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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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Buy OPETH Music


Pale CommunionPale Communion
Roadrunner Records 2014
Audio CD$6.48
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Blackwater Park: Legacy EditionBlackwater Park: Legacy Edition
The End Records 2010
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DamnationDamnation
Import
Sony Import 2007
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WatershedWatershed
Roadrunner Records 2008
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Ghost ReveriesGhost Reveries
HiFi Sound
Roadrunner Records 2005
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Still LifeStill Life
Remastered · CD+DVD
Peaceville 2008
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DeliveranceDeliverance
Original recording
The End Records 2007
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HeritageHeritage
Original recording
Roadrunner Records 2011
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Orchid + BonusOrchid + Bonus
Extra tracks
Candlelight 2003
Audio CD$8.31
$6.29 (used)
Ghost Reveries (180 Gram Vinyl)Ghost Reveries (180 Gram Vinyl)
Limited Edition · Import
Roadrunner 2013
Vinyl$26.06
$85.00 (used)
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OPETH shows & tickets


  • 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
  • Summer Breeze 2015 on 13 Aug 2015
  • Motocultor Festival 2015 on 14 Aug 2015
  • Elbriot Festival 2015 on 15 Aug 2015
  • Pstereo 2015 on 21 Aug 2015
  • Sounds of the Ages 2015 on 19 Sep 2015
  • Opeth at Stockholms Konserthus, Stockholm on 4 Oct 2015
  • 25th Anniversary Tour on 8 Oct 2015
  • Opeth at USF Verftet, Bergen on 9 Oct 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
  • An Evening with Opeth - 25th Anniversary Tour on 22 Oct 2015
  • Opeth - 25th Anniversary Tour on 24 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 | 501 ratings
Orchid
1995
3.72 | 576 ratings
Morningrise
1996
3.92 | 595 ratings
My Arms, Your Hearse
1998
4.32 | 1276 ratings
Still Life
1999
4.25 | 1304 ratings
Blackwater Park
2001
3.77 | 736 ratings
Deliverance
2002
3.94 | 1039 ratings
Damnation
2003
4.24 | 1211 ratings
Ghost Reveries
2005
3.94 | 963 ratings
Watershed
2008
3.83 | 1005 ratings
Heritage
2011
4.26 | 627 ratings
Pale Communion
2014

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

4.07 | 94 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd Bush Empire 2003
2006
4.08 | 174 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2007

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

4.01 | 189 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush
2003
4.05 | 125 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
2008
4.68 | 203 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
 Blackwater Park by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.25 | 1304 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 | 576 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
3.83 | 1005 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 | 1211 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
4.26 | 627 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
4.26 | 627 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 | 1276 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 | 736 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
3.83 | 1005 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 | 736 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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