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Opeth Damnation album cover
4.01 | 1470 ratings | 119 reviews | 42% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Windowpane (7:44)
2. In My Time of Need (5:49)
3. Death Whispered a Lullaby (5:49)
4. Closure (5:15)
5. Hope Leaves (4:30)
6. To Rid the Disease (6:21)
7. Ending Credits (3:39)
8. Weakness (4:08)

Total Time 43:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Mikael ┼kerfeldt / electric & acoustic (6- & 12-string) guitars, vocals, co-producer
- Peter Lindgren / guitars
- Martin Mendez / basses (fretted & fretless)
- Martin Lopez / drums, percussion

- Steve Wilson / piano, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, backing vocals, co-producer, mixing & mastering

Releases information

Artwork: Travis Smith with Ken Seaney & Rex Zachary (photos)

2xLP Koch Records ‎- KOC-LP-4577 (2008, US)

CD Music For Nations ‎- CDMFN294 (2003, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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OPETH Damnation ratings distribution

(1470 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(42%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

OPETH Damnation reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by diddy
4 stars So this is part two of the 'double release' together with "Deliverance". Damnation isn't the style of music Opeth normally stands for. Sometimes there are songs on earlier albums sounding similar but a whole album in this style isn't normal for Opeth. We also got to know that there will not be a similar project in the future and this album just was a short excursion. What we find on this album is a lot of Porcupine Tree and Camel. Not astonishing because Steven Wilson is a good friend of Mikael and Peter (Steven Wilson even played Piano on Mikaels wedding with his wife Anna) and produced this album as well as "Blackwater Park" and "Deliverance". On this one he also appears as a musician, he played all keyboards and I think he also has some vocal parts, at least some backing vocals. And that's the style of this quite mellow album, beautiful prog songs with a strong Porcupine Tree and a flimsy Camel touch. The instrumental 'Ending Credits' is said to be 'riped off' from Camel, that's what Mikael himself said on the DVD release "Lamentations..." now we can guess what this "ripped off" could mean, strong inspiration or just one knows. So this is a very fine album by this great band but totally different to their other releases, like said before exept for some songs on earlier albums. If you like Porcupine Tree or Camel this album is a good one to buy. But even you don't know Camel or PT you can't do anything wrong with this one.
Review by Clayreon
4 stars OPETH . I'm a fan for years now but the band didn't get a real chance on our site (except a concert review and a recent interview) because it was clear that proggers were resented by the heavy intermezzi and the rolling grunt. From time to time there were some voices rising that rather liked the music. And, as Mikael told us recently during the interview, "Damnation" is a CD that will be appreciated by the most obdurate progfan. There's no excuse for not buying this any longer. It doesn't mean that the band is selling out or that they want to get round a larger public by all means but it's just a natural evolution from this collective of skilled musicians. After the heavier "Deliverance" there's now the quiet "Damnation".

The music of OPETH has always been an achievement for which you needed to spare some time. The mission for the listener was "getting into it", not a volatile in-between. And there's no change for this one, because the longer tracks still contain several atmospheres, but the changes are very smooth and make this "Damnation" generally speaking a lot easier to digest than the modal OPETH album.

Mikael Akerfeldt is a man with an open view on the (music)world. He didn't make a secret of his appreciation for adventurous progbands of the seventies. Inspired by this period, he started to occasionally compose fragments which became this "Damnation" album. "Windowpane" is bursting with mellotron sounds, but has also a Gilmourian guitar solo pasted on. I suppose I don't need to tell you that Akerfeldt has a beautiful, sensitive voice with a sad touch. During the community singing, you can hear the influence of pal and producer Steven WILSON.

"In My Time Of Need" could have been a KATATONIA track. The chopped off phrases of the vocals are a direct cross-breeding with Jonas Renske. But then the song flourishes into Mellotron heavens again. I would dare say that it's a crossing between PINK FLOYD and PORCUPINE TREE. The choruses are so strong, that you can't get them out of your mind. And don't underestimate the vibrating bass play of Martin Mendez, who takes care of some beautiful marginal notes in "Death Whispered A Lullaby" and is present in an entertaining but humble way on the whole album. A bit later, there's a special spacy guitar eruption which, together with the floating keyboards, will even bring every ascetic into the clouds. In "Closure", I hear a relation with ANATHEMA, especially in the vocal style (Vinnie) and in the classical, acoustic guitar playing. (Danny).

The timbre of this song evolves into some jazzy style and changes to a friendly chaotism, it seems like a whirling jam session in progland. Even almost acapella pieces appear, community singing like CSN&Y and psychedelic outbursts for which PORCUPINE TREE (especially in the early days and live) took out a patent for.

Slightly distorted vocals and fine guitar riffs are the ingredients for "Hope Leaves". The "crescendo" choruses are each time very strong and believe me, it's on these moments that this CD reminds me of the latest Dan Swan÷. After all, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other of rising talent up there in Sweden. Just check the small writing on any OPETH, NIGHTINGALE and KATATONIA CD! (yes, when I notice that if 1 fish is frying, why not take the whole breeding pond with it, haha)

The instrumental "Ending Credits" would be a beautiful soundtrack for a documentary about all the beauty of the high north. With images of Mother Nature and all those musicians, even the title would be appropriate. And when the last sounds of "Weakness" have faded out, I eagerly push the repeat button of my installation. The fan of the early OPETH runs a high rish to be waiting for an outburst, because this is QUIET. But it's so marvellous, melancholic and artful, that this feeling is merged into pure delight.

If you aren't convinced now, you'll never be. And I can't help mentioning: I feel a bit triumphant that you finally freak out for musicians who are my heroes since long. And as they would have written in ROLLING STONE during the seventies: this album must be in every record collection!

>>> Review by: Vera "Gothica" (9/10) <<<

Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
4 stars The inclusion of Opeth within this forum has probably been the cause of more debate than has any other band; to listen to a majority of their recorded output, one would never consider in your wildest dreams connecting the words 'Opeth' and 'Progressive'. There are hints to find, if you look hard enough - the final track of 'Morningrise' for example hinted at gentler leanings (like the first shaft ofsunlight after a violent storm), and if you check out the Opeth website, you can see their preferred listening is surprisingly progressive, and they all seem to worship Camel as Gods...... (no, Camel the BAND - they do not worship dromedaries!).

'Damnation' was recorded at the same time as 'Deliverance' - one of their most brutal albums to date, but released a year later; it is difficult to believe this is the same band, and get a real sense of four musicians stretching their wings (hopefully, not for the last time). With Damnation, what you get is a sweeping album of beautifully layered, classic 1970's progressive rock, and despite the occasionally repetitive song formats, and one very obvious nod to Led Zeppelin (play the final track 'weakness' back to back with 'no quarter', and you'll see what I mean) you will find yourself going back for more time after time.

Although the four regular members of Opeth play their parts to perfection (Akerfeldt's vocals especially deserve recognition), part of the success of this album has to lie at the feet of Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson, bringing the crispness of PT production to Opeth exactly when they need it most, together with restrained, yet highly effective Mellotron/piano work. I can honestly say that since I bought this album, it has become one of the most played in the household, and went instantly into my top 10 of all time.

Review by The Prognaut
4 stars Death, doom or prog metal? I say spotlessly crafted, revealing music. This Swedish band has certainly struggled to detach from the incessant clichÚs and critics surrounding the so-called prog genre DREAM THEATER christened in behalf of the metal influences they adopted to manufacture their music (presumably under the incursion of URIAH HEEP, but I personally don't buy that theory). And they have done such an astonishing work to probe the media and the stereotypes wrong: "Damnation". So plagued of inventive on instruments that appear to come to life and of innovation when it comes to blend several music styles, OPETH is becoming one of those bands to remember as precursors and icons.

It is certainly quite impossible to think of music without music. If way too many bands wouldn't have existed, much of the essence sustained by OPETH wouldn't have either. That's why much of the effort put into every production by the quartet from Stockholm, has turned into a distinguishing particular label, an unbreakable transitional seal that has become stronger during the years, translated in recognition and acceptance from the fans. Constant in instrumentation updating and interminably restructural from within, OPETH is a band that once claimed for a spot, and know, many prog bands set themselves the goal of becoming a bit of what the Swedish band has become.

"Damnation" is the ultimate destination of the OPETH new era that commenced back in the early years of the breakthrough decade with "Black Water Park". This is the album that determines and establishes the final formula to be applied by restless and discomforted bands of the yet inaccessibly prog sub-genres. The so mentioned effective formula is portentously displayed in pieces like "Closure", "Windowpane" and "To Rid the Disease". The entire album is played mysteriously ease and quiet in the beginning to awake our suspiciousness, but the strike of adventurous instrumentation to be received forward on as the music flows, is absolutely comfortable and rewarding. OPETH is definitely indispensable to your prog collection.

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Steve Wilson has spent the last few PORCUPINE TREE albums catching up with 'alternative rock'- paring down the song length and improvisation, evolving towards a more accessible sound. Now that he's decided he doesn't need them, his castoff prog bits get used to confuse the development of an intriguingly different heavy band.

That's a bit overstated; the choice of direction was not Wilson's but Mikael Akerfeldt's, and the compositions and instrumentation still have the understated drama and expressiveness that elevated OPETH's previous albums above typical death metal, goth metal, and prog- metal. However, any kind of metal would be welcome here- in its place we get unneccesarily long instrumental breaks and transitions often similar to the ones that made earlier PORCUPINE TREE albums seem derivative, overlong, and amorphous. I'm not quite the metal fan I used to be, but I still miss the dynamic range OPETH offered on their earlier (and, let's hope, later) albums; the gradual buildup or sudden onslaught of heavy distortion and growling vocals was a great counterpoint to the quieter (but no less darkly emotional) passages. Add that to the tightly harmonized and/ or filtered vocals ("Shesmovedon", anyone?) and and you get a diluted version of the band's identity- diluted by both Wilson's characteristic but homogenizing production as well as by the band's decision to display only half of their range.

On the good side, half of OPETH is still more enjoyable than 100% of many bands (if you follow me...). When Wilson lets the band stick with their strengths, the album is a dark wonderland of acoustic guitar and vocals hushed with a confidential immediacy that makes the black-garbed teenager angst of the lyrics seem a little less banal. Most heavy bands would fail miserably if they had to forego the power chords and shouting for a whole album, and OPETH has enough emotive moodiness to almost make it work.

Some prankster could have slipped "Windowpane" into a PT album, and only the realism of the instruments would give it away. It's a decent song, apart from that; the warm, clear guitar delivers the moodiness with an almost jazzy flourish, and the mellotron pads provide the 'bigness' that OPETH would normally turn up the volume and distortion to acheive. This same approach is used for the climax of "In My Time of Need", which again heavily suggests PT in the vocals and production, but also reminds me of ELP's acoustic crooners. "Death Whispered a Lullaby" is almost too gothic a title to be taken seriously, but it's actually a listenable take on the "Don't Fear the Reaper" theme. Despite a lack of heaviness, the melodic lines and arrangements (and the uninspired guitar solo) are unmistakably metal- you could see this as the 'unplugged' version, except that there's no 'plugged' version to begin with. Unfortunately, the climax blasts off into the kind of meandering sonics that neutered "Signify", but at least they had the sense to keep it to a reasonable length. "Closure" is back to PT vocal territory, again with metal-influenced riffs that beg to be liberated with extreme noise. It almost happens- the whole song is a series of crescendos that get increasingly dependent on the percussion (and a mellotron in the background) to provide the drama. More swirling Hackett-ish guitar (there aren't a wide variety of tones throughout the album) heralds the opening of "Hope Leaves", and thankfully the annoying filter on the vocals gets thrown out early. By the way, the filtered vocal craze was pretty much over when Britney Spears did it four years hence- unless you have a really good reason, it's just a production gimmick. "To Rid the Disease" is more of the same, with some piano to spice things up not at all. If you get this far, you either like the sound and won't mind another unremarkable track, or you've already decided you don't care for the album and one more example is unneeded. "Ending Credits" has a nice minor- key guitar melody, but little else; it's a soundtrack-type piece that offers little apart from pleasant CAMEL-ish background music. "Weakness" almost doesn't exist at all; a few vampiric vocals and a leslie-soaked electric piano do not a song make. I'd call it atmospheric if it sounded a little less like just a bit of between-song fooling-around.

Some folks see this as a celebration of the progressive side of OPETH, a justification for all the death-metal moments they've 'endured'. Me, I like the black velvet hammer of their more unrestrained releases, and have some difficulty calling "Damnation" any more of a prog album than anything else they've done. Perhaps adding mellotrons and invoking the name of CAMEL means more to other people, but this album strikes me as just a collection of the simpler, quieter moments of a band whose main forte is complex heaviness. If they continue on this path, we'll have a clear contender for the point at which they stopped being truly interesting. We'll even have Steve Wilson as a scapegoat.

Review by maani
3 stars So what's all the fuss about categorizing Opeth as "prog?" Unless this album is a seriously dramatic departure from their earlier work, they certainly qualify, though admittedly "just over the fence." Although many reviewers have mentioned Porcupine Tree and Floyd as influences, I believe the more obvious influences are early BOC and the mellower side of Mettalica (which is not necessarily a bad thing...) [N.B. Based on the two PT albums I've heard, I must say I like Opeth better, since I consider PT a bad Floyd clone, riding the ragged edge of bombast, pomposity and pretentiousness.] Although this album is comparatively "simple" for prog, and has a very "restrained" sound to it, it is nevertheless quite creative and listenable. And although the lyrics are simplistic (and sometimes naive), they are appropriate for the music, and "do their job." I very much like Akerfeldt's voice, which here (as apparently opposed to elsewhere...) has a clear melodic quality (not unlike James Labrie of Dream Theater, or Neal Morse of Spock's Beard). I also really like Lindgren's tasteful, restrained guitar work, both acoustic and electric. It is nice to hear someone who is from the "less is more" school of playing after hearing so many guitarists who think they get extra credit for cramming 6,000 notes in 12 measures.

"Windowpane" opens the album in fine prog form, with a subtle shifting time signature and a tasteful, creative composition. (There is an especially nice passage at 6:10- 6:30.) "In My Time of Need" is a wonderful, mournful ballad. My only qualm is that it practically BEGS a screaming guitar solo during the last couple of minutes. (Indeed, this is my single biggest criticism of the entire album: there are quite a few places where a screaming guitar solo or tasty keyboard solo could really have added a great deal.) "Death Whispered a Lullaby" is another nicely crafted composition. "Closure" has some really nice guitar work, and a neat quasi-Middle Eastern jam from 3:35 to the fade-out. "Hope Leaves" is a standard "soft metal" ballad. "To Rid the Disease" is my favorite composition, and positively demands a second listen (after which you will almost certainly want it on rotation in your CD player). The cleverly-titled "End Credits" might not have worked with any other title. "Weakness" is the only Floydian-sounding composition, though it also has intimations of mellow Zep (in fact, the organ part that begins the bridge/solo section sounds suspiciously like the opening organ part from "No Quarter").

I have given this album three stars primarily "inter-subgenre." It is probably slightly less deserving vis-a-vis progressive rock as a whole. Still, I am not a huge fan of this subgenre of prog, and yet I found this album creative within its simplicity, and very pleasant to listen to.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Wot, not growling?

As someone who is not particularly keen on the "death metal" genre, I have not previously experienced the music of Opeth. Various reviews (including those on Amazon UK) had however indicated that this album represented something of a change for the band, being much more melodic, and even suggesting similarities with The Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest.

My attention duly captured, "Damnation" became my first experience of the band. Certainly, there is not a grunt or growl in sight (earshot?), the vocals being soft and melodic. Bands who came to mind as I listened were Porcupine Tree, Camel, and Pink Floyd.

The album is very acoustic, to the point of almost being understated, with a steady pace, never getting particularly excited or for that matter depressed. "Windowpane" opens with some pleasant guitar backed by some good old mellotron (played by Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree, who guests on the album). "Death whispered a lullaby" is not nearly as doomy as the title suggests, the hints of orchestration setting things up nicely for the rather trippy ending.

"Closure" is the most Porcupine Tree like, Steve Wilson is presumably well to the fore here, and there are hints of Anathema's more recent works too. "To rid this disease" is where the Moody Blues similarities really appear, some fine up front mellotron again ("In The Court of the Crimson King" like), almost pop vocals, a strong melody, and some good guitar too. It could have been recorded 30 years ago, and sounded exactly the same.

"Ending credits" sounds like Andy Latimer (Camel) has strolled by guitar in hand, and picked out a tune as he passed. The ending credits to "The Snowgoose" perhaps? "Weakness" is indeed perhaps the album's only weakness, being a rather sparse, slow, spacey piece, with suggestions of Syd Barrett.

By all accounts, this is not a typical Opeth album. That I am not qualified to comment on, but this is a fine album by any standards, worthy of your attention and certainly worthy of gracing this site.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Give it another halfstar, though. I like many am really wondering what the fuss is all about this band . I have heard their last three albums and think that there are elements that make them undeniably belong on our site but not much more than most Progmetal or say tool. I do enjoy the prog overtones but let's face it : if it wasn't for Steve Wilson's Kb on this album (especially for the tons of Mellotron) , would there be so much of a debate. I as an old geezer for some of the younger humanoid shapes of living forms tend to think that Maani's point of view as closest to mine but this does not stop me from enjoying hearing a few tracks from those last three albums but say no more that 30 min , because they did not invent anything new either.
Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars Tron-maniac's alert! I didn't know this band until I got a promo-copy, within a few minutes I was blown away by their emotional music: eight mellow and moving songs with majestic violin - and choir Mellotron, pleasant vocals, beautiful twanging and rhythm acoustic guitar and varied electric guitar work (from fragile to fiery and howling). The climates alternates from romantic to melancholic or psychedelic with hints from KING CRIMSON, LED ZEPPELIN, PORCUPINE TREE and ANEKDOTEN. If you want to escape from this superficial, commercial and chilly world, this CD could ease your pain a little bit.
Review by FloydWright
5 stars Damnation, despite lacking the harder elements of Opeth's music, is in fact one of their strongest efforts that I have heard thus far. I credit this to the sheer versatility of Opeth's musicians, most particularly their drummer, MartÝn Lˇpez. Lˇpez has mastered a wonderful softer style now that is very much like a session musician who has worked with artists including Peter Gabriel and Rick Wright: Manu KatchÚ. KatchÚ, incidentally, is one of my most respected drummers ever; it means a lot for me to compare someone else to him. What distinguishes Lˇpez and KatchÚ both is the cymbal work, and (as it was once called in KatchÚ's case) their "ornamented grooves". As for Lˇpez, he shows off his style wonderfully here, especially in songs like "Windowpane", "In My Time of Need", and "Closure".

Unlike its companion album, Deliverance, Damnation is supremely listenable by itself-- remarkable perhaps exactly because it is so different from their prior work. The use of the Mellotron here is outstanding, to produce those eerie string and choir sounds--the Mellotron works particularly well on the opener, "Windowpane". The next song, "In My Time of Need", has some of the best lyric work on the album even with the strange pacing in their delivery, as well as an amazing drum sequence from about 2:40 to about 3:08 (if you like that, I recommend checking out Rick Wright's album, Broken China, for the drum sequence in the song "Far from the Harbour Wall".). "Death Whispered a Lullaby" is most notable for its vocal harmonies. "Closure" is probably one of the strongest tracks of all on this album; the middle and ending jams make it one of the wildest Opeth songs there is--yet without having to raise the volume to ear-splitting levels! The abrupt ending is absolutely a moment of genius.

"Hope leaves" took a long time to grow on me, I'll admit. But once I realized just how personal and how beautiful it is, I actually came to think very highly of it. "To Rid the Disease" is absolutely haunting, and another lyrical highlight, especially because of the delivery of the line, "I have lost all trust I had in you!" The obsessive, cold piano riff is sure to send a chill down the spine, as well as the final synth chord just left hanging there. "Ending Credits" is pretty, but its main function seems to be to lead into the most experimental Opeth track of all time: "Weakness". This, the softest song of all on Damnation, is best appreciated in a quiet room with headphones; that's the only way to pick up on all the subtle, beautiful things being done with the keyboards.

Don't look down on Damnation simply because it's a "soft" album; rather, I suggest listening to this as a way of appreciating the skill with which the band members approach their instruments. Even if you are not normally a fan of "metal" at all, I highly recommend picking this one up, because otherwise, you will be missing out. Opeth is not a one-trick band, and I think this, more than any other thing they have going for them, will provide them with the true staying power that so many bands lack (especially these days). It's hard to believe Opeth has been releasing albums since 1995--but I think, judging by this, that they are going to be around for a whole lot longer.

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Let me wear my heart on my sleeve: I don't care for the Progressive Metal genre; I usually find frenetic and/or unsubtle 'chopping axes' a real turn off. I should also say that this is the only OPETH album I've heard to date.

This album was a pleasant surprise. I enjoy the music and have absolutely no trouble at all listening to it. Yes, it's guitar-laden music, but not in the way I was expecting. In fact, to the contrary, the music is restrained and lush: laid-back even. Oh, and the music is definitely Progressive Rock. I hear similarities with PORCUPINE TREE (and I promise I formed that impression before reading that Steve Wilson guested) and PINK FLOYD, both bands I like. Another thing I find pleasing is Mikael Akerfeldt's singing. Not only does he have a decent voice but also his singing in English is excellent, with only a slight - and pleasant - hint of an accent as he sometimes almost whispers the lyrics.

The album is a real mix of styles: middle-of-the-road rock, haunting Prog Rock, a bit of jazz here and there, some Arabic rhythms in 'Closure', and, yes, even some heavy axe work in places. To me at least, the album is more of a mood-setter: something I would put on to chill out, and not to listen to intently, despite the melancholy lyrics. The mood of the music is subdued but the lyrics are not so attention-grabbing that I take much notice of them. I like the way that acoustic guitar has been woven into the music, but then I also like the use of electric guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. In fact, the playing on this album is a perfect example of the tenet "sometimes less is more".

My only slight criticism would be that the music is a little samey, perhaps a little unmemorable. But then, why disturb a mood? As to my advice and rating, I am happy to recommend the album to any Prog fan, although I don't think it's essential. If such a thing were possible I'd go with 3.5 stars but will settle for 3 stars (Good, but non-essential). But if you do buy it, I doubt very much you'll regret it.

Review by frenchie
4 stars This is my second review of this album. In my first review i was rather harsh on this album because it had no metal elements. At first i found this disapointing as it only has mellow tracks so i didn't give it much of a chance. I still think that Opeth had a better writing formula on "Blackwater Park", as this album had the perfect balance between mellow and heavy parts.

"Damnation" is a work of beauty, i can barely imagine any other heavy metal band being able to make an album like this, especially a band of such extreme heaviness. Opeth have always dazzled me with their mellow moments as well as their heavy moments, they have so much range and Mikael is one of the best vocalists i have ever heard. Imagine a band like Metallica trying to go for a mellow album like this! 9/10 bands who would try something like this would probably come out with something very poor. Opeth took the dare and produced a beautiful album that is a great example for other metal bands to follow, it shows that a metal band isn't just about heavy riffs and harsh lyrics and vocals.

Some of you hardcore metalheads out there might experience a sense of loss with this album, as i first did, but it is still Opeth at their best and the songs here are very familiar to the mellow moments on their other albums and it really does sound like pure Opeth. It would be really interesting to see how the crowd react to this album live. It is hard to imagine a bunch of metalheads swaying about and singing their hearts out rather than moshing and headbanging.

This album may not be a great intro for the new Opeth fan, I now have all of Opeths albums and i have made some observartions. Firstly, this album sounds a lot better now i have all their albums as it is great to just put on a pure mellow Opeth album inbetween listening to their superb riffs and heavy vocals. This album will sound a lot better if it is one of the last albums you purchase (this was the second album by Opeth that i got, so it didn't sound as good at first). Secondly, this album sounds great when played alongside its bigger brother album, "Deliverance", as it sounds like part two of that album, the mellow side, as if the two were meant to be a double album.

I think the standout tracks on this album are "Windowpane", "Closure", "Death Whispered a Lullaby" and "Ending Credits". The latter being an incredible insturmental with great acoustic and clean guitar work, it sounds similar to Santana's guitar style. "Windowpane" is my favourite track and it is a great way to kick off the album, it has a lush gloomy intro, some excellent vocals and strong guitar soloing. Each track on this album follows similar patterns but explores Opeth's mellow side in different ways. You will not hear one heavy riff on this album.

Damnation shines with originality and will forever remain a classic album. I can't think of any other metal band that have attempted something like this and Opeth have pulled it off fantastically. A worthy purchase, but i advise buying "Blackwater Park", "Deliverance" and "Still Life" first.

PS. You mellotron fans will go nuts over this one!

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After hearing this good album in several occasions, and to see the dramatic change ( good for me ) of Opeth, to be a mystic band with a power metal, to a progressive sound, , encounter influences of king crimson here, but anyway, the album is a good surprise for all the opeth fans, ( and no fans like me ), because the great and beautiful voice of Akerfeldt only shows softly, he doesnt use his powerfull and guttural voice , all Opeth fans will miss that voie, in my particular point of view , is great that voice , but i dont like it nothing, really i hate the songs with guttural voice, ( most of the times that voice we found in metal bands), for me is only noise, mmm... is great for some pieces of any song, but i prefer didnt hear it, well, my point is that this change is good, i dont like really the old opeth, not only for the voice, also musically, is heavier and boring to me, is for that reasons that i desire this album, because is different, and the change is really good, lets talk about the sound, the guitars sound more " prog" and more complex too, in some songs Akerfeldt show us his brilliant technique , and that technique sounds in the album, the songs are tranquil and smooth, and the atmosphere is nice, i think any opeth fan hates this album , but to me is the best . For me is always important the opening song, here we found "windowpane", one of the best songs in the album,a very great opening track, "in my time of need" is the song who sounds like crimson , with the mellotron and a effusive prog sound, " closure" , you find it here on mp3, that song is beautiful, the guitars and the final movement is great, " to rid the disease " is another great song , good to someone, bad for others, but is the flavour of Opeth, the other songs are also good , but i prefer end here, in the last song, " weakness ", the rarely song of Opeth, is very quite, very soft, only the voice of Akerfeldt, and a slow fund of music, i dont call a masterpiece, but this album is very good, a great surprise for me.
Review by Bob Greece
1 stars This album was a total disappointment for me. Opeth decided to put out 2 albums, with one heavy album and one lighter album. Deliverance was the heavy album and was in a similar style to Blackwater Park and almost as good. Upon hearing it, I thought "how could they put out a lighter album than this?" because it contains quite a few light moments. When I heard Damnation, I was shocked. It is an incredibly light album - so light that it doesn't fit into the prog metal category at all. It is painfully light! I gave my copy to a second hand shop because I couldn't bear to keep it.

If you are a prog lover who doesn't normally like prog metal then you might in fact like this album. I like many kinds of prog but I can't stand this album. If you're expecting prog metal from this album then you will be very disappointed.

Review by evenless
5 stars Damnation was my first album of Opeth, recommended to me by someone who also liked Porcupine Tree and Riverside. I fell in love with this album at first spin and it didn't come out of my cd-player for days!

Deliverance and Damnation were both produced by Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and the idea was to create two albums that would be counterparts; meaning one mellow album and one heavy album. Deliverance would be the heavy one. SW once said in an interview (on the Lamentations dvd) that he thought he could especially be of great help on the mellow album Damnation. I think he was right.

Okay, maybe some hardcore head banging Opeth fans weren't pleased to hear that even Opeth had a "mellow-side" to them. However, why does all music have to fit in boxes and shouldn't bands or artists explore their limits and different styles? I think that's what PROGRESSIVE music is all about!

You could also put it like Mikael Akerfeldt put it: what's wrong with people other than Opeth fans start to listen to the band because of this mellow album? I got interest in this album myself because it was recommended to me by a Porcupine Tree fan, like myself. This album literally blew me away and I couldn't help it just to push the "repeat all" button and listening to it over and over again! And after liking Damnation so much I also purchased Blackwater Park and Deliverance. Musically all great stuff, but personally the "growling" of Mikael is not really my cup of tea. I just keep wondering why a singer with such a great voice prefers to use his "cookie monster vocals" rather than his "clean vocals". As I learned that there's many "clean vocals" again on their latest album Ghost reveries so I also decided to buy this one. Just waiting for it to arrive.

Okay, enough about the general Opeth stuff! Lets get back to Damnation. Great album from track 1 to 8. Or should I say 1 to 7, because actually I find track 8 Weakness a bit strange. My personal favourite tracks definitely are the album opener Windowpane and the tracks In my time of need , Hope leaves , To Rid The Disease and the SW track Death Whispered a Lullaby . But actually it's only a question of good, better, best, because all tracks are really worth it!

Funny thing to me is that it seems that Steven Wilson gets the best out of Opeth's "mellow part" while SW himself is moving from the mellow stuff towards the heavier side in his band Porcupine Tree. E.g. "Deadwing" is quite a bit heavier than "The sky moves sideways", "Signify" or "In absentia". Why is this? Maybe due to the collaboration with Opeth? Who knows! Only thing that matters is that they were able to do well without each other, but they are doing GREAT together! Enjoy Opeth and Porcupine Tree!

To me this album is essentiall: a masterpiece of progressive music!

Review by Vanwarp
4 stars Over the years, I have always considered Opeth's music different from the norm. They have always been considered as one of the most creative and innovative death metal bands in the world. But with Damnation, the listener is introduced to the tenderhearted creative side of the band. Although Opeth have always included acoustic guitar interludes in their music, the band has chosen this time to take this approach a step further and have created a very mild and smooth album, poignant but never harsh or brutal. Standard song arrangements with progressive influences and very subtle orchestrations are used throughout the album.

In fact, the whole album is easy on the ears. Meandering lead guitar work, more prominent strong bass lines than ever before, subtle and interesting instruments such as a mellotron, a grand piano and other keys with 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars leading the way. Sometimes longing and occasionally haunting but Damnation is always interesting and a very enjoyable listen from beginning to end.

As always, Mikael Akerfeldt's lyrics are creative, unvaryingly deep emotional run of the mill stuff.

Sample Lyrics to WINDOWPANE:

"There is deep prejudice in me Outshines all reason inside Given dreams all ridden with pain And projected unto the last"

If you listen to this album and are expecting the heavy parts to kick in at some point and time, you will be greatly disappointed...for remember, this is a non-metal progressive album by a progressive death metal band!

It is a rare accomplishment for any band to perform very well from one extreme to the next - Damnation contains not one growl, not one heavy riff. Truly amazing work!

Don't take my word for it, just listen to this fine work of art for yourself and experience what I and many others have said and how truly wonderful it is to sit through this album from beginning to end.

One final thought. The band originally intended to release a double CD with both DELIVERANCE and DAMNATION being recorded at the same time. But, "someone" made a decision to release them separately; dividing what I believe could have been a masterpiece in progressive music. Instead, we got two very different albums. One could easily fathom that Opeth "delivered" us with their very heavy album DELIVERANCE and then in contrast offered the nations of the world a "damn" good mellow album...

Review by Zitro
3 stars 3.4 stars

Do you like Opeth's soft side? Do you cringe while hearing Mikael's growls? you may like this.

On Damnation, Opeth focused entirely on producing a mellow album without growls, and without heavy riffing. Also, Opeth has done well and managed to create a solid album without those 2 things that are essential to their classic sound. Steve Wilson being a guest must have influenced the band, and you could hear many influences of Porcupine Tree here. Not to forget, Steve Wilson plays keyboards (mainly mellotrons). This new instrument helps the music become more powerful and atmospheric. It is obvious that Opeth's music benefits from it. Therefore, they brought a keyboardist for their next album "Ghost Reveries".

This laid back album is quite good for background music. However, while not really prog, it reveals more things as your repeatedly listen to it. For example, Death Whispered a Lullaby. Sure, it has a simple melody, but check out the instrumentation in the background and the chaotic ending. The song that throws prog in your face has to be Closure. The complete sample is in this page, so you should check it out. Sadly, you could confuse it with a porcupine tree since the influences are just too obvious (hear those vocals before the instruments kick in, isn't that Wilson singing?). When the instrumental section begins, it stuns you with its unusual guitar line, background keyboards, and outstanding percussion (don't forget the bass either!). IT suddently stops and a very beautiful acoustic short part takes over until another unusual instrumental section finishes the piece.

IF you think the whole album would be like "closure", you might be disappointed since that one is the strongest song on this album, and its heavier than the other songs. However, I should add that the closer "Weakness" is a brilliant subdued song with a lot of emotion to it. If you are looking for a soft rock record heavily emphasized on acoustic guitars, you might like this. However, this is not a good place to start an Opeth discography as this album doesn't have some of their most important elements: dynamics, growling, metal, and being prog.

Highlights: Death Whispered a lullaby, Closure, Weakness Let Downs: The instrumental song, In My Time of Need.

My Grade: C+

Review by Marc Baum
4 stars Clearly, Opeth are the type of band that forces a reaction from the listener. Nothing more, and nothing less. "Damnation" proves nothing else in that it causes no exception to this theory in that one either hates them or loves them. Mikael Akerfeldt was inspired by a good friend of his from Katatonia to release a sort of 2-part album, and the idea then became the thoughtful, yet brutal "Deliverance", and the sensitive, dismal "Damnation".

Opeth's "Damnation" is a one-off album. Ok, we got that little detail out of the way. This isn't meant to sound like Opeth at all. If you know ANYTHING about this band, it should be that Mikael Akerfeldt absolutely worships the psychedelia movement of the 70s, and most importantly, Camel.

Listening to this album, you get that old Yes feeling. Sadly, this album lacks the acoustic guitars that Opeth has favored in their clean songs in the past, choosing a clean electric guitar for most of the songs. But even then, the album is just superbly done. Everything you expect to find in an album of this genre is there: the amazingly clean and melodic vocals, the soft, clean guitar tone, progressive drumming, and of course, the vocal harmonies that made the genre what it was. It's all there, and this effort just goes on to prove how well rounded the musicians in this band are.

As for the individual songs, I tend to favor the middle of the album, from tracks 3- 6. "Closure" stands out for me, in part because of that wicked ending section, in which that guitar effect makes it sound like three guitars being played, and the tamboril being played in the background adds more percussion and acoustic tones to the whole thing. It's great, and I know many people that were usually turned off by Opeth were giving them a try after this album, and not just this one ;). I also enjoy the song "To Rid the Disease", which is written and performed in a way so it sounds like the moment is morosely hopeless. I also think it's the first time I've ever clearly heard Martin Mendez's bass playing in an Opeth record. O_o

The other songs on the album range from decent to good. "Death Whispered a Lullaby" and "Hope Leaves" have some pretty good lyrics to them, and Mikael's voice on the chorus of "Hope Leaves" is just great. I'm not too wild about "Windowpane" or "In My Time of Need", but I'll give IMTN credit for having the most distinguishable acoustic guitars along with Closure. The track "Ending Credits" is a pretty nifty instrumental, and Mikael wasn't kidding when he said on the Lamentations DVD that they "ripped off" Camel. The influence is there, and I think it sounds great. The only song that should have not made it is "Weakness", and it's probably why I didn't give this album a higher score. The keyboards aren't very good for this track, and it just seems very rushed. Maybe a little more effort and it could have been better.

All in all, most metalheads hate this record. Fine, I don't care. They are truly missing out. People that actually enjoy different types of music besides metal can appreciate this album. Enjoy it for what it is folks. It's not meant to be compared to Morningrise, Hearse, or Still Life. This one is for you prog people, but don't have too high expectations on it, since it's lacking the variety/alternations of Opeth's other material.

album rating: 7.5/10 points = 76 % on MPV scale = 4/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Review by The Crow
5 stars Well, well, well...

"Damnation" was the second album I heard from Opeth, after "Deliverance"... At this time, I was a fan of the "Deliverance" sound, growls and strong guitars, so when I bought "Damnation" and listned it for the first time, I was a little dissapointed... Too soft, too slow, too boring... Before hearing it, I was aware of the difference with "Deliverance", the ambition of the band of releasing two completely different albums... But the surprise wasn't smaller.

Nevertheless, with a deeper listening, my vision of "Damnation" changed completely... This is the most special Opeth's album, and a true masterpiece for itself... "Deliverance" is the evil and anger, "Damnation" is the melancholy and sadness. The predominant acoustic guitars's sound is maybe the best I've never heard, along with the warm bass, the great jazzy drums (I will miss Martin Lˇpez so much in this band...), and the precious work of keyboards and mellotron by Steve Wilson. After the first Steve Wilson's production with Opeth in "Blackwater Park", he made a work even better with "Deliverance", but the real impressive work of production is "Damnation"... The details and deepness of this music is marvellous, and really really catchy after a few listenings... When you hear this album, the 70's years come to your mind, with all their magic.

Before "Damantion", Opeth made great acoustic tracks like Face of Melinda, Benighted, Harvest, To bid you Farewell... But nothing really comparable to the greatness, personality and melancholy of "Damantion". With "Blackwater Park" they learned how to get a great sound in acoustics, and with "Damantion" the learned how to use this sound to make the most impressive collection of acoustic songs of the last years...

Conclusion: the most special Opeth album, a great exception in their career... But really really enjoyable. If you don't like Opeth because their growls and very heavy guitars, then try "Damantion", because you will be surprised... Strongly recommended for Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and the 70's melancholic progressive rock lovers. A beautiful masterpiece...

Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars The best place to start for those who do not like metal, and wish to get into the band Opeth, is here, at Damnation.

This is not typical in your face Opeth. This is some laid back textured Opeth, with some of Martin Lopez's best drumming. Highlights here are Windowpane through To Rid the Disease, with the last tracks being more on the yawner side. The album has the sounds of one right out of the 70's, and the textures here are unlike anything on Opeth's previous work.

Closure really shines here, one of Opeth's most underrated tracks.

Good for those looking to get into the band Opeth or for those looking for something a bit more relaxing from typical Progressive metal.

Review by imoeng
4 stars Damnation

This is Opeth seventh album and was released in 2003. In the making of this album, Steve Wilson from Porcupine Tree, was involved, since Blackwater Park. The major thing about this album is the vocal style from Mikael Akerfeldt, which is totally different with other Opeth's albums. No growling.

For those of you who are new to Opeth, here is litte information. Opeth is a band which has a unique musical style, to combine a death metal with softer progressive rock, most of the time, these elements fused in a song. So basically, sometimes a song can have a death metal style with growling vocal, while at the same time, the style changes to softer. I believe this is the main character of Opeth, which is Akerfeldt's vocal style. His vocal sound, undoubtedly, is one of the best in progressive metal music. His growling vocal is just great, jaw-dropping growl, while his clean vocal is just amazing, deep and just fit the songs perfectly.

Actually this is my fifth Opeth's album, after Ghost Reveries, My Arms Your Hearse, Still Life and Blackwater Park. Honestly I prefer their other albums with a mix of death metal and softer rock. Nevertheless, this is an amazing album, has a very deep emotion and great song compositions.

The great thing about this album is, although they offered a much softer album, the songs are not that poppish and simple. They still added some progressive elements and beautiful solos to complement the songs. Also, though the songs are mellow, Opeth still brought a dark and mysterious concept; mostly about desperation and death (the CD cover is somewhat scary). But yeah, the best thing is the emotion and feeling on each song, through the great songwriting and Akerfeldt's great vocal.

For the individual songs, my favorite track is In My Time Of Need, because the feeling of the song is just overwhelming. Moreover, the chorus, "And I should contemplate this change, to ease the pain." After that the song's feeling changes at the bridge part, becoming darker with a simple but nice guitar solo. Too bad that Opeth didn't offer a hard rock song; I mean, the songs in this album are great, not that death metal, not that mellow. However I expect something heavier than this, more distorted guitar and dynamic drum riffs. It is possibly because I bought other Opeth's album first, then this album. So probably I already like Opeth's growling death metal style as it is. The other thing about individual song is the second last song, Ending Credits, which is an instrumental song (its not so Opeth typical). The song is very nice, calming and very cool. The background of the song is an acoustic guitar sound with a softer rock drum style. This instrumental song has the "verse chorus verse chorus bridge" structure, not really showcases Peter Lindgren's skills, as its just an "ending credits".

So in the end, I would probably give four stars, because I am actually comparing this album to other Opeth's albums. What this album need is just a slight increase in the musical style, need heavier rock, and although I know this album was intended to have a softer style than the usual Opeth. Oh, about you, the potential listeners, I don't think this is a really good album to start with Opeth, as this album is not the 100% Opeth. If you want to like a band, or just listen to a band, I reckon its better to listen to the real style first, and then go to the second style of the band, just like Damnation by Opeth.

Listen To Music, Not War!!!

Review by Tristan Mulders
4 stars Opeth - Damnation

In 2003 metal band Opeth released their first full non-metal album. I can think of only one word to describe this album: poetic.

Most compositions can be compared o the mellow tracks on their previous albums, but all tracks included here are far more thought-out and more complex than any of those.

One of Opeth's trademarks is their mix of grunt vocals and mesmerising, beautiful clean vocals by Mikael ─kerfeldt. Although none of the grunt vocals were included here (you'll have to listen to this album's counterpart "Deliverance" if you want to hear metal), this album still feels as a true Opeth album. Perhaps it is the Porcupine Tree-esque soundscapes that Opeth has managed to incorporate in their music over the last few years that makes it all so familiar? Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield) being the band's producer for the last set of albums as well as a guest musician, a friend and maybe even more important: an inspiration, clearly effected the band's output. and for the better I think.

I have listened to this album many times; it is one of those chilled-out albums which one can listen to regardless the time of day or the mood he or she is in. The overall tone is melancholic and laidback, which might be a bit tricky on first listen for prog music fans, because it does not come across as highly complex music, but when you give it a more in-dept listen, you'll hear layers of sounds that were sort of inaudible at first. You'll even notice that although it is a mostly acoustic album, i.e. the 'feeling' of the album comes closer to acoustic rock such as ANTIMATTER's "Planetary Confinement" album, there still are several metal elements included here. For instance Martin Lopez's drumming on the track Closure is pretty heavy compared to the rest of the composition of the song, well maybe even heavier than any of the other drum patterns on the album. Or what about the fairly aggressive guitar solo's in the song Death whispered a lullaby (which was co written by Steven Wilson)?

In combination with the album's counterpart "Deliverance" this sums up what Opeth stand for nowadays and if you listen carefully to both albums, you'll see what triggered the perfect balance of pure metal vs. space rock and prog on Opeth's most up to date album: 2005's "Ghost Reveries".

Oh and as I said in the introduction to this review, I cannot help but notice the poetry. each of the songs sounds melancholic and mostly as if someone is in some sort of mental agony. But instead of showing these emotions by composing heavy music to comfort the feeling, these Swedish musicians decided to show it via beautiful soundscapes with gentle melodies and vocals. Just take one look at the lyrics of the songs and you cannot help but notice that ─kerfeldt has a thing for writing in a cryptic and mysterious fashion, but perhaps even more important: his words work as the perfect background for this gloomy 45 min long trip.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album does a precision strike to my sense of style matching it perfectly. The songs are full of autumn melancholy, with layers of nostalgic Mellotron shades added to tone the canvas by the guest musician Steve Wilson. There are no distortions in the guitars except for some solos, and there are some acoustic riffs here too. Also the growling vocal style is changed here to more tender and even feminine singing style. Rhythms are peaceful but with interesting unconventional twists and the depressive moods are expressed with more delicate manner, than giving the all possible speed for the double bass drums.

I once noticed an inlay card of some record by Opeth, and I saw there greetings towards Anekdoten and Landberk in it. "Damnation" proves that the players of Opeth liked their stuff so much, that they even ventured themselves to the musical realm of anxiety and melancholy presented by those records. In addition of these bands which poured their influence from classic King Crimson, there are also some hints of more recent incarnations of that band to be heard in this release, like the symmetrical vocal arrangements of the second song, which resemble Adrian Belew's artistic style. As this album sounds very much like the records of this decade by the bands which started Swedish Mellotron renaissance in the 1990's, the music could be stated as not being very original. Still many heavy metal bands for example, which copy the style of some respected classic records, can be cherished as they carry forward a valued style, and therefore this originality issue doesn't lower the status of this release in my opinion. On the contradictory, I think that this release honors the artistic goals of albums like "Symphonic Holocaust" and "From Within", and adds more wonderful material to the genre (Swedish Mellotron melancholy?).

I have not heard the other works of this band, so I won't evaluate this music by comparing them to their career, but as an individual release. I'll think I check out other metal releases of this band too, but this kind of softer music is more easier to listen for me, as in my opinion consumption of chaotic music requires a manic state of mind, or an ability of not to empathize on the music, a skill which I lack.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Opeth goes here with a very melancholic lite progressive rock album. Musically, the good moments are followed/preceeded by irritating ones: the album is thus unequal. Clearly reminding Porcupine Tree, Damnation is more acoustic and less keyboards-oriented: some good floating mellotron combined with acoustic guitar parts might remind you the early King Crimson, especially "To rid the disease". Damnation is pretty acoustic, as reveals the omnipresent sophisticated acoustic guitar, which is a strong point on this record. As long as the guitar stays acoustic, everything is all right; but when the electric guitar appears, then it often becomes quite unpleasant and irritating: the electric guitar sound is many times unrefined, VERY psychedelic and gross, having an almost grunge sound; however, I must admit the original electric guitar gives the necessary personality to Opeth in order to sound unique. The lead vocals are quite soothing but depressing too, reminding John Wetton's voice; on the other hand, I do not like when the singer uses a modified marginal voice, which is a very common technique used on some of the Porcupine Tree's albums. The drums do a very good job, and the bass is decent. Needless to say Damnation is not a party album.
Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars This is haunting, powerful music. Certainly the fact 5 of the 8 tracks have mellotron on them helps with the mood, and Steven Wilson's participation can't be underestimated.

Stand outs for me are "Windowpane", "In My Time Of Need", "Death Whispered Lullaby" and "To Rid The Disease". Actually they are all very good. Steven plays piano, mellotron and does backing vocals, he also wrote "Death Whispered Lullaby", so the PORCUPINE TREE vibe is evident but not that obvious except for maybe on "In My Time Of Need".

I love the guitar/drum intro in the opener "Windowpane", and the mellotron is great, followed by a beautiful guitar melody. "In My Time of Need" has mechanical-like vocals that are followed by his normal but amazing vocals as the mellotron comes in. Nice. "Death Whispered Lullaby" features haunting music with the lyrics to match. Nice outbreak of guitar 5 minutes in. "Closure" has an Eastern sound to it times with tribal like drumming.

"Hope Leaves" is a sad, reflective song. "To Rid The Disease" is great, with mellotron and piano standing out. "Ending Credits" is an uplifting instrumental, while "Weakness" as the title suggests features faint, processed vocals, and lyrics that are heartbreaking, like "Gave away your one and only heart, a gift to tear apart". This cd sort of became my soundtrack for my 2 week trip to Florida in the winter of 2007. So it will no doubt bring back those special memories everytime I play it.

For me this is a masterpiece, and anyone who is into ANATHEMA and melancholic music needs to check this amazing record out.

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars So here I boldly go, in my never-ending quest to discover the "Prog" in Prog Metal.

Trouble is, the more "Prog Metal" I hear, the less I believe that I will actually find any "Prog" - and to date, Opeth have consistently failed to deliver.

Technical metal is not the same as Progressive Rock - it is not enough to produce riffs in time signatures that aren't 3 or 4/4, and it is not enough to include acoustic passages and Mellotrons - especially when the acoustic passages tend to be simple riffs broken down into arpeggios rather than intricate harmonic progressions utilising interesting melodies and arragements.

See how I don't even mention "Cookies" here...

So my expectations were not high when I tentatively pressed play - how many more groans could a metal band hyped up as somehow "Prog" elicit from this reviewer?

The opening bars - and, indeed, the rest of of Windowpane came as a surprise, therefore... but not for long. See, the sound canvas is set up nicely - there's a great proggy feel to the chord progression, in the acoustic feel and non 4/4 time sig... but hang on! It's repeated verbatim - it's not a progression, it's a bleedin' metal riff!

The change at 34 seconds is to another riff in a different key, later joined by a mellotron, and a Latimer-esque lead line at 1:11.

The guys are really trying hard to be prog - you've got to give them that. Trouble is, the underlying material is pure metal - repeated riffs.

The simple underlying structure is the biggest giveaway - this is not a spontaneously developing piece of prog rock, this is a standard rock song done inna prog-rock stylee.

After the standard A-B-A-B, the bridge - or rather a bridgette - kicks in nice and predictably around 2:24. It's an interesting-ish bridge, but everything starts falling into sections.

The bridge proper starts at 3:48 - but doesn't feel like it's developed from the previous material. This is a new idea (a really good one, but still, a new idea) that's been tacked on. The textures are superb - if somewhat repetitive - but then that's metal for you.

It matters not a jot that there are no metal sounds or textures - metal is as metal does, even when it's trying to be something else. Metal bands since Blue Cheer have been trying very hard to demonstrate to the world that they are not Blue Cheer; While they take pleasure in turning the amps up to 11, the inevitable quiet section must be included in at least a few pieces.

What a metal band typically fails to comprehend is the spontaneous and developmental nature of Progressive Rock - metal musicians only hear the superficial - and that is exactly what this piece is. Superficially prog, because it sounds a bit like it - but underneath, it's simple repetition with little direction.

It is very different to what I was expecting from Opeth - and it shows great restraint, but mostly, it shows the same desire as I explained above - it's metal showing its mellowest side. A step in the right direction, but still not Prog. Sorry.

Rather than bother dissecting everything else on the album, as I prefer to listen to "honest" music than metal pretending to be Prog - or anything pretending to be something that it's not, I'll just flick through some of the other reviews and pick out the two "proggiest" tracks to analyse.

Bear with me a moment... :o)


Here we go;

Sheesh! You Opeth fans make this difficult; The most bigged-up tracks are "Windowpane", "Closure", "Death Whispered a Lullaby" "Ending Credits" and "Weakness".

"Windowpane" is most mentioned, and I've just done that, so I'll go with "Closure", and "Ending Credits".

"Closure" begins with a familiar CSN style - particularly from the acoustic guitar's use of a harmonic pedal, but CSN fans will note that the harmonies are rather simple and only imply the greatness of the aforementioned trio.

The acoustic guitar's riff becomes more complex - but since it's repeated verbatim, we can forget any notions of real prog... funny thing is, so far, I haven't even mentioned the vocals apart from my comment about the harmony.

The vocals are just there really - part of the texture, and possibly the most honest thing about this entire album. Trouble is, they're bland. The reason for this, as far as I can make out, is the lyrics. You can't really sing lyrics like that and expect anyone to believe that they mean anything to you - hence that comes out in the voice. They're just lyrics because the song needs lyrics.

You can read into them what you like - that is what lyrics are for, but the music doesn't express anything in them - unlike, say, "The Knife" by Genesis, in which lyrics and music are inextricably intertwined. Because the lyrics of "The Knife" are far-reaching, way beyond the surface legend that is being related, Gabriel puts all manner of significance into each prhase - each word breathes soul.

However, consider this:

"Heal myself - a feather on my heart Look inside - there never was a start Peel myself - dispose of severed skin All subsides - around me and within There's nothing painful in this There's no upheaval Redemption for my pathos All sins undone Awaiting word on what's to come In helpless prayers a hope lives on 'Cause I've come clean, I've forgotten what I promised In the rays of the sun, I am longing for the darkness"

...well, they've got to mean something to someone, I guess - but I'd be embarrassed to sing them and keep them low-key as well - listen to the treatment of the word "pathos"; that's not accent.

Around 1:06, a noodly (but repetitive) riff is picked up. Nice flavour brought about by use of modes, invoking a kind of Eastern, psychedelia flavour, and good driving drums. There are other nice textural goodies in here - drifing synth pads, Floydian echoing guitar stabs, joined by heavy power chords around 2:20. This feels a bit more like prog - but is a minute and-a-quarter jam around a single riff - psychedelic rock, in other words.

Section A is picked up again, then we have a new jam riff. It's very nice, texturally, but altogether too calculated and devoid of actual feeling. There is no actual development, as we would expect from progressive rock - and the piece ends.

OK, on to Weakness.

Again, this starts well, with lazy echoing Vibe-type synth sounds.

Before I begin to analyse the music, though, I notice that the music makes me feel very weary - I just want to switch it off and feel the energy return.

This kinda interferes with my analytical process - but it's not hard to hear the use of simple, repetitive phrases, unimaginative melodies based on notes that move in steps - with just the odd intervallic leap.

I've listened to 3 minutes of this now, and the lyrics sing out "Save me, save me" - so I switch off, to save my sanity.

A few things to take out of this;

1) It's demonstrably not Prog. 2) I am indifferent to most of what I've heard, as there's nothing in the music that creates any energy in me - or any emotional reaction that interferes with my intellectual processing, with the notable exception of the last track, "Weakness". 3) In art, if you can provoke a reaction in your audience then you're doing your job as an artist. 4) However, my reaction to the last track was to avoid the music altogether - I doubt I'll ever listen to another Opeth album. The point of getting a reaction is to be talked about and thus promote your music - but I won't even mention this album to my buddies. 5) If this is your bag, then great - but don't come to a Progressive Rock site telling everyone how great and proggy it is - it demonstrably isn't proggy; although you may like the music tremendously. 6) It does sound very nice in many places - but not in the final track.

My recommendation to Prog fans?

Avoid, unless you love squeaky-clean digital production above intrinsic and artistic musical values.


Review by 1800iareyay
3 stars Following the critic and fan hit Blackwater Park, Akerfeldt decided to take the two defining aspects of Opeth's sound, the death metal and the soft, jazzy progressive, and separate them into two album, Deliverance and Damnation. Damnation represents the mellow half of Opeth. It takes quite a few cues from Porcupine Tree frontman Steve Wilson, who produced this, Deliverance, and Blackwater Park. Mikael's haunting clean vocals combine with Wilson's knack for layering many simple sounds into a complex whole.

This is usually pointed to as the album to get people who don't like death metal into Opeth, and it is indeed good for that. However, I just can't get into this album the way I can get into other Opeth records. I must confess I've never been a fan of bands carving their sound into two albums (Ayreon did this with Universal Migrator). Now, the songs on Damnation are at the very least enjoyable, and the morose atmosphere that is present on all Opeth records has moved from the background to the fore. Goth rockers could never hope to achieve the state of depression this album oozes. However, I feel that to divide the band's sound robs them of their uniqueness. The masterful combination of ethereal, haunting Gothic misery and blistering death metal (Akerfeldt has hands down the best voice in death metal, and that's before you add his wonderful clean vocals) is what put Opeth at the top of the modern prog heap with Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater.

Damnation is by no means a bad album. It captures a feeling of emptiness that no silly emo album could ever come close to duplicating. However, I feel that had the sounds of Deliverance and Damnation been combined, th result would likely have been Opeth's best album. Instead, we got two very good albums. Not a bad trade-off, but I'd still take the one masterpiece. As has been said, this is the best album to introduce critics of death metal to the mighty Opeth, but it's hardly representative of the rest of their catalog, so there's a risk people won't really get into the band. Still, if you want some of the most atmospheric music on the planet, look no further.

Grade: C+

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars A welcome change sees the metal giants experimenting exclusively with the delicate sounds they only usually only dabble with, creating a melancholy delight featuring sweeping textures, acoustic instrumentals and soft vocals.

Shocking to fans of the band's heavy sound maybe, but more than likely to attract many more than it alienates. This was my first Opeth album, and had I not been hooked on Akerfeldt's smooth voice and the band's soft sound-- I would have never dared try their heavy. Thus, Damnation is something of a crossover release, and I highly recommend it to any coming from outside the metal sphere. It's sound is undeniably beautiful, and fans of any sort of melancholic music will find a lot to enjoy, especially in Mikael's emotive vocal deliveries. That being said, "Damnation" is not without its problems, and after comparing it to Opeth's heavy works I will say that it does not measure up to the level of craftsmanship seen therein. Still, few bands can make an album so different and still have it be this successful.

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

Review by russellk
4 stars This short record is simply beautiful. So beautiful it makes me cry. Not because of the emotion the songs engender, but because of the missed opportunity. OPETH have put together an entire record of the type of 'halfway' songs that have characterised their albums, the best example of which is 'Harvest' from 'Blackwater Park'. No multi-layered distorted riffs, no growling vocals. The result is a record that sounds like a cross between a mid-70S prog outfit and PORCUPINE TREE. Imagine the best of these songs combined with the three or four best from 'Deliverance', OPETH's previous album. With the miracle of the digital playlist, you can make it happen. But you shouldn't have had to ...

There's only one snag: choosing the best songs off this album. 'Windowpane' has to be one of them, with the mellotron and the GILMOUR-esque guitar wafting us along on a breath of cool 70's prog air. 'In My Time of Need' isn't quite as good, but it does have a splendid KING CRIMSON balladesque feel. It really could have featured on an early KC album. 'Death Whispered a Lullaby', a collaboration with STEVEN WILSON of PORCUPINE TREE and NO-MAN fame, is another beauty, with quite a PAUL MCCARTNEY vibe in he chorus. Beautiful. Oh dear; which track to leave out of our 'Damnliverance' compilation?

And it is at about this point I wish there were a few riff-laden meat-slab ten-minute epics to separate these tracks. Listening to 'Deliverance' and 'Damnation' separately is like being forced to eat all your meat for lunch and your veggies for dinner. Or like being given an exquisitely crafted mechanical toy for Christmas and having to wait until your birthday to get the batteries. I'm greedy: I want the whole package.

So it goes. Lovely acoustic work, soaring electric guitar, lovely drum fills and runs with no sign of the double-kick, and beautiful vocal harmonies. No weakness here: even the last track has its place, closing a gentle album in the most gentle fashion. OPETH have created - well, a frustrating half of a great album. I am forced to tip my intellectual hat to their creative brilliance, but my heart is not stirred by this foolish record company decision.

Make your own genuine OPETH album from the best of their 2002/3 work. Call it 'Damnliverance' or 'Denation'. It's worth the effort.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars Morose, melancholy, and extremely mellow: who knew Opeth had it in them? Devotees surely knew of their softer side, but the addition of more keys and mellotron is certainly surprising. Indeed, this may be some of the most effective mellotron use since the glory days of symphonic prog thirty-plus years ago. Bands often need to experiment with albums that veer from the rest of their discography, but few produce results for the listener that are as captivating as this piece. So from the sense of Opeth's previous output, Damnation is definitely progressive.

I'm not usually one to shy away immediately from Opeth's intense metal, but I often become a bit annoyed by the extremity of the contrasts. I know that's also one of their unique strengths, but I just prefer not to have to adjust my volume constantly. However, this album is consistent if nothing else: it has a very sinister, restrained intensity and evocativeness that is present in each of the songs. If you are in a morose mood and need music to match, Damnation will do the trick every time.

Highlights include Windowpane, In My Time of Need, Death Whispered in a Lullaby, Closure, To Rid the Disease, and Ending Credits. The first five are fairly formulaic, but it's a tried-and-true prog format, and one that I prefer (and also the kind of composition that Opeth produces less frequently on other albums). Basically, soft vocals and guitar introduce the song, which eventually lead to absolutely gorgeous choruses awash with mellotron. Specific highlights for me include the eerie middle instrumental of Windowpane, the hauntingly beautiful chorus of In My Time of Need, the spacey guitar freakout to close Lullaby, and the possibly Arabic-influenced conclusion of Closure. Let's also not forget Ending Credits: beautiful guitar harmony over floating mellotron. It seems to simple, yet sounds so good. I always wonder why I can't find more music like this in general.

Lowlights include Hope Leaves and Weakness, which are mellow throughout and really fail to go anywhere in my opinion. They are not bad by any measure--just a bit boring.

I for one am thrilled that Opeth released this albums. Hardcore fans may not feel the same way. My appreciation for Opeth's talent (especially in song-writing and creativity) went up considerably from this album, and it has also helped me to appreciate their harder work more than I otherwise would have.

Review by progrules
3 stars This is the first out of a threesome reviews of Opeth albums I will do right now. I bought three of their albums recently because they were for sale and in fact it's the only reason why I bought them. Not out of disrespect for the band but because I already knew they were not my cup of tea. This was thus a great opportunity to give them a sort of last chance because well you never know do you ?

And in fact I'm glad I did it because it gave me a bitter insight in what the band is really about. The only reference I had were two songs I knew thanks to (once again) progarchives and they were Closure from this album and The Drapery falls from Blackwater Park. I thought for a long time that I knew enough and would never buy albums of this band. But because the sale was on and the gnawing thought that maybe I hadn't been quite fair to them made me decide to buy the already mentioned albums as well as Deliverance.

Now about this one. I found out that Opeth was a pretty rough metal band with grunts and the other expectable features but with this album they (for once ?) took a totally different road, namely the quiet road and I have to say they really surprised me here. I don't understand why a band chooses for grunts if they have such a great vocalist in their band. Because what Mikael Akerfeldt shows on this album is of high quality. And that doesn't just go for the vocals, also the instrumentalists handle the quiet repertoire very well.

The album starts with a few very nice tracks, nice melodies, beautiful ballads. It's great stuff actually and even though I don't know all their albums and still don't intend to buy anymore after the mentioned three I still dare to maintain that this has to be the best album in their career. Unless of course they made another album with just great ballad-like songs but I don't think they did. After the first three songs comes Closure, the one I already knew and didn't like very much. But who would have thought it was the least track of the album ? I didn't but I'm glad I changed my mind as I described.

The last 4 songs are not as good as the first three but still somewhat better than Closure so that my final verdict is even going to be difficult choice between 3 and 4 stars. After a bit of calculation by rating track by track I come to an average of 3,41 so I'm afraid I will have to round it down to three. Still a great effort by Opeth !

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Damnation is a beautifully crafted melancholy Gothic work that has some of the best of the mellower side of Opeth. The influence from Porcupine Tree is evident as there is a lot of tracks that are a similar style due to Wilson's input. The excellent Windowpane starts the album on a positive note, merging very quiet vocals and virtuoso guitar riffing.

In My Time Of Need is my favourite track on the album that features a melody that really captivates the listener.

Death Whispered A Lullaby is another excellent track that is brooding and full of emotive lyrics.

Other highlights include To Rid The Disease and Weakness.

Overall this is the best Opeth I have heard so far and without the death metal vocalisations and chugging metal riffs, it is a pleasant surprise, and well sung and played. A brave move for a death metal band to record this, but it so masterfully produced, it is captivating from beginning to end.

Review by sleeper
3 stars An unusual album this, for the type of band, and very much unique in Opeth's discography. Its not uncommon for Death and Black Metal bands to take a one time only step away from their standard fair and create an acoustic, or at least none-metal, album. For many of the Scandinavian bands they usual way of going about this is to make an album of folk songs reflecting their regions musical heritage. In Opeths case, Akerfeldt decided that following some of the bands main influences in Progressive Rock would make for a far more interesting take on the album.

And so it is that as the albums opening track, Windowpane, comes to a close you can tangibly feel the influence of Camel and Pink Floyd here in the music, whilst it still tries to maintain an distinctly Opeth like mood to the album. To a point, its also been successful at this, keeping a constantly melancholic, even maudlin, atmosphere to the music reminiscent of the excellent Blackwater Park, though created in a very different way. Different is certainly the operative word here as this is most certainly NOT a metal album. There are no heavy riffs, no crunching guitar work, no frantic double-bass drumming, no speedy bass licks and, shock horror, no growling either. Its that last point that probably will have the most meaning here to anyone that isn't familiar with Opeth because the growls have been a signature part of the bands sound right from the start, but then this was always going to be a more than standard album.

So, how good is the album then? Well, its only a partial success to be honest. Yes, it successfully manages to separate itself from anything the band has done before or since, but you cant help but think why. Opeth are an amazing band because of the sheer contrast between heavy and soft, smooth and sharp, light and dark, and that's missing here. Because of the lack of contrast the constantly maudlin mood never gets let-up on, nor is it ever allowed to make much use of dynamic, all the music is at the same tempo, the same volume and as a result becomes all too bland all to quick. In fact, that's not entirely true, the closing track, Weakness, is particularly slow but that's the only diversion from the norm. Mercifully the songs have been kept short here, with Windowpane the only one to reach past 7 minutes, and this helps keep the album to clock in at only 45 minutes but it still feels like its dragging on too long. The only real problem I have with any one particular song is the closing to Closure, its far too sudden with no stop before Hope Leaves starts, which has a very different tune to it. Its disconcerting, but in a bad way because I cant help but feel that is wrong.

In the end, the music on here isnt bad in small doses, but all together it drags on feels too samey to give it any lasting effect on me, with Windowpain being the only track on here that I could conceivebly listen to more than once a month and like it. Still, its much better than the very disappointing Deliverance.

Review by LiquidEternity
2 stars For a while, this was the only Opeth album I really liked thoroughly. The lack of death growls made it a very tantalizing prospect, in truth.

The only problem is that it's boring.

At least by Opeth standards. Even when their music is repetitive and vague, they at least have two sides of themselves to switch back and forth to and from: metal and not-metal. Here, we have an entire album built of not-metal, utilizing Mikael's wonderful clean voice and the band's softer side. It sounds like the kind of project that more death metal bands should undertake.

But something's missing in all the songs, and it isn't just the metal that's lacking. With the exception of Closure, each of the tracks blend with each other. They don't stand out on their own. Inspiration just seems to have vanished for a little while, inexplicably. Closure itself features some intense tribal sorts of drumming and some catchy vocal harmonies, but in itself it's too choppy and Frankensteined to work like it properly should. I hate to have to say it, but Opeth could have stood to lengthened this track by a fair bit, I think. Smooth out the roughness.

Not a bad album, really. Below par, yes, but enjoyable, and a nice concession to the hordes of would-be fans who love the music but just can't enjoy the growling.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Damnation is the seventh studio album from Swedish progressive extreme metal act Opeth. It┤s a very unique album in Opeth┤s discography as it does not feature heavy parts or death metal growling. It rather showcases the soft, melancholic and mellow side of the bands music. Damnation is a sister album to Opeth┤s previous album Deliverance and it was recorded at the same sessions as Deliverance. Rather than making a double CD the band decided to make one heavy album and one softer album out of the many songs they had recorded ( or maybe it was the record company ?). Producer Steven Wilson contributes with Grand piano, mellotron, Fender Rhodes & backing vocals on Damnation and it seems that it was here that Mikael ┼kerfeldt got the idea to include a keyboard player ( Per Wiberg) to Opeth┤s ranks. He saw the great possibilities of adding new instruments to Opeth┤s sound at this point.

The music on Damnation can be described as taking the softer melodic ideas from Opeth┤s usual songs and turning them into songs themselves, leaving out the heavy parts and death metal growling. As a result the songs on Damnation don┤t have the trademark heavy/ soft approach of the usual Opeth song. I think most songs suffer because of that. The simple melodic ideas generally don┤t seem strong enough to keep my interest for whole songs with a few exceptions. Windowpane and To Rid The Disease are excellent songs with strong melodies and great mellotron and guitar soloing. But the rest of the songs really don┤t make much of an impression on me. They are good and pleasant songs, but nothing special.

Mikael ┼kerfeldt┤s singing is of course beautiful but it doesn┤t help much when the vocal melodies are not more interesting than is the case on Damnation. They should have waited a few years to make an album like this as Mikael ┼kerfeldt is much better at writing melodic and memorable melody lines these days. Just listen to Isolation Years from Ghost Reveries or Coil from Watershed.

The production suits the songs. It┤s organic but still with the clean sound that is Steven Wilson┤s trademark.

As you can probably sense Damnation is not my favorite Opeth album. I do listen to it sometimes but it quickly comes of again. 3 stars is deserved here as Damnation is a quality product ( good production, pleasant songs and great musicianship). It┤s just a bit boring IMO.

Review by Negoba
5 stars This album stands alone among its peers. It changed the rules, it changed perceptions, it caused people to discover music they never would have otherwise listened to.

How many new album sales does Camel have because of this album? How many people who wouldn't touch a death metal album with a ten foot pole went from this album to the rest of Opeth's catalog to open their minds to harsh vocals and the extreme metal realm in general?

Like many, this album was the first I'd ever heard of Opeth. The opening riff of Windowpane which explores 3 different ways to feel 6/8 within 4 measures, yet makes perfect sense, opens the disc and instantly you know you're in for something you've never quite heard before. When Akerfeldt's voice comes in, you ask yourself This is a DEATH metal band???? And as the disc progresses, you hear mournful harmonies, mellotron, multiple rhythmic feels, a little ethnicity. At the time I first heard it, I'd heard nothing like it in anything but early Genesis, and this was certainly distinct from Genesis. I've listened to Camel now too, and though Mikael and the boys show their influences, those bands from the 70's both could not and would not choose to make an album with this much melancholy and darkness.

Sure, Windowpane is overlong, and after the 30th listen there is homogeneity to the album. Other bands have used more and more of Opeth's elements (Borknagar's _Origin_ is an interesting contrast of a death band gone folk). Sure, Steven Wilson is probably the second most important member on this disc. It's not quite Opeth, really, but it's certainly not Porcupine Tree either. The seeds of the disc were sown in Akerfeldt's side project Soksgarden (you can download their VERY Camelish progenitor to To Rid the Disease for free) and the disc is first and foremost his.

And he is perhaps the strongest voice in prog music now, with Wilson as a close second. This is the disc that perhaps started and showcases that fact.

A prog classic, not without flaws. But neither are Foxtrot, Mirage, ITCOTCK, Mindcrime, on and on....

Essential listening for any proggie - 5 stars

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Damnation' - Opeth (7.5/10)

The greatest thing about this prog-rock release from death metal masters Opeth is it's sheer personal approach. This is an album that is a shattering contrast to the band's usually heavy material. For those unfamiliar with the group's work, it might come as a suprise that there is actually no trace of metal, save extreme metal in any of the songs. Instead of longer, more technical compositions, Mikael Akerfeldt conveys his meaning through more conventional outlets, concentrating more on sheer emotion as opposed to 'brutality' or progressiveness, although the progressive elements are certainly evident.

The personality and intimacy comes through in the stripped down feeling of the album. That's not to say that there aren't complex parts in the music (there certainly are) but for a good part of the album, there is more of a focus on bare songwriting as opposed to musical virtuosity. This gives more room for the feeling to shine through, and the resulting effect is breathtaking.

Another evident strength this album has to offer is the sincerity of the music. There are songs here that obviously have great personal meaning to Akerfeldt (for example; the song 'Hope Leaves' is about his grandmother dying) and that's what really makes this album such a gem; a pure uncompromised sense of feeling that is hard to find in progressive music nowadays.

Where the album faults might have even been inevitable. Keeping the music mellow means that alot of the album ends up being more one-tracked then an Opeth album usually is. While alot of the songwriting is top-notch, a few songs ('Death Whispered A Lullaby') could have been tweaked somewhat more to get the best possible outcome.

This is an album where Mikael Akerfeldt really put his heart out on the line. For making such a courageous move, and combining that with songwriting brilliance, and beautiful performances from all members of the band, 'Damnation' deserves no less than to be called 'fantastic.' If it wasn't for it's few small faults, I would have no issue calling it a masterpiece. Beautiful, deep, introspective, and moving beyond words.

Review by J-Man
3 stars This was my introduction to Opeth, and it is a great introduction for people afraid of prog metal. For prog metal fans, this will be a disappointment that should be taken with caution. It is very solid, but is NOT progressive death metal by any means. This is very much regular progressive/space rock. While being very good, the music all has a very similar style, and isn't very complex at all. The electric guitar doesn't have much distortion, and has a pretty clean sound overall. There also isn't very much speed or complexity, but every song does have a great rhythm.

The keyboard tones used here are some of my favorite, and are very cool. The music is pretty tough to describe. It has a Pink Floyd kind of sound with occasional Porcupine Tree sounds (which would make sense because one of their members, Steven Wilson, is on keys).

One of my favorite songs is probably the opener, Windowpane. It has a cool main riff, and has a proggy ending. In My Time of Need has really nice vocals. It has a great beat, and is really good. Death Whispered a Lullaby has a very similar sound as the last two songs. It has a nice acoustic riff with a nice beat. It has a very nice chorus however, and has nice progressions. Closure is kind of cool, but isn't the best song on the album. I do like the bridges, though. Hope Leaves is a really beautiful song that is absolutely incredible. It's amazing what these guys can accomplish in just a four and a half minute song.

To Rid the Disease contains sections that were written to be part of Mikael's side project, Sorskogen. I really like the chorus to this song. Ending Credits is an instrumental piece that has some nice guitar work from Mikael Akerfeldt. Weakness is the darkest song on the album. It's not bad, but isn't a great closer either.

In Conclusion, Damnation is a solid album. It deviates Opeth's typical death metal sound, and has a new sound that Opeth does pretty well. The only problem is that it's lacking in complexity, and the music all sounds too similar. With that said, this is a very good album that still is a frequent guest in my CD player, regardless of its flaws.

3 stars.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Opeth, well what can I say? I only have one album, the object of my review mainly on the wings of the various positive comments and descriptions of their "softer" material and all the Steve Wilson influences (as if that was in any way bad!). Luscious melancholia this definitely is, drenched in pure agony, cleverly presented in a wholly symphonic setting. Akerfeldt is a talented writer, guitarist and singer but the distressing mood certainly increases his already prodigious talent, according to my metal-mates. The entire disc features massive dollops of mellotron bliss, solidly expressive guitar solos and svelte, athletic drumming. What a surprise this is, a roller coaster of barely disguised emotions, wrapped in a shimmering sonic veneer. PT fans will simply take to this as a fabulous outside venture that has the staying power of all the prog classics. The disc commences with a superlative track "Windowpane" titled owner of the innuendo for LSD is a mind-numbing dirge of desperation, screaming for more laced hallucinations as the feisty mellotron drones in vacuous stupor. The vocals are fragile, disappointed at the nihilism of modern life. This highly psychedelic track is closer to the "old" Porcupine Tree feel, at least in spirit with those somber moments of "ennui". The fleeting guitar solo from Peter Lindgren is one of pristine agony, way more subtle than with his usual gig. A sense of enveloping rapture permeates this colossal piece. "In my Time of Need" has a mellotron-driven vocal that will chill your spine, so suave and fleeting in its despairing fragility. Akerfeldt opines disjointedly in the pre-set, his powerful vocals come shining through the haze, with utter poise and presence. Wow! Heavy bliss, I tell you! This grandiose track is a classic melodic symphonic workout that all should witness and shake will quaking abandon, a perfect companion for that inflatable doll swimming in your new pool, exuding the misery of a plastic life while coping with all the pain. "Step out of range and turn away". Drummer Martin Lopez demonstrates the gifted aura of restraint, delicately highlighting the doom with subtlety, while keeping the beat resolvedly in synch. This is pure symphonic heaven, a modern "Epitath" ..2 cuts and 2 styles in, what's next' "Death Whispered a Lullaby" is a spooky diversion into a blending of dissonance and sweeping melodies. A certain feeling of unease becomes more apparent with the vocal-lyric aspect , not a pleasant mood nor track this is but again Opeth choose another prog avenue, more experimental , forward reaching and modern at the same time. The instrumental finale is extraordinaire! "Closure" starts off acoustically, a lament that drips of melancholia, almost robotic vocals and a shift into a more explorative mode with weaving guitar riffs , slashing bass and polyunsaturated drumming, pounding the groove deep into the mind, the harsher guitar imploring to enter the fray, drums getting heavy. Back to the initial lament with shimmering vocals and a veer into another more doom-laden sonic exercise that twirls into the yonder. "Hope Leaves" resurrects the bleak softness and it becomes apparent that all these songs on "Damnation" could have been done in a much heavier setting. That they chose the misty and blurred route is a tribute to their panoramic understanding of good prog music. Create a mood and slither all over it with luscious caresses, lusty rhythm and lurid vocals, just like a sensuous lover would, constantly creating the unexpected. I am stunned, as the next jewel "To Rid the Disease" rolls proudly forward with a chorus of the sublime, drenched in a torrent of shivering mellotron, paced with intensity, holding back desperately. Another killer episode that can only attest to their incredible vision, the gentle piano cajoles discreetly while the pirouetting flurry from the tron lingers on, insanely inspired. "Ending Credits" is a slow cooker, coming slyly into focus with a nearly Santana-like romantic guitar serenade that Peter Lindgren manages with utter genius. The Latin feel is contrasted by cool mellotron gusts colliding in restrained energy. "Weakness" is the final exclamation point and what will it be now? A very dreamy intro, minimalist drones, highly-effected vocals slurred on purpose and a meandering riff that seems to search for some outlet but remaining captured inside a glass bowl, unable to escape. In the end, it never does. An impressive recording, definitely a must-have for those proggers who enjoy being at the forefront of modern symphonic jewelry. 5 nordic sugarcubes.
Review by horsewithteeth11
3 stars This album makes me go in between pleasant surprise and total confusion. Don't get me wrong, if you don't like harsh vocals or death metal at all, this is a great album for those looking to start an Opeth collection. But I still feel like something is missing here...

Oh, that's right; this album suffers from not having any harsh vocals or death metal. That may sound like an oxymoron, but this album only properly displays the pleasant, non-metal half of Opeth. I can appreciate what Mikael and Co. were trying to do with this release, and the Porcupine Tree influence is definitely there, but I almost feel ripped off. It feels like I'm getting half of an Opeth album. I honestly don't get why people recommend that those who don't like extreme metal vocals start here. The music is good, but it doesn't adjust such a person to the furious side of Opeth that will appear on all their other albums.

Alright, frustration aside, this is a good album and quite a revolutionary one at that. No metal band to my knowledge has ever made an entirely soft album and been able to pass it off as completely authentic. The fact that Opeth can make an album that reaches out to symphonic prog fans that don't care for extreme metal sounds and/or vocals and make it genuine really says something. Although given Mikael's influences I'm not too surprised that he tried this. The music is significantly different from anything Opeth had released before this or anything to this date. I'd wager to say it's even softer and more beautiful than any of the acoustic sections present in the rest of the Opeth discography. And yet this is still extremely dark and brooding music, although that is to be expected since this is Opeth.

Despite the pluses of this album, I mentioned how I sometimes get frustrated that only part of the Opeth sound is present here. The individual songs are all good and I have nothing to complain about with them, but only having half of Opeth here makes me stand somewhere in between giving this 3 and 4 stars. I'll give it 3.5 but round down for the negative aspect I previously mentioned. If you are indeed new to Opeth and are a more traditional prog fan that shies away from anything extreme metal related, you should start here. But know that you will only be getting part of the experience.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the disappointment that was called Deliverance, my hopes weren't up very high for it's mellow companion album Damnation. At the first few listens I liked some of the songs but my general prejudice was confirmed. Opeth had lost it.

I returned to this album after Opeth re-established themselves with Ghost Reveries and ever since I can fully appreciate it. It's not my favourite Opeth, nor is it their strongest, but if there's ever going to be one album to win you girlfriend over to prog rock then this is that very album! Or as Mike puts it in his subtle tongue-in-cheek inbetween song chatter on Lamentations: 'The next song should get us some chicks backstage'. Well, it sure worked with my other half :-)

For that reason alone ('we need more chicks here') this album would deserve 5 stars! But Opeth has at least 3 albums which are better then Damnation so 4 will have to do.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Give this album to anyone who has never heard Opeth. I believe they will love Opeth right away and quickly think that this is the kind of music Opeth plays. As most of you might have known that this album is not really Opeth in a sense that there is no growl or scream at all throughout the streams of music it contains in its entirety. So, this is not a good album to introduce for newbie as it will be misleading. For me personally, the first time I listened to this album was actually from their live DVD called 'Lamentations' whereby I was quite surprised realizing that the first set of the DVD they played soft music which basically taken from 'Damnation' album.

Originally this one was planned to be released as double-album with the heavy side of their music 'Deliverance' but it was then decided to issue in different album. 'Damnation' does not represent the music of Opeth and nothing wrong with it. Remember, this is totally new album and not old songs being played acoustically. That's why I do not consider it as an acoustic setting even though the music is basically acoustic with mellotron work as well as some Floydian guitars.

Almost all tracks contained here have good to excellent melody. The music moves slowly, opened with excellently crafted composition 'Windowpane' (7:44) played in an ambient mode, and I believe this is the work of Mr Steven Wilson. The melody moves nicely from one segment to another and it seems like one song has a solid connection to the next. Try spin the CD without being brother which track you are in ? you would not feel the changes between among tracks. Like what I am experiencing now, it's on the third track and I thought it's still first track 'Death Whispered A Lullaby' (5:49). In terms of harmony, this album emphasizes good harmony in vocal combined with acoustic guitar or soft electric guitar, accentuated by excellent soundscape and mellotron (played by Steven Wilson). While in terms of complexity, this album does not offer such kind of difficulty but it's not so boring to enjoy in its entirety. The music does not seem to change much in terms of style, however, there are some curves that it provides in the middle of a song where the change is made through the guitar playing. It's so cool and you can find it almost in every song there is change of notes that sound beautifully ? especially when it's backed with excellent ambient. There is specific thing that I need to mention at the end of 'Closure' where the music turns out to be a middle-east type of music which makes it sounds wonderful.

This album marks highly on structural integrity as all songs in the album from the opening track until the concluding track 'Weakness' they all form a cohesive whole. Not that the style are similar but also the flow and tempo of the songs shared similarity in the whole album. I personally like the stream of music that flows from 'To Rid The Disease' (6:21) to 'Ending Credits' (3:39) and it ends up nicely in 'Weakness' (4:08). At the end you seem to enjoy a band with distinguished style ? a combination of acoustic setting and ambience ? with melodic songs.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any progressive music collection. It's not in the same vein as Pain of Salvation's "12.5" as it has less energy than the latter but it has its own characteristic worth enjoying. Keep on proggin' ?!

Peace on earth and mercy mild ? GW

Review by JLocke
4 stars Damnation is one of the best Opeth albums ever produced. Akerfedlt brought in Steven Wilson to produce and play on his double release experiment of Deliverance and Damnation. Wlson's presence is certainly felt here in a big way, and for some that may not wash. However, if you are disappointed with this, I might want to ask you what exactly do you think good music is? Everything about this album screams 'quality'. It is clear that Mikael Akerfeldt took incredible care with this record and made sure every song was as professional-sounding and well-played as possible. I've always applauded the production values of Opeth records, and even though I typically don't care about that type stuff, some albums just sound too good not to praise in that regard.

The songwriting itself is as top-notch as ever, yet the presentation is more tender and caressing than before. Imagine all of the elements that made Opeth's softer musical moments great being compiled into one package. Sounds like a success to me. However I realize some people only like Opeth's soft side when it is allowed to weave in and out of their heavy work (which after all makes up the bulk of this band's repertoire). I can understand that, and yes, separating those two elements COULD result in disaster potentially, but in this case it doesn't. At all.

The hauntingly beautiful ballads that Opeth have always been able to write are all that this album consists of. If you like that side of the band's music, you'll love this release. However, if you don't understand that these guys are masterful songwriters first and foremost, then you'll expect them to always be heavy, and will be disappointed when they don't maintain that aggressiveness on every single release. This is a dark horse in the Opeth catalogue as of right now. No other album is as consistently gentle as this, and yet it is one of the best works they ever did, in my view.

You don't have to like Opeth, but crucifying this album simply because it isn't conventional by the band's standards isn't the correct way to behave. Opeth is more than a just a Metal band-- they are Prog Rock first, and this album has plenty of unconventional, psychedelic compositions to satisfy the adventurous listener. Soft or not, the album is fantastic.

Happy listening.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When Mikael announced his intension of making these two albums I was actually expecting the heavy side of Deliverance to be a bit more hard-hitting. What we've got was just a slightly heavier version of the Blackwater Park format and so when once Damnation hit the shelves I was automatically expecting a mellow version of Blackwater Park. Needless to say I was very surprised upon hearing this release for the first time since it felt like a complete re-invention of the band's sound. This was of course not entirely the case and a few revisits uncovered layers of familiar Opeth sound that my shocked ears must have missed upon listening to Damnation for the first time.

Due to the lack of any transitions between the mellow acoustic section and Death Metal parts, that have become important trademarks of then band's sound, the song format has been literally sliced in half. A few extra tracks were added to fill out the 43 minutes long album which is far from the 60+ minute releases of the past which might have justified a purchase in its originally intended form as a double album but not as much in the current form. This can explain why it took a while until I actually took a risk and listened to this material, but in retrospect it definitely felt like a worthy investment!

Damnation might not be as important as Still Life, Blackwater Park nor even Ghost Reveries but it shows that Opeth isn't afraid of taking risks and do whatever they please with their music. If that doesn't make it progressive then I honestly think that you're missing the point of the term. On top of that the album does offer quite a few complex textures like the ones demonstrated on Windowpane, To Rid The Disease and Death Whispered A Lullaby. This is definitely another excellent album well worth the price of admission.

***** star songs: In My Time Of Need (5:47) Death Whispered A Lullaby (5:50) Closure (5:16)

**** star songs: Windowpane (7:44) Hope Leaves (4:27) To Rid The Disease (6:18) Ending Credits (3:36)

*** star songs: Weakness (4:09)

Review by The Sleepwalker
3 stars Released in 2003, Damnation is the soft and melodic follow-up to what many claim to be Opeth's heaviest release up to date, Deliverance. Yes, soft and melodic. Damnation features no growls and is mainly driven by clean and acoustic instrumentation. This is what makes the album a much more attractive effort than Opeth's other albums to those who dislike the ferocious growls or crushing riffs.

Damnation opens with the memorable riff of "Windowpane", one of Opeth's best known songs and righteously, as it is a fantastic track. The beautiful melodic vocals of Mikael Akerfeldt together with the subtle instrumentation creates a hauntingly melancholic setting, which is very common for the album. Another song that does quite reach the greatness of the opener is "Death Whispered A Lullaby", another melancholic piece that features some dissonant yet calm lead guitar. The album is far from a masterpiece though. My main issue with it is that it's not very diverse and therefore somwhat dull at times. Most of the songs are somewhat similair to each other in sound, often being driven by clean guitar riffs with a mellotron to create a more rich and haunting feel. 6 out of 8 songs open with a clean or acoustic guitar riff before the drums and bass come in. This is just to give you an idea of what I mean when I say most songs have a similair sound. Composition-wise, some songs are far inferior to songs like "Windowpane". "Hope Leaves" and "Weakness" for example sound much less memorable than some others and have an overall dull feel.

Damnation is, though being a nice album, far from a masterpiece and lacks consistency to keep me interested for the whole 43 minutes it lasts. Nevertheless, I completely agree with the people who state this is the album to start with when having trouble getting into Opeth, because of it's soft nature. Though it's always interesting to hear a metal band make such a soft and melodic album, Damnation certainly doesn't rank among Opeth's best.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars The good thing about this album is that because it doesn't have those death metal faults (Who wants to listen to an album of songs with a singer who sounds like he's throwing up into his own throat?) I actually started liking this band. The bad thing is that, for the most part, this album is about as prog as a Porcupine Tree album (And why not, with Steven Wilson along for the ride?). Like PT, the music is light prog. Not bad to play in mixed company (prog and non- prog fans).

The best track, and only one that stays with me, is Closure. It's interesting rhythms and fine guitar work raise it above the rest of this album. But now that I've heard other Opeth albums, I wish they had mixed these vocals with some of the power they usually have.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars Damnation is currently the only one Opeth album that I know, so I can't compare it with any other predecessor or successor. The first listen made me immediately think to Porcupine Tree, then reading on the CD sleeve that Steve Wilson was in the album it was clear why.

I wasn't expecting anything so Floydian or "Porcupinesque" (what a bad word, bleah!), but it's not a bad surprise. No growl? No heavy guitars? no obsessive drumming? Why should I look for things like these? Sometimes I like them, of course. When Riverside growl at the end of a 12 minutes song it's functional. Without growl Ayreon's Day Sixteen - Loser wouldn't be the same...

However this album, far from being "extreme metal", is more in my pot than I was expecting. The opener is a good song and gives immediately the idea of what you are about to listen to. There's much of Porcupine Tree in the second track, as in all the album, but this one "In My Time Of Need" is a great song. Please tell me that there are other Opeth albums like this.

"Death Whispered a Lullaby" is a great title for a song. I didn't take care of lyrics too much, to be honest, because the music catched all my attention.

While "In My Time of Need" is my fav as song, "Closure" is a highlight in terms of progression. A great acoustic guitar work, an interesting melody over lightly discordant chords and the instrumental parts that make me think to...please don't think I'm fool...the Xing Sa debut.

"Hope Leaves" is very floydian, It needs more than one listen to be really appreciated, but it's another great song. I've read that Mikael ┼kerfeldt is used to can a guy with a voice like this waste it with growling?

"To Ride The Disease" is probably the darkest track, but it's not much different from the others. The chorus is very nice and melodic.

"Ending Credits" fades in like a Mostly Autumn song. The sound of the guitar is different from Bryan Josh's but this short instrumental is not so far. I can imagine Heather Findlay singing on this base.

"Weakness" is the most floydian song and an excellent closer. All the album's songs are based on minor chords, with slow tempo and athmospheric guitars. Keyboards are in the background and the bass is what is closer to PT.

I like this album. It's probably not essential, and from what I have read seems to be not representative of Opeth, but while I will probably need to listen to other albums before giving an opinion about the band, I don't have doubts about the album.

It's a good album that I'm rounding down to 3 stars but it probably deserves a bit more. It's only because it's not very "original", but it's well played and all the songs are good. Some of them would deserve the fourth star, so regardless my rating if this is a kind of music that you like this album is surely not a waste of money.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars Opeth with "Damnation" prove once more how eclectic and surprising they are. This is most definitely their most haunting and delicate record, the one album of the band's whole discography that does not present one single growl or even one metal riff. Some people loved, some die hard fans got bored by it, not being under any point of view a metal album. Personally, I think that, even though Opeth has done a better job with this type of music in different moments from different albums (obviously!), this is a great, very well done LP, extremely chilling and melancholic.

Let me start with saying that this band has one of the most gifted metal singers of all time, Mikael Akerfeldt, both when he sings clean vocals or when he growls. I was very happy to see that he was able to use all his clean singing capacities in here, and in such a stunning way too. But Mikael has also a band behind him, each one of them might just be as gifted as the leader. So, generally, the musicianship of this album is intense and at times phenomenal, very precise playing, but without being too rigid or dull. What better element of an album can go better with excellent musicianship? Amazing production, of course. And "Damnation" has this as well. The mixing is perfect as well, no instrument tries to be louder than the rest, but all instruments are perfectly balanced and equalized.

As far as the music is concerned, I think I made clear how different it is from all the other Opeth albums; no metal pieces, tracks guitars, riffs, but just soft, melancholic prog rock, influenced by the greats such as King Crimson (especially in the use of mellotron), Pink Floyd, and a little bit from a band very well known in the modern prog scene, Porcupine Tree (no surprises finding that Akerfeldt produced it with the leader of the band and friend Steven Wilson). While they are some electric guitars here and there, put to enrich the sound or perhaps to have a solo, the acoustic ones are the main instrument, accompanied with beautiful retro sounding keyboards, especially mellotron, and Mikael's gentle but very emotional voice. The rhythmic section though does not stay passive, and in almost every track there is excellent drumming by Martin Lopez, and precise bass by Martin Mendez.

The mood and atmosphere of this album is never quite relaxed and mellow, but the songs always have a sort of tension and sadness to them, a sadness that will most definitely affect you somehow. At times the songs can flow very easily, like something that slowly but without being disturbed passes by, in a passive way. Other times though you can't not stop for a second and listen carefully to the warm and pleasant sounds that come out of this record.

"Windowpane" is a great, haunting but very gloomy song, that perfectly represents the feeling of the whole album; a catchy rhythm, but with very deep and sorrowful melodies. "In My Time Of Need" has one of the most stirring mellotron riffs I've ever heard towards the end of it, "Death Whispered A Lullaby" a beautiful but again dreadful song, co-written with Steven Wilson. "Weakness" a bleak, electric piano driven song, presenting no drums, and barely no other instruments. Sure, they are some moments that didn't move or convince me as much as these mentioned ones, but it' still a really enjoyable listen from start to finish.

"Damnation", even though progressive rock in 2003 isn't exactly your "thing", is a wonderful experience, something that I recommend strongly to anyone.

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars The conjuration of a wisp of beauty

Opeth are one of the most revered progressive death metal bands in the entire progressive world. Since the mid-90s, the band has gotten progressively more.. well' progressive in their approach to the genre. With the groundbreaking Still Life, they amazed the community with their truly innovative style and willingness to bend the rules of metal. With each consecutive release, the band developed their sound into one of the most mature death metal acts out there. When they released their 2002 album Deliverance, Mikael Akerfeldt had the idea of doubling the metal-laden album with a near metal-less album the following year (without the consent of his band mates). The result was the sublime Damnation in 2003. The album, full of incredible mellow melodies and jazz inspired and appropriate rhythmic qualities, was a stark departure from their normal style, yet it seemed appropriate for the direction they were headed. Overall, the album is a beautiful representation of this band's potential.

From a band so well known for their inventive metallic output, it's often difficult to believe such a mellow, melodic album came from the same band. The songs, consisting of clean guitar riffs, jazzy rhythmic backings, and a strong bass line accented by various keyboard textures contributed by none other than the revered Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame. The whole atmosphere of the music is truly incredible ' Akerfeldt composes melodies to compliment dark lyrics and themes, with the jazz inspired rhythmic work of Martin Lopez carrying the gentle guitar work along paths of melodic grace, traversing into the airwaves with the conjuration of a simple wisp of musical beauty. This music is truly special. Wilson's accurate use of the mellotron, Rhodes, and other keyboard textures adds to this almost dissonant ambience, filling in the gaps between the band's playing, the vocal melodies, and the harmonic dissonance. This ingenious and minimalistic keyboard work really adds to the music beautifully.

In the end, I must profess my love for this album. It's essentially perfect. It may not be a 'masterpiece' in PA terms, but this album is still damn good. Full of infectious yet highly progressive melodies, inventive playing, composing, and drumming, the whole album is brimming with a sense of vigor and life, yet is easily the band's gloomier and doomier album. Naming this album's genre would be difficult, for it's almost composed entirely of 70s progressive influences, contains no real metal, yet still has that melodeath twinge of Opethian fame and a slightly doom metal edge going on. However, the album is still a spectacular display of this band's might. It's really incredible that this four piece (five including Wilson) has crafted such a magnificent work of art. Overall, this album is truly spectacular. 4+ stars.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars Wallowing is an underrated state of grief. Feeling sorry for oneself and allowing that profound bitterness and disappointment to wash over oneself can serve to put the darkness in its place and set the stage for slinking back into the crepuscular light. I have found that journaling can make the process more productive and even enjoyable. I suspect artists find solace in their craft, and assume that is part of what is transpiring with Mikael Akerfeldt on "Damnation", an album that has as little to do with extreme metal, and as much to do with mellotron drenched disconsolateness, as does BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST's "Everyone is Everybody Else".

Thanks to the production and keyboards of Steven Wilson, and the delicate somber vocals and guitars of Akerfelt, this album sets a mood and does not relinquish it. The melodies ache with fragility, and on "In my Time of Need", "Hope Leaves", and the CAMEL-influenced "Ending Credits, are the main attraction, but this is more about the atmosphere, conveyed brilliantly in the excruciatingly elongated "Windowpane" and the final few hair raising minutes of "Closure". The late lamented mellotron era of the 1970s and its essential gravitas is distilled in a manner rarely witnessed at that time, putting a fresh face on a familiar friend.

I'm not saying "Damnation" is bliss but its grasp of the essential value of wallowing makes it a more suitable instrument of salvation, however it might have been intended. Grief never sounded this good.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The progressive rock-oriented metal-renouncing counterpart to Deliverance, Damnation finds the collaboration between Opeth and Steven Wilson tighter than ever before. Wilson provides a decent production and the overall sound of the album resembles Opeth taking on the sound of Porcupine Tree circa Stupid Dream or Lightbulb Sun. The melancholy rainy-day atmosphere of the album sets it apart from much of the sunnier material produced by melodic prog bands of the era. If you liked the quiet sections of Blackwater Park, the good news is that this is an entire album of them.

That said, I think the best thing the album does is actually providing a showse for Mikael ┼kerfeldt's clean vocals: I've never been 100% sold on them previously, but either he's improved significantly here or Wilson's production hit on the way to tease the best out of them. It still feels like it would have been better for this to be a double album with Damnation, so the quiet and loud parts of Opeth's sound could have balanced each other out, but either of the two separate albums represents a strong addition to Opeth's back catalogue, though both bear the scars of being torn away from their other half. Just as Deliverance's all-loud-(almost)-all-the-time approach became wearing over its span, so too does this not quite hold the attention as well as more balanced releases from the band.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars All I can say about this album is Thank God that it was released. Without it, I would probably have never listened to Opeth or explored the sounds of other bands under the subgenre of Tech/Extreme Prog Metal. People say this was a huge departure away from Opeth's sound. Some blame the departure on Steven Wilson's influence on the album. As for myself, I am a huge Steven Wilson fan, but I honestly didn't know he had any tie in to this album or "Departure" when I first heard them.

At the time of my first hearing of this beautiful album, I was just starting to get to know Porcupine Tree's discography. A friend of mine had bought the box set that had "Blackwater Park", "Deliverance", "Damnation", and "Lamentations". He had been a huge Opeth fan, but he was pissed when he heard "Damnation", enough so to swear off Opeth for good. He gave me this box set. Nice guy, right? Yes. Anyway, the first disc I put on was "Deliverance" and, even though the first listen was not a thrilling one for me, after I listened to "Damnation" I was very enthusiastic about the band and listened to them with new ears after that. Suddenly, the growling vocals weren't so foreign sounding in this or other extreme bands, except for when that is all they do. Because of this album, I now appreciate other bands like Agaloch, Baroness and Orphan Land who I probably would have just written off as useless noise bands otherwise.

It is true that this album is not typical Opeth, but it still has the ingenuity that exists in their harder albums. I don't know why I had to have the growling element taken out to hear how much genius is in their music. But this album strips the noise back so you can hear the interesting rhythms, the changing dynamics and the other prog elements. Some people say this album lacks emotion, but I disagree. The music is still dark, just like it is when it is heavy. The vocals are expressive and beautiful. The guitar is passionate at another level than it is when everything is loud. The mellotron, when it exists, adds a new element not present in their music before. I'm not expecting to sway the lovers of the old Opeth over to the new sound, but I'm hoping that maybe those that are a little afraid of the old extreme sound of Opeth might be convinced to give this album a try and maybe it will become a bridge to tech metal and other talented band the way it has for me.

I call this a masterpiece because it did prove that in a wall of noise, you can still find genius and beauty if you strip it down to the basic elements first, then add them back in. You might be surprised what you discover. 5 stars.

Review by Necrotica
4 stars Immersion can be such a wonderful thing in literature and music. It's great in movies and other visual mediums as well, but when you eliminate the visuals entirely and force the audience to let themselves envision the world the artist has created, individual interpretation has a magic of its own. I've often seen myself gravitating toward the atmosphere of an album because of this, as well as the fact that it creates a tangible environment to explore (so to speak) with the ears. With Morning View by Incubus, I imagine myself resting on a beach watching the waves go by. Homogenic by Bjork gives off the feeling of walking along an icy tundra because of its sweeping strings and the overall tone. Well, with Opeth's Damnation, two themes always come through without a doubt: contemplation, and pure unadulterated melancholy.

After an impressive string of well-crafted progressive death metal albums, frontman Mikael Akerfeldt thought it would be interesting to create two polar opposites musically. Deliverance would focus on the band's heavier side, going on to be one of their harshest and darkest recordings, while Damnation would be entirely devoid of death growls or any form of metal. I can only imagine how much this split the band's fans at the time of its release, as Damnation's tonal and dynamic shift was easily their biggest stylistic departure up to that time. Now we have Heritage and Pale Communion nodding to the band's 70s progressive rock roots and stirring up the fanbase even more, but Damnation points to a palatable blend of classic progressive rock, folk rock, soft rock, and some symphonic elements here and there. It still remains Opeth's most subdued recording to date, and the melancholic vibe is strong in this one that its presence seeps into every song in some way and enhances the emotional resonance beyond just the songcraft. In fact, the black and white album cover, depicting a doll and a wooden desk, is a perfect companion piece to the music within.

Steven Wilson is, once again, at the helm of production (as well as various instruments such as the keyboard and mellotron), and his work is immaculate here. The instruments blend together phenomenally, especially heightening the chemistry between the guitar and bass work throughout the record. For instance, songs such as "Windowpane" and "Ending Credits" are able to layer keyboards, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and bass work on top of each other without muddling the sound in the slightest. Despite this, the band still capture a sort of contemplative and sparse atmosphere that captures both a sense of bleakness and resignation. "Weakness," which is an incredibly minimalist duet between Wilson and Akerfeldt, captures the vibe perfectly because of how the keyboard and guitar tones mix. Of course, we can't forget Mikael's strong vocal performances, either. His voice sounds dreary and calm, but never in a way that it sounds as though he's lazy or careless. It's simply subdued, and melds well with the soft dynamics of each piece; in fact, the harmonies on this album are just gorgeous! There's one section in "Hope Leaves" that always strikes me as particularly beautiful, in which about 4 or 5-part vocal harmony actually fades into the next instrumental section after the chorus. Little subtleties like that go a long way on this record.

The other members are great as well; Peter Lindgren, Martin Mendez, and Martin Lopez (on guitar, bass, and drums respectively) display both restraint and a decent amount of technicality at the same time, which is a tough balance to effectively pull off. Mendez, in particular, gives a strong bass performance that's in the foreground much more frequently than in most other Opeth albums; his work on "Windowpane," "Closure," and "Death Whispered a Lullaby" is especially strong. As for the lyrics, they're a bit stripped down this time around in comparison to albums like Blackwater Park or Still Life, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. They might be simplistic and lack some of the incredibly detailed imagery of the past, but the more personal and intimate writings heard here seem very fitting for a softer and more somber piece of work. Even Steven Wilson's lyrical contribution, "Death Whispered a Lullaby," is pretty decent; if more Porcupine Tree songs had excerpts such as "Into the dark, there are eyelids closing/buried alive in the shifting sands," instead of crap like "Xbox is a god to me/a finger on the switch, my mother is a bitch/my father gave up ever trying to talk to me," I'd certainly enjoy that.

Unfortunately Damnation does get a bit repetitive and homogeneous after a while. The band do their best to try and shake things up, but songs such as "To Rid the Disease" and especially "Ending Credits" just don't do much for me. The latter seems completely unnecessary, totally hampered by needlessly dull songwriting and highly uneventful passages. Not only that, but it seems bizarre that a song named "Ending Credits," which sounds like the musical version of a curtain call (especially as an instrumental with a fade-in and gradual fade-out), is the penultimate song here. That's not taking anything away from "Weakness", however, which is a great closer. As for "To Rid the Disease," it's actually a decent song, but the second half is quite a drag compared to the first. The piano playing by Steven Wilson is a nice touch in the background, but the instrumental flourishes aren't very interesting and become increasingly dull. "Closure" also has a long outro, but the drumming has become much more lively and the instrumental work is actually quite technically challenging in this section. With the exception of "Hope Leaves," I prefer the first half of Damnation by a pretty wide margin.

Either way, I can't deny that this album has grown on me over time. It's flawed, certainly, but the atmosphere is beautiful in its somberness and the songwriting is top-notch in most of the songs. The reason I consider Damnation a better record than other classic prog Opeth albums like Heritage and Pale Communion is because it seems like less of a blatant throwback and more of a 70s prog-influenced piece with its own identity. Basically, it's the same old Opeth meeting the old prog legends with a passionate love letter? it might pay tribute to the classics, but it's still distinctly Opeth. If you enjoy classic 70s progressive rock or want to hear a softer version of Opeth's typical sound, I suggest giving this a try. It might be a jarring shift in style for the band, but make no mistake: this is the same band, just adorning a different, refreshing coat of paint.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review N║ 33

First of all, I must explain how I met Opeth. A couple of years, my eldest son told me about this band, and he said to me that they are a very good heavy metal band. He and one of his best friends really love the group, and they listened to their music very often. So, I must confess that I became very curious about them. As I didn't know if they were a progressive group, I decided to take a look on Progarchives. In reality, I confirmed that Opeth was a progressive metal band, but I stayed suspicious, when I read that they have a strong influence of death metal and that their vocalist often uses death metal growls, when he sings. Sincerely, I don't like really of death metal and usually I don't like growls. Probably, somehow, I'm an out of fashion guy. I belong to those who think that a real vocalist must sing. However, as my son likes the band, I ordered few albums to my usual supplier. If I didn't like them, they would be for him.

One of their albums received by me was their seventh studio album "Damnation" released in 2003. As I had already read, it's the band's most accessible work and hasn't any kind of growls. So, I decided to start my introduction to their music, beginning to listen to this album. Sincerely, I must confess that I was very surprised when I listened to the album for the first time. "Damnation" is the most radical departure from Opeth's musical career, until then. It's the first album that explores the group's non heavy metal sound, it's almost completely devoid of any metal trappings, and it's almost focused on acoustic instruments and traditional song writing. By the other hand, the vocalist didn't use any death metal growls, and surprisingly, he has an excellent and beautiful clear voice. So, "Damnation" was for me a very nice surprise. It's a totally different kind of work of the group, full of beautiful ballads and melodic songs and has a very peaceful musical atmosphere. But, as I said before, this is an atypical musical work of the group, until then.

"Damnation" was again produced by Steven Wilson, the mastermind of Porcupine Tree, who also contributed playing and singing on the album, beyond co-write the song "Death Whispered A Lullaby". All the other songs were written by Mikael Akerfeldt, the mastermind, front man and the main composer of Opeth.

The line up on "Damnation" is Mikael Akerfeldt (vocals and guitars), Peter Lindgren (Guitar), Martin Mendez (bass guitar) and Martin Lopez (drums and percussion). As I wrote before, it has also the cooperation of Steven Wilson (backing vocals, keyboards, electric piano, piano and mellotron), as a guest musician.

"Damnation" has eight tracks. The first track "Windowpane" is the lengthiest track on the album. It's a very tasteful song, a beautiful and creative composition, with a pleasant guitar backed by the sound of the mellotron. The second track "In My Time Of Need" is a very beautiful ballad, with some of the best lyrics on the album, and the mellotron continuous sounding on the back. The third track "Death Whispered A Lullaby" is another nice composition, and is most notable for its vocal harmonies and the fairly aggressive guitar solos, on some parts of the song. The fourth track "Closure" is a song with some really nice guitar work, and is probably one of the strongest songs on the album. It oscillates between the calm and aggressive parts, during all over the theme. The fifth track "Hope Leaves" is another beautiful and very calm ballad, probably the most beautiful on the entire album. It has some pretty good lyrics too. The sixth track "To Ride The Disease" is another song full of mellotron on the back, which reminds me King Crimson. This is one of the best songs on the album, with simple vocals, a strong melody and it has a good guitar work, too. The seventh track "Ending Credits" is a very pretty and romantic instrumental track. It sounds very much like an Andy Latimer's song composed by Camel. This is also another very beautiful song. This isn't properly a great surprise, since Akerfeldt always had sustained that he likes very much of Camel, and Latimer is one of his musical influences. What better propaganda can a group have, when it's done by someone you aren't expecting? The last track "Weakness" is the softest song on the album, and ironically because its name, it represents perhaps, the album's weakness. I don't mean that this is a bad song, but in my humble opinion, it's a little bit out of the general quality of the album.

Conclusion: "Damnation" is a very special Opeth's album and represents, at the time, an exception into their musical career. It's one of the most beautiful albums made by the group. This is really a very good and enjoyable album. If you don't know Opeth yet, and like me, you dislike death metal growls, you must listen and buy "Damnation". In the first place, it's a very beautiful album and the most accessible of the group. In the second place, may be you start to be attracted by the band and you start to love the group, like me. So, "Damnation" may be your starting point with Opeth, and the beginning of a great love between you and them. Opeth is undoubtedly one of the best groups in our days.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars I am a rather latecomer to Opeth, only coming to them after Mikael ┼kerfeldt dropped the death metal monster growls and were going for a heavy prog approach, so naturally it was Heritage that I bought first, then going for their next effort Pale Communion. Damnation, I realized was a stark contrast to its sister release Deliverance. Both recorded at the same time, supposed to have been a double CD, but instead released separately several months apart. Damnation really has much more in common with the likes of Heritage and Pale Communion a decade later. A more proggy approach, not as so heavy guitar playing, more acoustic, and no monster growls. While Heritage and Pale Communion had alienated many fans, at least with Damnation, the fans felt this was a one-off effort and it was back to heavy stuff (and it would be until ┼kerfeldt felt he was no longer improving on his growling vocal technique), but it did bring in some of the prog faithful who was otherwised put off by the death metal approach. In fact, many, both its supporters and detractors felts that Opeth was turning into Porcupine Tree. It helps that Steven Wilson not only produced the album but even appears on the album even sings, so the Porcupine Tree sound could not be avoided. After buying their two recent albums, I was totally flattered how similar Damnation was to their recent material. If you want Opeth to be heavy, this isn't it, if you want to hear the more mellow side of them, the more prog oriented side, just like the recent efforts, then this comes recommended.
Review by DangHeck
4 stars Opeth's seventh studio album Damnation (2003) is not only significant merely in its more acoustic tone nor in Mikael ┼kerfeldt's purely clean vocals. But its significance is most found in that solely these elements were released in the midst of very likely Opeth's peak popularity as well as their most notable, signature-style Progressive Death Metal era (from Still Life to Watershed, 1999-2008). [Before this era, they mixed Progressive Rock and Folk with an overlaying, predominant Black and Death Metal; Hereafter, they almost entirely sheared off any Metal elements in favor of a cleaner, more classic-Prog-inspired Rock, much to the oft-continued chagrin of many a listener.] This all places Damnation at a vital point in the band's history and as a still-relevant and interesting creative work. Recorded the same time as Deliverance (2002), but released after, it is viewed often as its sister-album, especially given Opeth's initial intent to release them together as a double album. As such, this is the last in a series of three albums co- produced with Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson (the other one being the much-beloved Blackwater Park, 2001). Wilson, I feel certain, was a nudging force for the band toward a more distinctly classic Prog sound; I'm sure he nor much of anyone else outside the band was pushing them away from metal, and I would say that, even now, they still have Metal elements throughout their music. In addition to co-production, Steven Wilson played keyboards, including piano and most significantly mellotron, as well as very recognizable backing vocals.

"Windowpane" starts the album with a killer riff over rolling bass and grooving drums. Very memorable melody, this is one of the great Opeth classics to me. "In My Time of Need" is very straightforward. Very light, but consisting of an ever-present mellotron. "Death Whispered a Lullaby" has another very familiar, classic ┼kerfeldt melody and is driven by a simple acoustic guitar arpeggio. Very solid song. Next, "Closure" has another super strong melody (lovely harmonies, too). In the midsection, the rhythm shifts to a sort of Eastern thing. Shoutout to the great Martin Lopez for really holding this together.

All falls away to the soft, reflective "Hope Leaves". Super straight, but pretty. Then it's "To Rid the Disease", with a bit more compositional interest and a whole lot more mellotron (and piano). Rolling in instrumental is the ironically not closer, "Ending Credits", with a super nice, very sweet guitar melody (very familiar, as though it's from something else); maybe like Camel? Finally finally we have "Weakness". This is a very minimal, but haunting number. I'm not into it so much, but it does have a certain something. I feel that this song specifically is a very clear foreshadowing to ┼kerfeldt and Wilson's project, Storm Corrosion, its sole album released 2012. Interesting, fairly effective closer to a very [I mean "more"] interesting and, in a lot of ways, lasting work of art. It's certainly unique in their discography.

Rounded up from a True Rate of 3.75/5.00.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Damnation is Opeth most different album, even from the prog-only lineage, coming after the brutal and heavy, Deliverance, its successor has a softer and more melancholic nature and originally together with Deliverance, it was supposed to be a double album with the first part heavy and the other ... (read more)

Report this review (#2986623) | Posted by theaqua | Sunday, January 28, 2024 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Wanna her progressive rock with feelings? This release catapulted Opeth to the rest of progressive rock fans who were looking down on them because of growling vocals and death-metal drumming. At the time of the release, I belonged to the second group of listeners and despised other Opeth recor ... (read more)

Report this review (#2463469) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, November 6, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is an excellent release from Opeth. Notable for having no death growls, (long before their move to a "grow-less" prog rock sound in the recent years) it turns things down and focuses on an album full of mellower, but still very dark, songs. What really makes this album great is how all the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2280086) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Sunday, November 10, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Opeth's 'Damnation', the mellow half of the 'Deliverance/Damnation' double album, is a curious and somewhat difficult album to review. The musicianship is impeccable, the compositions refined and the production, courtesy of Mr Steven Wilson is obviously top-notch... But (there had to be a but). ... (read more)

Report this review (#1537577) | Posted by AndyJ | Wednesday, March 9, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars With no end credit! If not for having read several reviews of this album a long time ago, I never would have heard a product described as Tech / Extreme Prog Metal, Death Metal, Doom Metal or something. In fact, this is the only work of Opeth I heard, and I do not care what the rest of the band ... (read more)

Report this review (#1026800) | Posted by sinslice | Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm starting off this review by saying that I love Opeth's calm side. Damnation is a very different album comparing to the rest albums on their discography. Altough, many people bash it for being a calm album, without those heavy riffs, growls... Windowpane is a very nice song to start the albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#781324) | Posted by ThrasherPT | Monday, July 2, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 8/10 You have no idea how happy I am by the absence of growls here. It's hard for me to try to enter the world of Opeth. My only experience had been with the band was Blackwater Park and was not a very nice thing. In my opinion these guys had a lot of quality, but everything was thrown in th ... (read more)

Report this review (#573152) | Posted by voliveira | Tuesday, November 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Damnation ? 2003 (3.8/5) 12 ? Best Song: Windowpane If you look at the ratings, you'll probably see which side of the band I end up preferring. Yes, like I said in the previous review, Opeth split up their style into two vague incarnations and released them in two subsequent years. Damnatio ... (read more)

Report this review (#441790) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, May 2, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a great album, but quite surprising for most of the Death metal fan of Opeth. I personnally hate that style of music, the only exception being Opeth... In fact growling has been a blocking point, when I first heard Opeth album, despite the great critics of their album. I get used to it, t ... (read more)

Report this review (#414612) | Posted by JethroTree | Saturday, March 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Damnation is an absolute masterpiece written by frontman Mikael ┼kerfeldt. Although not your standard Opeth record (if there is even something lik a standard opeth record, which i higly doubt). A song like Hope Leaves just gives me the chills every time i listen to it, ┼kerfeldt has an absolut ... (read more)

Report this review (#316464) | Posted by Metalbaswee | Saturday, November 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I used to consider this album a masterpiece. It is, without a doubt, absolutely beautiful, mellow art rock, one of its kind. With this release Opeth proved that without growling and distorted guitars their music is still compelling and captivating. Damnation, along with Deliverance make up a complet ... (read more)

Report this review (#307969) | Posted by bartosso | Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Opeth is arguably the greatest metal band of all time, but what gives them the edge is their ability to step outside of metal and nullify the usual objections about the genre's limits, while stlll making full use of all its possibilities. So in short, it is the non-metal side of their sound th ... (read more)

Report this review (#280674) | Posted by Textbook | Thursday, May 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Opeth has always been unpredictable. One second they are raging death metal, the next, they are quiet, acoustic rock. Come the early 2000's and they decide to show the best of both worlds by releasing two albums: Deliverance and Damnation. Deliverance focused on the heavy side, while Damnation ... (read more)

Report this review (#264070) | Posted by godfrey11 | Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Many critics, espeically scene Opeth fans, consider this album to be terrible and not an Opeth album. But I believe that this album encapsulates everything that I love about Opeth. The songwrtiting on this album is phenomanal , the musicianship is amazing and the atomosphere is both eerie and b ... (read more)

Report this review (#263700) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I strongly recommend this album for all 70's progressive fans. Forget Opeth is a metal band. Akerfeldt plays and sings here like his ancient heroes, over the top Andy Latimer (he's a big Camel fan) and Steve Hackett and a bit of Robert Fripp. There are a lot of good swedish albums in modern ag ... (read more)

Report this review (#257732) | Posted by DTJesus | Friday, December 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Damnation is certainly the most ambiguous album of Opeth because it just does not have any brutal vocals! If someone is used to the combination of furious death metal along with ethereal progressive compositions, then this album may seem strange. But, the songs are a tremendous example of progres ... (read more)

Report this review (#221381) | Posted by mel from hell | Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What a beautiful sounding record with great playing, great songs with excellent chord changes, understated vocals, excellent arrangements and production. The whole thing is cool and understated - there are no growling vocals and no crunching riffs. Now, whether this will appeal to Opeth fans ... (read more)

Report this review (#218660) | Posted by Neil C | Thursday, May 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Damnation contains a lot of great music, but there's a huge problem with it. The album really goes nowhere.There is no adventurousness found on the album. While the songs are great, they are all pretty much the same, with the exception of "Closure", which contains some excellent drumming and e ... (read more)

Report this review (#218278) | Posted by topofsm | Monday, May 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 bet ... (read more)

Report this review (#182211) | Posted by Nhorf | Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars First off, I'm completely new to Opeth, and have never been a fan of death metal, which I find puerile in the extreme. Now I like my RAWK as LOUD and IN YER FACE as the next guy, but what puts me off most is the unintelligible growling that passes for lyrics/singing. Being of an open mind, an ... (read more)

Report this review (#174653) | Posted by Starless | Saturday, June 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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