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Opeth - Ghost Reveries CD (album) cover

GHOST REVERIES

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.26 | 1569 ratings

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Insin
5 stars Ghost Reveries turned ten years old recently, and it holds up as a unique experience and a masterpiece of progressive metal. An expansion upon the trademark sound presented in Blackwater Park, Opeth bring in new influences, hire a keyboardist, and step up their songwriting game. The result is a rather eclectic, atmospherically dark, and intense album ' intense in the ways of technicality, intense in composition without sounding cluttered, intense in experimentation, intense in energy, and above all, intense in ambition.

Initially intended to be another concept album, Ghost Reveries has something to do with a man who kills his mother, and Satan is involved because gotta love those metal stereotypes. The idea wasn't fully carried through with, resulting in the 'concept' being no more than the repetition of a few words and phrases scattered throughout the songs (e.g. 'the hounds' and 'the mire' are repeated often during GR). Either way, the common words and lyrical themes create a unifying effect, helping to hold together an album that is already quite cohesive.

More importantly, the instrumentation is fantastic, Akerfeldt's vocals a classic mix between clean singing and growls; neither of them have downhill after fifteen years. Martin Lopez's versatile drumming never ceases to amaze as he works in excellent fills, rapid double bass, and engaging, original beats. The inclusion of ethnic drums in the album's middle songs signifies just another influence in this incredibly diverse album. Ghost Reveries is teeming with great riffs, from the slow, soothing bass groove of Atonement, to the vicious, heavy assaults found during brief straight-up death metal portions of the longer songs, and The Grand Conjuration's plain evil main riff. The keyboards add a new dimension to Opeth's sound and provide more options for the band, notably that weird but catchy, enjoyable riff at the beginning of Beneath the Mire. The guitar solos are well-performed, technical, and impressive, though they tend to slide under the radar, not being the focal points of the songs.

The main appeal of Ghost Reveries is of course the songwriting. The five long/heavy songs rely not only the previously established interplay between death metal and acoustic passages, but span the gap between the two, while including other influences as well. The soft parts don't always revert to acoustic guitars as done on previous albums; often they simply drop to quieter volumes, with some even containing hints of jazz. Songs such as the first two tracks are wildly unpredictable as Opeth fit more changes and variety into songs of ten minutes. Baying of the Hounds starts heavy, goes down, comes back up, enters an acoustic break, and then ends heavy, and I won't even try to describe the structure of Ghost of Perdition. The transitions are seamless and come so often that the songs never get boring. Though a few of these songs seem anticlimactic (specifically Beneath the Mire and Harlequin Forest), it truly is in the journey, not the destination, and the dramatic, heavy Grand Conjuration provides enough of a peak to close the album (with Isolation Years akin to a short coda).

The soft songs on this album may not be as well-loved as others the band has written, though they fit on the album better. Atonement is a good track, providing a much-needed break for calmness following the heavy first three songs. The haunting chorus riff and beautiful piano solo simply make the song. Isolation Years is a mournful, ballad, and even the album's weakest offering, Hours of Wealth, has a gorgeous beginning and is very much emotionally charged.

Opeth's songwriting and instrumentation peaked here. Ghost Reveries is flawless.

Insin | 5/5 |

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