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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$4.13
$6.51 (used)
Blackwater Park: Legacy EditionBlackwater Park: Legacy Edition
The End Records 2010
Audio CD$6.79
$6.92 (used)
Ghost ReveriesGhost Reveries
HiFi Sound
Roadrunner Records 2005
Audio CD$4.99
$1.83 (used)
Still LifeStill Life
Remastered · CD+DVD
Peaceville 2008
Audio CD$8.23
$6.06 (used)
DamnationDamnation
Import
Sony Import 2007
Audio CD$3.95
$2.33 (used)
My Arms, Your HearseMy Arms, Your Hearse
Extra tracks
Candlelight 2004
Audio CD$7.60
$4.77 (used)
Orchid + BonusOrchid + Bonus
Extra tracks
Candlelight 2003
Audio CD$8.13
$5.33 (used)
The Candlelight YearsThe Candlelight Years
Box set
Candlelight 2009
Audio CD$12.71
$7.77 (used)
Ghost Reveries (180 Gram Vinyl)Ghost Reveries (180 Gram Vinyl)
Import · Limited Edition
Roadrunner 2013
Vinyl$25.60
$30.59 (used)
WatershedWatershed
Roadrunner Records 2008
Audio CD$5.69
$4.30 (used)
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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)

3.21 | 505 ratings
Orchid
1995
3.72 | 581 ratings
Morningrise
1996
3.92 | 603 ratings
My Arms, Your Hearse
1998
4.33 | 1286 ratings
Still Life
1999
4.25 | 1321 ratings
Blackwater Park
2001
3.76 | 741 ratings
Deliverance
2002
3.94 | 1046 ratings
Damnation
2003
4.24 | 1224 ratings
Ghost Reveries
2005
3.94 | 970 ratings
Watershed
2008
3.84 | 1014 ratings
Heritage
2011
4.24 | 659 ratings
Pale Communion
2014

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

4.08 | 95 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd Bush Empire 2003
2006
4.08 | 175 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2007

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

4.01 | 190 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush
2003
4.05 | 126 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2008
4.68 | 204 ratings
In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall
2010
4.29 | 7 ratings
Live at Enmore Theatre Sidney Australia
2011

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

4.54 | 38 ratings
Limited Edition Box Set
2006
3.96 | 56 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
4.45 | 37 ratings
The Drapery Falls
2001
3.89 | 28 ratings
Deliverance
2002
4.69 | 35 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
3.71 | 36 ratings
Porcelain Heart
2008
3.62 | 36 ratings
Mellotron Heart
2008
3.69 | 52 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
 Heritage by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.84 | 1014 ratings

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Heritage
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica

4 stars On September 14th, 2011, Opeth brought forth the unexpected. Once a group supposedly impervious to criticism and showered with praise from critics and fans alike, their tenth effort Heritage displayed to us all that even the most sacred of musical cows could be brought down to size. It's not like a more subdued style wasn't tried before by the band, judging by the even-softer Damnation back in 2003 - what caused the backlash here? In fact, Heritage has much stronger roots in classic progressive rock, each song sounding as if it's a tribute to Mikael's past influences - hence the album title. Each song exudes either classic 70s progressive rock, folk, jazz fusion, metal, or a combination of any (or all) of these influences to create a more satisfying and diverse package than a number of the band's previous efforts, each song an interesting experiment in the band's fresh new direction. The lone piano of the intro tune is an immediate sign of Opeth's change in pace, but "The Devil's Orchard" comes out of the gate with its toned-down guitar distortion and precise rhythms of drummer Martin Axenrot - and that's where you start to notice the serious changes in style.

The band aren't letting their musical fury loose with any massive death metal segments on this record (or perhaps anymore, given the sound of the new release Pale Communion), instead preferring more balanced and natural dynamic variations within each piece. One of the common complaints given to Heritage is that things tend to "blend together" after a while, but this is ironically one of its greatest assets. Gone are the abrupt changes in tempo and volume to slide each musical "block" into its compositional slot, each song instead balancing its changes more fluidly. "I Feel the Dark" eventually reaches a climactic flourish of heavy guitars and keyboard chords, but it has an entire quiet acoustic guitar portion to build up to this moment. Either this, or the songs are simply consistent with their moods and styles. Closer "Marrow of the Earth" is just fantastic in the way it concludes things in such a melancholic fashion, the sparsely adorned instrumental folk ballad serving as a reflection of all that was heard on the record prior to it. Or there's "Slither" which garners the title of being the heaviest and most straightforward effort here, much of the guitar riffing and drum work resembling classic speed metal. While the more long-winded tracks tend to lose their way or end up being slightly boring (I'm looking at you, "Famine"), they don't detract a whole lot from what's on Heritage. When you're walking along a sunny road and suddenly it snows out of nowhere, what do you do: adapt with the weather change or give in to your struggle with the elements? Opeth, musically speaking, were presented with a similar scenario with Heritage. Do they take the progressive elements of Watershed and reconstruct those influences into something really different, or do they continue making the same progressive death metal that has served them well over the years and give in to what the metal-oriented fans want? Thankfully, Opeth adapted to the stylistic changes featured in Watershed and took them to a new level of adventurousness with Heritage. If you didn't like it the first time around, I implore you to try it again... it takes a while to unravel, but ends up being one of modern progressive rock's more rewarding gems.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

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 Deliverance by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.76 | 741 ratings

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Deliverance
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica

2 stars It's fair to say that some bands are better within their comfort zone than others; from the moment Opeth's debut Orchid came out, their goal has presumably been to bring 70s progressive rock and folk-oriented beauty to the normally extreme nature of death metal. Whereas bands like Tristania and Within Temptation would use the "Beauty and the Beast" approach to contrasting vocal dynamics/styles, Opeth essentially brought this concept to their instrumentation. In one song alone, you could get a fast death metal riff, a soothing acoustic segment, some light jazz touches here and there in the soloing, the occasional classical detour, some occasional black metal screams (mainly in their early work), the list goes on. Well, around the time the band's fourth effort Still Life came out and had a more polished sound, it felt as though we were entering a new chapter in their career. While Blackwater Park was a more than solid successor to Still Life, sadly the following two efforts weren't.

Deliverance and Damnation were released to showcase the band's heavy side and light side, respectively. While Deliverance has a few songs similar to Damnation, its main focus is on heavy distorted riffing and an emphasis on Mikael Akerfeldt's inhuman growling. Damnation, on the other hand, was more focused on mellotron-laden 70s progressive rock with a strong emphasis on its melancholic atmosphere. While both albums are terribly flawed, Deliverance seems to be the weaker effort in the long run; why? Well, to get straight to the point, the album is split into two halves. One of them is great; the other one's awful. It's one of the very few albums I've ever heard where it's literally split down the middle in terms of quality, and it makes for an extremely frustrating and ultimately average experience.

The first half is where things really shine; here, we have "Wreath," the title track, and "A Fair Judgement." Every song here exceeds the ten-minute mark, some more deserving of a long length than others. "Wreath" is probably the song that suffers the most from length here, but at least there's enough to keep you on your toes. The beginning riff is definitely an odd way to open up an album for starters; while it has that 12/8 time signature Opeth is obsessed with, the drums are a bit off-kilter when combined with the guitar work. They constantly switch between a weird rhythm with off-beat snare drum placements and the typical swinging rhythm Opeth normally utilize. Anyway, while the beginning sounds quite intimidating, the song quickly goes into a melancholic set of melodic guitar patterns. Unfortunately, this part does go on for a bit too long and even the solos aren't really interesting enough to justify each set of chord changes. Luckily, a pretty nifty speed metal section (!) picks up the pace with a guitar solo that almost sounds middle-eastern in execution. Anyway, the song's flawed but definitely great. The reason so much of this writing was spent on "Wreath" is that the rest of the album is quite similar in style, for better or for worse. The only deviations from this are the more subdued piano-driven "A Fair Judgement" and the interlude "For Absent Friends." The title track, however, is the best example of the Opeth formula done well on this album. With a nice mix between wonderfully dissonant guitar patterns, sorrowful acoustic guitar picking at choice moments, and a healthy amount of tempo changes to spice things up, this song pretty marks the direction the overall album should have taken. The song also showcases Akerfeldt's clean vocals more, since the folkier moments almost always call for them; that's always a plus. The main riff sounds deliciously evil, switching between dissonant guitar melodies in different keys to create a dark and eerie mood. "A Fair Judgement" is the curveball of the album when you get down to it, trading in the growls and overall brutality for a beautiful piano ballad. While it does get louder later on, as power ballads go, the song keeps focus until the very end. Similar to Damnation, this song maintains a consistently sorrowful atmosphere as the cleanly-spaced piano chords are constantly ascending and descending between two keys to create "peaks and valleys" mood-wise. The overall piece is just as well composed as the two that came before it, and serves as a nice conclusion to Side 1.

Unfortunately, here's where the real [&*!#] begins. "For Absent Friends," "Master's Apprentices," and "By the Pain I See in Others" are the songs on the second side, and absolutely kill what the album might have been going for. "For Absent Friends," while refreshingly short, doesn't really have a purpose on the album other than being an average interlude. The continuation of the soft ballad-esque ideas from "A Fair Judgement" is nice, though. However, I can't even begin to describe how awful "Master's Apprentices" is. Not only does it just plod and plod and plod, but nothing about it leaves any impression whatsoever. It doesn't have nearly as much atmosphere as the title track, not nearly as much tempo variation as "Wreath," and certainly not nearly as much interest in dynamics as "A Fair Judgement" did. Most of the heavier portion of the song consists of multiple variations on its already-dull main riff, and the band members sound like they're simply going through the motions as there are never any instrumental surprises. The clean vocals around the 4-minute mark at least offer something different from the monotony, but that more-melodic section's very short-lived. As with many of their songs, the middle contains a folkier segment to lighten up the distortion, but it sounds like it could have been switched out with any other acoustic segment Opeth have performed. There's nothing really noteworthy except for some ambient guitar effects that arch over the acoustic strumming. The entire song is just plain horrendous, and it's baffling to me that it's still so acclaimed by the band's fanbase. "By the Pain I See in Others" isn't much better either, as it could have ended around the four-minute mark. Admittedly, the song doesn't start badly at all; in fact, the melodic line kicking it off sounds very inspired and suitably dark. The verses are a little odd, with distorted growling combined with soft acoustic guitar work, and the "choruses" (if you can call them that) are thunderous and almost akin to speed metal with the tempo they shift to. On top of this, the breakdown that follows is absolutely crushing, combining double bass and fast guitar picking with that speed metal-esque tempo mentioned before. However, this is where the song should have ended. The rest of the song is, for lack of a better way to say it, really damn boring. It rehashes all of the ideas from the previous songs and plods at the same time signature throughout. The soft moments are predictable and the heavy moments are extremely repetitive after being constantly thrown in your face.

It's a shame because this could have been one of Opeth's greatest albums. Unfortunately, this goes down as Opeth's worst effort because the second half brings it down completely. Even worse, Damnation isn't much better than this either; it would take the follow-up Ghost Reveries to get the band back on track before it was too late. As for this album, it's completely average; just download the first half and forget about the rest of it.

(Originally published for Sputnikmusic)

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 Blackwater Park by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.25 | 1321 ratings

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Blackwater Park
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica

5 stars Rarely does there come a band like Opeth. Opeth present a certain sound and atmosphere that always create a cause for conversation within the rock community, good or bad. Trademarking their style of progressive death metal, they seem to follow the formula better than most, of course creating the frightening metal/soothing prog combo that a fan or detractor can smell a mile away. In essence, they may be the ultimate definition of "love 'em or hate 'em" in the realms of metal. However, there should be no argument on their best album, 2001's Blackwater Park.

The heaps of acclaim sitting atop this recording seem overly massive, but it's only because of how true the claims are. This is truly the defining album of Opeth's career, after many high-quality albums that seemed to be building toward this grand moment. The riffs are titanic, the melodies seamless, the vocals heavenly (and scary), and the rhythm section explosive. Basically, imagine if your favorite artist was making an immense mural of the best moments in your musical life; then, somehow, he uses a form of magic to let you step inside and see for yourself.

We start with "The Leper Affinity", most likely the best piece written in Opeth's history. A dissonant chord fades in and introduces the first riff... a massive, pounding, intensely atonal chord progression that really digs into your core. Mikael Akerfeldt's vocals, while gutteral and raging, are also very cold and bone chilling. The sheets of guitar distortion offer a very vivid backdrop of the same effectively hollow atmosphere that haunts this album's duration. Riff after riff pounds the listener into submission until a very neoclassical melody kicks in, leading into the solo. The solo here is absolutely mind-bending, showing that a guitarist doesn't need to show off or wank on the instrument to get the point across. The acoustic section in the middle is also bone-chilling, but for a different reason. It's remarkable how effective such a simplistic guitar melody is when paired up with Mikael's vocals thrown in, and nothing feels contrived whatsoever. Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson leads the song out on an eerie note, with sparse piano notes played for about 2 minutes.

Even with such an amazing opener, the rest of the songs never disappoint either. "Bleak" lends its hand with a dark Middle-Eastern beginning before hellishly crawling across the eardrums in a great 3-minute mosh-fest. Steven Wilson, once again, provides vocals; this time for the chorus. The acoustic passage, once again, is stunning and well-placed as a nice respite from the musical war taking place. Meanwhile, the peaceful "Harvest" gives the listener some good ear-room with nice folk melodies. "The Drapery Falls" begins as more of a power-ballad, before morphing into heavy (but emotional) interlude where the growls return in very nice form.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how well Opeth combine multiple styles together without sounding disjointed in any way. Take the epic title track for instance; the song features many sections of repetition, but they're complimented by the extremely pleasant layers of instrumentation... it's like a monolith that takes many listens to fully open up in full. "Dirge For November" is the same way as well. It begins with an acoustic intro/passage that could've easily fit on Still Life's "Benighted", but then explodes into a fully realized metal song with the same dark guitar sound layering it. While the sound is loud, it also has a magically subtle quality about it, which is absolutely remarkable in and of itself.

The band members are no slouches at their instruments either. Mikael (the man himself!) shows incredible diversity with his vocals and guitar work, ranging from genres like metal, progressive rock, jazz, folk, classical, and more. Martin Lopez gives a suitably percussive-yet-shifty tone that compliments each swift change in the music. Peter Lindgren holds his own very well against Akerfeldt's style, and even throws in some nifty soloing of his own. Martin Mendez is stunningly underrated in this record, giving the dark, swift basslines his own personal stamp of quality as his instrument weaves in and out of the other musical action.

All I can conclude with is this: This is a record that everyone must own. Every generation and every country should adore an album like this, as one like Blackwater Park rarely makes itself known. If you like music and consider it art, this is a must.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

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 Orchid by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.21 | 505 ratings

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Orchid
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica

4 stars Opeth might be considered one of the giants for modern metal, specifically death metal and prog metal these days; However, their influences were a bit different in the early days. Sure they had a similar take on minimalistic, atmospheric progressive metal, their debut album Orchid suggests that the band had roots in other genres as well.

In such an album, you'll find genres like death metal, black metal, folk/neofolk, ambient, classical, and progressive metal. The compositions are still very long, so Opeth fans need not worry; aside from interludes (and bonus track), the shortest song clocks in at about 9 minutes. The album is brimming with the same twists and turns we've come to expect from an Opeth album, with a few interesting surprises of its own. Orchid shows the band in a more acoustic, dark environment here, and the very hollow production offers a lot of support in this way.

Mikael Akderfeldt's vocals here range from death growls, to black metal screeches, to folk-styled clean vocals, and each style is handled in an extraordinary way. His guitar work evades the usual metal shredding for something more substantial, offering clean runs, sweet acoustics, and even touches of jazz here and there. The other band members have no trouble keeping up with Akerfeldt either; Peter Lindgren is an exceptional player, capable of harmonizing with Akerfeldt's style cleanly while offering a wide dynamic range all his own. Johan DeFarfalla isn't heard a great deal here, but keeps the rhythm in place; Finally, Anders Nordin is a very diverse, talented drummer all his own, as well as an excellent pianist (we'll get to that later).

The material here is presented in a very raw fashion, with the heavier songs boasting buzzing guitars and visceral drumming. The acoustic sections are placed well, and keep a black metal atmosphere about them; The opening track, "In the Mist She Was Standing," is a perfect example of this. The song has absolutely no trouble blasting through the speakers and making its presence loud and clear. After an excellent intro, a full-on vocal attack cuts through the noise, with powerful contrasting screeches and growls. After everything settles down, a very sinister acoustic riff is heard, a premonition of sorts for when the next assault begins. Overall, the track embodies all of Orchid's beauty and visceral power.

Some songs are very differently executed. Take the first interlude, "Silhouette." Anders Nordin switches from the drums to the piano (!) for one of the best short songs of Opeth's earlier career. The song maintains the same dark feel, but adds a dose of the classical influence I mentioned before. It starts out in simplicity, Anders playing a slow gloomy melody; The song soon picks up the pace, sounding like a real old-fashioned classical piece from the likes of Mozart or Handel (except obviously darker than either of their styles). "Silhouette" is a very underrated gem in Opeth's discography.

One of the biggest letdowns here is the pace-killing "Requiem." It's a nice-enough interlude, but it seems really out of place compared to the rest of the album. The band could have at least attempted to make the song a bit longer or more fitting, but instead it acts as a blemish leading into such a great finale like "The Apostle in Triumph." Luckily, it's a small problem in the album, but I simply couldn't ignore it.

All in all, the album is still astounding by any standards, and remains an underrated piece of quality work by Opeth. Later albums like Blackwater Park and Still Life might get the most praise, but we can't simply leave Orchid behind either.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

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 Blackwater Park by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.25 | 1321 ratings

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Blackwater Park
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by AndyJ

5 stars Opeth's 'Blackwater Park' is without doubt my favourite offering from the Scandinavian 4-piece. In this album we find Opeth at their absolute best, both creatively and musically. The songs presented here are hugely varied, transitioning flawlessly all the way from extreme death metal through to acoustic folk music, and (almost) everything in-between. There are moments of hard rock, progressive rock, acoustic folk music. There are delicious keyboards and mellotron, supplied by none other than Mr Steven Wilson. All of the elements that Opeth have become famous for before this album are displayed perfectly here, polished and utterly coherent within these 8 glorious tracks. The production here is first rate, there is a huge dynamic range and a real depth to the music.

The opening song, 'The Leper Affinity' drags the listener into the record violently and almost without warning. That opening extreme metal section is just so perfect for the start of an Opeth record! But before long we are into something more technical, and then the song blossoms and transforms, morphing between styles in true progressive nature. Make no doubt about it, this song is highly progressive and extremely innovative, and is indicative of what is to come.

Trying to describe each track would be pointless, there is just too much going on throughout. Simply put it is an album which has to be heard to be understood, as most progressive works are. It's safe to say there isn't a single bit of filler anywhere here. Every note, every beat and every vocal has its place. But more than that, every song has its own identity. Nothing here is repeated, and Opeth aren't afraid to try something totally different for each of their songs, like the entirely acoustic 'Harvest'.

The saddest aspect about Opeth is that their extreme metal sections, of which there are a lot on this album, are going to put some listeners off from trying this album out. And that's a shame. For me it is their blending of progressive rock, folk and extreme death metal which make Opeth so unique and special, and I wouldn't have them any other way!

In my humble opinion 'Blackwater Park' is the only album in the Opeth catalogue of music which deserves a 5-star rating.

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 Morningrise by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.72 | 581 ratings

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Morningrise
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by AndyJ

4 stars Opeth's 'Morningrise' was one of the cornerstone albums of my teenage years, and was the single album which put me on the path to becoming a progressive rock lover. When I first heard this album I was seventeen years old, I'd just started college and was already obsessed with heavy metal; but apart from the odd progressive Iron Maiden track I hadn't really ever heard progressive music before. I didn't even know there was such a thing as progressive music, focused entirely as I was on a love of heavy metal. Anything that wasn't fairly rigid and well defined heavy metal held little interest for me.

Morningrise changed all of that, in a big way. At the time I thought this was such a ground-breaking record, I'd never heard anything like it before and was under the impression that Opeth were totally one-of-a-kind. Little did I know at the time that Opeth were drawing heavy inspiration from the progressive rock bands of the 1970's that I had yet to encounter in my life. Oh the ignorance of youth!

Of course Morningrise is still at its heart predominantly a metal album. But its also a progressive rock album, at times. And there in lies the beauty of this record, it features a melding of extreme death metal with acoustic interludes, occasional folk leanings and progressive rock sensibilities. Mikael Åkerfeldt delivers his vocals in death metal growls as well as softly sung melancholic tones. The songs on the album transition through a wide range of emotions and styles, from full on death metal all the way through to pastoral acoustic music. As an album it holds your attention well throughout.

The difficultly I have in reviewing this album is that the album is tied up so closely to my teenage memories, and the sense of musical discovery that this album unlocked in me at the time. Fifteen years after first hearing this record I am writing the review for it - but its entirely subjective and coloured by my memories of teenage years and groups of friends sitting around listening to this album.

My heart tells me that this is a five star record, but my brain tells me this is a three star record. In trying to remain unbiased towards this album and reviewing it as honestly as I can then yes, this album does have its flaws. The production is fairly shallow and lacking a lot of dynamic range which would feature on later Opeth albums. The song writing at times feels forced with some of the transitions and some of the songs do tend to meander along without direction from time to time. Opeth definitely wrote better albums after this one, such as the phenomenal 'Blackwater Park'.

But to this day I still listen to this album semi-regularly, perhaps once a month. And if an album can sustain my interest for fifteen years as Morningrise has done then it deserves no less than four stars.

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 Heritage by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.84 | 1014 ratings

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Heritage
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Opeth takes a sharp left turn on this release and moves away completely from it's trademark death metal sound and veers completely into the progressive metal genre. Gone are the growling vocals completely, which was my only complaint that I had about the band before, even if they did alternate from dirty to clean vocals in the past. Now, this is not the first album where Opeth turned away from dirty vocals completely. In "Damnation", the album was completely mellow and featured all clean vocals, but they remained true to the acoustic aesthetic of death metal. This time, on "Heritage" all death metal leanings are left behind. What you get in replacement is a great reward, 10 top notch progressive compositions that stay completely true to the genre and it's heritage.

In my opinion, this is the best Opeth album up to this point. Opeth has always been know as a band that always improves, but never have they taken as huge of a risk as this. These tracks are all elaborate and heavily progressive songs through and through with variety in abundance. There is still a heavy presence of guitar, but there is also a lot more keyboards with a lot of mellotron. You'll hear all kinds of influences in this music, but even with that, the sound is original. Acoustic is meshed with electronic and with hints of jazz oriented prog thrown in for good measure. This is very apparent in "Nepenthe" which starts on the mellow side and suddenly explodes in a jazz/prog fusion that sounds very much like UK. They also tap into the arpeggios that were made popular by King Crimson and they expand on this beautifully. And Mikael's vocals are amazing. I don't know why he had to hide them under his growling vocals for so long

Of course, most metal heads were furious at this album at first. Some of them never came around, but others, for whatever reason, were intrigued with the sound and eventually fell in love with the album. I love the fact that Opeth could open some minds with this album and with their music. I could never figure out why or how anyone could just stick to one genre anyway, there is so much great music out there under several genres.

Those of you, on the other hand, that thought that Opeth was a great instrumental band but couldn't handle the growling, this is your album. This one has all the prog that you could want and all the variety that you crave. Songs are constantly changing meter, dynamic, timbre, even style. This really almost sounds like another band, but those who have been familiar with Opeth know without a doubt that this is the real band. It's so great to hear them break away from the sound that could really get repetitive and allowed for very little exploration beyond what they had already perfected. This album represents the breaking away of expectations of a narrow genre, even though the band was consistently stretching the boundaries to there limits. Now there are no limits. Now the band is free to explore so many avenues of music, and this is what they do. And it is amazing that they can reach masterpiece status on their first attempt. Yes it's true that they have been honing their skills and musicality on past great albums like "Ghost Reveries" and "Blackwater Park", and now we have the culmination of everything. This is an excellent album and it is a shining example of a band that continues to progress. Amazing! Beyond your expectations. 5 stars.

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 Ghost Reveries by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.24 | 1224 ratings

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Ghost Reveries
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This album has already been reviewed a lot and it's a good thing to see Opeth getting the attention they deserve. Although I am not a fan of the growling vocals, everything else about the band is awesome and I really can overlook it when the vocals have that growling sound because the rest of the music is top notch heavy progressive metal of the highest caliber. And Mikael's voice is actually excellent when he sings normally. I know it adds to the evil aspect of the music that the band focuses on, but, as the band has discovered with the almost simultaneous release of the companion albums "Deliverance" and "Damnation" (one very heavy and one mellow), music doesn't have to be loud to be evil.

The release of those albums was an excellent way to hear both sides of Opeth. But in this album, the best of both worlds come together. They have mixed sounds before, but this time around, in this album, it seems more natural and not as choppy as when it has been done before. Now, when the moods shift within a song, which is often on this album, it flows easily from one section to the next. The band has obviously perfected it's sound for this album. One of the reasons for the better transitions on this release is that the songs on this one were created outside of the studio and perfected and practiced before recording them. This method has definitely improved the overall sound of the band.

The sound of this album really varies a lot. You get hard and extremely heavy passages that are black metal and other sections that are more black-folk sounding with acoustic instruments. Ok, so far that sounds like the last few albums for Opeth. This time, like I said before, the transitions are better. But the other factor is that now they are utilizing and experimenting with other instrumentation and more keyboards, and it is done tastefully. One excellent example of this is in "Baying of the Hounds" which is also the most progressive of the tracks with ever changing rhythms, patterns and moods. But the softer sections include amazing sounds which are unlike anything the band has done before, and they do them well. It even approaches a light jazz fusion feel, but remains loyal to a great progressive sound with excellent dynamics.

The overall feel of the album is a great balance of harsh and soft, a lot of extremities, but now they also cover territory in between the extremes. This is a well-produced effort, as most of Opeth's albums are, but it is also very tastefully done and the musicianship is some of the best. Many compare the sound here to Tool, but the real comparison with Tool comes in the structure of the songs, being mostly long epics with many movements, changing melodies and great dynamics. The individual songs are quite elaborate. Opeth does have their own unique sound which is obviously different than Tool, and both bands do what they do in the best manner possible. The comparison is a great one, but, it's all in the structure and not so much the sound. Opeth has more black metal leanings making their music, overall, more harsh. But those quieter passages, which are very abundant on this album, are simply beautiful especially when contrasted with the harshness. And the experimentation and exploration into new sounds for the band is exciting making for a lot more variety in the music and more territory to explore. At the time, this was the best Opeth album to date for sure. 5 stars.

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 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.24 | 659 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Heavy electricity is the first thought that comes to mind when hearing Opeth's latest, critically lauded release, "Pale Communion". The haywire activity is tempered by a softer side, a detail-oriented recall of other styles well within the prog frame work, certainly more focused on creating melancholic moods and more solemn atmospheres. Like a few fans, I prefer the melodic swoon of past albums like "Damnation", a clear influence on this recording, as leader Mikael Akerfeldt opts for a more symphonic situation to expound on his internal frailties.

"Eternal Rains Will Come" possesses a doomsday disposition, morose and apocalyptic, a cauldron of slithering sounds that weave between despair and delirium, impossible swirls of bombast coupled with serene, almost medieval sections, muscled by a tight rhythm section with newcomer Martin Axenrot supplying some terrific propulsion. The main mellotron-doused melody is an emotional bulldozer, profound and forlorn, with Akerfeldt's voice delivering intensely.

The heavier "Cusp of Eternity" flexes some serious tendons, the chorus in particular grabbing one's immediate attention, as the vocal veers near hypnotized prayer, or at least some semblance of forgiving finality. Lead guitarist Fredrik Akesson does some Holdsworthian stylings that are a joy to behold, the crew tight as a screw, Joakim Svalberg's smoking mellotron oozing hymn-like splendor and the nimble Axenrot doing some clanging damage on his cymbals.

The first major epic is the 10 minute + hurricane "Moon Above, Sun Below", a platform for the Swedes to get hot, oiled and bothered, sounding close to their Polish pals in Riverside but ruled by a dense onslaught of symphonic keyboards. This is balanced by another Renaissance-style acoustic guitar-led etude that shines ever so brightly, buoyed by another fragile Akerfeldt vocal. Slowly, the tension is upgraded into another delirium-infested intervention, including a disturbing organ lead that seems to have been plugged into a cemetery socket. Shifting gears on a straight ahead musical highway only heightens the sense of unending adventure, exhilarating and intrepid. The piano finale is beyond beauty.

The softer side is elegantly anointed with a rather stunning piece, "Elysian Woes" has a near early Genesis feel, what with rich acoustic guitars weaving a sleek tapestry of sound, all delicacy and substance. The gentle drums enter, a refined mellotron in tow and a powerful vocal that is literally dripping with melancholia and pain.

The aptly titled "Goblin" provides an instrumental jam that seeks to underscore the musical talents available, an almost jazz-rock section led by a furious e-piano (love that instrument) with a manically repetitive guitar riff that paralyzes the defenses, as the boogie-woogie roller organ kicks in with unrelenting determination. Absolutely riveting stuff.

The controversial "River" is considered as one of the highlight moments on a set list of highlight tracks, offering up a curiously more country-like feel, almost like British band Traffic or the Allman brothers with tons of slick organ frills, rebellious guitar licks, as well as sublimely solid bass lines from Martin Mendez and Axenrot's flexible drum beats. The magnificent mellotron creeps in again to further confound and excite the senses. The raucous finale is shoved along by some massive vocalizations that reach for the stars.

The murky, doom-laden "Voice of Treason" infuses a Middle Eastern tinge, perhaps a musical discourse on current times and ongoing millenary issues. Axenrot supplies a dynamic binary assault that really stands out in its simple complexity, the bombastic synthesized electronics given this 8 minute piece an ominous almost grisly tone, pained vocals only adding to the impression. The reptilian bass shows little mercy, the chorus is nearly celestial with Akerfeldt going into overdrive and the sincerity utterly apparent, especially the broken and fragile outro. Gulp!

I am a sucker for anything even remotely resembling King Crimson's mythic anthem "Epitaph", as I, among many others, view this symbolic track as a prog icon of the highest standing. "Faith in Others" supplies some similar features, everything from the galactic mellotron rushes, the achingly gorgeous vocal and the simple funereal beat. This is all about feeling, a sense of reverential acceptance, a hymn of unmitigated power and seductive charm. The piano and vocal section is painfully tragic yet utterly beautiful in its breathtaking simplicity. The bluesy guitar cadence, the 'oooh-oooh' choir , the mellotron cascade all combine to rekindle memories of the Crimson King's Court, audaciously even daring to replicate an effect ?laden chorus . I could listen to this track on an endless loop and still be completely satisfied! The 'oooh-oooh' choir returns with some classic orchestrations to give this a totally symphonic veneer and a gentle, misty wave goodbye.

As far as I am concerned, this is the Opeth I prefer, not caring much for their other albums except for the previously lauded "Damnation". Not surprising then that this has garnered so much attention and adulation.

4.5 timid intimacies

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 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.24 | 659 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. I still regard OPETH's "Damnation" album as my favourite but "Pale Communion" really impressed me, and no i'm not surprised that it garnered "Album of the Year" here at Prog Archives. What a beautiful recording this is with Akerfeldt's haunting vocals and a lineup that instrumentally doesn't play second fiddle to any band out there. This album was produced by Akerfeldt and mixed by his good friend Steven Wilson and I have to say that this couldn't possibly "sound" more incredible.

"Eternal Rains Will Come" hits the ground running with such an impressive instrumental intro. The drumming is crazy good and I have to mention the organ here as well as being simply outstanding. A gorgeous calm arrives 1 1/2 minutes in that is very "Damnation" like. It then kicks back in a minute later before we get vocals for the first time after 3 minutes. Love the guitar 4 1/2 minutes in and the sampled mellotron is a nice touch after 5 minutes. "Cusp Of Eternity" has a cool rhythm to it as the vocals join in well before a minute. The backing vocals really add to the sound here. Nice guitar solo after 3 1/2 minutes then it ends with lots of vocal melodies.

"Moon Above, Sun Below" has such a good mood to it and the vocals are reserved, almost spoken to start. Some good contrasts on this one between the mellow and the more intense passages. Mellotron rolls in around 1 1/2 minutes followed by a calm after 2 minutes as we get another "Damnation" like section with picked guitar and more. It then kicks in fairly hard with vocals 4 1/2 minutes in as the guitar rips it up. Another calm arrives as contrasts continue. A spooky calm 6 1/2 minutes in then a cool organ/drum section takes over as vocals join in. "Elysian Woes" is my favourite track with those "Damnation" like vocals from Akerfeldt as picked guitar helps out. I think that's flute before 2 minutes after the vocals have stopped. It's absolutely beautiful(gulp) before 3 1/2 minutes with mellotron.

"Goblin" really sounds like it has an electronic vibe to it before it becomes a little more intense. Check out the keyboards after 2 1/2 minutes. There's so much going on as we get this tapestry of intricate sounds that are relentless. "River" is a little different with the soft vocals that have an almost Country feel to them and there's harmonies too. A tasteful guitar solo arrives 2 minutes in. I like the keyboard/drum/guitar section 4 1/2 minutes in then mellotron joins in a minute later. A good but not great tune that gets better as it plays out.

"Voice Of Treason" is different with strings helping out. Love the drumming and melancholic vocals. Vocal melodies 3 minutes in then back to that earlier soundscape with vocals. Great sound 6 minutes in. "Faith In Others" opens with strings as expressive vocals join in. Not big on this section that will return later. I like the calm with piano before 2 minutes and the reserved vocals as well. It turns fuller 3 1/2 minutes in and we get vocal melodies as well. Themes are repeated.

Just a fantastic recording that has been simply a joy to listen to this past week despite the extreme cold we've been getting up here in Canada.

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