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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Sweden

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Opeth biography
Founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 1990

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.

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2014 ⭐

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2008 ⭐

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...
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Garden of the Titans (Opeth Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre) [2-CD+Blu-Ray+DVD]Garden of the Titans (Opeth Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre) [2-CD+Blu-Ray+DVD]
Nuclear Blast Entertainment 2018
$22.99 (used)
Pale CommunionPale Communion
Roadrunner Records 2014
$5.48 (used)
Ghost ReveriesGhost Reveries
Music on Vinyl 2018
Deliverance & Damnation RemixedDeliverance & Damnation Remixed
Sony Music Canada Inc. 2016
$49.14 (used)
Blackwater Park: Legacy EditionBlackwater Park: Legacy Edition
The End Records 2010
$12.75 (used)
Garden Of The Titans (Live At Red Rocks Ampitheatre) [Limited Blu-Ray/2CD Digi] [2018]Garden Of The Titans (Live At Red Rocks Ampitheatre) [Limited Blu-Ray/2CD Digi] [2018]
CD+Blu-ray · Limited Edition
Nuclear Blast 2018
$25.76 (used)
Still LifeStill Life
$10.60 (used)
Roadrunner Records 2008
$3.98 (used)
Sorceress 2-disc deluxeSorceress 2-disc deluxe
Nuclear Blast America 2016
$4.99 (used)
Ghost ReveriesGhost Reveries
HiFi Sound
Roadrunner Records 2005
$4.99 (used)
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OPETH discography

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

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

3.24 | 626 ratings
3.72 | 706 ratings
3.94 | 737 ratings
My Arms, Your Hearse
4.31 | 1552 ratings
Still Life
4.25 | 1610 ratings
Blackwater Park
3.77 | 896 ratings
3.97 | 1240 ratings
4.25 | 1497 ratings
Ghost Reveries
3.98 | 1134 ratings
3.82 | 1201 ratings
4.15 | 1024 ratings
Pale Communion
3.72 | 412 ratings

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

4.11 | 117 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd Bush Empire 2003
4.08 | 202 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Devil's Orchard (Live At Rock Hard Festival 2009)
4.00 | 2 ratings
Lamentations Live At Shepherd's Bush Empire
4.07 | 11 ratings
Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

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

4.02 | 217 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush
4.09 | 153 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
4.64 | 235 ratings
In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall
4.26 | 19 ratings
Live at Enmore Theatre Sidney Australia

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

4.56 | 44 ratings
Limited Edition Box Set
3.99 | 67 ratings
The Candlelight Years
4.50 | 2 ratings
The Wooden Box
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Collection
4.33 | 3 ratings
Deliverance & Damnation

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

4.14 | 22 ratings
Apostle in Triumph
4.52 | 45 ratings
The Drapery Falls
4.08 | 33 ratings
4.64 | 47 ratings
Still Day Beneath the Sun 7''
3.15 | 27 ratings
Selections From Ghost Reveries
3.29 | 41 ratings
The Grand Conjuration
4.50 | 2 ratings
Ghost of Perdition
3.02 | 24 ratings
Watershed - Radio Sampler
3.69 | 45 ratings
Porcelain Heart
3.61 | 50 ratings
Mellotron Heart
3.83 | 62 ratings
4.00 | 2 ratings
Dirge for November - Live
3.50 | 2 ratings
3.47 | 71 ratings
The Throat of Winter
3.68 | 88 ratings
The Devil's Orchard
4.00 | 6 ratings
Cusp of Eternity
3.47 | 15 ratings
2.86 | 7 ratings
Will o the Wisp
3.00 | 8 ratings
The Wilde Flowers
4.00 | 1 ratings
Book of Opeth

OPETH Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Blackwater Park by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.25 | 1610 ratings

Blackwater Park
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Blackwater Park', released in February of 2001, was the 5th album released by Opeth. Even though it didn't sell well in the beginning, it is recognized as the album that 'broke the ice' for the band in gaining a bigger fan base. It also marked the beginning of a change where the vocals started to not just be dirty, growly vocals, but also clean vocals, all sung by Mikael Akerfeldt. Why he hid his clean vocals for so long is anyone's guess, because he has an excellent voice, but that style of vocal was the norm for black metal bands from Sweden. Even though the music was always complex and well composed, the music also started taking the path towards becoming more and more progressive.

A lot of potential fans were turned off by the growling vocals, but found the music to have a lot of depth. The move away from the black metal sound started to attract new listeners, plus the fact that this album would be the first time the band would work with Steven Wilson, thus bringing attention to Opeth from Wilson's fans. Wilson worked as producer and did some of the clean vocals and guitar parts of this album, plus he would also make contributions by playing additional guitar parts, keyboards and mellotron, and some of the clean and backing vocals for the tracks 'Bleak', 'Harvest', 'The Funeral Portrait' and 'The Drapery Falls'. As we also know, this lead to an ongoing creative partnership between Wilson and Akerfeldt in various projects including 'Storm Corrosion'.

The first track 'The Leper Affinity' starts things off strong and heavy, with some excellent riffs and changing meters and melodies. The vocals are dirty for the first 4 minutes. After this, things mellow down for a minute for the bridge and clean vocals, but this doesn't last long as it goes into a heavy interlude with dirty vocals returning eventually. The topic is a relationship that has become strained over the years and the narrator has become abusive creating a beast of himself increasing the threat of losing the one he loves who keeps him in touch with sanity. The last minute ends on a surprise piano solo.

'Bleak' is about a man who catches his lover cheating on him, who he murders and dumps the body into a lake. Wow, that's uplifting (cough). This one begins heavy with dirty vocals again, but it has a more melodic chorus. With the intensity remaining after 3 minutes, we get Wilson's clean vocals and Akerfeldt doing supporting vocals. At 4:30, there is an acoustic guitar solo with an e-bow being used on an electric guitar in the background. This changes after a minute, and the acoustic takes support while a nice melodic guitar solo plays, then Akerfeldt sings clean vocals. Then a louder solo takes over. You can hear the layers with the piano still in it, and that is an indication of Wilson's amazing production where you can hear every instrument in the mix. After this, interchanging vocals continue.

'Harvest' is more of an acoustic ballad with electric guitar providing a nice melody. The song is about a man during his last minutes of life wishing for someone to be by his side. Akerfeldt sings clean vocals with Wilson backing him up. The chord changes are somewhat complex and the melody is quite memorable, but it isn't necessarily typical. Very nice track which remains on the softer side, yet is still quite dark.

'The Drapery Falls' is one of my favorite early progressive tracks by Opeth. It alternates between heavy and quiet throughout, but remains dark and ominous. Akerfeldt starts out singing clean, but processed, vocals. This track was released as a single cut down to 5:05 for radio airplay, but the full version stretches past 10 minutes. There are nice acoustic sections backed up by e-bowed guitars again. There are also louder instruemental sections. Dirty vocals start after 5 minutes and everything becomes a lot heavier, more progressive and less melodic. The track is about a man that has become addicted to depression and pleads for it to return so that he can be on familiar ground. There is sudden change back to acoustic and clean vocals at 7:30 and in this section, there are sudden bursts of energy scattered throughout, then a nice, heavy melodic instrumental section.

'Dirge for November' starts with Akerfeldt's clean vocals immediately with a track that starts much like King Crimson's 'Book of Saturday' with a complex, acoustic melody, but after a minute, loudness kicks in. This one seems to be about a lone survivor in an apocalyptic world wishing for his death over being alone, so he commits suicide. Again we alternate clean and dirty vocals as intensity changes. It remains heavy until 5:30, where it goes into a soft guitar solo after the lyrics are done.

Starting out with a guitar playing an arpeggio somewhat similar to 'Dogs' by Pink Floyd, it soon kicks into high gear when all the instruments kick in with Akerfeldt's dirty vocals. This one is more like Opeth's older songs as it stays quite loud and dirty most of the way through, but has plenty of great instrumental interludes and riffs between the verses. This one is not one of my favorites as it ass too much growling through it, but around 7 minutes in, there is some interesting harmony between Akerfeldt and Wilson.

'Patterns in the Ivy' is a short acoustic guitar instrumental interlude with some backing piano. It's nice after the heaviness of the preceding track.

Last of all is the 12 minute title track 'Blackwater Park'. It tells the story of a village that is heading to destruction because of the corruption, violence and immorality of it's citizens and hints as to how this can bring about the fall of humans. This one is a great progressive track with tricky meters and changing thematic instrumentals. After some dirty vocals, there is a sudden soft interlude early on. This goes on for a few minutes until the intensity kicks back in, and growling starts again around 5:30. This stays heavy pretty much to the ending which fades on an acoustic guitar.

There are two bonus tracks that were added to the Legacy reissue released in 2010. The first one was a single called 'Still Day Beneath the Sun'. This is a nice acoustic ballad with Akerfeldt's clean vocals. The other bonus track is 'Patterns in the Ivy II'. It is a continuation of the acoustic track on the original album, but it has vocals and is extended to over 4 minutes. It remains mostly acoustic with other backing guitars and effects and is a fully developed song in this instance.

So, this is quite an amazing album, with a lot of ingenuity, dynamcs and progressive elements, but the only thing keeping it from being a 5 star album in my opinion, is the amount of dirty growling vocals. I love the heaviness, that's not the problem, I just can't handle the growls and screams in this one, and it detracts from just how great this album is. I can easily say it's worth 4.5 stars but the growling rounds it down to 4. It does show, however, Opeth's continued path to excellence, and is definitely one that should be listened to regardless.

 Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre by OPETH album cover Live, 2018
4.07 | 11 ratings

Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

4 stars This new live release is the fourth for the band ad this time it was shot in a windy and cold evening at the Red Rocks Colorado. It is very cool to see the band playing in nature while you can see also in the back the city! The band played various songs from their 2 sides: the death metal vocals and the clean vocals. But this is not telling much about the quality of their music and the way they built their songs. The strength of the band has always been how they can go from a fast pace tempo with very heavy guitars to a slower pace acoustic parts in a way that only Opeth can do. So, even in their most death oriented songs, there is still room for some good old prog, you can hear some Landberk guitar influence. If the band has stopped to do death metal albums this is not because they are now playing folk music!

The picture and sound are excellent on this show and visually they give us something more enjoyable than previous DVDs with plenty of projections in the back in a giant screen. I like the editing of all the camera shots with some up and distant shots mix with the close shots. To me, it was a nice decision to keep the awkward moment where there was no sound coming from Mikael's guitar before a technician came on stage to fix everything. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed that the show length was only 90 minutes.

 Watershed by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.98 | 1134 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Watershed is Opeth's 9th full length album. It features a new lead guitarist, Fredrick Akesson, and a new drummer, Martin Axenrot. It also features both clean and dirty vocals from Mikael Akereldt. There is more usage of keyboards, including the mellotron which was becoming a staple in Opeth's sound. The band also adds other instruments performed by several guest musicians to add variety and texture to the sound, they do this to expand the sound of their music, which shows the band's penchant for exploration. The music on this album shows their increase in utilizing progressive techniques.

Interestingly enough, the album starts out with a relatively short and soft song 'Coil', which features Mikael sharing lead vocalist duties with Martin Axenrot's girlfriend at the time, Nathalie Lorichs. It's a nice song and is very effective in providing the sudden contrast that explodes in the heavy 'Heir Apparent'. This track also contrasts in the dirty vocals that are apparent throughout this piece, but not to the point that it ruins the track. It is obvious that Opeth wants to continue in their exploration of Progressive Rock and dark, heavy metal. This is an excellent track to make any Prog lover happy, with a lot of mood changes and meter changes, but also with the development you expect within all of Opeth's melody and theme changes.

'The Lotus Eater' features a combination of clean and dirty vocals, but still retains its heaviness throughout. Except for the occasional, somewhat experimental drop offs, the song remains heavy, alternating vocal styles, and remaining progressive and amazing throughout. I love the use of dissonance in various parts of this track and the complex melodies. Of course, the guitar is featured heavily, but there are contrasting uses of acoustic and electric, plus plenty of spacey keyboards. They even enter 'Dream Theater' territory at one point with a very cool, rapid-fire keyboard segment which fits into the song nicely.

'Burden' starts out with a slow tempo piano riff surrounded by atmospheric guitars. On the 2nd verse, a mellotron comes in and intensity builds, but the tempo remains slow. Then there is that amazing organ solo that comes out of nowhere. Mikael proves that he can sing clean vocals with amazing emotion and there is a very melodic guitar theme here too. This is not a track you would have heard on earlier Opeth material, but I welcome the variety as long as the music quality remains, which it does, in fact, the foray into new styles creates more variety and more interest. At the end there is an acoustic guitar solo, but as it nears the end, it gets warped downward in tone, which surprises me every time.

Fredrick Akesson shares song writing duties with Mikael on 'Porcelain Heart' which at first sounds like something from the softer album 'Damnation', but it soon explodes with a heavier interlude between the verses. After this, it moves into a new thematic element becoming heavier and harder, then calming again with a complex melody, acoustic guitars and a new keyboard melody. Then it goes to a dark and heavy instrumental section.

'Hessian Peel' is the longest track on the album at over 11 minutes. It starts with a keyboard drone under an acoustic guitar, which changes to acoustic and electric playing together when vocals start. This track returns to the more complex song structure moving away from the verse/chorus structure and more towards the feel of the first 3 tracks. Again, there is some excellent mellotron going on over the top of arppegiated guitar patterns. Suddenly, at the half way mark, the song explodes and the dirty vocals return after being absent since 'The Lotus Eater'. This excellent track is an amazing Progressive song that is one of their best.

The last track on the regular edition of the album is 'Hex Omega'. There is a great mix of guitars and mellotron on this one. It has a nice prog retro sound to it, but still retaining the modern prog feel. Again, this one features a nice use of contrast with the change of soft and loud.

The Special Edition has 3 more tracks, namely 'Derelict Herds', 'Bridge of Sighs' (a Robin Trower cover, which is quite true to the original, but with a better guitar solo), and 'Den Standiga Resan (The Eternal Journey)' (a surprisingly beautiful acoustic song with vocals).

This is a definite highlight of Opeth's discography showing the band's growth into being a full time Progressive Metal band. The contrasts and dynamics have never been better, even though they have existed in past albums, they are so much more effective and better used all around on this album. There is a lot more restraint on the growly vocals, which is also a good thing since Mikael's singing voice is really good, but the growls would disappear completely again on the next few albums. However, the band proves that the growling vocals in this album are another way of expressing dynamic, and do a stupendous job of integrating them into the more progressively heavy music. But, honestly, when they are not there, I really don't miss them.

With their emphasis on progressiveness on this album, and their continued use of dynamics, this album reaches the 5 star pinnacle it so deserves. This is an essential example of how a band can still be metal and dynamic at the same time. This is an excellent album that should be owned by not only all Prog Metal fans, but all Progressive music fans. Opeth sets the bar for all Prog Metal bands with this album.

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.72 | 412 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Twelfth album from one of my favorite prog-metal bands!

And after the mediocre Heritage and the better Pale Communion, my expectations with Sorceress were high. In addition, the band said that this album would be heavier and harder. That is not necessary if the quality of the music is fine, but's that was like a comeback statement. Moreover, that is always interesting.

But to my surprise, Sorceress is an strange and convoluted album which mixes ideas of the two previous works with some heavier influences from the past. And that makes the harder songs like Chrysalis and Era sound just wrong! We have riffs from the past, but without the growls and a Mikael trying to sound high pitched, like a some kind of Dio impersonator... Just wrong and inadequate.

I rather prefer the Pale Communion style, where the band improved the work made in Heritage despite being faithful to their new style. Sorceress is a sad failure in my opinion and a clear step back in their career.

Conclusion: Sorceress have some good ideas, a pair of good songs and great instrumentation, but it's overall a rather mediocre album only recommended to die hard fans the Opeth's last stage.

Best Tracks: The Wilde Flowers (Heritage style but better), Strange Brew (prog and cool) and Spring MCMLXXIV (very 70's prog rock with great Hammond organ)

My rating: **

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.72 | 412 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by raigor

3 stars With "Sorceress" the band further consolidated their transition towards epic melodic Prog-Rock/Metal leaving all initial Death-Metal influences behind them. The music incorporates the elements of Art-Rock, Folk, Classic Rock, and even World-Fusion melting together both electric and acoustic sounds. The tracks showcase plaintive piano or acoustic guitar prologues, complex compositional developments, intricate dynamic shifts, lush string arrangements, strong riffs, solid groves, and gorgeous organ-guitars duels. There are no metallic fury or death growls even at the most bombastic and savage sections of the songs. Akerfeldt uses only clean melodic singing throughout the album or even soft-spoken voicing over mellower passages. As well as the progressive character of the songs unfolds primarily via his intelligent songwriting.

Yes, OPETH are becoming less and less "Metal", more "Progressive", more discreet and elegant melodically. It's not a problem at all. However, I have to admit that the band is somehow wasting its individuality as the nostalgic nods to the Giants of the 70's Prog-Rock are becoming too obvious.

 Blackwater Park by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.25 | 1610 ratings

Blackwater Park
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by ale73

5 stars Now Opeth is one of the most affirmed prog entity (and it is all deserved), but there was a time when they were something different. I started listening to them with the former album "Still life", and immediately I came back to their older stuff. Now mixing death metal and prog could appear nothing revolutionary, but in the 90's it sounded completely new. And I think no one else did it with the same feeling, technical expertise and great songwriting as Opeth.

I remember buying this record with big expectations and some doubt, as I was thinking "Still life" could have been unmatchable. But at the first listening to "Blackwater park" I understood my expectations were not only fulfilled but even exceeded. It was 2001 and at that time I was totally into metal music. Even though I was listening to some prog as well (I was listening to Marillion since I was13), my ears were not prepared for a total prog immersion. I know prog purists would not like this record, but for me (it is something difficult to explain) it represented my complete acceptance of the genre, probably because it was a prog record recorded by metal musicians. From then my prog explorations started, in parallel with Opeth journey: mastermind Mikael Åkerfeldt changed his creature through different paths, always sorrounded by great musicians, alternating prog, metal and even acoustic music, clean voice and growling.

In this album Opeth have my favorite line-up. Mikael Åkerfeldt is simply perfect: I love both his growling and clean voice, and his guitar sound is superb; the rhythmic section is well-matched, with a technical setting that seems almost jazz based: it was particularly evident in live sets, and it is something I now regret, new bassist and drummers are great but this feeling misses; Peter Lindgren was the perfect complement to the main-man guitar soloing.

All the album is a mix of aggressive and harsh death metal with growling voice and delicate acoustic parts with a very delicate voice. Every song is very intricate and if you listen to the whole album it is like you are on a rollercoaster. All of them are very long, from 8 to 12 minutes each, with two exceptions: the mellow interlude "Patterns in the ivy", a very short song but at the same time very beautiful (there is a second part of it in "Damnation" album) and the acoustic ballad "Harvest", in my opinion one of the highest creative peaks in Opeth career. But all the album is a sort of "best of", so that at least there are three songs that they often play live still now: "Bleak", "The leper affinity" and "The drapery falls".

Two last observations: the record was produced by Steven Wilson (and production is great); the cover art is fantastic and perfectly shows the mix of melancholy and hope that is the backbone of this masterpiece.

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.72 | 412 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The prog-rock Opeth seems here to stay, especially with Sorceress, which offers a panoply of classic progressive inspiration, performed through the down-tuned and sometimes aggressive--sometimes nostalgic--Opeth style. Will you like it? Probably. Will you love it? Maybe not this time.

Sorceress succeeds on many levels. Foremost is in its production and style. This is a masterfully produced and performed album. The instrumentalists are generally underrated in our discussions here, but their work throughout Sorceress is first-rate. Next, is the diversity in songwriting, dynamics, and nuance. There's a lot here for lovers of artistic rock to enjoy and discover. From the thick, fuzzy, bottom-heavy title track, to the gentle acoustic moments and simple accompaniments to Akerfeldt's wonderful singing voice found throughout. While there's never metal chugging-- the band gets heavy in many songs; on the flip-side, though they never breakout into a Scandinavian peasant dance--the band indulges themselves quite a bit in an eclectic combination of folk, fusion, and the lengthy spaces between highlights.

And this is sort of where Sorceress lets me down. The songwriting has a handful of outstanding moments, but it can't grab hold for its entire running time. Some songs feel like interludes, and a few like experiments that almost work. Likewise, Akerfeldt's lyrics are noticeably less interesting this time around.

If you're grooving with Opeth's musical direction, or if you love the prog classics which Opeth is taking inspiration from, then Sorceress is a worthy purchase. If you pine for the days when Akerfeldt would destroy your brain with impossibly intense metal--it's time to say goodbye to Opeth once and for all. If you're like me and think Heritage and Pale Communion are the band's best albums--Sorceress is a solid record (almost a 4-star).

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

 My Arms, Your Hearse by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.94 | 737 ratings

My Arms, Your Hearse
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars Fluid stories of an undead: 9/10

This is it, this is where it all began. From here onwards, OPETH would only mature the innovations they decided to adopt in their musical style. Vivid, lush and seamlessly fluid storytelling is the band's paramount (and most noteworthy) achievement, fueled by their usage of everything - vocals, instruments, atmosphere - to make its narration credible.

Lyrically, OPETH uses a complicated language which, nonetheless, suffices to understand the story's unfolding. They mix introspection and actual events and it gets rather confusing to define when is something is objectively happening and when it is the character's perception of the world, but that's not an issue; in fact, its one of the narration's charms. MY ARMS, YOUR HEARSE tells the tale of a man who dies but, for some reason, returns to life and bitterly turn against the woman who pretended to love him during his time alive. In this way, the album's title is fitting: the embrace of a dead vengeful spirit is the demise and grief of a guilty living person.

Akerfeldt's growl is styled to sound demonic and ferocious (listen to Karma's outro - insane roar!) as his character is a spiteful entity but there are times the singer uses clear vocals - the moments the undead remembers of his earthly memories and gets in touch with his smoldering, long forgotten humanity. Also, from their very second album OPETH's un-metal tendencies began to crystallize: there are lots of acoustic passages permeated in the songs, and three tracks features features solemnly their black, folksy acoustic guitars. But when the metal riffs kick in, when the Demon of the Fall is awake and enraged, boy, you better be ready (highlight to The Amen Corner's monstrously headbanging intro).

After listening to MY ARMS YOUR HEARSE, I could understand a little better the reason behind OPETH's hype; now I can't help but to think that, assuming this isn't their best effort yet still manages to pose as terrific, the band's acclaim is more than deserved.

 Blackwater Park by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.25 | 1610 ratings

Blackwater Park
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by martindavey87

2 stars As a long-time fan of progressive metal, Opeth was a band name that kept popping up. I knew the day would come that I'd have to give them a shot, so where better to start than what seems to be one of their more highly-praised albums; 'Blackwater Park'.

Now, the whole doom and gloom death metal shouting has never really been my cup of tea. I can tolerate it in small doses, and when used in certain contexts it can be very effective, but too much of it is, well, too much! And Opeth have a lot of it!

But if I need to, I can look past that. And in this case, I can (just about) tolerate it, because Opeth have some incredible guitar acrobatics going on! The guitar riffs are so complex and intricate, there's a lot of things going on but at no point does any of it become overbearing. It sounds dark and gritty, but there's some really intelligent riffs going on here.

There are times when vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt sings cleans, and these are some of the more stand-out moments for me. And with some pretty amazing musicianship displayed in pieces like 'Bleak', 'The Funeral Portrait' and 'Harvest', there are some songs worth coming back to. Even if the singing is nothing more than unintelligible gibberish.

Opeth will never be my favourite band, and 'Blackwater Park' won't be an album I intend to go back to very often. But for what it is, it hasn't deterred me from sticking with the Swedish band for a while longer.

 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.15 | 1024 ratings

Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A vast improvement over Heritage... But still underneath their best albums.

I think the best virtue of this album is being a lot more focused, centered that their previous work. The style of more of less the same, but this time Mikael managed to compose a very much coherent and cohesive collection of songs, far from the proggy mess of Heritage. But again, if you are waiting a return to their metal albums, you will be disappointed.

The production of the album is really good, again with the mixing of Steve Wilson, and the sound of Joakim Svalberg at the keys is very similar to Per Wiberg, so it is hard to notice any difference in terms of keyboards. The rest of the band is the same since Watershed, and I have nothing to complaint. They are all great musicians.

Pale Communion starts with Eternal Rains Will Come, in a style very reminiscent to Heritage with its old fashioned keyboards. But we can hear that Mikael sings a lot better this time, far from the excesses their previous work. But sadly Cusp of Eternity bring back the horrible clear voices of Heritage, with Miakel shouting rather than singing in the attempt to break his voices in the style of Bonnie Tyler. Nevertheless, this song has great riffs and a very good instrumental section.

Moon Above, Sun Below is maybe the best song of the album, with tons of mellotron and an acoustic part which clearly reminds to Damnation. Mikael sings very well at the beginning, but soon after he screws the vocal melodies again. This way to extend the vowels in the words is artificial, ugly and typical for rookies than for experimented singers. The end of the songs is pretty good... Only circles on the water.

Elysian Woes is a beautiful acoustic song with mellotron but not really remarkable for the career of the band. Goblin is a homage to this band, beloved for the Dario Argento films and in some parts the music sound just like one of his films but a bit more jazzy. River is another highlight of the album, which opens with a good acoustic sound which reminds me to Kansas and a very good guitar solo with a blues feeling. The instrumental section is also wonderful, one of the best parts of the album.

Voice of Treason starts in a menacing and dark way with good orchestral arrangements. After that we can hear another lame vocal interpretation from Mikael, who again shouts his lyrics in a rather annoying way. The final part of the song is another instrumental tour de force in the same way of River, but not so good.

The beginning of Faith in Others could be included in a King Crimson album, and again Mikael ruins what could have been a great song. In the minute 2 starts a Savatage sounding piano melody and the song gets better with its mellotron, good choirs and another imitation of the seventies prog-rock. Mikael shouts again towards the end of the song, this time through a telephone.

Conclusion: Pale Communion is better than Heritage. No doubt about it. The songwriting is stronger and more coherent, and the singing of Mikael is also a bit better, though his way of shouting his clean vocals annoys me sometimes. The work of the rest of the musicians is flawless.

And this record also confirms that Opeth are not this outstanding and influential prog metal band anymore... Now they are just a good prog-rock band which tries to imitate the glory days of the seventies prog-rock, with just a moderate success. And that is a pity in my opinion.

Best tracks: Eternal Rains Will Come, Moon Above Sun Below and River.

My rating: ***

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