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Opeth - Morningrise CD (album) cover

MORNINGRISE

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.72 | 745 ratings

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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
2 stars It's evident when listening to Morningrise that some of my complaints about Orchid were addressed in this one. The production is quite a bit better (no more oddities like the strange volume jumps in the vocals or complete silences where they shouldn't be), and the clean vocals are quite dramatically improved--they are much easier to understand, and in general more effective. The screaming is still a bit too high-pitched for my liking, the twin distorted guitars are still annoying in some spots (especially considering that tone runs through the entire album), and the drumming, although done with a click track this time, is still not up to the same level later heard from Martin López (there's something Nordin does with the cymbals that sounds a bit too much like a train running than actual work...perhaps a bit too drum-machine like), but this thing flows much better than Orchid. There even starts to be evidence of a shared riff between songs as heard on later albums like My Arms, Your Hearse and Still Life. Do expect it to still share some of the same medieval/folkish influences as Orchid in the acoustic sections.

The opening track, "Advent", may well be the best track on the entire album. It's littered with interesting moments including an indescribably weird bass riff from Johan de Farfalla, especially when distorted guitar comes on behind it! The unusually low-pitched clean vocals in one section create a very strange, haunting effect, almost like Radiohead's Ed O'Brien (think "A Wolf at the Door"). The outro is absolutely amazing--and at no point during this song does one ever begin to think that it is far too long than it needs to be.

In "The Night and the Silent Water", Akerfeldt begins to find a slightly deeper growl that more resembles his sound on the next album My Arms, Your Hearse. Something slightly Eastern emerges in a few of the guitar riffs, although not overstated. Probably the best part of this one comes from about 7:40 forward where the song builds up in a way that reminds me of an onrushing tsunami: subtle at first but eventually crashing in with an absolute fury. That doubled whisper/growl is another tone that you never hear again in OPETH's work but it is strangely effective here. This is a close runner-up to "Advent"...while not quite as strong in the beginning, that section from 7:40 to about 10:30 is unforgettable.

"Nectar" may be overshadowed by some of the other tracks on Morningrise, but I think it catches more flack than necessary. I still think it's a listenable and worthwhile song. All I can say about the bass from about 9:05 forward--impressive! The abrupt stop, unlike in some other cases where OPETH has done a similar thing, works very well on it. "Black Rose Immortal", unfortunately, is this album's weak point, and I think it is highly overrated by some OPETH fans simply due to its length. The problem with it is, the various parts of this one do not fit all that well together and it ends up sounding like several different compositions rather than a united piece like PINK FLOYD's "Echoes" (an example of success at over 23 minutes). While the various pieces do have some promising parts, and the song still can be enjoyed--that's all they are: just parts. One riff even sounds...dare I say it... techno...and is a little bit difficult to take seriously. This is the one instance on Morningrise where I think that OPETH definitely overreached itself.

The final track, "To Bid You Farewell", is a very interesting case--OPETH's first attempt at a large-scale "mellow" composition. I do think that it gets a bit TOO mellow at the beginning, almost a bit "Weather Channel"...it ccould've done with a Rhodes or vintage synth or something to help de-emphasize the repetitiveness. But it definitely picks up after that, and becomes a very clear tribute to some of OPETH's 70s prog influences. Overall, "To Bid You Farewell" is a very enjoyable song and possibly my second favorite on Morningrise. The album in general is certainly a vast improvement over Orchid, although I think they still had yet to come to full maturity. That would be their next album...

Unfortunately, the bonus track on this album, "Eternal Soul Torture", really IS a torture and is just as bad as the one that was added to Orchid. I absolutely cannot understand why the record company felt the need to spoil what was (unlike Orchid) a great ending...while I don't blame the band for it, I definitely think that disaster loses this version of Morningrise half a star. It really IS that bad. It seems that perhaps I am being more harsh on it than the other reviewers, and I'm sorry to do it to a band I enjoy so much, but I really do feel that this album could turn someone off of OPETH if they started with it, and that this and Orchid should be reserved until a fan's last. They are interesting as part of a comprehensive collection, but don't quite stand so well on their own two feet.

FloydWright | 2/5 |

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