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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 Communication (2xLP+MP3)Pale Communication (2xLP+MP3)
Roadrunner Records 2014
Vinyl$10.00
$24.99 (used)
Blackwater Park: Legacy EditionBlackwater Park: Legacy Edition
The End Records 2010
Audio CD$6.62
$6.58 (used)
Ghost ReveriesGhost Reveries
Roadrunner Records 2005
Audio CD$3.49
$1.45 (used)
DamnationDamnation
Import
Sony Import 2007
Audio CD$3.70
$4.89 (used)
My Arms, Your HearseMy Arms, Your Hearse
Extra tracks
Candlelight 2003
Audio CD$7.99
$6.59 (used)
Still LifeStill Life
Special Edition
Peaceville 2008
Audio CD$8.96
$4.98 (used)
WatershedWatershed
Roadrunner Records 2008
Audio CD$3.48
$2.73 (used)
HeritageHeritage
Roadrunner Records 2011
Audio CD$4.02
$2.81 (used)
MorningriseMorningrise
Extra tracks
Candlelight 2003
Audio CD$7.98
$4.35 (used)
DeliveranceDeliverance
The End Records 2007
Audio CD$2.56
$2.56 (used)
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OPETH shows & tickets


  • Pale Communion Japan 2015 on 28 Apr 2015
  • Pale Communion Japan 2015 on 30 Apr 2015
  • Opeth at Enmore Theatre, Enmore on 3 May 2015
  • Opeth at The Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Adelaide on 4 May 2015
  • Opeth at Eatons Hill Hotel & Function Centre, Eatons Hill, Brisbane, Queensland on 6 May 2015
  • Opeth at Forum Theatre, Melbourne on 7 May 2015
  • Opeth at Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley on 8 May 2015
  • Sweden Rock Festival 2015 on 3 Jun 2015
  • Rock in Vienna on 4 Jun 2015
  • Tons of Rock on 18 Jun 2015
  • Tuska Open Air 2015 on 26 Jun 2015
  • Opeth at Escena, Monterrey on 10 Jul 2015
  • Opeth at Circo Volador, Distrito Federal on 11 Jul 2015
  • Opeth at Circo Volador, Distrito Federal on 12 Jul 2015
  • Opeth en Costa Rica on 14 Jul 2015
  • Opeth: Pale Communion South America 2015 on 17 Jul 2015
  • Opeth: Pale Communion South America 2015 on 18 Jul 2015
  • Opeth at Carioca Club, São Paulo on 19 Jul 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 Admiralspalast, Berlin on 12 Oct 2015
  • Opeth - 25th Anniversary Tour on 13 Oct 2015
  • Opeth 25th Anniversary Tour on 14 Oct 2015
  • Opeth - 25th Anniversary Tour on 15 Oct 2015
  • Opeth on 16 Oct 2015
  • Opeth at Le Trianon, Paris on 17 Oct 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)

3.21 | 493 ratings
Orchid
1995
3.72 | 568 ratings
Morningrise
1996
3.93 | 589 ratings
My Arms, Your Hearse
1998
4.32 | 1243 ratings
Still Life
1999
4.25 | 1266 ratings
Blackwater Park
2001
3.77 | 723 ratings
Deliverance
2002
3.94 | 1023 ratings
Damnation
2003
4.23 | 1177 ratings
Ghost Reveries
2005
3.94 | 945 ratings
Watershed
2008
3.82 | 991 ratings
Heritage
2011
4.23 | 582 ratings
Pale Communion
2014

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

4.06 | 91 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd Bush Empire 2003
2006
4.08 | 171 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2007

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

4.01 | 189 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush
2003
4.06 | 125 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2008
4.69 | 198 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)

4.54 | 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
4.44 | 36 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
 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.23 | 582 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Argor

3 stars 3 stars really.

I'll start by saying that I liked Heritage very much but it seemed undeveloped, structures of songs were short and simple not building enough to convey some emotions and not being very progressive in fact. I hoped that Opeth would develop this new style on Pale Communion. When I first heard the opener of the album, Eternal Rains Will Come, it became obvious to me, that what band created this time is very well developed and it's full blown prog. Also reviews on PA were very positive. I must admit I was disappointed when i heard the full album. And when I saw how it became Album Of The Year on PA... Well, it's true, year 2014 wasn't a very good year for prog but there certainly were many better albums, Iamthemorning's Belighted for example.

First track is unarguably best track on the album. Eternal Rains Will Come starts with fast paced intro merging few diffrent motives on keyboard and guitar, very dynamicly changes and devolves into a softer part with piano - all in a logical, understendable way. Than mellow melotron comes in and is followed by guitar playing SW's famous "lonely Swede's" kind of solo. Than faster, but not agressive organs play with somewhat like main theme of a song and vocals join in. The song ends with heavy guitar sublimely repeating theme from begining and than coming up with fast, oriental motive. A five out of five star song.

Cusp Of Eternity is still a good song but nowhere close Eternal Rains. Reminds me of Porcupine Tree songs in fact. It features a recurrent, a bit Kashmir-like riff that leads to a very good chorus. The guitar solo at the end is also quite nice and resolves into the chorus one more time.

Moon Above, Sun Below is the longest track on the album with a bit epic-like structure, but unfortunatelly it's very dissapointing. It starts realy well, the keyboard and vocals interwoven with guitar, than a good transition into a softer part featurig acustic guitar - I always loved how Mikael plays these. There are also some good parts later, especialy i liked the chorus and second acustic part after it around 5:00, but overally the song feels a bit uninspired and - in some places - unconnected. It ends with nice mellow piano and Mikael singing.

Elysian Woes is a decent acoustic track. Nothing especialy new, Opeth have done tons of these, just without a mellotron. But still it's good and in fact I enjoyed it.

Listening to the creatively named song Goblin I started to get a bit bored, waiting for something more complicated and intense like first track, but in fact it's still quite good track, just not exploring the jazzy riff in any exceptional way. Reminds me a lot of Brand X and, obviously, Italian band Goblin.

The River is a begining of the very disappointing part of the album, It starts with simply naive motive on guitar and vocals. some time later on it uses the keyboard/guitar pattern exactly the same as in earlier song, only this time it feels uninspired and doesn't realy get anywhere. Overally a very weak song and from this point until the end of the album the band haven't done anything especialy brilliant, original, or even emotionally engaging.

The Voice Of Treason starts with some realy weak strings. They sound a bit soundtrack-like, just much more trivial and without any complicated harmonization. Later there's this guitar and hammond organs playing the same melody again, exactly the same pattern as earlier, but now it starts to become really annoying. The structure of this track is also very simple, too simple for 8 minute track. The soft outro is also nothing special.

And finaly the Faith In Others. I wouldn't call it a bad track, but it's not very good either, I guess chord progressions they used here are just overused. I liked the moment with piano around 2:00, it resolves nicely into the guitar part with Mikael's vocal in the background, but besides that, the song fails to grab listeners attention.

And so I still hope that on next album Opeth will develop this style some more and create songs matching the quality of fantastic "Eternal Rains Will Come". This album i can't rate higher than 3 stars.

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 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.23 | 582 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
4.23 | 582 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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 Still Life by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.32 | 1243 ratings

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Still Life
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by paragraph7

5 stars "Searching my way to perplexion..."

Well, I guess it was time for me to start reviewing my personal favorite genre of music, as I previously had steered away from reviewing Tech/Extreme Prog Metal bands because I felt that the metalhead in me would explode at the mere thought. I think I'm fine now. Let's begin at the very peak of the genre: Opeth's Still Life

There's probably not much more to say than what has already been said about Still Life. A masterpiece of progressive death metal? Sure. Flawed? Certainly, but sometimes flaws are like the dust and cracks of great work of art that has been left sitting the attic. Since the overblown digital productions of the modern age, Metal as a genre has gone out of its way to fix those minor cracks and the end result has been an overlypolished caricature and mirage. Still Life is one of those rare albums that is only about the music within, and the story to fit the music. It takes you to a haunting Moor in the Medieval ages, bathes you in memorable melodies and destroys your head in a way only Opeth can. All the tracks have their places, although the weakest one is clearly White Cluster. Most people overlook the gems that are Godhead's Lament and Moonlapse Vertigo, but I digress.

With this album Opeth created an atmosphere that is almost unrivalled in terms of Death Metal, and it can be seen as their peak, and although many of the following albums are brilliant as well, they never captured that diamond in the rough sound which already was hinted at in My arms, Your Hearse. This is an album that will not be surpassed in quite sometime. 5/5

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 Deliverance by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.77 | 723 ratings

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Deliverance
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Star_Song_Age_Less

5 stars There are very, very few albums to which I would give a five-star rating. This is one of them. Opeth's 'Deliverance' is among my top five albums of all time, not just in prog, but in all music. And here's the astounding thing - I'm not a fan of death metal.

I can't *stand* most death metal, or black metal - basically anything with those cookie-monster-like growls. Sometimes it sounds so ridiculous to me that I can't stop laughing. And so much of that genre consists of boring displays of pure speed, with little or no thought given to composition. That is not to my taste - that's not what I listen to music for.

Therefore, the first time a friend recommended Opeth to me, I listened to a few bars until the vocals kicked in, said "no thanks!" and turned it off.

What a fool I was.

I had the incredible good fortune to end up at one of their concerts at a small club in NY. Forced to stand there and listen beyond the beginning, I found myself more and more shocked as the evening went on - what musicianship, what precision, what attention to detail, and above all (most importantly to me) what composition! I immediately purchased their most recent album, which at that time was 'Deliverance,' and actually gave the music a chance this time. It's lucky that I did, or I would have missed out on nothing less than a masterpiece. Each song is a study in dark vs. light, and individually I would give all six tracks five stars. However, the five star to end all five stars was track 2: "Deliverance."

My god. That song took me on a dark journey I could never have imagined or prepared to experience: a journey through the thoughts in the mind of a murderer and his realization that by doing these things, which he clearly enjoys, he has both denied deliverance to himself and granted it to the person he killed... which isn't what he wanted. "Deliverance, laughing at me..." I've never looked up whether that's what Opeth intended, and I never will. If it's not, it will ruin the power of it for me. The music is incredibly driven, intense, and forcefully emotionally strained. Impeccable timing and unpredictability add to the composition's power.

I could say all of the general comments above about every track individually, but that would get repetitive. Not only is this album brilliant technically, it's put together so well to tug on the emotions of the listener - and that includes the growls. After my initial reaction was so powerful, and I started listening to more of their music, I realized the growls were an essential part of Opeth's effectiveness, providing contrast between dark and light, strong and weak, even external and internal - they use the growls as a mood-changing mechanism, not to "be death metal." They are as artistically relevant as every other instrument in the band.

And, as a nice bonus - the growls don't sound like the cookie monster. They're much deeper and nastier than that. Mikael Akerfeldt has managed to produce this truly evil-sounding depths-of-hell voice that conveys all the seven deadly sins and more with terrifying effectiveness. And when you're writing songs about evil, that really, really works.

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 Heritage by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.82 | 991 ratings

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Heritage
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Ieshee1i

2 stars This album had Opeth's fans divided before its first notes were even out there. Basically, one part of the fans were die-hard (black / death / whatever) metal fans who took it as a personal offense that their favourite band would "betray" them or their "community", while the other part consisted of people who were excited that this wonderful band would just follow their music wherever it took them, not caring too much about people's opinion (I'm reminded of Metallica as I write this ...). For some reason, this change of direction was less well-tolerated than the one they tried on their previous experiment -- Damnation. My guess would be that everyone saw Damnation as just that -- an experiment; whereas the direction they picked for Heritage sounded like a permanent change.

I guess you could put me in the second category. I was not at all repelled by the idea that one of my favourite bands would get rid of the heavier metal part of their music, especially at a time where I began to explore other musical horizons myself, including prog: while I still enjoyed the metal sound, no matter how heavy, the whole scene was beginning to sound extremely repetitive to me and Opeth were one of the very few metal bands I was still listening to.

However, I had my doubts.

What I always found interesting in Opeth's music was their way of switching from very heavy parts to softer and moving ones; their mixture of progressive elements with straightforward and brutal ones; the blend of acoustic guitars and distorted ones; and so on. Deciding to give a more progressive aspect to their music and dropping the metal elements was a courageous move, but would they be able to make it sound interesting?

Well, I was surely interested in finding out, so I went for the limited edition and refused to hear anything from that album before it showed up in my mailbox. And then I played it, and ...

... and boy, what a disappointment. I must have played the album in its entirety only two or three times, and I had to force myself to keep listening all the while. I'm forcing myself yet again as I write this review, hoping to hear something that will prove me wrong, hoping to understand all those positive reviews that I've read. But I can't hear anything remarkable on this record. Yes, they are trying to sound different, but that's exactly the point: you can hear that they're trying, and exploring new musical grounds without really knowing where they're headed. Although, to be fair, I must admit that I enjoy it a little bit better than back at the time of its release; maybe I've grown more indulgent towards it, and I must admit that there are a few enjoyable moments, but nothing that will keep me coming back to it. I still have to force myself to keep playing it, and I usually either stop after the first three or four songs, or I start skipping. This piece of music may sound impressive to someone who is just discovering that there is a whole musical world outside (black / death / whatever) metal, but if you come from a more eclectic background, let alone a progressive one, you'll find there is nothing here to write home about.

I don't want to be too harsh on Opeth. I'm fond of what they were previous to that album, they still are wonderful musicians, and they deserve praise for fleeing their comfort zones and trying to reinvent themselves. But still, I can't figure out why so many reviews (not necessarily on PA) praise this as a masterpiece. If anything, it's merely a good first step in the right direction, but I'll take Transatlantic any day over this. That's not what Opeth has to become, of course, but I think I'll wait a few more albums before I give them another try. Meanwhile, I'll keep spinning their previous records.

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 Deliverance by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.77 | 723 ratings

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Deliverance
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Typically, Opeth is a study in contrasts, loud contrasted with soft, dirty vocals contrasted with clean vocals. Their best songs have an excellent balance of both. This album is weighted towards the loud, dirty side, but still has it's quieter and clean moments. The reason why the balance is a little out here is this album concentrates on the hard side while the album "Damnation" which was released 5 months later would be weighted very much towards the softer side. Between the two albums, progressive elements reign supreme. However, having an album leaning to the loud side is a little detrimental to the overall sound of the album. But, not enough of a detriment to still not be considered an excellent album. In contrast, Damnation in my opinion is a 5 star album where this one suffers a little at 4 stars.

It's not that I don't like heavy music, I love it. "Blackwater Park" is the better album out of that one and this one and there is plenty of hard music on that album. The part I don't like as much is the growling vocals. Mikael has a beautiful voice when he sings clean vocals, but I just don't get the harsh growling vocals, to me it distracts from the overall music. But the progressive elements of the metal instrumentals is amazing. The music is ever changing, tricky rhythms, dynamism and challenging at times. That is what makes this album worthwhile. To me, this was the first heavy Opeth album I heard and it was only because it came with the set I got that included "Damnation", which I fell in love with immediately, so naturally I listened to this also, and that opened my mind to other tech metal progressive bands, so this album has it's personal value to me. I actually discovered Anathema, Agollach, Ulver and others through this album.

So, it's not the best of their albums, but is one of the better ones. I give it 4 stars. A good way to introduce yourself to Tech metal along with "Damnation"

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 Damnation by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.94 | 1023 ratings

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Damnation
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

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
4.23 | 582 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
4.23 | 582 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE 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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