressive metal, joined by Akerfeldt's nice growling vocals. This mini epic contains both acoustic and heavy parts with both cleaning and growling vocals, staying very progressive as well. The second track "Godheads Lament" lyrically describes how the protagonist of the story watches Melinda from afar, fearing that he will be detected, and doubting that he can make contact with her without attracting the religious authority of the town. Musically it continues as pretty much the same. It continues with high and strong power music which is very nice to hear but it has also an excellent melodic line. The third track "Benighted" lyrically perfectly conveys the man's longing for Melinda and how he desperately hopes that they might yet be together, despite her becoming a part of the controlling religious organisation since his banishment. Musically this track is the only completely acoustic in the album. It's a great ballad with a very good guitar solo. It has a great combination between great acoustic guitar work and a beautiful voice line. The fourth track "Moonlapse Vertigo" lyrically shows that the things become desperate and how much danger the man puts him in just by being there, and that he has very little time to try to convince Melinda to come away with him. Musically "Moonlapse Vertigo" is one of the most progressive songs of the album. It brings the music back to the high energy of the album. However, this time it's performed softer with great combination of electric and acoustic guitar workings. The fifth track "Face Of Melinda" lyrically shows that Melinda initially rejects the man and hides behind her religious beliefs. Disheartened yet not defeated, the man makes one more attempt to win her back and we learn that she still loves him now, as she always did. Musically is the only song of the album with no growling vocals, along with "Benighted". It's also one of the best singular songs of "Still Life", being of the lighter track here. The sixth track "Serenity Painted Death" lyrically shows that before the reacquainted couples can leave, the outcast wakes to find they have been found out. Melinda has been taken away and her throat slit for her association with him, which leave him consumed by fury and a longing for vengeance. He goes on a rampage, killing numerous soldiers before finally being captured by the Council of the Cross. Musically this is probably the most aggressive song of the album. It has a crashing metal riff and truly impressive natural growling vocal working by Akerfeldt, as only he is able to do. The seventh and the last track "While Cluster" lyrically completes the tragic story, with the man refusing to repent before being taken to the gallows to be hanged before a large gathering of townspeople. It closes with the man having a vision of Melinda right before he is executed, suggesting that he will soon be reunited with her in death. Musically it continues at the same musical line with the whole album and it has also a wonderful guitar solo.

Conclusion: "Still Life" is a very balanced album with a clear theme, both lyrically and musically, and its quality stays excellent from the beginning to the end. Compared to the other Opeth's albums, this is my favourite studio album from the band. Opeth made a commercial success with their next studio album "Blackwater Park", but I still prefer "Still Life" compared to it. "Still Life" stays clear and balanced throughout the album and has no weak points. However and in general, all the Opeth's discography seems to have no truly weak points at all. All of this made of "Still Life" as one of the best and truly classic progressive albums. So, I recommend strongly this album to all progressive rock fans.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Damnation by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.94 | 1122 ratings

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Damnation
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I am a rather latecomer to Opeth, only coming to them after Mikael Åkerfeldt dropped the death metal monster growls and were going for a heavy prog approach, so naturally it was Heritage that I bought first, then going for their next effort Pale Communion. Damnation, I realized was a stark contrast to its sister release Deliverance. Both recorded at the same time, supposed to have been a double CD, but instead released separately several months apart. Damnation really has much more in common with the likes of Heritage and Pale Communion a decade later. A more proggy approach, not as so heavy guitar playing, more acoustic, and no monster growls. While Heritage and Pale Communion had alienated many fans, at least with Damnation, the fans felt this was a one-off effort and it was back to heavy stuff (and it would be until Åkerfeldt felt he was no longer improving on his growling vocal technique), but it did bring in some of the prog faithful who was otherwised put off by the death metal approach. In fact, many, both its supporters and detractors felts that Opeth was turning into Porcupine Tree. It helps that Steven Wilson not only produced the album but even appears on the album even sings, so the Porcupine Tree sound could not be avoided. After buying their two recent albums, I was totally flattered how similar Damnation was to their recent material. If you want Opeth to be heavy, this isn't it, if you want to hear the more mellow side of them, the more prog oriented side, just like the recent efforts, then this comes recommended.
 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.24 | 847 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I wasn't one of those people who knew of Opeth from Day One, after all death metal has never been my music of choice. I heard their name, often in collaboration with Steven Wilson, which was causing the group to go more progressive, but the death metal was still there. In 2011 I learned that their new release Heritage dropped the monster growls, and I took a chance on it. To my ears it has some nice stuff, but sounded like it needed room for improvement. For me, I am, like some people, find the growling vocals a bit hard to take them seriously (of course, many of the fans want those vocals). So it's little surprise those who felt alienated with Heritage will probably swear them off completely on Pale Communion. To be fair these efforts aren't too terribly different from Damnation, but then that was the "light" contrast with the "darkness" of the super-heavy Deliverance. I also have Damnation, mainly because it's more in tune with what they're doing now, despite being recorded during the very same sessions that brought you Deliverance (and released a few months after Deliverance). Apparently Mikael Åkerfeldt stated his growls have not improved so that's why he dropped them. Anyways, I am really delighted over Pale Communion. Make no doubt about it: they are now a heavy prog band. This album may still have heavy riffs, more more in tuned with heavy prog than death metal. Plus the album has its share of acoustic material, and even a wonderful orchestral piece (with Hatfield & the North and National Health's Dave Stewart conducting). "Eternal Rains Will Come" shows the group is totally at home with prog material, really like the nice keyboard work from newcomer Joakim Svalberg (Per Wiberg left following the released of Heritage,, hence the tree depicting one of the heads falling on the ground, that of Per Wiberg). Sampled Mellotron makes its presence felt on the album (Heritage did use a real Mellotron, an M600 that Per Wiberg was so happy to show on the Making of Hertage bonus DVD, included if you own the special edition CD of that album with the lenticular gimmick cover, but Pale Communion did feature the new keyboardist who hasn't yet had access to a real Mellotron). Also Hammond organ and MiniMoog Voyager is also used, showing how they're not afraid of prog. "Goblin" is in tribute of the famous Italian band of the same name, "Voice of Treason" has a rather Middle Eastern feel to it, while "Faith in Others" is a great closing piece, a moody orchestral number with help from Dave Stewart (as mentioned before).

As before, some long-time fans will be scratching their heads over this. Some felt betrayed by Åkerfeldt's clean guitar playing and vocal approach. I can only say, if they change, they better be good at the change, and that's what they deliver here. It's the change into a good heavy prog band, which I'm happy with. So if you enjoy heavy prog, I highly recommend this, even if you weren't exactly keen on the band in the past because the vocals or death metal approach.

 My Arms, Your Hearse by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.93 | 657 ratings

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My Arms, Your Hearse
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by RuntimeError

4 stars Raw, unpolished diamond that drags you deep into the depths of anguish.

Opeth's first epic record 'My Arms, Your Hearse' offers us the heaviest of all Opeth records. Gone are the overly repetitive slow riffs from 'Morningrise' - the album opens with 'Prologue' to setup the dark mood and immediately after one minute as 'April Ethereal' drags us deep into the void. I would argue this is the first time we are introduced to the "Opeth riffing" style as the song progresses through many stages and going through extremely pressuring atmosphere. Ã?kerfeldt definitely had aimed to develop his screams here (and clean vocals as well, although they're now quite stellar here yet) and it shows. They are raw and have a nice raspy style of tone in them. The ending of 'April Ethereal' is one of Opeth's finest moment.

If you thought the previous song is heavy, it was Disneyland heavy compared to 'When' - after the intro clean guitar we are dragged to deepest hell as a magnificent riff starts to to drive the song forward while the growls push the mood to extreme. While the start of this song (and ending) are superb, the middle section is unfortunately not Opeth's best songwriting moment.

'Madrigal' serves as a cool opener for 'The Amen Corner'. 'The Amen Corner' is probably the heaviest song on the album and again it offers some superb moments and some not so great moments. My biggest gripe with this song is that it's mostly more of the same that was introduced in the first 2 epics.

'Demon of The Fall' requires no introduction. Opeth has made some outstanding songs in their long career, and this song remains in the top 5 along with 'Blackwater Park', 'Godhead's Lament' or 'Ghost of Perdition'. The songwriting is superb, the riffs are outstanding and the growls - the first time you hear the chorus you will most likely wet your pants. At the intro the growls are downtuned to increase the effect of 'the demonic voice'. Outstanding song, period.

Credence is a fantastic continuation for 'Demon of The Fall' as Mike gets to sing here the first time. I'm not aware if this song is ripped off from some other artist like 'Benighted' is from the next album - but this is a fantastic clean song with many changes and emotions.

Unfortunately 'Karma' has never kept my attention, as this song is much more the same as in 'Amen Corner' - the riffs aren't as good as in 'When' or 'April Ethereal' and simply fails to keep my full attention for the whole song.

The album is closed with 'Pink Floydish' epilogue, it's a nice tune that closes the story very well and the guitar harmonies are fantastic.

Conclusion: not a masterpiece in terms of songwriting and coherence, but it is still essential for anyone to venture to darker side of progressive metal. This album is followed of course by the masterpiece 'Still Life' that has many of the same elements as here, but executed better.

The production is decent, however the overall spectrum is very thick and sometimes it's hard to separate the instruments from the overly distorted guitar.

4+ stars (whatever that means).

 Still Life by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.32 | 1397 ratings

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Still Life
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars Prayer for our still life. Regardless of my first OPETH, I could not help feeling as if this album should be one of my musical roots. Based upon melodic core metal, they keep sending out fresh troops of sensitive sound shower. Their musical box is full of sound essence of Swedish metal scene ... heavy riffs with grindcore vibes, sensitive melodic Fantasia, refined chorus along with strict rhythm section plays, extreme sharp-edged guitar solos ... all of OPETHeoretical energetic progressive strategies would be accumulated and integrated like a powerful pyramid.

On the other hand, I guess they might play fully with artistic delight for letting the audience listen to their complex melody lines in such a complicated manner, of course their playing skill, instrumental technique,or composition faculty should be awesome though. We can get immersed in their world just as if we would fall into catastrophic illusion via this massive production.

Cynically mentioning aside, their theatrical schemes and movements can be felt pretty innovative. Assume that such a death-metallic style could be heard via North European progressive metal originated with the giant vanguards in North Euro melodic (non-progressive) metal scene ... basical metal sound visions with explosive loudness and deathcore voices would be shifted to mystic gorgeous rock phrases tinged with classical flavour somehow. The first repetitive confusive conductive phrases, beautiful acoustic storytelling, aloud hardcore voices plus deep explosive phases, and polished chorus or verse ... they all hold their hands and merge themselves into others completely. There is no useless tone nor unnecessary sound. On a natural course.

We cannot frequently come across such a colourful creation filled with nonpartisan sound variations, let me say. Afraid there might be pros and cons for / against this album but this innovative cornerstone was / is another multi-flavourful gem.

 Damnation by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.94 | 1122 ratings

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Damnation
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by AndyJ

2 stars Opeth's 'Damnation', the mellow half of the 'Deliverance/Damnation' double album, is a curious and somewhat difficult album to review. The musicianship is impeccable, the compositions refined and the production, courtesy of Mr Steven Wilson is obviously top-notch... But (there had to be a but). Despite all of those things the only thing I feel when listening to 'Damnation' is cold and empty. Maybe that's the point?

Opeth really did get the dark and depressive thoughts down on this record - but where is the emotive joy to balance things out? And I'm not talking about happy-go-lucky lyrics or anything inane like that, but the odd major chord progression or positive uplifting melody would have done wonders for this record. Everything, or almost everything, is played in minor key and just sounds way too depressing, and, dare I say it, a little bit sterile. If I want to be depressed I'll listen to a Radiohead album! Okay, there are a few exceptions to this, such as the very cool track 'Closure', but overall the musical theme is just too bleak throughout.

I have read that 'Damnation' was some sort of tribute to the progressive rock bands of the 1970's that we all love. And I definitely hear that in some of the passages, particularly with the use of the mellotron, but here's the catch - those classic albums of the 70's that we all love had the full gamut of emotions running through them, not just the darkness. Imagine 'Suppers Ready' without all the fun bits? Just wouldn't be the same, would it?

Technically I think 'Damnation' is very good I just hardly ever want to listen to it despite being a huge Opeth fan. And while I'm at it I don't think much to 'Deliverance' either! I think this is a bit harsh, but 2-stars is about all I want to give this one.

 Blackwater Park by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.26 | 1433 ratings

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Blackwater Park
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by MonsterMagnet

4 stars Me too, I must add a four stars rating to what's one the finest Opeth record's ever. Blackwater Park is a concept about a park for leper people, in eight songs: the violent Leper Affinity, powerful Bleak, quiet Harvest, nostalgic Drapery Falls, sad Dirge For November, evil Funeral Portrait, instrumental Patterns In The Ivy and merely brutal Blackwater Park. No doubt this is extreme metal blending prog influences (jazzy chords, asymmetrical rhythms, ten minutes pieces). However, Opeth isn't a technical metal band as Meshuggah with impossible riffs or as Symphony X which plays lightning fast. Opeth's tortuous riffs are an element of their style but each part isn't so complicated: there are still a lot of four chords riffs, rhythmic linearity and a restraint of a single minor key. But whereas some bands like Iron Maiden are just using receipts of the genre with talent, Opeth has moreover the ability to make the mould softer by arranging uncountable surprises and bringing originality, especially a melodic finesse (chromatism, dissonances, unusual scales). Actually, Opeth's trademark may be in the balance between melody and the art of headbanging riff. Which is the most impressive in this album is the formal mastery. Each part has a reason to be because it brings something new and fits perfectly at the same time. From that point of view, Opeth reveals itself as brillant as the big names respected on this website. Yes, I mean it!
 Ghost Reveries by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.25 | 1334 ratings

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Ghost Reveries
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars My first Opeth acquisition was "Heritage" which I really admired for its bold take on retro-prog. But I knew this was not the Opeth known to most and I stepped in a got "Blackwater Park" and "Still Life". Thanks to these two albums, I started to enjoy and even appreciate death growl vocals. Then came "Pale Communion" and now I had two albums by the old Opeth and two by the new. It was time to reach in between and bring home "Ghost Reveries".

Now while the newer albums impressed me for their creative arrangements and explorative song construct, the older albums had a rich power with blast beats, ominous riffs and those vocals that could give Beelzebub the shivers. Though the old albums included some acoustic guitar, piano, and clean vocals, I often felt there was still such an extreme between the light and the heavy dark. How did Opeth make such a huge transition in style and sound from way back then to now? Yes, I heard about "Damnation" but that was more toward the "Heritage" extreme (maybe?) and not so much the middle ground between the two. But "Ghost Reveries" answers my question.

The opening track "Ghost of Perdition" is essentially one of Opeth's intense and dark death metal songs but blends in clean vocals and softer parts in a more natural way that flows well with the music and doesn't seem so obviously placed as an opposite extreme to the heavy side.

"The Baying of the Hounds" carries this thread by adding something typical from the old albums in the slower clean vocals segment but I feel there is a clear understanding within the band of how to shift from gruff and heavy to clean and slow to acoustic much more naturally. Overall I feel the musical creativity is on the rise and the band want to expand further than they went with "Still Life" and "Blackwater Park". Furthermore, the guitar sound in the heavier parts seems rich and bottom heavy (perhaps thanks to the bass and production) and Åkerfeldt's vocals are as earthshaking as ever. You'll also notice the use of Mellotron in the "Baying" and if not then certainly at the beginning of "Beneath the Mire".

It's here in this third track that I feel the progressive death metal act known as Opeth are really building on what they had been developing. The exercise with "Damnation" must have taught them a lot about how to expand their non-death metal capabilities and develop the heavier parts as well.

"Atonement" avoids any metal contact entirely and could have been a precursor to "Pale Communion". Notice the hand drums which will show up more on "Heritage" and "Pale Communion". In particular, I find the percussion section is a key factor in the development of the band's newer sound as it's the drumming on "Heritage" that especially caught my attention.

Then follows "Reverie/Harlequin Forest" which returns us to the explosive metal sound but with clean vocals. There's an awesome riff that comes in shortly after the death vocals start. Both "Still Life" and "Blackwater Park" have one song with a killer riff that I love to hear and on this album that one riff for me is here in this song. This song (or song pair) is so far the most varied track on the album and though it doesn't resemble anything from "Heritage" in rhythm and is too heavy at times to be like that future album, this track really sees Opeth taking their music to new heights, blending a bit of everything they've been working on so far (as far as I can tell and I've since acquired "Orchid" and "My Arms Your Hearse" as well).

The track list continues with the very beautiful "Hours of Wealth" including some soothing acoustic guitar, piano, and Mellotron, perhaps a highlight in Opeth's softer side so far. By now, Åkerfeldt and company are showing how capable they are of stretching out and away from their heavy dark side, though at this point they haven't really reached the point that "Heritage" would find them at. The latter half of the song is comprised of clean electric guitar and vocals, and it is here where I feel the album has shown its first weak moment.

Not a big deal though as the song is followed by the monster track "The Grand Conjuring". I get the shivers every time this song begins. For me, this is where Opeth have pulled it all together into one phenomenal song. The Mellotron, acoustic guitar, and hand drums appear alongside the crushing death metal side, at times in tandem, at other times they are there to enhance the tense and brooding atmosphere of the quieter but dark moments. This quickly became one of my favourite Opeth tracks.

The album closes with "Isolation Years", the shortest track at just under four minutes. It's another slow and clean number with some surprisingly beautiful vocal melodies from Åkerfeldt. Not a highlight but not a weak point either.

I have to say that this must be my favourite Opeth record so far. I love the heaviness of the older albums but sometimes find the overall atmosphere miring. The newer albums have more texture, flavour, and interest but don't have that awesome heaviness. This album does very well to capture what it sounds like Opeth was striving to become while also hinting at the future to come.

 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.24 | 847 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Opeth had strayed from the path of their progressive metal back in 2003 when they released Damnation, a companion release to the much heavier Deliverance. By Ghost Reveries they were back to the heavier stuff on probably their most progressive release so far with the usual mixture of clean vocals and death metal growls. In 2011 they released Heritage, like Damnation sung with entirely clean vocals and also their mellowest album since that release. Pale Communion is the second consecutive album to ditch the growls and this time it looks like there's no going back.

Pale Communion is the album that Heritage should have been. Not a weak album by any stretch but sounded a little fragmented at times, unsure where it wanted to go. Pale Communion is also heavier but more heavy rock than metal but also has a very retro 70's prog style which is fine in my book. Where it really shines though is in the quality of the songwriting, the first three tracks in particular are truly breath taking with Mikael Akerfeldt's strongest, most melodic and confident vocals yet. The arrangements and melodies of these songs in particular are so strong played with much light and shade and Moon Above, Sun Below has a particularly haunting vibe. The rest of the album barely drops the quality even if Goblin, a nod to the Italian prog band Goblin? is a little throwaway in comparison to the illustrious company its keeping here but fun nevertheless.

Most of Opeth's albums have still been heavy enough to keep their early death metal era fans happy but with the last two I'm sure they'll have lost a few as there's no metal elements left at all as well as ditching the growl vocals. However, they'll have no doubt gained many who found their more extreme elements hard to swallow. Personally I think they got the perfect balance on Watershed but Pale Communion is still one of their best albums and I'm happy to see them continue down this road in the future if that's where they're going. 4 1/2 stars.

 Blackwater Park by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.26 | 1433 ratings

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Blackwater Park
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars At this stage of their career, Mikael 'kerfeldt and company were a little heavier, a little harsher, a little more ensconced in the world, sounds, and stylings of metal music. As a matter of fact much of the music is not so very far removed from the metal of the 1980s. Some of the differences include: the influence of djent guitar sounds and playing styles; the different lead guitar sounds used here--they are a little more evolved from those used in the 80s; Mikael's use of death metal growls; the way the drums are recorded, and; the greater presence of the machine gun bass drum play. Also Opeth shows a tendency to the use of longer song forms with multiple style formats incorporated within each--as is put on display right from the start on "The Leper Affinity" (10:21) (8/10). The two best songs are by far and away "Harvest" (6:02) (10/10) and "Drapery Falls" (10:55) with its wonderfully memorable multi-instrument-played melody carried through to the end (10/10). The title song (12:08) is also quite a nice composition--it's performances quite powerful. (9/10) As everyone recognizes, I will here reiterate: Mr. 'kerfeldt has quite a lovely voice when he's singing in his normal voice. I am glad that he eventually moved away from this aggressive, abrasive style of music--though I recognize the talent and skill involved in creating music such as is present here.

A solid four star album from some seriously talented musicians.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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