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Opeth - Damnation CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.01 | 1469 ratings

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3 stars Released just a couple of months after "Deliverance", "Damnation" can be seen as Opeth's experimental album, since the music present on this piece is much different than the music present on the other albums released by this swedish band. Opeth's music is defined by contrasts: the contrast between light and heavy, between mellow and aggressive. All their songs were, until "Damnation", filled with different segments: some segments were very raw, with Mikael's growls playing the main role, and calm parts, with the gentle guitar lines assuming an important presence.

But "Damnation" is different. Don't expect any aggressive parts, any double-bass, any fast fills, any heavy riffs. This album shows the band adopting a very mellow sound: all the death/progressive metal elements were thrown away. The soft guitar work is really amazing, and that's one of the reasons why this album is so enjoyable. The musicianship is top notch, as always, but this time the structures of the majority of the tunes aren't that complex. Well, they aren't simple either, but don't expect songs with similar structures as "In the Mist She Was Standing" on this record.

The biggest quality of "Damnation", though, lies on its atmosphere. All the tracks carry a very melancholic/nostalgic vibe and, at the end of the day, the album sounds much better as a whole tahn individually. You'll certainly enjoy "Damnation" if you consider it as a long song instead of a normal record, with the different tunes being the particular movements of the same song: it sounds much better that way, I assure you.

Individually, the songs don't sound that good, though: it's very hard, at least for me, to listen to songs like "Weakness" without hearing the whole album. As I've already said, I'm pretty sure this album was made to be heard entirely. The best track of the album, and the only one I can hear without listening to the other tunes right after, is the opener, "Windowpane". It's just a masterpiece of a song, really. Its structure is the most complex of the album, the song containing two memorable solos, a wonderful main riff and excellent drumming. Yeah, Martin's performance on this album is just mindblowing, he definitely proves here that he isn't just a metal drummer: his beats are reminiscent, at times, of jazz and there's also some latin percussion parts to be found on the album, especially on "Closure", which is, by the way, another highlight. "Ending Credits" is also worth mentioning, a sweet little instrumental piece, filled with nice, jazzy guitar work and more amazing drumming.

Another important characteristic of "Damnation" is the important presence of the keyboards: like on "Deliverance" there's a huge use of piano, organ and mellotron throughout the album. "Windowpane" is a perfect example of that, with many sections of it being dominated by the keyboards. "In My Time of Need" and "To Rid the Disease", both very good tracks, are also examples.

The biggest problem I have with "Damnation" is the fact that the songs, in the end, are very similar. At times, I miss the death metal sections and the contrasts between calm and heavy sections. Songs like "Windowpane" flow really well, but tracks like "Hope Leaves" would sound much better if there were some metal elements present. Another problem you may have with "Damnation" is that this isn't a record to be heard everyday: this piece was made to be heard when you're nostalgic or melancholic or sad. This isn't the album I'll play when I'm extremely happy, that's for sure. On other hand, if you enjoy atmospheric music, you'll surely like this record. Ah, and Mikael's clean vocals rule on this album. A last word for the incredible production, everything is audible and crystal clear, Steven Wilson must be congratulated!

Best Moments of the CD: -"might be staring directly at me..." -the last part of "To Rid the Disease". -the 'chorus' of "In My Time of Need".

Nhorf | 3/5 |


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