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Opeth Blackwater Park album cover
4.28 | 1916 ratings | 115 reviews | 57% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Leper Affinity (10:23)
2. Bleak (9:16)
3. Harvest (6:01)
4. The Drapery Falls (10:54)
5. Dirge for November (7:54)
6. The Funeral Portrait (8:44)
7. Patterns in the Ivy (1:53)
8. Blackwater Park (12:08)

Total Time 67:13

Bonus disc from 2002 Koch edition:
1. Still Day Beneath the Sun (4:34)
2. Patterns in the Ivy 2 (4:12)
3. Harvest (multimedia track - video clip)

Line-up / Musicians

- Mikael Åkerfeldt / electric & acoustic (6- & 12-string) guitars, vocals, co-producer
- Peter Lindgren / guitars
- Martin Mendez / bass
- Martin Lopez / drums

- Steven Wilson / lead guitar (2), piano, backing vocals (2-4,6), co-producer
- Markus Lindberg / percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Travis Smith with Harry Välimäki (photo)

2xLP Music For Nations ‎- MFN 264 (2001, UK)

CD Music For Nations ‎- CDMFN264 (2001, UK)
2xCD Koch Records ‎- KOC-CD-8425 (2002, US) Limited edition w/ bonus EP (Enhanced CD) including 2 bonus music tracks + 1 multimedia (video clip)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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OPETH Blackwater Park ratings distribution

(1916 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(57%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (9%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

OPETH Blackwater Park reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by diddy
5 stars So first of all: this is one of my desert island albums. Secondly: I don't like death metal! So now you think how this can be, a guy that don't likes death metal declares an Opeth album to one of his all time favorites...a contradiction in terms? No, by no means at al. Yes, Opeth features a lot of death metal growls and yes, normally I don't like them BUT it's totally different with Opeth. I got this record and was in doubt about it but loved it from it's first track, in an instant. But what are the elements that makes Opeth so different from "normal" death metal acts? It's for sure the mixture of totally aggressive and fragile mellow parts, the antagonism of the death metal growls and Mikaels clear vocals, the polarity of heavy riffing and beautiful acoustic parts and all within one song. But for sure there are these awesome melodic guitar solos that cause a ineffable feeling. "The leper affinity" is one of these songs I love and btw it was the first Opeth song I heard because Blackwater Park was my first album. Aggressive in the beginning and of corse with acoustic breaks featuring Mikaels fine voice. I can't understand why Mikael thinks that he is a novice relating to singing... "Bleak" is a damn good song it catches you with it's great melody. "Harvest" is a song that could also be on "Damnation", entirely acoustic and really great. But this one is followed by one of my all time Opeth favorites "The drapery falls" This time it starts with the acoustic part and gets heavier afterwards. This song features more breaks than other songs, the band switches more often from mellow to heavy parts. The mellow parts could not be any better, awesome (I think you can find the Mp3 above, try it and you will also see if you like Opeth at all, it is very representative) The next two songs can be easily be located the death metal direction but don't miss the guitar solos, they're awesome in my opinion. "Patterns in the Ivy" is an Instrumental, very short but beautiful...when you have the chance to get your Hands on the Special edition you will get the second part "Pattens in the Ivy II" also a song that could easily be found on "Damnation" "the last song, the title track "Blackwater Park" closes the album in a perfect way. Maybe it is important to mention that Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree as you know) produced this album. Steven and Mikael are good friends (Steven even played Piano on Mikael's Wedding as they entered the church) and will work together on "Damnation" and "Deliverance" as well. For sure some influences are identifiable.

So if you want to get into the world of Opeth this is the key, no doubt. It got me and I'm sure it will get you as well. Don't mind the growls, just try it and I'm sure they woun't bother you.

Review by frenchie
5 stars After reading the reviews for the Opeth albums, i was intruiged to hear what melodic death metal sounded like. I had to know, and i didn't have a clue what to expect but after i got the album it simply blew me away. Never have i heard a progressive piece like this sound so well produced. The album manages to blend its mellow parts with its agressive parts superbly, like Tool and Dream Theater but Opeth take it to the extreme by mixing acoustic guitars with death metal growls and screams. It doesn't sound like an awful corss over but it sounds like its meant to be, something beautiful and mysterious. I've never seen any other band attempt such extremeities, so hats off to them.

Mike's voice throughout the whole album is incredible, whether he is tangled up in brutal agressive death metal screaming and growling, or if he is passionately putting his heart into singing the great lyrics the band have written. Somehow the singing just seems perfect, not over the top or dull at any moment. The rest of the band play incredibly throughout, there is multi layered sound that weaves in and out of mellow acoustic guitar rhythms and hard hitting full on heavy metal riffs. The drummer sure knows just how to switch from insane cymbal smashing to emotional backing drums as well so its flawless on the musical front. It is incredible how well they manage to make this album flow, this album has the perfect amount of balance between heavy and mellow which blows me away. They have obviously put a lot of work into this and it is definetly a masterpiece.

"The Leper Affinity" is a great opener, the song starts quietly and fades in with suspense, instantly making the listener feel secure about the journey they are about to embark on. Things get better from there as this highly progressive piece never fails to please. The song succeeds in blending sorrow with fury, which i think is the main offering on the plate for this song, as well as introducing us to a great new experiment in sound. The opening exploding riff is immense and there is some great riffage ahead. Mike's voice sounds really evil and this is definetly the best death metal album i have ever heard in my life. When it flows into the first mellow section with acoustic guitars it sounds like pure heaven and Mike's voice goes into an excellent mellow section, his voice sounds incredible and inspiring. It has just as much power as his angry growls but in a whole new way. It is incredibly emotional, helped out by the amazing lyrics. The track flows back into hard hitting riffs, the fury of the bass and double bass drum are used very effectively. Opeth also add in this gloomy essence which reflects their misty album covers. Around 8:10 is my favourite section when that amazing soft guitar creeps in and it somehow ends up climaxing with a warm piano piece. Opeth sound like they could make a soundtrack to a gothic horror film or something. An incredible start to one hell of a masterpiece.

"Bleak" stretches us furthur with more brilliant experiments in emotion, this song is an almighty melee of heavy sound. The vocals are very powerful and this is an excellent song. Again the death metal vocals are amazing, this one has a less furious and agressive sound to it but a more paced sound, powerful in new ways. There is a great build up here as there is a quiet acoustic break where it would seem like a mellow vocal part would come in but snakes back into the heaviness and then finds its way to the mellow section. When this track progresses into the "devious movements in her eyes" section it is so bloody powerful and emotional. Definetly one of the best pieces on this album. It blows me away ever time. This track shows of some of Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilsons great input as well.

"Harvest" is more mellow and suits well for the people who may be put of by the harsh vocals and apocalyptic guitars. This is a shorter piece that fits in well to give balance to the sound of the album. "The Drapery Falls" is one of the best offerings on the album. It takes things to the next level and is almost like combining the acoustic rhythms of "Harvest" with the furious guitar work on "Bleak". The emotional singing is a real wonder hear and its even nice to see it explode into anger in the middle. This song is constantly changing and it keeps the song fresh and captivating throughout. good listenings."Dirge For November" has an incredibly warm opening, in fact the whole album is very warm against the cold lyrics. This soon progresses into furthur fury, more epic scales of furious vocals. There is a wonderous piece in the middle, 6 minutes in a beautiful and moving slower piece comes in, showing off the different sides of the guitarists amazing work. The band work so well together, each member getting to show off their own emotions and talents.

"The Funeral Portrait" carries on the incredible theme and again shows off the heavier, darker works. This is probably the best song to headbang to as it seems to have a more evil edge to it. The solo work at the end is the best i've heard on the album, but they are amazing in all aspects of their music. "Patterns in the Ivy" serves as a short filler piece to link tracks 6 and 8 together. It does the job well and also provides a really good piano and acoustic guitar piece. This will give the listener a little break from the intense moshing that the last song provided. I think the break here is an important one because it prepares the listener for the epic album closer. It also shows off some of Opeths acoustic instrumental brilliance. This one is up with there with "Horizons" by Genesis and "Mood for a Day" by Yes. It has a similar effect as those pieces by making the album flow with balance. You can start headbanging again when the title track comes on as this has a rocking intro. Another great piece, offering the best. Everything seems to have been perfected for this song and it contains most of the great elements of the previous songs to provide the best musically arranged piece on the album. As this song progresses it sounds more and more like the world is ending with the ultimate power of the music and vocals.

Blackwater Park is an incredible album and Opeth are an incredible band. Very unique in what they do, there is no other way to describe their music other than gloomy melodic prog death metal, and my life has certainly been enriched by this album. The whole record is a worthy listen and there never seems to be any inconsistancy. The record often stretches to new heights yet it has enough familiarity to keep it appealing. One of the best death metal pieces i have ever experienced and it will even be enjoyed by non metal fans! The balance on this album is a key point to why this album is so good. The band have created a winning formula on this album. Time to go get all their other albums!

Review by FloydWright
4 stars In all honesty, this rating is probably a bit low, but this is where it falls for me, among OPETH's albums--behind the "great three" of My Arms, Your Hearse, Still Life, and Damnation, but still ahead of Deliverance. When a band is a true favorite of mine, I can't help but go a bit harder on it because there is a higher standard for them, and each album is weighed carefully against all the others in that artist's catalogue. This was my first OPETH album, and I guess it just hasn't made the same kind of impression as those three did, even after later listens. I'm the type who likes concepts, and this is the one OPETH album that doesn't have one. Still, it must be said in fairness--this WAS the album that got me hooked on the band, and for its strengths it must receive proper credit.

The strongest points of Blackwater Park are, in my opinion, "Bleak", "The Drapery Falls", "Dirge for November", "The Leper Affinity", and "Blackwater Park" itself. "The Leper Affinity" is probably the best for its piano outro, which is strangely reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky", without being a direct copy. "The Drapery Falls" was actually my first OPETH song ever, and without this one I would have never given the rest of their catalogue a chance. What's odd about "Dirge for November" is, on the official OPETH site, Martín Méndez names this one as his least favorite. Honestly, I can't even begin to understand what his problem is with it. It has some achingly beautiful vocals at the beginning, and it's quite interesting to hear the gentle acoustic theme reiterated in the metal section. "Blackwater Park" is another extremely good track with some very catchy and original riffs (a definite classic rock influence here), in both loud and soft sections. The opening and closing are both interesting, and the middle section is truly a haunting one. Probably my favorite moment is in the transition from the middle section back to the metal style.

"Bleak" is a personal favorite, with some genuinely touching parts in the lyrics. It seems to be a revisit to the spirit in MAYH, perhaps that would have fit in right before "Demon of the Fall"--even the fadeout into those distorted sounds suggest it, as well as the lyrics which indicate his beloved is beginning to threaten suicide (which you hear in "Demon of the Fall"). It's very well balanced between metal and acoustic, and the clean-vocal section on this one is especially powerful. The lyrics, too, I love, especially as the spirit begs of the woman he loved in life, who is now turning away from him and drowning in her grief, "Help me cure you, atone for all you've done / Help me leave you, as all the days are gone." You can even hear some of Martín Méndez' excellent bass work in here, during the acoustic section (whereas he starts to be undermixed in other places on this album). This is probably my favorite song on the album: I can't seem to pass it without listening twice.

There are some other songs, though, that, while they are certainly not bad, don't seem to do much for me, and they are part of the reason I can't give Blackwater Park above a 4. "Harvest" is the first one that comes to mind here. Personally, I think that OPETH has got better acoustic works to offer, and this one doesn't quite come up to the same standard. "The Funeral Portrait", for whatever reason, isn't as interesting either, until the harmonies at the end, which are quite nice. "Patterns in the Ivy" has only one flaw: it's too short, and it just begs to be developed further. The final reason I give Blackwater Park a 4 is because the bass starts to be undermixed here on some songs (although excellent on "The Drapery Falls"), a problem that would become even worse on the next album, Deliverance due to technical problems in the studio, in that case, but as far as I know, there were no such problems here--so it's just a decision to undermix that I don't quite like as much. Still, I imagine many fans will like this album, especially those who do not pay as much attention to lyrics and concept. I do also think it makes a good starter album for beginning fans--but in my case, I ended up moving on to other works of theirs.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars To start, I am not a fan of death metal. Most music that contains more than half of the vocals that are screamed really annoys, but not this album. This is the best album of that nature I've ever listened to. Maybe it's the quiet acoustic passages that set a dreary and dark mood, maybe it's the solid, complex, and enjoyable metal riffs. Whatever it is, this is truly a great album. Mikael Akerfeldt and co. have a unique style of play, and they do it so well. Steven Wilson seems to have a large influence on the bands sound, for it is filled with his input and his piano/guitar work.

The musicianship on this album is very solid. The drumming is very tight and fits the metal mold very well. The bass, while not spectacular, is very sporadic and full of texture. The guitar work is superb for the genre that they play in, with very cohesive and tight play from both Akerfeldt and Lindgren.

The album opens with a metal masterpiece, The Leper Affinity. With dark and melancholic lyrics, Akerfeldt's demonic (as Bryan calls it, "cookie monster') vocals roar into the speakers. His unique and captivating roar really caught me off guard, usually I dislike these vocals with an extreme passion, but I liked this one. The music is very structed, complex, and intricate, a very unique sound eminates from the guitars, for the intricacy of the riffs gives off the perfect tone to the album. Other tracks worth mentioning are The Drapery Falls, another metal nightmare of demonic roars, intricate riffs, and superb guitars; Patterns in the Ivy is a haunting acoustic piece that does nothing less than give me chills. The album closer Blackwater Park is also an incredible piece of metal, with much of the same elements as the other songs mentioned.

My only complaint with this album is that after awhile, Akerfeldt's roaring vocals getting a tad annoying, but it is quickly made up for with the incredible clean vocals that come during the acoustic passages. I give it a 4/5. A very impressive and solid piece of work.

Review by Bob Greece
5 stars I haven't yet heard the latest album Ghost Reveries but until now this is Opeth's best and most accessible album. It is the album where they became popular. Their early albums were clearly death metal albums but Blackwater Park contains a lot more clean vocals, probably due to the influence of Steve Wilson from Porcupine Tree. There are still a lot of death metal vocals but this adds variety to the album that would be not so interesting if it were all sung in the same style as Steve Wilson.

The album is clearly progressive, with long songs and frequent changes of tempo and melody. The stand out song on the album is The Drapery Falls, which starts in a fantastic way and you think it can't get any better but it just keeps improving for the first 4 minutes. After that, the death metal vocals kick in but it's still an outstanding track right until the end.

The album is heavy of course but the musicianship is of a very high standard and the album also contains quite a few mellow moments. If you haven't heard any Opeth, this is the first album of theirs that you should try.

Review by The Crow
4 stars I'm seeing that a lot of people take this album like the best Opeth's album. I have to disagree...

This is a very good album, excellent. But in my opinion it doesn't reach the high peaks of albums like "Still Life" or the magnificent "Deliverance". The band got a lot of popularity with this release, but I think it due to their entering in Music For Nations, lavel that made a great promotion of the album... I remember seeing a lot of publicity of it on heavy magazines.

I don't think that this album is more accesible than "Still Life", because it has less acoustic parts and more growls... Except "Deliverance", It's the less acoustic Opeth's work, and it's darker than the previous one, with only one commercial song on it: Harvest. And it's sound darker, a little in the same way of "My Arms, Your Hearse", like the depriment and repetitive acoustic park of the song Blackwater Park.

In addition, I think that this album isn't very original, because it's too much in the same style of "Still Life", and it doesn't offered something really new, except the great Steve Wilson's production and a little improvement of the acoustic sound and playing. For that, I really liked the change that they made in the brutal "Deliverance" and the absolute beautiful "Damnation", because with "Blackwater Park" the formula was starting to being too repetitive...

Best songs: The Drapery Falls (masterpiece!!!), Bleak and Harvest.

Weak points: Dirge for November and The Funeral Portrait, two songs that don't offer nothing really interesting...

Great album, but the weakest of the last four Opeth's releases in my opinion (without taking count the upcoming Ghost Reveries...).

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Not very interesting - or Prog

So Opeth. Top of the Prog Metal heap or just interesting?

Well, neither really.

A dark but vague keyboard intro gives way predictably to a squeaky-clean guitar riff, repeated verbatim. The polished nature of the riff sets you up for the stereotype screaming metal vocal... but no. We get our first surprise here, and it's not good to my ears. Death metal style growling seems at odds with the texture and sits uncomfortably across a range of riffs with assorted fills, all taken from the school of rock standards and little awareness of how to grow drama within the music. It's all too repetitive - although melodically interesting (in much the same way that Iron Maiden are melodically interesting) in places. Tangential passages in wierd time-signature riffs don't fool me one iota. The music only progresses in that it goes on and on in time - "The Leper Affinity" is clearly in the old school of technical metal, albeit of a rather simple nature. The vocal style is changed around 4:50, but the repetitive acoustic guitar accompaniment is a poor substitute for real prog. It's all short repeated patterns, largely unison with simplistic harmony - and rather boring. From about 6:00 it sounds like it might get interesting - but this is still in the technical as opposed to truly progressive vein. A sudden drop to piano is an interesting texture change at around 9:00 - but this is in the vein of "Lick My Love Pump" by Spinal Tap, and unrelated to the surrounding material.

"Bleak" starts with a nice texture and interesting rhythm - but it's really more of the same, and spoilt once again by inappropriate Death growl style vocals. It may be "a bit different", but that is the aim of technical metal - or at least it was back in the 1980s. "Bleak" is very listenable, but doesn't break any new ground - or sound particularly bleak, as the clear melodic guitar sounds with the blinging production give too much of a sheen. Around 3:15, we might as well be listening to a different song, albeit with much the same riffs. This technique to drag a song out beyond 3 minutes has been tried and tested by the likes of the Beatles, among others. At 5:21, the medley continues with a nice acoustic idea in every sense of the word "nice", followed by the reprise at 6:00. There is potential for some progressive ideas in here - the bass line starts interestingly, but everything in the opther parts simply drape over it instead of developing or investigating contrapuntal ideas. My hunt for a single progressive idea in Opeth's music continues.

"Harvest" opens with potential - a little like the Barclay James version... but less symphonic and ultimately somewhat insipid, reminding me a little of Creed. Pleasant enough, I suppose, but no prog yet...

"The Drapery Falls" opens with a riff that could be interesting if worked on. It has a tendency to slip into mush every 4 or 5 bars, as if the players are not sure of the harmonic effects they are trying to achieve here. It really seems to be subscribing to the school of thought that goes "It doesn' t matter what you play, as long as it's in time and played with an air of authority". Hogwash, of course. The playing and the constructions are simplistic and uninspired, and the lyrics cut through... ouch. I'm sure they mean something to someone, but they're not exactly Gabriel standard to put it mildly...

The album carries on with this pattern, neither developing or progressing the music or the style of music in general.

In short, it's very difficult to see how this album could be considered progressive rock... for me, at least. Opeth have a large number of riff ideas, an ear for melodies and some interesting approaches to rhythm. What they lack is actual musical ideas in terms of harmony and harmonic development, counterpoint and contrapuntal styles, infusing influences from other genres, producing a unique sound, and a feel for overall timbre, shape and good old-fashioned rock'n'roll.

Hence my rating is valid and accurate: For collectors and fans of the band and this type of music only. Prog rock fans will probably be disappointed.

If you think this is progressive, you should hear "Virus" by Tranceplant ;o)

Review by AtLossForWords
5 stars The first Opeth album produced by Steve Wilson results in the defining moment of Opeth's Career.

Blackwater Park is Opeth's fifth studio release and the first release featuring producer Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree. It is in this album that Opeth has finally made an album worthy of a Progressive prefix to their Death Metal.

The album starts off with Leper Affinity, showcasing a style slightly more on the side of Death Metal. The track does showcase the great melodic guitar skills of Opeth. The track maybe a little heavy for some, but it's not vacant of musicality. The next to tracks Bleak and Harvest showcase the softer side of Opeth. Bleak is quite a heavy track, but the prescence of the acoustic guitars is what really makes this track what it is. Harvest is a simple, yet powerful ballad. The center of the album is made up of The Drapery Falls, Dirge For November, and A Funeral Portrait. These tracks show the listener just how dark this band can play. Once again the tracks are most powerful because of the guitar harmonies. The album then ends with the insturmental ballad Paterns in the Ivy and the ridiculously heavy outro of Blackwater Park, the title track. Opeth's Death Metal style is clearly evident here, but can it alienate the most Progressive fans of Opeth?

Great songwriting by Akerfelt who talents are evident vocally and on guitar, and the production of Steve Wilson made this album the pinnacle of Opeth's career. The previous effort Still Life was nearly as progressive, but the sound wasn't captured the same way this album was. Opeth's addition of Steve Wilson finally brought them the progressive tonality they have been searching for since their debut. This is a masterpiece of Progressive Death Metal.

Review by Prognut
4 stars A mix of Metal and Progressive music. Fantastic, once you digest their music. I personally not a fan of Metal, but this one for one reason o another I like it. There is definitive a progressive sense thru the whole album. This particular group is pushing the envelope into the genre. SW influence on this one is indeed evident. This one is for de adventurous prog listener only!! 4 stars
Review by Marc Baum
5 stars For a band as consistent and dense as Opeth, it's amazing they come out with new albums all the time while other (lesser) bands take 3 or 4 years. Yet another reason why they are metal's cutting edge. "Blackwater Park" is their most critically acclaimed work. It has a lighter nature, more acoustic folk influence, and is less frantic than say, Black Rose Immortal. In short: Still Life jr. BWP's style is a more accessible version of Still Life.

The construction of a typical Opeth song is really based on guitar riffs. But rather than a lone powerhouse driving the song, guitarist/singer Mikael Akerfeldt weaves together many intricate passages with lightly distorted guitars. When all these pieces are put together it forms a singularity of massive scope. The guitars don't churn or burn, they don't spew or chug, they grind and slide, they swirl and dig. The overtones present in any massive moment are incredible and genuinely melodic.

This band really knows how to create harmonic tension. The very first licks in the opening track "The Leper Affinity" starts with a middle E5 and then the same chord with a flat 9. This is followed immediately by some descending stacked minor thirds, and then quick chugging on the low E. And as it goes along, more guitars are added to the mix. Often Akerfeldt puts near identical passages on top of each other. It isn't like double tracking because the differences are too great. The effect is something akin to being just out side the eye of a hurricane. There are so many little pieces flying by, that you can only catch some at a time. It takes some skill to hear everything all at once.

The transitions are incredible. This is an area that so many have trouble with. Going from one riff to another is something Opeth elevates to an art. It would be easy for me to fall into more music-geek traps and detail my favorite of said passages but it is entirely unnecessary. I will tell you that the coolest thing is hearing this band transform instantly from a seemingly dissonant, grinding chaos, to a full-on Odysseus. Dark clouds seam a distant memory in place where giant power-chords and soaring vocals have the power to lift you up so high. One particularly great example is on "The Drapery Falls" when everything seams so together you can't help but move. Your head will bob, your fist will be raised, and you won't know these things are going on. You have no control. But it is a very shaky place to be in, as "Leper" proves going into a double grind that increases in power up until the very end. The things you will least expect are when all the instruments drop out entirely and a tender acoustic guitar will play delicate passages like a light breeze across your face. By the time you acclimate to the situation it has changed. Opeth always keeps you guessing. At times a song doesn't even sound like itself. There even a few tunes into which musical brutality doesn't enter. "Harvest", "Patterns in the Ivy", "Dirge for November", all flow brilliantly with a tonal purity that you just can't be expecting. "Patterns in the Ivy" is especially surprising because it fades into the immense darkness of the album's title song. "Dirge's" delicate hollowbody electric figures sound so mellow and wide-ranging acoustic chords cast a spell. "Dirge" isn't entirely acoustic but the difference in sections is so pronounced that the two sections might as well be different songs. The electric section is equally lovely.

No one can get out of a review of this record without talking about the vocals. They are mostly very harsh and deep, an intense growl devoid of melody, fairly typical death metal styled vocals (another review I've seen mentioned that they were typical of black metal. This is not true; black metal vocals are very high and screechy). This will bother many and unfortunately deter some. They do not bother me. I enjoy them and the lyrics, which are cryptic and sometimes clunky (the band is Swedish, but they sing in English). To those of you who cannot take this kind of voice, I offer this: stick it out and give it a chance. Try listening to it before you make a purchase to see if you can really handle it. Also keep in mind that Mikael Akerfeldt does mostly all the vocals (except the few guest appearences of producer and Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson. BWP was the first contribution between him and Opeth), even the impossibly high and soaring clean stuff that could impress a hardened voice instructor (I've seen it happen). Let it sink into you and cringe and run away. After a while you may not even notice that Mikael is singing in that voice. If you keep an open mind you may find yourself really enjoying this. Most people won't be immediately thrown off, and some who aren't fans of death metal will actually enjoy it.

Another thing I absolutely love about this album is its sort of thematic. The intricate drawing on the cover suggests a bleak, grey autumn day. The picture of the band in the middle of the booklet shows them standing in a autumnal forest, looking thoughtfully. Every song is bleak, grey, autumnal as well - you will find no happiness listening to Opeth. The lyrics sometimes reflect this but mostly, and unfortunately, fall short.

There is really something special to be found here. This is a band being truly creative, taking risks with their music. It is too easy to stick to a tried-and-true formula. Opeth falter sometimes, but these occasions are over-shadowed by the immensity of their genius. This album is the right start and best way to get into the band IMO. If you look for a less accessible, but overall more progressive start, try Still Life or Ghost Reveries. There is not much difference between them in quality aspect anyways.

album rating: 9.5/10 points = 96 % on MPV scale = 5/5 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 imoeng
5 stars Blackwater Park

This is Opeth's fifth studio album and was released in 2001, just two years after another great album, Still Life. The unique thing about this album is that Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson was involved in the production, in fact, he was the producer, together with Opeth, of course.

From my point of view, Opeth career is really marked by the album Still Life. It was when more and more people started to know Opeth, what I mean is, not just to know, but to really like their songs. While Still Life has dramatically increased their success, Blackwater Park really complemented their success. Just like other Opeth's album, the style used is the combination of death metal and progressive rock. Yes, death metal, with growling vocal. I have noticed (also on many of my friends), that people don't really appreciate death metal style, from "satanist" to "great desperation". That was exactly what happens to me. Before I got to know Opeth, I don't appreciate death metal at all, however, lately, I like how they fit the death metal style into progressive rock, which is really amazing, and I believe you will like it as well : )

Some real hardcore death metal song on this album are The Funeral Portrait and of course Blackwater Park. For those of you, who, maybe want to try some less-metal song, can listen to Harvest and Patterns In The Ivy. I want to highlight Opeth's music from guitar point of view. Opeth, as a progressive metal band, has slightly different way to make harmonies on guitar. As we all know, some progressive bands really showcase the fast solos, however Opeth showcases the great rhythm.

The Leper Affinity - Nice song to begin the album, because it shows what Opeth's songs are like, for people who listen Opeth for the first time. And just like other songs, there are two style used (in general), growling death metal and clean calm vocal style. From the start, the song has really dark elements but then it change to be calmer, a bit of break in the middle of the song. It is when the music suddenly changes to clean.

Bleak - Another song with a combination of two styles. The structure of the song is pretty much like The Lepper Affinity, which I consider is Opeth's regular song structure (metal, clean, metal). And again, the transition was marked with cool guitar solo along with very nice rhythm.

Harvest - A cooler song than the first two, Harvest was recorded using an acoustic guitar with Akerfeldt's nice clean vocal style. Just like other albums, Opeth always put some "cleaner" songs on the album.

The Drapery Falls - The famous The Drapery Fall, kicks off with a nice vocal and echo- ish guitar background. Suddenly the song changes to be rockish, just for a while, before it becomes more like the first verse. Then the growling vocal shows up, just after a great guitar solo which I think really match the song. What I don't like is the song ends in fade out way, I prefer the "definite" ending.

Dirge For November - Starts off with a very nice acoustic guitar + clean vocal verse. However I suggest you to turn your volume down a little bit when it nearly ends, just to prevent your brain to blows, because the next verse has a really hard metal style. And again, the solo is not that "technical", but it really fits the song with dynamic drum riffs.

The Funeral Portrait - Don't get the title wrong, The Funeral Portrait, should be a calm and sad song, not in this case. Since the beginning of the song, the vocal really has a dark heavy and death metal element. The next passage is my favorite from this song, a great guitar solo just after the vocal ends with a very metal-ish rhythm. After that, Akerfeldt showed his "anger" by producing an "arrrrgghh!!!" sound with death metal style. Now comes the great part, when a clean acoustic guitar lines come, just for a while though. The song is ended with a somewhat long guitar solo.

Patterns In The Sky - A short song, just slightly above one minute, and is the second "clean" song without any metal element, just like Harvest. In fact, its pretty much like a keyboard solo with a piano sound. The guitar rhythm is just very beautiful.

Blackwater Park - In my mind, I was thinking that this must be a very good song, considering the title is the same with the title of the album. And yes, I'm correct, a really good song with a combination of death metal and soft progressive rock. The intro of the song is a rocking guitar passage, followed by a calmer one. The first half of the song is a instrumental part actually, before Akerfeldt started to sing.

No doubt, five stars. Well, just for your information, I am a progressive metal fan, maybe that is why I value this album high. But then I think the song composition and the lyrics, also with the feeling behind the songs are something to deserve a high appreciation. If you like progressive metal but you don't like death metal, my suggestion is, "just try", just like I did.

Keep On Proggin' In The Free World!!

Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars A masterpiece? By prog standards, yes. By Opeth standards, no. This is one of the most overrated Opeth releases, along with Ghost Reveries. Don't worry too much though, this album has many great moments, and some of the most moving stuff Opeth has ever wrote, however, there is also some not so great sections which I will discuss.

The Leper Affinity - The best track on the album. This is a song I would point to if I were to describe what Opeth is about. Brilliant riff structures and dynamics.

Bleak - An overrated song. Starts out very interesting, but has a horrible middle section. To me, Steven Wilson's vocals ruin the song. Opeth picks it up at the end and provides a great ending however, with one of their better riffs, a dissonant march that builds tension in the music.

Harvest - One of the simplest Opeth songs, Harvest is average. Most of the songs on Damnation are much more interesting. A nice relaxing song however for those not fans of the "death metal" aspects.

The Drapery Falls - Oh boy. Well, this song has many strong points, but it also has some very bad structure to it, in the way that it is almost like a palindrome. However, the song also contains Opeth's most interesting and intriguing riff in the middle, the so-called "Russian Riff" which basically is one of the coolest sounding things you are likely to hear. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the song is average by Opeth standards and very overrated.

Dirge for November - One of the most underrated Opeth songs. Brilliant acoustic taste, along with wonderful clean vocals opens the song. A heavy middle section that many will not like, but personally I enjoy it. A wonderful acoustic ending.

Funeral Portrait - The "poppiest" riff Opeth has ever wrote is the main theme in the song. This is very much a riff you might see in a typical mainstream band. An interesting song with some progressive moments, but not all there.

Patterns/Blackwater - I always listen to these songs together. Patterns is more or less "filler", however it's very enjoyable. Blackwater Park has no clean vocals, but has a myriad of riffs and soundscapes that are extremely fun and very powerful and moving. This song is much better live than it is on the album, but Opeth have always been a very competent live band.

Patterns 2 - I am adding this because it is something I think all prog fans would enjoy. Some Opeth fans wish it would have been on the original CD, and some thing it ranks among one of the top5 songs they ever wrote. It is indeed a very good song and probably one of Opeths finer "clean" songs, with brilliant guitar and vocal lines.

Overall this album is great, however I do not enjoy every part of this album, like I would on MAYH, Morningrise, or the masterpiece that is Still Life. Better than many of my other 4 stars, still excellent and strongly reccommended.

Review by Zitro
4 stars 3.7 Stars

When you reach a cliff, that means you will go down.

Opeth has peaked with Still Life: a flawless concept album that perfectly mixes all of their elements which make Opeth a great band. After it, they released this album: a safe album which contains a set of good songs with their usual heavy-soft transitions. The new element about this album are Steven Wilson's contributions: a bit of piano, some guitar, and backing vocals. Also, he improved the production of this album too since the sound quality is perfect. Overall, a great album, though the quality drops after Drapery Falls.

The Leper Affinity opens the album with a bang! Opeth's typical heavy long song with good riffing. Some guitars in the background and altered-vocals might be Steven Wilson's contributions. The mounful piano at the end is certainly his.

Bleak begins with some interesting fast-paced acoustic work and is overall a piece with a great amount of good riffs, acoustic and electric alike. Not a very complex song, but it really works.

Harvest sounds a bit like a Porcupine Tree - Opeth hybrid and is overall a good song. It's mostly acoustic strumming with good melodic singing. The choruses are pretty good and the 2nd one has 2 vocals and The final chorus has 3 vocals. The guitar solo in the middle is worthy of mention: melancholic and beautiful.

Drapery Falls might be their most famous song as well as one of the songs most loved by fans of the band. The reason is clear: it has amazing riffs and ideas. For example, the elegant heavy start has a great melody as well as a driving rhythm guitar and showcases the band's ability to compose great double guitar ideas. The acoustic strumming combined with the melodic atmospheric electric guitar and catchy vocals make a great section too (verses in minute 2-3) while the choruses rock without the usage of grunts. The middle section is more adventurous and a great semi-acoustic part at the end similar to the one in the beginning marks a great conclusion for a very good track.

Dirge For November is weak by Opeth's standards: it lacks melodies: it's just relatively straightforward metal. Fortunately, the ending has a brilliant acoustic theme, though it overstays its welcome a bit.

Funeral Portrait is a bit better than Dirge For November. This is another metal with the usual growls. I don't see a lot of adventure in this track, though I admit some of the riffs are pretty well executed and the drumming elevate this song from a mediocre Opeth tune. There is also a very good solo halfway through the track and the piece is coherent. The problem with the song is just that it just sounds like any other Opeth song: it is not very original.

Patterns in the Ivy: What a shame, they did something like Requiem: a pointless acoustic short song that doesn't develop. At least, this one has some effective piano though I heard pt2 in youtube and is miles better than this.

Blackwater Park is a heavy epic that doesn't contain a single clean vocal throughout its huge duration. IT manages to be an above average track due to it's good riffs, though it doesn't fully excite me. The acoustic part is again a bit repetitive (what is this Opeth? Orchid revisited??) though its guitar melody is beautifully complex.

My Highlights: Drapery Falls, Leper Affinity

Letdowns: Dirge For November, Patterns in the Ivy

My Grade : B-

Very good, but get Still Life, My arms your hearse or Ghost Reveries to check out this band, not this. IT sounds a bit mainstream and commercial for Opeth.

I recommend this album after you got most of the others.

Review by el böthy
4 stars This was my introduction to Opeth, a band I wanted to get into but with just listening to some songs never quite did... this album made all the difference, now Opeth is my favorite metal band.

This album is a natural step forward (at least I see it so) from the amazing Still life, and while retaining some similarities, it´s the small changes Opeth makes from album to album that makes every single one so good. The diferrence here is by far the production, Steven Wilson as producer has shown enormous talent from day one, but to make a metal album sound astonishing good is something really special. Even he said that working on Blackwater park might be one of his best jobs to date! This is evident, never have the guitars sounded so clean yet brutal at the same time, the drums are as clear as they come and the acoustic passages sound even more delicate and sophisticated than in Still life, which is not just something! Also, Akerfeld singing and growls sound better than ever. This is for me one of the ebst (if not the ebst) produced metal albums I have heard so far.

Well, enough of the production, let´s talk about some music. Blackwater park opens with one of Opeth most brutal songs ever, The Leper Affinity. In my eyes, their best ever, the guitar riffs, the vocals, the drumming, the acoustic piece and the piano at the end, courtesy of mr Wilson, makes this a stand out track among stand out´s songs. Bleak is another very interesting song with a lot of acoustic work, actually if Im not mistaken, the acoustic guitar is always present, but don´t be fooled, this song is heavy as they come. Mr Wilson also delivers some excellent vocal lines, which makes this a very special Opeth song, for the first time ever another person besids mr Akerfeld is singing lead vocals in Opeth. The result is incredible,a nother highlight of the album. The other really heavy track, and also a personal favorite of mine, is The Funeral Portrait with one of Opeth´s best riffs ever! I absolutly love how this song begins with the acoustic guitars and then goes into full metal with that astonishing riff, absolutly amazing. The longer songs might very well be the most important of the whole album, I mean of course The Drapery Falls and the closer, Blackwater Park. The Drapery Falls is the classic and most well known song of the album, and maybe even of the whole Opeth career. In both songs we have a bit of psychedelia and a lot of alteretion between clean and heavy moments, specially The Drappery Falls with it´s acoustic breaks and gentle vocals. This songs I have mentioned so far are the absolut best of the album, the others Dirge for November also presents interesting contrasts between clean and heavy moments, although the song might be a bit too long in some places, it´s still great. Patterns in the Ivy is a short acoustic instrumentla piece...beautiful. Yet there is one song that really is not up there with the rest. Harvest is for me, not a filler, but not a great song as the rest, which brings the whole thing down a notch...but not too much.

All in all this album is amazing, among the best Opeth has ever realesed, and together with Still life, my personal favorite. Not a masterpiece, but not too far behind.

Review by evenless
4 stars BWP is a very good Opeth album, together with STILL LIFE, DAMNATION and GHOST REVERIES their finest!

Not being a black nor death metal fan I got to know Opeth through the DAMNATION album, which is a very mellow and wonderful Opeth album that Porcupine Tree or Riverside fans could easily relate to. After DAMNATION I got curious after this band and BWP was my 2nd Opeth album.

As I normally don't like death nor black metal I was a bit hesitant to get this album. My fear of not liking the album because of the growls and grunts was not founded. I must admit I still don't really like the "demonic vocals", but on BWP everything just seems to be in harmony and Mikael changes his demonic vocals enough with his clean vocals to keep things interesting. Furthermore Opeth's music itself is never boring and very sophisticated with many tempo changes.

Bleak is probably one of the best tracks of BWP. It stars as quite a heavy song for the first 3 minutes or so. Then we get some great melodic guitar play combined with Steven Wilson and Mikael singing my favourite part of the song:

Devious movements in your eyes Moved me from relief Breath comes out white clouds with your lies And filters through me You're close to the final word You're staring right past me in dismay A liquid seeps from your chest And drains me away Mist ripples round your thin white neck And draws me a line Cold fingers mark this dying wreck This moment is mine

I really love that part man! At this time you can really notice Steven Wilson's interference. Not only the production of BWP by SW is great, he also plays some guitar and piano on it. Bleak is definitely one of the highlights of this album!

Harvest is a nice mellow track that might as well could have been on the DAMNATION album. The same goes for Patterns in the Ivy even though this is a very short instrumental track. If you would want to obtain this album I would advise you to get the double disc version of it as it contains the wonderful acoustic track Still Day Beneath the Sun and the wonderful Patterns in the Ivy II

There's quite a few songs on the album I didn't discuss, because the one I mentioned are my personal favourites. All tracks are quite enjoyable though. For sure a 4 star album!

Review by sleeper
5 stars Its not hard to find, these days, comments making out Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree) to be a man possessed with some sort of Midas Touch, that everything that he works on turns to gold. Whether I agree with this or not is besides the point, what is beyond doubt for me is that he has given Opeths Blackwater Park a very liberal sprinkling of Gold Dust.

As the successor album to the very impressive Still Life, Blackwater Park had a lot to live up to, and not only does it not disappoint but it exceeds expectations and dishes out one of the best albums of the last 10 years. The formula is pretty much the same as before, bone-jarring riffs intertwined with hauntingly beautiful, melodic acoustic led pieces creating deceptively complex and dynamic music that can grab the listeners attention with ease. So how does an album that seems to employ the same basic formula as before attain such an impressive stature? The answer is simply the small things, the little changes that have been made/added to the way that Opeth create music and the guiding hand of Steven Wilson's production.

Opeth have always made melancholic and haunting music that befits their sonic style, but here it has been greatly enhanced by a few changes. The most noticeably outward change is that an E-bow (I suspect) is being employed to the guitar constantly throughout this album giving us long, dramatic notes that flow without surcease that supplies the perfect touch to create an absolute feel of haunting melancholy, while sonically offsetting the crushing riffs wonderfully. I would normally try and suggest were you would find this done best on the album but, with the exceptions of Patterns In The Ivy and Harvest, it is done brilliantly throughout the album. The atmosphere that pervades this album is greatly helped along by the touches of Steven Wilson, particularly the calmness of his piano playing, such as at the end of The Leper Affinity, and the way that his voice offsets well with that of Akerfeldt. As you may have guessed by now, I consider this all encompassing, bleak atmosphere (making the title of the second track very appropriate) to be the strength of Blackwater Park because it is created so exquisitely and without ever become overwhelming and depressing the listener.

Technically, Opeth are a relatively proficient band with their instruments, you will not likely find the technical fireworks of bands like Dream Theater, but nor will you find them to be a simple band. Their compositions reflect this by being very riff driven and with only a few changes, but when those changes come they really hit you. This doesn't apply just to the change between heavy and light, metal and acoustic, but between the different riffs employed in the songs. One thing that I always try to look for in music is the little touches, the clever little bits that stand out for as little as a second but are remembered from then on. This has them, the most memorable of them for me is the slap bass line at about two thirds of the way through the title track, Blackwater Park, which never fails to capture my attention.

Throughout Blackwater Park there are some absolute gems. Bleak, The Leper Affinity and Blackwater Park are three of my favourites and I firmly believe that The Drapery Falls is one of the best songs to have been recorded in the last 10 years. The tranquil beauty of Harvest and Patterns In The Ivy are nice soothing songs and, though Dirge For November and The Funeral Portrait are not quite as strong, weak is the last word that I would ever use to describe them. A year ago I spent a long time trying to make my mind up on whether I should take the plunge with Opeth, being rather hesitant of the death metal vocals (a style that I still do not totally like) but I'm definitely glad that I did decide to buy Still Life, and then Blackwater Park, as I have found some of the best music being made currently and now more than tolerate the death metal vocals, but actively appreciate them when performed with the gusto and taste of Akerfeldt, who is now less raspy and even lower pitched than on the bands first couple of albums, Orchid and Morningrise. This is a must buy album and I urge everyone to at least give it one listen, I doubt you will be disappointed.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An album that you should not miss .

I never considered the band was in progressive scene as I heard the band name at the very first time from metal community mailing list. When someone posted an email mentioning that Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree did contribute in Opeth's album, I started to ask who this band is. So it's clear that Steven Wilson was the linking pin that connected me to Opeth. I was actually quite hesitant to know the band as people telling me that the singing style was growling. I don't know why I was not bothered at all with growling style the band produced. It's probably because I assumed that vocal has the same role as other instruments - it produces sound as part of total music. Having this in mind, I could accept any sound produced by the band.

Track by track review

The album opener "The Leper Affinity" starts off with ambient keyboard sound that increases in volume followed suddenly with heavy riffs in relatively fast tempo music, growling vocal and double bass pedal sounds typical in metal scene. The music is so loud and fast but for some reason I like the melody as well as the rocking guitar work and dynamic drumming style. Interesting to note here that during the lyrical part, the drummer (Martin Lopez) does not use double pedal bass drum sounds. It's basically a hard driving style with heavy guitar work. The music turns into quieter passage to feature vocal in slower tempo with excellent acoustic guitar work.. It reminds me to Porcupine Tree's sound. What surprises me is that this track ends up unexpectedly with an excellent piano which influenced by classical music. Overall, this is an excellent track with some variations in melody and complexity.

The second track "Bleak" is still a hard driving track in a little bit slower tempo than the opener but it still produces another nice melody. The intro part contains a nice combination of acoustic guitar and drum work followed with stunning electric guitar fills. When the growling voice enters the music, guitar provides simple sounds at the background and gives a gothic style. The combination of growling voice and the music is excellent especially it is accentuated by a dynamic drum work. In transitions to quieter passages the acoustic guitar fills the gap nicely. When the music accompany non-growling lyrical part, it reminds me to Porcupine Tree music. In the middle of the track the music turns into a blues-based style featuring voice line. The music turns louder suddenly with faster tempo. Overall, it's an excellent track with relatively complex structure and frequent tempo changes. It forms a solid and cohesive music.

"Harvest" brings the music to a more relaxing mood with beautiful acoustic guitar rhythm that features vocal in an ambient medium tempo style. Structurally, it's a relatively simple track with excellent clean guitar solo in the middle of the track. It's a reminiscent of Porcupine Tree's Light Bulb Sun or Stupid Dream nuance. The fourth track "The Drapery Falls" opens with a nice acoustic guitar rhythm followed with full music in medium tempo style built around long sustain and distorted guitar work. The music turns into a quieter passage with main feature of acoustic guitar rhythm followed with distant vocal singing style. What a great sound produced in this part! The music flows smoothly with a nice tagline melody. The vocal part changes to a growing style in a faster tempo music with louder volume. Overall, it's a song with relatively long duration that basically comprises two styles: the light one at the beginning and the heavy one at the other part.

"Dirge For November" starts off with a mellow singing style with acoustic guitar work, followed with a stunning guitar solo in a bluesy style accompanied with excellent acoustic guitar fills. Unexpectedly, the music turns louder with a distorted guitar work in gothic nuance. The electric guitar solo takes the melody of this opening part and bring the music with growling singing style. A very nice segment. The music turns suddenly into a break followed with a combination of guitar fills and soft keyboard at background. This quiet passage brings the song to the end.

The sixth track "The Funeral Portrait" starts beautifully with an acoustic guitar work that brings the music into a hard driving style in fast tempo with growling voice style. The music reminds me to power metal band's rhythm section where the energy moves upward in line with the lead singer's voice. Even though this track can be considered straight forward structure, there are some excellent transitions with great acoustic guitar work that fills the gap between musical passages.

"Patterns In The Ivy" is a short track that explores excellent acoustic guitar and nice piano work. It provides a nice break after hard driving tracks performed previously. It continues with a hard driving style album title track Blackwater Park. It has heavy and distorted guitar sounds at the beginning part. As the music moves, there are some transitions into quieter passages exploring clean guitar fills accompanied with acoustic guitar . This track has a wide variations in terms of styles as well as density. The structure is relatively complex because it changes as the music flows with various singing styles.


In summary, this is an excellent album with tight composition, exploring various sounds that can be produced from musical instruments, frequent tempo changes which sometime occur abruptly. The style can be categorized under progressive metal. However, this is not the kind that might appeal directly to those who like Dream Theater, Threshold, Symphony X, Kamelot or Rhapsody. For those who hate growling vocal, I suggest that you change your perception from vocal's role to deliver message with lyrical part with vocal as musical instruments. This might help. I would say, this album might favor death metal fans immediately.

Review by 1800iareyay
4 stars Following the excellent Still LIfe, opeth found themselves on the brink of a breakthrough. This came with Blackwater Park, thanks largely to the inlvolvement of Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson. Akerfeldt, a huge fan of PT, managed to strike up a friendship with Wilson, who agreed to produce Opeth's next album. This was the start of a great realationship that both bands would benefit greatly from. Opeth already mixed atmosphere and progressive rock in with death metal, but the PT influence resulted in more atmosphere than ever before. The result was an album that pushed Opeth to the forefront of botht eh modern metal and modern prog scenes, wehre they've been ever since.

The album opens with the epic metal of The Leper Affinity. As many have said, this is the song to let newbies listen to, since it pretty much sums up the Opeth sound, going through incredible changes based on great structures complete with alternating clean vocals and the deepest, yet most intelligible, growls you'll ever hear. The high standard set by the opener is bettered with Bleak, which features vocals from Wilson. The lyrics are, well, you can guess ;) Harvest contunues the greatness, and it sounds like a song on Damnation, as it is sung with Mikael's haunting clean vocals. The real highlight of the album is The Drapery Falls, one of the best Opeth tunes out there complete with vocals from Wilson and stunning composition featuring beyond heavy riffs that lead into acoustic bliss.

Sadly, the second half does not live up to the first. Dirge For November and Patterns in the Ivy are letdowns, even though Patterns is really just an intro to the title track. Dirge has flashes of inspiration in it's opening and closing, but the middle section just doesn't excite me the way nearly all of Opeth's music does. The Funeral Portrait is fairly good, with great vocals, but it doesn't live up to teh standards set by teh first half. Everything gets redeemed however, with the title track. It has everythung: crushing riffs, haunting vocals, bleak lyrics, and endless yet always smooth changes. On the special editon, you get Patterns in the Ivy 2, which is infintiely better than the first and it's a shame it was left off the album.

Opeth got the hit the deserved with this record. The strange thing about Opeth is how they makes the lyrics work. The lyrics, when read off a sheet, sound like decent poetry coming from a depressed teen. However, Mikael's delivery and the music itself smehow makes the lyrics seem a lot better. I've never encountered another band that can do that. At best their music can cover up lyrical weaknesses (early KC, Yes, any early prog band really), but Opeth manage to enhance their words with the music. Still Life is still the best Opeth album, but this is the best place to start for newbies and it is a killer prog metal album.

Grade: B+

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. "Sick liaisons raised this monumental mark. The sun sets forever over Blackwater Park." This is the last line that is sung on this album. An album that is about a place called Blackwater Park where a leprosy outbreak occurs. We are told the story (in the first person) of what follows. The album cover and the lyrics certainly portray a hopeless situation.

"The Leper Affinity" quickly turns crushingly heavy with the vocals to match. It can't get much heavier and louder than this can it ? Clean vocals arrive before 5 minutes as the sound builds back up including some amazing guitar. The sound is incredible 8 1/2 minutes in until all we hear are piano melodies to end it. "Bleak" opens with vocals that are anything but clean ! This has a slower pace then the opening track but is still very powerful. Clean vocals 3 1/2 minutes in and they sound great on this song. I can't say enough about the instrumental work throughout this tune. The sound has calmed down before 6 minutes.This is freaking amazing ! "Harvest" is a catchy song with strummed guitar and clean vocals. I love this tune. Check out the lyrics as well. "The Drapery Falls" is my favourite song on the album. The lyrics are again so sad and hopeless. I'm reminded of the album "Damnation" 2 1/2 minutes in. The absolute highlight for me though is the vocal melody 4 minutes in. I just raise my arms and bask in the melody. We get some TOOL like drumming 6 minutes in as this song contrasts the heavy and light passages beautifully.

"Dirge For November" opens with reserved vocals and acoustic guitar for over a minute and a half. The drums come pounding in as the guitars grind out a melody. Ungodly vocals arrive before 6 minutes before the song ends in a pastoral way. "The Funeral Portrait" has some more incredible instrumental work. Outstanding ! A great heavy sound with growly vocals for seven minutes. After 4 minutes the vocals get even more violent. Clean vocals 7 minutes in with some blistering guitar. "Patterns In The Ivy" is a short, beautiful instrumental of acoustic guitar and piano. This sets us up for the title track "Blackwater Park". It opens with a powerful soundscape and vocals to match. 3 minutes in it turns eerie and atmospheric for a couple of minutes. Nice. Then we get absolutely crushed ! Check out the guitar solos and the bass and drum work ! Piano and acoustic guitar to end this ride of death.

You know it wouldn't surprise me if Steven Wilson wasn't as proud of this album as he is with any of his own. I really listened to this record a lot trying to see if I liked it better than "Still Life" or not. Well I do like this one better, but now I should go back and listen to "Still Life" over and over again to be fair.

Review by rushfan4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I read the various reviews posted in Progressive Archives regarding Opeth's Blackwater Park that referred to this as a Prog masterpiece so I had to give them a try. I do not like death metal and I admit that I was sceptical because the samples that I heard did not appeal to me. There are other reviews from reviewers who say they don't like death metal, but really liked this album and this band so I thought that if I heard the album as a whole or if I gave it a few listens it would grow on me. It didn't. Based on the music I would rate them as a 4 star, excellent addition to any prog music collection, but the death growls or "cookie monster" vocals just do not appeal to me and ruin the songs for me, thus the 2 star rating of for collectors/fans only.

For me, the best songs on this album were Patterns in the Ivy, an instrumental, and Harvest, a song where he sings with a normal voice. I think that both songs would appeal to Porcupine Tree fans since their is definitely a touch of Steve Wilson heard here.

This is probably sacrilege but I know that there are some good bands that have recorded some good music in their native tongues and then in future years re-released their music with English vocals. If Opeth were to do that with this album except to change the death metal vocals to a normal singing voice vocals then I might be first in line for that re-release. Until that day happens, I would recommend that if you don't like death metal vocals then there is a good chance that you won't like this album either.

P.S. I have also listened to Damnation and like what I have heard there so far. I will give it a couple more listens before I post a review but so far so good (no death metal vocals). I haven't read the reviews of Damnation yet, but I suppose that the big fans of Opeth probably don't like Damnation as much as their other albums for the same reasons that I like it.

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I purchased Blackwater Park after hearing lots and lots of astonishingly good things about the band, and about this album in particular. Now writing this review, I'm having a hard time deciding on a rating. The musicians are all very skilled on their instruments and the clean vocals are very good, much better than the average prog metal band. I don't mind the death metal growls either, as I have listened to a lot of straight death/black metal and am used to it.

While the album is technically very competent, it fails to move me for some reason, and the emotion I feel most strongly when I listen to it is boredom. I think that on the whole, the songs are far longer than their content merits. So, while the band has many good ideas, they are played too many times and become repetitious. One of the first rules of showmanship is "leave them wanting more." Opeth might have accomplished this is they had chopped off five minutes from each of their songs.

Another problem I have with the record is a problem many technically excellent prog metal bands face. The riffs seem too metronomically perfect, too well rehearsed, too cold and lacking in human inspiration and spontaneity. I don't know about you, but when I listen to heavy metal, I like it to get me fired up, to get my adrenaline pumping and my heart pounding. This type of music does not accomplish that.

I think the band's strongest point is actually their acoustic work. The way they layer acoustic guitars on top of each other creates some beautiful textures, and it is here that the album really succeeds. Bleak is an excellent track, as is The Drapery Falls and the Funeral Portrait, but again, they go on long past the point where I lose interest.

I think three stars is a fair rating, for a technically brilliant album that is too long and lacks some of the human warmth that I prefer in my music.

Review by Prog Leviathan
5 stars In a word-- phenomenal. "Blackwater Park" shatters expectations and raises the bar for the genre very, very high with its complex/dynamic songwriting and incredible instrumental passages. Opeth's performance here will please metal fans by default, and very likely lure fans from outside the circle as well.

From the explosive beginning through to its eerie conclusion, this album exhibits a new level of class and perfection for the band; they have a precise, focused sound which outshines previous albums and weaves some genuinely memorable moments. The juxtaposition of heavy/soft is more prevalent here than ever before, with the dexterous interchange of heavy melodies and acoustic atmosphere balancing perfectly. As one of the major appeals of the band (for me anyway), I couldn't enjoy these dynamics more. Steven Wilson's contributions add a nice touch as well.

An essential work and amazing example of musicianship.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Review by Fight Club
5 stars Opeth is a name I have been hearing for quite a while now. However, I tended to ignore them for the longest time assuming they'd be just another death metal band with annoying growl vocals. I will tell you right now that I am not a death metal fan and very rarely enjoy any "cookie-monster" vocals. So yeah, I held off listening to this band for a good year or two before I discovered something that made this band worth checking out. I heard somewhere that Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree had produced a few of Opeth's albums. From that point on I started wondering about this band. I thought "if the guy from Porcupine Tree produces their stuff then they gotta be worth listening to, right?" So, one night I decided I'd check out their album, Still Life. I have to say my first impression was not very good. I guess at the time I just wasn't ready for this kind of music, who knows? It was only about a week or two later though when I put Blackwater Park on and that was when it all hit me.

Truthfully, I can't explain why I wasn't bothered by the growling vocals. The music had this extre edge to it, something unique that just wasn't present with any other "death metal" band. Of course the music is, as Dethklok would say "brutal" to the point that I just can't bear to sit still while listening to it. I either have to pick up my bass and start rocking out with it, or go driving with it playing blisteringly loud.

"Ok I get it, the music is heavy, but what makes it so different?"

One thing that stands out is the fusion of mellow, acoustic sections into the chaos. Opeth balances their albums out brilliantly as the songs transition from intense riffing to soft, melancholy passages. This is one of the first aspects of the band that hit me right away, something that made them really stand out from an ordinary death band. I could instantly tell these guys had taste by their finger-picking acoustic guitar style. An extreme metal band that also has some skill in creating light music. Who would've thought?

Another reason Opeth stands above so many other metal bands is their skill in creating extremely tight, well-crafted compositions. Tempo and time signature changes are just two things commonly found in the average Opeth song. However, they don't make the changes ridiculously obvious like Dream Theater would, instead it's all very subtle; small things that just throw you off once you actually analyze it. In my opinion this one of the genius things that can make a band great if they manage to accomplish it. Opeth does it very well as it can be heard on the opening track "The Leper Affinity". It begins in 6/4 and some sections seem to end just an 8th note too short, some wonderful little easter eggs. They also experiment a great deal in sound exploration, frequently using their guitars for creating sounds other than blairing riffs. Another thing is the style in which they create riffs. They don't just throw in all the typical cliches of metal like power chords and sweep picking, instead they use some incredibly unique chords and progressions. There is a lot of emotion found in their chord choice and half the time I can't even figure out what chords they are playing. It is really something that stands out in the whole metal scene.

Those are just a few of the things that make Opeth progressive. They are not progressive in the typical 70s prog sense of Yes and King Crimson. Don't expect a Dream Theater like sound out of Opeth, it is quite different. If you are a fan of prog and the heavy though, you should find this album to be extremely appealing.

What about Steven Wilson's contribution?

Well besides Steven Wilson producing the entire album, he also includes some vocals and piano/keyboards, most notably on "Bleak" which features a double harmony section between Akerfeldt and Wilson. I must also add that this is a very accessible (and great) song and a good one to introduce Opeth. It has some awesome memorable riffs and a fantastic intense and emotional section towards the end. Anyways, as far as Steven Wilson goes, his presence is felt quite as much as it is on their album, Damnation in which he contributes his mellotron on nearly every track, but after all this is an Opeth, not a Porcupine Tree album.

As far as all of the tracks go, Blackwater Park has some of my favorites Opeth have done including "The Leper Affinity", "Bleak", "Harvest" (a fantastic and dark mellow song), "The Drapery Falls" (this one's a real fan favorite), and the title track. The other tracks aren't disappointing either. My only problem is that even with the changes from light to heavy, Opeth's style just tires me after extended listening. It's really difficult to listen to in its entirety (for me at least) as the riffing can just go on relentlessly sometimes without a break for my ears. This might not be as much of a problem if it weren't for the extreme vocals, but I don't think that's as much of a problem as the lack of variation sometimes. While Opeth is incredibly unique, and one of the greatest metal bands out there, they just don't change the mood and structures enough. After enough listening one can pretty much predict what is going to happen next, and their albums tend not to progress much as a single entity. There is not really a beginning, a middle, and an end to an Opeth album. Just some really kickass songs mixed together.

Even considering those few negative aspects, Blackwater Park is still probably a masterpiece of metal. All the postives created by their utterly unique style, songwriting ability, and technical prowess put Opeth in front of countless other progressive and metal acts of the past two decades. Even though I'd probably only give the average Opeth album an 8-8.5/10, Blackwater Park probably deserves a 9.

Rating: 9/10. Rounds up to 5/5. Essential as far as metal goes.

Review by russellk
5 stars A few seconds of rising noise presages a gargantuan explosion of riffage. 'Blackwater Park' is born amid the thumping of double-kick drums, howling, growling vocals and a Great Wall of guitars. This was my first exposure to OPETH and, for the first time since hearing the opening riff to 'Symptom of the Universe' in 1976, I was overwhelmed by the sheer power of music.

This, for me, is the seminal OPETH album. Intellectually I understand it is on a par with its immediate predecessor, 'Still Life', and the fact that I favour 'Blackwater Park' is probably because I heard it first. Just so you know I'm biased. But this has everything: musical beauty, violence, drama, lyricism, grandeur and, above all, the coherency that has to some degree been missing from all preceding OPETH albums.

'The Leper Affinity' starts with a riff that brings me out in a sweat. AKERFELDT's growls are deeper and clearer on this album, and his words are accompanied by riff after stellar riff, as though he's stolen TONY IOMMI's bottomless magic riff bag gifted by the devil in 1970. A minute thirty in and we've had three of the most outstandingly hooky riffs I've heard. We get more lead guitar in this song than had been the norm for OPETH to this point, and the band makes full use of its twin-guitar attack. A wonderful solo at the three minute mark is followed by a dramatic micropause and a rhythm reshuffle - only on a prog album - as we get another great riff ... and on it goes. When the song detumesces towards the gentle central section it's almost a relief. The real triumph of 'Blackwater Park' is the seamless integration of the acoustic sections with the rest of the songs: here the bass plays the riff behind the acoustic guitars, linking it to what has been and what is to come. And on it comes: the heavy section rises again until it reaches one of the most impressive moments in metal music, AKERFELDT's scream over a pause and the reintroduction of the opening riff, completing the circle and emphatically stamping 'prog rock' on the music.

OPETH have always feasted on a surfeit of creativity, but in my view have not made the most of what they have - until this album, this moment. Maybe it was STEVEN WILSON's influence, who knows? But nothing outlives its welcome in this song, and it has such a pleasing musical shape, making it more accessible to those of us brought up on '70s prog. If you can cope with the heaviness, this is a very good place to start your exploration of modern progressive music.

The album never drops in intensity. 'Bleak', 'Dirge for November', 'The Funeral Portrait' and the title track are all outstanding, the equivalent of anything on 'Still Life', but are overshadowed by the other tracks on the album. 'Harvest' is OPETH throttling back, clean vocals and subtle acoustic and electric guitars, a sort of halfway house between their acoustic numbers and their stormers. This is far more than a mere respite between the ten-minute ear-crushers. 'Harvest' is a wonderful song on its own terms, and OPETH were to go on to prove this was no fluke with their album 'Damnation', which featured an entire record of songs like this. The melodic hook is in the vocals, just where it should be to act as a wonderful counterpoint to the hook-heavy riffs of the surrounding songs. 'Patterns in the Ivy' is sheer beauty, and it is a matter of some importance that you seek out the 2 CD edition with the extended version of this song and its equally beautiful partner, 'Still Day Beneath the Sun.' The acoustic material is a step up from previous albums, less busy and far more melodious.

That leaves 'The Drapery Falls', OPETH's magnum opus. There aren't words, really. An intense and deeply satisfying swirl of guitar opens and closes the song, created as AKERFELDT upends his purloined riff bag and uses the best he can find, and in between we have complexity, hooks and riffs to burn, along with the most impressive bass on the album, and a riff of unsurpassed violence in the central section, all packaged together to make something very special. If you're going to judge the band on one downloaded song, make it this one. Would an earlier AKERFELDT have had the courage or ability to sing the 'Pull me down again' section - which would test any vocalist?

I'm impressed by the way the songs flow on this album. At no point does my attention waver, at no point are there two consecutive songs with similar personalities. And just when it might be getting all too much, there's a quiet moment of piano or acoustic guitar to allow me to draw breath. It's deliberate, and here more than anywhere I'm guessing we see STEVEN WILSON's hand.

I have five favourite 'desert island' albums. Two are from the 1970s: 'Ommadawn' and 'Close to the Edge'. Two are from the 1990s: 'Snivilisation' and 'Music Has the Right to Children' (neither classified as prog). And there's one from the 2000s: this one.

Any negatives to this album?


Review by progrules
3 stars The Opeth threesome in an hour time ends with an album that is actually quite famous in the Netherlands. I remember Metalmagazine Aardschok over here declared it album of the month back then and it also came very high in the internal poll for the whole year 2003. So expectations run high after such facts but After a few listens I'm not entirely convinced. That will without a doubt have something to do with the fact that the main style of this band is not my thing and probably never will be. But that of course a subjective matter and objectively I think also I have to admit this is a very good band in their department.

It's not even a problem for me they do grunts because I can stand those although I don't really love the kind of voice-using. On the other hand I don't have very much with vocals in general and neither with lyrics so this can never be the only reason why I don't really love Opeth. It's also a matter of how they make music and how they compose their songs. If I compare them to their fellow countrymen from Sweden Evergrey who are also a popular and famous progressive metal band then I believe that Evergrey does a better job in the melodic job. Because where Evergrey show their skills in that department constantly, Opeth does that just occasionally. Having said that I now realize that this statement doesn't go for Damnation which was in fact a pretty melodic album. But that was not a real metal album, Evergrey can be melodic and rough at the same time and I don't think Opeth shows that too often. And maybe it's not a fair comparison because Opeth is technical/extreme metal and Evergrey is true prog metal.

Last few words about this album: there are two great songs for my personal liking: the ballad-like Harvest and The Funeral Portrait a track with both grunts and great melody so they prove they can do it ! The other tracks are maybe great for other people but not for me. And in fact these last statements sums it all up. Opeth is no doubt a great band in the more extreme progressive metal department but my personal taste reaches out for the normal progressive metal and so on all three albums there are nice songs, on Damnation quite a lot even but those were all ballads. I think Blackwater Park has it all. It's a variegated album and shows that Opeth is a versatile band that deserves credit and respect. But I think I heard enough with three albums and can come to this album to the same verdict as the othe two: 3 stars.

Review by horsewithteeth11
4 stars This being my first review, I may end up leaving a few minor details out, so I apologize in advance for that. But to start I'd like to give some background before my review. Before I got into prog, I was already a self-described and proud metalhead. However a friend of mine who has been listening to prog for about the past three years or so introduced me to some of the big bands in the genre, consisting of Genesis, Yes, GG, etc. One of the other bands he first introduced me to was Opeth. Still being new to progressive rock, this unique blend of progressive rock with death metal was something I found odd at first yet intriguing. I decided to persist with it and explore it further.

Now for my actual review. This was the first Opeth album I truly got into. Not only has Opeth done something unique, they have completely revolutionized a genre that talks mostly about blood and guts and instead given it a much more mature and emotional feeling. And yet at the same time they remain complex in many of their song structures. The Leper Affinity and Bleak are two great songs to start an album on, with mostly aggressive guitar riffs and a few melodic vocals over these. Harvest is a sign of things to come in Damnation, and The Drapery Falls (one of Opeth's best songs I might add) starts off with a brief acoustic intro before moving quickly into the aggressive yet unique Opeth feel. Dirge for November has a longer acoustic intro than The Drapery Falls but of course eventually moves to a more aggressive style. The Funeral Portrait begins with an acoustic-like ambiance and jumps suddenly into the typical Opeth style, and finally Patterns in the Ivy is a beautiful piano piece that serves as an excellent transition into the final track of the album, the title track. Overall I feel that Opeth's unique blend of both death metal-esque growls and it's smoother progressive feeling makes them a unique band unlike any other metal band I've ever experienced. And yet the only reason I feel that I'm not giving this album 5 stars is because, quite frankly, the previous album, Still Life, just had that something extra in it's kick that BP seems to be lacking, even though this is an album I often find myself going back to.


Review by The Pessimist
4 stars Another mighty album from the mightiest of metal bands, Opeth.

This is the third in the succession of brilliant albums from this group, and by no means the last. I would consider this my second favourite Opeth album, as it doesn't quite touch the flawless Still Life. I can see how a lot of fans consider this their favourite though: with songs like Bleak, Dirge for November and Drapery Falls, it's quite easy to see. Now to some detail:

The album opens with the heavy and intense Leper Affinity, and you really know you're listening to Opeth on this track, with the death metal growls, generic triple time signatures and crunching guitar riffs. This song is quite similar to when it finally kicks in on The Moor from the previous album, however not, in my opinion, as progressive or catchy. A great song nonetheless. (7/10)

Bleak is by a mile one of my favourite all time Opeth tunes. Steven Wilson also features on this song, and he really shows how good a singer he really is. Everything about this song is perfect, from the classic Opeth arrangement of Heavy-Mellow-Heavy to the rhythmical and melodic genius that Mikael has blessed this song with. My favourite bit of the song of course is the rhythmical break between the final melodic section and the closing growling bit: it's the perfect contrast between the two vocal styles. Beautiful. (10/10)

Harvest is a mellow track and possibly the best on the album, very friendly to classic prog ears. This particular song is favoured amongst my anti-growling friends, which tend to enjoy Opeth's acoustic music a lot. If you liked Benighted, then you will like this one also. (10/10)

This one is considered the best on the album by many, but i have to disagree. The Drapery Falls is indeed a great song, but it doesn't really compare with the previous two tracks in my opinion. On the other hand, i love chorus section and the 21/8 part as it does remind us of those classic prog days and is quite reminiscent of early Rush. (7/10)

Dirge For November is possibly the most underated Opeth track. I love it. OK, when the growling finally kicks in it isn't their most melodic work, but when contrasted with the mellow first half, it really does feel balanced out. I have no idea why so many people slate this song, aparently Mikael Akerfeldt himself criticised this song quite heavily. My views are entirely contradictive. (8/10)

A heavy pentatonic riff introduces this tune, once again reminiscent of Rush, and many classic rock fans or Rage Against the Machine fans will enjoy this one. It is just jam packed with great riffs and the things we love Opeth for. Great guitar work and drumming all round, i haven't any complaint about this song. There's not much particularly wonderful about it either. (8/10)

Patterns in the Ivy is a mere filler. Nice though, but i don't really consider it a song, more of a build-up to the sequential Blackwater Park. (5/10)

Blackwater Park is an interesting one, and i don't recall Opeth filling an entire 12 minutes with pure growling very often in their career.I like this song very much though: the guitars are where the melody lies as in a lot of Opeth songs, and that is what you need to look out for. A lot of complex phases and superior riffing and growling from Akerfeldt bring the album to an end. (9/10)

Overall a great album, and i do tend to alternate between it and Still Life quite a lot these days, however this is by no means a replacement Still Life. It does make a worthy sequel though.


4 stars exactly. An excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Blackwater Park is the fifth album from progressive death metal band Opeth. The album was released in 2001. There were a couple of years in the late nineties and in the new milinium were I got tired of both prog rock and metal. Those are the two genres of music that I have always loved the most but I was feed up at the time and needed a break from both. I still listened to certain favorite bands during my break ( bands like Genesis, Psychotic Waltz, Atheist, Cynic, Death and Nevermore) but generally I didn´t listen to those two genres. I buried myself in electronic music, Trip Hop, New Wave, Goth rock. Anything that sounded different from what I had been used to listening to. I learned a lot in those years and wouldn´t be without the musical experinces I encountered but I always wondered when I would find the spark again and begin to appreciate the genres that I left behind. Blackwater Park was the turning point for me. This exact album re-ignited my interest in both metal and prog rock. I had listened to lots of experimental metal in the nineties and heard lots of metal bands experiment with progressive rock sections in their music but no one ever did it this convinsingly.

A friend of mine bought Morningrise in 1996 and he loved the album and played it to me, but I was not very interested at the time, so my first encounter with Opeth wasn´t very succesful. My next encounter with Opeth was hearing Bleak from Blackwater Park on some sampler and this impression was much stronger. I was in fact blown away by Bleak. What a powerful and brutal song but then in the middle there´s suddenly a melodic progressive metal part with lots of progressive rock moments. I was totally sold. From that day I have of course purchased all Opeth´s albums and I think they are a very unique force that makes some of the most beautiful extreme metal I have ever heard ( and I´ve heard a lot). Blackwater Park will always mean something special to me. First of all because it´s a great album but also because it meant that I got back on the right track ( so to speak) and began collecting metal and progressive rock albums again and following the scenes even more intensely than before. I promise I will never stray from the path again ( LOL).

The music on Blackwater Park is death metal with many progressive moments. Lots of beautiful acoustic parts, both death growls and clean vocals and of course crushingly heavy riffing. The mood is generally melancholic and there are some beautiful guitar leads that creates the emotional moods in the songs. Opeth generally makes long songs and there are several songs that clock in at about 10 minutes. This means that there are lots of time for the songs to unfold. Lots of different sections in every song makes the songs exciting and they never get repetitive.

All the songs are great but I do have a couple of favorites. Bleak is a highlight for me first of all because it´s a great song but also because of the above mentioned reasons. The Drapery Falls is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Soaringly beautiful guitar leads and great acoustic parts. The vocals from Mikael Åkerfeldt is extremely beautiful on this track. Harvest stands out a bit from the rest too as it is the only song with no growls and probably a great place to start for more conventional prog rock fans.

The musicianship is excellent. The pace is generally slow to mid but the guitar riffs are still pretty challenging and sophisticated. This counts for both the distorted and the acoustic guitar parts. The drums from Martin Lopez are great and really enhances the music.

The production is great even though I think it lacks a bit of bottom. Steven Wilson ( Porcupine Tree) is the producer and it´s obvious to hear that he is the man behind the sound if you´re used to listening to Porcupine Tree. He also contributes with some piano, guitar and vocals.

Blackwater Park is one of the most important albums in my collection and I hold it in very high regard. This is a true masterpiece of progressive music and of course it deserves a 5 star rating from me.

Review by LiquidEternity
3 stars I find this album to be an improvement on Still Life. The moods toyed with are a bit wider in variety, the melodies much stronger and more interesting, and the heavy parts less repetitive.

The sound quality is much more interesting here, too. Much more dynamic than the sonically flat Still Life, though not nearly as intriguing as more modern Opeth albums have been able to sound. The inclusion of Steven Wilson on the production and some backing vocals seem to be a large part of what gives this album the punch that was missing from Still Life.

The riffs here seem uniquely inspired. Blackwater Park opens with The Leper Affinity, kicking off its running time with an odd and dissonant guitar bit that might be one of the most interesting refrains the band has developed. Bleak features some beautiful vocal work, with more creative use of growls and wonderful vocal harmonies throughout. The Drapery Falls starts with a long clean section before kicking into some classic Opeth metal (this is the song that features the Russian sort of riff, a personal favorite of mine as well). The title track is fat wall of Opeth metal and beautiful acoustic guitar.

Somehow this album, despite not having the lush and haunting keyboards of Per Wiberg that later ones feature, contains appropriate moods and feelings in the very music, something the band did not seem to get right before this album. There still are only two instruments that run the lead: heavily distorted electric guitars and gentle acoustic guitars. The bass guitar, however, in total rebellion against long-standing metal tradition, is both audible and interesting. The drums to me seem bare bones and uncreative for the most part, though I've heard many swear by them. Mikael's growls are impressive, sure, but his clean voice always gets my vote. Absolutely perfect for the band on both sides.

So in the end, I think this the best release the band put out until Ghost Reveries, but then, that is not a very common way of looking at it.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Blackwater Park' - Opeth (8/10)

Throughout my time as a relatively 'hardcore' Opeth fan, I have been always trying to appreciate this album more. It's been called the 'greatest album of all time' but I still have never truly been able to appreciate it as being more than 'pretty good.' There are some very good songs on here, like the quintessential Opeth classic 'The Drapery Falls' but there are also some songs that are nothing more than mediocre, such as the rather boring 'Dirge For November.'

Up until quite recently, I never even liked the epynomous title track 'Blackwater Park.' I thought it was far too repetitive, and didn't really go anywhere. Nowadays, I think it builds up rather well, but it's still not fantastic. The only two songs that would be found on an archetypal Opeth 'masterpiece' are 'The Leper Affinity' and 'The Drapery Falls.' Besides that, there isn't any fantastic material here that would warrant calling it the majestic work of innovation that it's been called by so many others.

The fact that Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree fame) produces this album is an obvious plus. The sound quality is great, and a sharp improvement from their earlier works. Still, there doesn't feel like theres a real magical evocation on this album. It's great, yes. But it's not something I would ever compare to true masterpieces, like 'Still Life' or even 'Ghost Reveries' (which got me into Opeth in the first place.)

If I'm missing something about this album that makes it a masterpiece, that so many other people have recognized, please message me and tell me what I'm not recognizing. Otherwise, this album remains a great, but not superb Opeth album. Four stars.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This was my first introduction to Opeth and it completely blew me away. It still does so 8 years later. This is Opeth, this is what they do and how they do it. If you want one Opeth album, take this one. If you want one modern metal album, take this one. Well this may even be the best chunk of rock 'n' roll ever!

Blackwater Park is the perfect merge between the stylistic subtleness of Still Life and the intensity of My Arms Your Hearse. It is the culmination of an incredibly strong string of Opeth albums and while you won't find many tricks here that they didn't do before, it's better, more coherent, it's richer in sound and it's performed with clenched fists. The hand of Steven Wilson is clearly felt on this album. Wilson didn't interfere with the song writing but he thought Opeth everything they needed to fully realize their talent: vocal harmonies, textured sounds, vocal recording advice and most importantly, guiding Mike's riff wizardry into compositional perfection. Even a lesser song like Dirge For November is perfect when considered on its own, it just pales in comparison to the stunning music of Leper Affinity, Bleak, Drapery Falls and the ominous title track Blackwater Park

The finishing touch is the artwork. Just like the Morningrise artwork, it sets the tone perfectly and completely integrates with the music. Possibly the best Travis Smith cover ever. And it should be, because, as I've just explained, this is the best album of all time and it deserves an album cover of the same exceptional standard.

Review by The Sleepwalker
3 stars According to many people Blackwater Park is among the most accomplished of Opeth's releases, or even their best album. This is often because Blackwater Park shows a more melodic Opeth than ever before, and the album has a better production than the band's earlier releases (Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson is responsible for this, for a part). I completely agree with these things, but apart from them I don't see what makes Blackwater Park such an exceptional album. Most of the songs are just decent, with some obvious exceptions, and I think the album sounds kind of blank compared to some of Opeth's other releases.

Many of the songs on this album are good, but nothing more. "The Drapery Falls" for example is a song that sounds excellent for a minute or two, but it just can't keep me interested, while a lot of other Opeth songs definitely can. The same thing can be said from the entire second half of the album. "Dirge For November" is probably the best on the second half. The song starts ot soft, but will turn into a much heavier song. It is nothing more than a good song though. "Blackwater Park", the title track, is also decent, though just like "The Drapery Falls" just doesn't really do anything to me. The second half also features "The Funeral Portrait", which is one of the few Opeth songs that I don't like at all. The songs acoustic intro is the only thing that sounds nice.

Fortunately there is some great music on the album as well. "Harvest" is one of Opeth's more accesible and mellower songs. It sounds very melancholic and is a very beautiful piece of music. "The Leper Affinity" is one of Opeth's heaviest songs. From the crushing first guitar chords to the melodic soling later in the song, it all is great. The song is, though being fantastic, not as brilliant as "Bleak". "Bleak" is more straight forward than the usual Opeth song, but really features some killer riffs and music. The song also features Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson on the vocals. Those vocals (that sound very different from Mikael's) being combined with Mikael's growling makes the song sound very interesting and diverse.

Definately not as great as I expected it to be. Blackwater Park is a nice album nevertheless, and therefore I rate it three stars. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Opeth, though I think they have made much better music than what's on this album.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
5 stars 10/10

"Blackwater Park" is the essential Prog metal album, a masterpiece to bow to.

Opeth's fifth album is widely considered one of the best metal album of all time, and is by many more loved than those early classic metal albums like "Master Of Puppets", "Rust In Peace", "The Number Of The Beast" and many others. I too feel like this album challenges me and interests me more than those timeless masterpieces. Indeed, "Blackwater Park" is THE progressive death metal album, along wih the previous effort by the band "Still Life".

What makes this so universally acclaimed is that it's probably the most accessible death metal record, thanks to the crushingly beautiful moments that are here present. But die hard death fans will also be satisfied, with the powerful, yet complex riffs that are the true skeleton of each of these eight songs. The production is crystal clear, the mixing is fantastic, everything here sounds so beautiful and graceful, even if it's an indeed violent record. The guitars are crunchy and thick sounding as hell, the vocals are amazingly brutal when leader Akerfeldt growls, the drums are as sharp and precise like never before. These qualities guarantee though the style of this particular record; each song, long as it is, has many time changes, a lot of hooks, different melodies; it gets from loud and violent to a soft, melancholic piece that makes your soul shiver, to get loud once again.

"The Leper Affinity", "Bleak", the title track and "The Drapery Falls" all use this formula, even though they all have completely different structures. These epic songs are the ultimate towers of the album, while the other tracks seem simply to give yet another touch of perfection and decoration, so that the album turns out as it is. For Example, "Harvest" is a great, memorable but quite sad sounding ballad, and on the contrary "The Funeral Portrait" is the heaviest song here.

"Blackwater Park" is the essential Prog metal album, a masterpiece to bow to. Everything about this album excites me and satisfies me completely. This is one of those perfect metal albums that makes you proud of liking and being a fan of the genre.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars With the release of Blackwater Park Opeth had finally taken the leap into the big league. This transition had, in my opinion, a lot to do with Steve Wilson's production of this and the next two albums.

There was never anything wrong with the compositions on the previous albums but the songs tended to lack the punch that can be added through attention to detail in the recording process. Wilson was definitely the right man bought in at the right time. Through his documented knowledge and attention to atmosphere, that he demonstrated on the early Porcupine Tree albums, he literally smoothed the band's sound by highlighting the details in the band's work. This is most notable in the acoustic sections that previously suffered in the mix but now had received a major face-lift and sounded gorgeous in combination to the heavier parts.

I guess that I already gave away my hand as to my opinion of Blackwater Park, so let me just briefly touch upon some of the highlights. First off, this is so far the only Opeth album that I could consider completely self-consistent with just the right amount of material and without any really big flaws in execution. Even though this release has a lot more acoustic guitar moments than any of the previous albums I don't think that this change had to do with Steve Wilson but instead with the natural shift in direction that the band was undergoing at that point in time. Therefore I only want to give Wilson a partial credit for this masterpiece of an album and seeing the work that Opeth managed to do without him show that there is enough raw talent featured in this band for many more masterpieces in the future.

Bleak is a fun little track that I remember even rehearsing with my band just for the amount of creativity that is embedded into this 9+ minute composition. Still it is Dirge For November that takes the grand price for being my all-time favorite Opeth performance. The acoustic guitar intro mixed with clean vocals by Mikael Åkerfeldt is just magnificent and I love how the composition just flows though each section of the track with even the heavier parts sounding like some of the most cheerful Death Metal that I've heard from the band. There are a few minor inconsistencies with the second part of the album like the ultra heavy and rather straightforward The Funeral Portrait that gets a bit tiresome after 4-minute mark. I've also never been a big fan of the album's title track which, just like Pain Of Salvation's title track off The Perfect Element, feels long and quite unmotivated for the lengthy piece of music that it represents.

Despite some minor flaw this is still a magnificent achievement from a great band that is well worth exploring. Even if you've been burned by your previous Opeth-explorations I strongly suggest giving Blackwater Park a shot since I believe that this album should appeal to almost any fan of creative and well-produced music.

***** star songs: Bleak (9:16) Harvest (5:59) The Drapery Falls (10:52) Dirge For November (7:51)

**** star songs: The Leper Affinity (10:23) The Funeral Portrait (8:42) Patterns In The Ivy (1:50) Blackwater Park (12:08)

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Opeth's Blackwater Park is another of the more popular Opeth albums that receives high ratings.

I am no fan of death metal growling vocals and when they infiltrate the songs on this I am completely turned off. The final title track closer is simply brutal growling and it just goes on and on, though I know many Opeth death heads will adore this. However there are true moments that capture my attention on this. Leper Affinity is death growling layered over unintelligible lyrics, and repetitive metal riffing. The riffs get better as the song progresses. The drums are double kick speed precision percussion. The lead solos are excellent on this. There is a breakneck choppy rhythm that locks in at 3:30 and brutal death vocals accompany. Subtle it aint! The acoustic flourishes eventually chime in and very nice gentle vocals with a dreamy quality. Not for long as the aggressive vocals that make it sound like Akerfeldt has been gargling gravel return. Man, these sections are dark. The lead guitar is sustained and ascends and descends as the growls continue. The lead breaks are wonderful and a true highlight for me. It ends with peaceful piano that brings the mood down, though it is still bleak and sombre, perhaps melancholy.

The Funeral Portrait begins with acoustic guitar patterns. There is the threat that it may explode and eventually distorted guitars crash in slicing up the tranquillity. Very intense death metal vocals follow. This is as heavy as the band gets on this album. There are some brilliant riffs on this and the lead breaks are fantastic. I always admire the guitar work on these lengthy Opeth tracks. It really takes off in the section at 6:33, perhaps some of the best death metal I have ever heard; absolutely spine chilling metal, with an incredible wall of sound. The time sig is frenetic, the drums crash down, and the harmonies are excellent. Lead guitars soar over a very complex sporadic riff, the fret work is incredible; this is a definitive highlight on the album.

Harvest is as peaceful and well sung as anything from "Damnation" and one of my favourites for that reason. The acoustic work is excellent, and it keeps a steady tempo, and has a pleasant melody. The film clip showing band members recording in the studio is worth digging out too. This is the softer side of Opeth, and really the thing that appeals to me most.

Bleak has quite a brutal vocal and some bizarre riffs but the melody is infectious. Even as the vocals change to a clearer sound, the lyrics become more grim, "Devious movements in your eyes, Moved me from relief, Breath comes out white clouds with your lies, And filters through me, You're close to the final word, You're staring right past me in dismay, A liquid seeps from your chest And drains me away, Mist ripples round your thin white neck, And draws me a line, Cold fingers mark this dying wreck, This moment is mine? Night fall again, Taking what's left of me, Slight twist, shivering corpse?" Certainly the content is centred around death, as is expected with Opeth, but the darkness does not appeal to me, though I can see that it would to others.

I really like the intro melody on guitars to A Drapery Falls. There are some really ethereal passages of guitars here and Steven Wilson style vocals chime over. The vocals are incredible and the lead breaks are killer metal. It builds gradually into some full on riffs and then death vocals return as expected. The lyrics are interesting "This test I can't persist, Kept back by the enigma, No criterias demanded here, Deadly patterns made my wreath, prosperous in your ways, Pale ghost in the corner Pouring a caress on your shoulder Puzzled by shrewd innocence, Runs a thick tide beneath, Ushered into inner graves, Nails bleeding from the struggle, It is the end for the weak at heart, Always the same A lullaby for the ones who've lost all Reeling inside, My gleaming eye in your necklace reflects Stare of primal regrets." The tension and release between light and dark are inspirational. A Drapery Falls reminds me of Riverside sometimes, and has beautiful passages of acoustic and swells of melodic guitar with very emotive vocals. The band play this many times live. The style heard on Damnation are always welcome to my ears. Many times Akerfeldt's vocals are actually layered over each other. It is quite a sound he generates with those death metal vocal chords; very deep, nasty, spiteful vocals that always turn the room dark. The lead guitars are chaotic at times, with off kilter drumming and crashes of rhythm guitar distortion. Eventually, the song settles down again and the clear vocals return, a very good tone that resonates or even competes with the aggressive drumming and guitar smashing. The cookie monster vocals cease suddenly and then acoustics and gentle vocals return. The riff to end locks in the head with it's transfixing melody. This track is a definitive highlight of the album.

In general the majority of the album is too brutal and over the top for me, but this will appeal to death prog metal freaks, and there's a lot out there! So I can suggest that this is an album only for those who like their prog metal dark and brutal with death metal vocals as they are prevalent throughout. It is a good album but I have heard better from Opeth.

Review by Negoba
4 stars Historic Album Has Lost a Little Lustre in Time

Tell a random guy on the street that you're going to play some progressive death metal for them, and he's going to love it, and you're going to get some funny looks. That is, or was, before Opeth. It would be a lie to say that melodic death is commonplace now, but before BLACKWATER PARK, very very few recognized that this kind of metal could be a music of nuance. Not that there weren't great examples out there, but Opeth opened the door. BP was more of a breakthrough / crossover album for the entire genre. Without a doubt, it has changed the landscape of metal dramatically in the last decade. Mikael Akerfeldt and Steven Wilson have probably done more to revitalize prog than any other pair during that time, and this was their opening scene together.

Since that time, many bands have run with these ideas. Most haven't reached these heights, but a few have. A select few have eclipsed the album. And one of the bands that have done it is Opeth themselves. Which has left Blackwater Park as a sign of its times, not unlike that icon of prog in general, In the Court of the Crimson King. Still containing magnificence but carrying some flaws, some ebbs in the energy, Blackwater Park has confused a few of us who have discovered Opeth going backwards rather than chronologically. The level of production is clearly higher than the previous STILL LIFE, and many of the songs have been honed to be ready for the spotlight. But there is no song to match "The Moor," "the Lotus Eater", and certainly not "Ghost of Perdition" here. "The Drapery Falls" still stands as perhaps THE prototype of an Opeth song which is melding of light ending in a ferocious finish, but on the album it is placed directly after "Harvest." "Drapery Falls" already suffered a bit of Opeth's penchant for over-repetition, but following after the strummy "Harvest," it is really defanged. One of the greatest gifts given to me by ProgArchives was the fact that I listened to "Drapery" over and over streaming here BEFORE and WITHOUT ever hearing "Harvest." This is perhaps the worst bit of album sequencing in the history of a major album...enough of that rant. (Actually one of the few reasons I reviewed this well hashed album was to make that point, but let us continue.)

After the "Leper Affinity" (a typical Opeth grinder with some great riffs), we get "Bleak." If there was ever a 'pop' death metal song complete with plenty of dragonvoice, this is it. (Ghost Reveries' "Grand Conjuration" will reuse this idea later, and maybe better). The three successive easier to digest songs are, in my opinion, what makes this album Opeth's most popular, but also lesser than other works, including the softer but more daring WATERSHED. I must admit that the final title song is a classic prog metal epic, and there are no bad songs anywhere. But "Drapery" is the only essential track for me.

Just to be clear, average Opeth is better than 90% of so-called progressive metal. BP is still an excellent addition...4/5 stars.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars While perhaps not their creative apex, Blackwater Park is a record any band, metal or not, would be proud of. Enthusiastic, tight and relentlessly inventive with a keen ear for what makes two blazing guitars and a pump-ass rhyth/sec so lusciously satisfying, this band is a model of what we all knew metal could be back when the first glimmers of light were emerging from Britain. The material on previous Still Life may be superior but this one pushed their limitations in other ways, showing a noted maturity in attack and studio sound.

I have no idea if 'The Leper Affinity' is about sympathy for the diseased but it does capture the album's tone with extremes from precision ground assaults to airy escapades of piano and acoustic guitar. 'Harvest' is quieter with just a whiff of Dave Gilmour, and sister song 'The Drapery Falls' even better; an intriguing piece full of unexpected, tasteful melodic shifts & harmonic trickery, and probably the most realized cut here. A jazzy backbone for 'Dirge for November' opens to a wide berth in triplet, and if you don't already know the singer sounds like he's wearing a blue furry suit and holding a bag of Oreos, 'The Funeral Portrait' should clear that up, followed with the title track featuring some sweet ruminations on guitar and the sounds of early Thrash.

Not everything here stays with you after you've walked away but I can't see that disappointing someone already taken by this crack team, and though it may not be getting a ton of rotation on this listener's machine, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Opeth's fifth studio album.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Steven Wilson and Opeth got together on Blackwater Park, with Wilson both performing on some tracks and producing the album. His influence can be particularly heard in the quieter passages of the album, which at points remind me of the indie rock-prog rock mashups Porcupine Tree produced on albums such as Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun.

For a while Blackwater Park - like much of Opeth's output - had left me a bit cold, coming across as a technically flashy but emotionally distant death metal and approximations of Porcupine Tree. Now, however, I'm in the process of reappraising Opeth and I think I understand the album much better than I used to. I'd previously noted Still Life as the point when the balance in Opeth's music swung from "death metal with prog elements" to "progressive metal with death metal elements", and whilst I'd say Blackwater Park is still just about in the latter camp, I actually think the death metal side of their sound expresses itself a touch more forcefully than on Still Life.

That's slightly counter-intuitive, since you'd expect Wilson's presence at the production desk would nudge the band into leaning into their prog side still further, but perhaps it worked out differently: because they had the confidence that their prog aspects would still shine forth, they could wave their death metal flag a little more without the album coming across as a regression to an earlier phase of their career - which it absolutely is not.

The end result to this is that Opeth manage to weave their death metal aspects into their prog aspects even more seamlessly than ever before, with the result that just as you think the album has left death metal territory entirely, the grunts and harder riffs swoop back in to plunge things into chaos once more, and just as you think they've reverted back to full death metal, suddenly a radically different musical passage emerges from the depths, and it all happens so seamlessly and smoothly that it's never jarring or awkward.

In short, Blackwater Park is every bit the masterpiece that Still Life was, a further refinement of the approach of that album enabled in part by the comparative stability of the lineup. (At the time this was the longest Opeth had gone without any lineup changes, and indeed this configuration of the band was pretty much the most stable one they'd have until the lineup that existed from Pale Communion to In Cauda Venenum.) As well as being a landmark release for Opeth fans, the album will likely also be of interest to Porcupine Tree fans interested in what transpired between Lightbulb Sun and In Absentia to prompt the band's radical musical change during that time period.

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars I know i'm in the minority when I say that BLACKWATER PARK does for me like every other OPETH album i've heard. Basically I can sit through the first half of the album and then I tolerate the rest but never totally getting into it. This like many of theirs is a sprawling hour plus album that seems to be extremely popular. I can only guess why I am the odd dog out with this group. I don't mind their sound at all. It's just that 70 minutes of the same tempos, overused riffs and endlessly long acoustic passes just doesn't float my boat. I have come to a conclusion that OPETH is a kind of death metal lite. An extreme metal sound that is really a psychedelic rock band at heart. The tempos and much of the music has a monotonous groove to it. It is not as technically demanding to listen to like other extreme death metal bands like Gorguts, Cynic or even less progressive brutal bands like Behemoth or even Deicide for that matter.

BLACKWATER PARK is an interesting listen just to hear Steven Wilson on board contributing to playing music and producing. Can't say i'm a huge fan of the finished product and I much prefer the Porcupine Tree releases that this collaboration would influence. I have had many a friend or acquaintance rave about OPETH and I always ask them what they find so appealing. No one really knows for sure but they tend not to love extreme metal and even find that OPETH opened up the gates for them to walk into the wonderful world of extreme metal. So all I can say is kudos to OPETH for putting out records that are recruiting stations for metalheads. Even if i'm not the biggest fan of their music, I certainly am a fan of their influence. And I have to say that I do like a few songs when the album starts. I just wish that it would develop into something more interesting.

Review by Necrotica
4 stars Rarely does there come a band like Opeth. Opeth present a certain sound and atmosphere that always create a cause for conversation within the rock community, good or bad. Trademarking their style of progressive death metal, they seem to follow the formula better than most, of course creating the frightening metal/soothing prog combo that a fan or detractor can smell a mile away. In essence, they may be the ultimate definition of "love 'em or hate 'em" in the realms of metal. However, there should be no argument on their best album, 2001's Blackwater Park.

The heaps of acclaim sitting atop this recording seem overly massive, but it's only because of how true the claims are. This is truly the defining album of Opeth's career, after many high-quality albums that seemed to be building toward this grand moment. The riffs are titanic, the melodies seamless, the vocals heavenly (and scary), and the rhythm section explosive. Basically, imagine if your favorite artist was making an immense mural of the best moments in your musical life; then, somehow, he uses a form of magic to let you step inside and see for yourself.

We start with "The Leper Affinity", most likely the best piece written in Opeth's history. A dissonant chord fades in and introduces the first riff... a massive, pounding, intensely atonal chord progression that really digs into your core. Mikael Akerfeldt's vocals, while gutteral and raging, are also very cold and bone chilling. The sheets of guitar distortion offer a very vivid backdrop of the same effectively hollow atmosphere that haunts this album's duration. Riff after riff pounds the listener into submission until a very neoclassical melody kicks in, leading into the solo. The solo here is absolutely mind-bending, showing that a guitarist doesn't need to show off or wank on the instrument to get the point across. The acoustic section in the middle is also bone-chilling, but for a different reason. It's remarkable how effective such a simplistic guitar melody is when paired up with Mikael's vocals thrown in, and nothing feels contrived whatsoever. Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson leads the song out on an eerie note, with sparse piano notes played for about 2 minutes.

Even with such an amazing opener, the rest of the songs never disappoint either. "Bleak" lends its hand with a dark Middle-Eastern beginning before hellishly crawling across the eardrums in a great 3-minute mosh-fest. Steven Wilson, once again, provides vocals; this time for the chorus. The acoustic passage, once again, is stunning and well-placed as a nice respite from the musical war taking place. Meanwhile, the peaceful "Harvest" gives the listener some good ear-room with nice folk melodies. "The Drapery Falls" begins as more of a power-ballad, before morphing into heavy (but emotional) interlude where the growls return in very nice form.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how well Opeth combine multiple styles together without sounding disjointed in any way. Take the epic title track for instance; the song features many sections of repetition, but they're complimented by the extremely pleasant layers of instrumentation... it's like a monolith that takes many listens to fully open up in full. "Dirge For November" is the same way as well. It begins with an acoustic intro/passage that could've easily fit on Still Life's "Benighted", but then explodes into a fully realized metal song with the same dark guitar sound layering it. While the sound is loud, it also has a magically subtle quality about it, which is absolutely remarkable in and of itself.

The band members are no slouches at their instruments either. Mikael (the man himself!) shows incredible diversity with his vocals and guitar work, ranging from genres like metal, progressive rock, jazz, folk, classical, and more. Martin Lopez gives a suitably percussive-yet-shifty tone that compliments each swift change in the music. Peter Lindgren holds his own very well against Akerfeldt's style, and even throws in some nifty soloing of his own. Martin Mendez is stunningly underrated in this record, giving the dark, swift basslines his own personal stamp of quality as his instrument weaves in and out of the other musical action.

All I can conclude with is this: This is a record that everyone must own. Every generation and every country should adore an album like this, as one like Blackwater Park rarely makes itself known. If you like music and consider it art, this is a must.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars At this stage of their career, Mikael 'kerfeldt and company were a little heavier, a little harsher, a little more ensconced in the world, sounds, and stylings of metal music. As a matter of fact much of the music is not so very far removed from the metal of the 1980s. Some of the differences include: the influence of djent guitar sounds and playing styles; the different lead guitar sounds used here--they are a little more evolved from those used in the 80s; Mikael's use of death metal growls; the way the drums are recorded, and; the greater presence of the machine gun bass drum play. Also Opeth shows a tendency to the use of longer song forms with multiple style formats incorporated within each--as is put on display right from the start on "The Leper Affinity" (10:21) (8/10). The two best songs are by far and away "Harvest" (6:02) (10/10) and "Drapery Falls" (10:55) with its wonderfully memorable multi-instrument-played melody carried through to the end (10/10). The title song (12:08) is also quite a nice composition--it's performances quite powerful. (9/10) As everyone recognizes, I will here reiterate: Mr. 'kerfeldt has quite a lovely voice when he's singing in his normal voice. I am glad that he eventually moved away from this aggressive, abrasive style of music--though I recognize the talent and skill involved in creating music such as is present here.

A solid four star album from some seriously talented musicians.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars 'Blackwater Park', released in February of 2001, was the 5th album released by Opeth. Even though it didn't sell well in the beginning, it is recognized as the album that 'broke the ice' for the band in gaining a bigger fan base. It also marked the beginning of a change where the vocals started to not just be dirty, growly vocals, but also clean vocals, all sung by Mikael Akerfeldt. Why he hid his clean vocals for so long is anyone's guess, because he has an excellent voice, but that style of vocal was the norm for black metal bands from Sweden. Even though the music was always complex and well composed, the music also started taking the path towards becoming more and more progressive.

A lot of potential fans were turned off by the growling vocals, but found the music to have a lot of depth. The move away from the black metal sound started to attract new listeners, plus the fact that this album would be the first time the band would work with Steven Wilson, thus bringing attention to Opeth from Wilson's fans. Wilson worked as producer and did some of the clean vocals and guitar parts of this album, plus he would also make contributions by playing additional guitar parts, keyboards and mellotron, and some of the clean and backing vocals for the tracks 'Bleak', 'Harvest', 'The Funeral Portrait' and 'The Drapery Falls'. As we also know, this lead to an ongoing creative partnership between Wilson and Akerfeldt in various projects including 'Storm Corrosion'.

The first track 'The Leper Affinity' starts things off strong and heavy, with some excellent riffs and changing meters and melodies. The vocals are dirty for the first 4 minutes. After this, things mellow down for a minute for the bridge and clean vocals, but this doesn't last long as it goes into a heavy interlude with dirty vocals returning eventually. The topic is a relationship that has become strained over the years and the narrator has become abusive creating a beast of himself increasing the threat of losing the one he loves who keeps him in touch with sanity. The last minute ends on a surprise piano solo.

'Bleak' is about a man who catches his lover cheating on him, who he murders and dumps the body into a lake. Wow, that's uplifting (cough). This one begins heavy with dirty vocals again, but it has a more melodic chorus. With the intensity remaining after 3 minutes, we get Wilson's clean vocals and Akerfeldt doing supporting vocals. At 4:30, there is an acoustic guitar solo with an e-bow being used on an electric guitar in the background. This changes after a minute, and the acoustic takes support while a nice melodic guitar solo plays, then Akerfeldt sings clean vocals. Then a louder solo takes over. You can hear the layers with the piano still in it, and that is an indication of Wilson's amazing production where you can hear every instrument in the mix. After this, interchanging vocals continue.

'Harvest' is more of an acoustic ballad with electric guitar providing a nice melody. The song is about a man during his last minutes of life wishing for someone to be by his side. Akerfeldt sings clean vocals with Wilson backing him up. The chord changes are somewhat complex and the melody is quite memorable, but it isn't necessarily typical. Very nice track which remains on the softer side, yet is still quite dark.

'The Drapery Falls' is one of my favorite early progressive tracks by Opeth. It alternates between heavy and quiet throughout, but remains dark and ominous. Akerfeldt starts out singing clean, but processed, vocals. This track was released as a single cut down to 5:05 for radio airplay, but the full version stretches past 10 minutes. There are nice acoustic sections backed up by e-bowed guitars again. There are also louder instruemental sections. Dirty vocals start after 5 minutes and everything becomes a lot heavier, more progressive and less melodic. The track is about a man that has become addicted to depression and pleads for it to return so that he can be on familiar ground. There is sudden change back to acoustic and clean vocals at 7:30 and in this section, there are sudden bursts of energy scattered throughout, then a nice, heavy melodic instrumental section.

'Dirge for November' starts with Akerfeldt's clean vocals immediately with a track that starts much like King Crimson's 'Book of Saturday' with a complex, acoustic melody, but after a minute, loudness kicks in. This one seems to be about a lone survivor in an apocalyptic world wishing for his death over being alone, so he commits suicide. Again we alternate clean and dirty vocals as intensity changes. It remains heavy until 5:30, where it goes into a soft guitar solo after the lyrics are done.

Starting out with a guitar playing an arpeggio somewhat similar to 'Dogs' by Pink Floyd, it soon kicks into high gear when all the instruments kick in with Akerfeldt's dirty vocals. This one is more like Opeth's older songs as it stays quite loud and dirty most of the way through, but has plenty of great instrumental interludes and riffs between the verses. This one is not one of my favorites as it ass too much growling through it, but around 7 minutes in, there is some interesting harmony between Akerfeldt and Wilson.

'Patterns in the Ivy' is a short acoustic guitar instrumental interlude with some backing piano. It's nice after the heaviness of the preceding track.

Last of all is the 12 minute title track 'Blackwater Park'. It tells the story of a village that is heading to destruction because of the corruption, violence and immorality of it's citizens and hints as to how this can bring about the fall of humans. This one is a great progressive track with tricky meters and changing thematic instrumentals. After some dirty vocals, there is a sudden soft interlude early on. This goes on for a few minutes until the intensity kicks back in, and growling starts again around 5:30. This stays heavy pretty much to the ending which fades on an acoustic guitar.

There are two bonus tracks that were added to the Legacy reissue released in 2010. The first one was a single called 'Still Day Beneath the Sun'. This is a nice acoustic ballad with Akerfeldt's clean vocals. The other bonus track is 'Patterns in the Ivy II'. It is a continuation of the acoustic track on the original album, but it has vocals and is extended to over 4 minutes. It remains mostly acoustic with other backing guitars and effects and is a fully developed song in this instance.

So, this is quite an amazing album, with a lot of ingenuity, dynamcs and progressive elements, but the only thing keeping it from being a 5 star album in my opinion, is the amount of dirty growling vocals. I love the heaviness, that's not the problem, I just can't handle the growls and screams in this one, and it detracts from just how great this album is. I can easily say it's worth 4.5 stars but the growling rounds it down to 4. It does show, however, Opeth's continued path to excellence, and is definitely one that should be listened to regardless.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 359

'Blackwater Park' is the fifth studio album of Opeth and was released in 2001. The album marks the first musical collaboration between the Porcupine Tree front man Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. Wilson had been brought in to produce 'Blackwater Park', which led to a considerable shift in Opeth's musical style and many musical influences in the future music of Porcupine Tree. And this was only the beginning of the collaboration between both.

The line up on the album is Mikael Akerfeldt (vocals, guitar and acoustic guitar), Peter Lindgren (guitar), Martin Mendez (bass guitar) and Martin Lopez (drums). The album has also the collaboration of Steven Wilson (clean and backing vocals, keyboards, mellotron and guitar).

'Blackwater Park' has eight tracks. All songs were written and composed by Mikael Akerfeldt except 'Dirge For November' and 'Blackwater Park' written and composed by Akerfeldt and Lindgren. The first track 'The Leper Affinity' is a crashing song with some very heavy riffs, great growled vocals and then suddenly the song changes to a soft song. The way this song flows from the heavy to the soft is simply wonderful. This is also a perfect introduction to Mikael's vocals. He can do very low crawls, which neither lack emotion nor energy, and then he can also do some beautiful and gorgeous clean vocals. The second track 'Bleak' is a song fantastically composed, beginning with an extremely heavy musical atmosphere. The growls on this song are some of the best on the album, and the clean vocals don't slack off either. The guitar work on this song is absolutely amazing, with some power riffs. It has also truly an incredible instrumental work by the rest of the band's members. This is probably one of the best tracks the group ever made. The third track 'Harvest' is simply one of the band's most popular songs. The reason is immediately clear. It has a fantastic use of various and diverse musical dynamics to create a beautiful and one of the most perfect musical atmospheres that we can find in music. The peaceful musical atmosphere of the song gives the listener some good and nice folk melodies. The fourth track 'The Drapery Falls' begins as more of a very powerful ballad, before morphing into a very heavy, but at the same time very emotional interlude, where the growls return in a very nice form. Despite it contains some growls, and great lyrics to accompany them, it's more focused on building a mood and a real feeling of desperation. 'Harvest' and 'Drapery Falls' are the two more atmospheric songs on the album. The fifth track 'Dirge For November' starts with a mellow singing style with acoustic guitar work, followed with a beautiful guitar solo accompanied with excellent acoustic guitar fills. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the music turns louder with a distorted guitar work. The electric guitar solo takes the melody of the opening part and brings the music with the usual singing style. This is another brilliant song on the album. The sixth track 'The Funeral Portrait' opens with one of the few moments on the album worthy of head banging, contrasting simultaneously with some interesting sounding acoustic parts. This is a very heavy track, probably the heaviest, but despite it can be considered to have a very straight forward musical structure, it has some excellent transitions with great guitar work between several musical passages. The seventh track 'Patterns In The Ivy' is a very short track that explores an excellent acoustic guitar work and a nice piano work. It provides a nice break after the hard driving tracks performed previously and a kind of a merely warm up to the next and lengthiest track on the album. The eighth and last track is the title track 'Blackwater Park'. It has a musical structure relatively complex and it changes as the music flows with various singing styles. It has heavy and distorted guitar parts and as the music moves, there are some musical transitions into quieter musical passages exploring clean guitar fills accompanied with acoustic guitar. This is a track with wide variations in terms of musical styles and density.

Conclusion: 'Blackwater Park' is another excellent album from Opeth with tight compositions that explore various different sounds that can be produced from musical instruments and frequent tempo changes which sometimes occur very abruptly. The musical style of the album can be categorized under the progressive metal style with growls by Akerfeldt. For those, like me, who in generally hate growling vocals, I suggest, in the case of Opeth, that you change your usual perception from your vocals role to deliver message with vocal as a musical instrument. Compared with their previous fourth studio album 'Still Life', I'm able to say that 'Blackwater Park' is very similar to it, in terms of quality, despite being, in my opinion, a little bit heavier. As I wrote before, when I reviewed 'Still Life', I still prefer 'Still Life' to 'Blackwater Park'. But, sincerely I like very much of both albums. They are, in my humble opinion, two great masterpieces and two of the best prog albums ever made. However, I still think that 'Still Life' is a more balanced album between the heavy and the soft melodic musical parts. By the other hand, I simply love the concept of 'Still Life'.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Hector Enrique
4 stars After "Still Life", the excellent album that positioned Opeth at the top of the general esteem for their special way of combining elements of progressive rock with those of Death and Black Metal, the expectations regarding the next steps of the Swedes had the bar set very high. And it is in this context that "Blackwater Park", the band's fifth album, confirms their outstanding level.

Although it doesn't have the conceptual character that unites all the pieces of a story, "Blackwater Park" does share similarities with its predecessor regarding the instrumental framework , and draws on concepts such as despair and loneliness to generate sharp and extensive corrosive narratives, such as the explosive and deathly "The Leper Affinity", the painful "Bleak", or the dark dynamism of "The Funeral Portrait", full of piercing and demonic riffs, a consistent percussion synchronized with the developments that each piece demanded, and the guttural and cavernous voices of Mikael Akerfeldt, maintaining that swampy and murky character, tinged with the recurrent acoustic bridges and aseptic voices that come and go, which give that characteristic stamp to the band. And with the contribution of the brilliant Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree, co-producer and guest musician, they round off with the intricate "The Drapery Falls", one of the most brilliant moments of the album.

The expected moment of instrumental oxygenation comes in the form of the melancholic "Harvest" and its semi- unplugged aridity that reflects on the acceptance of mortality, and the sober "Patterns in the Ivy", a brief and elegant acoustic exercise, precedes the final unloading of the infectious "Blackwater Park", which condenses the overall mood of the work with those devilish riffs from the Akerfeldt - Peter Lindgren duo, an intriguing arpeggiated interlude and again Akerfeldt's vocal chords snapping to the album's contrastingly austere acoustic close.

"Blackwater Park" is one of the cornerstones of Opeth's discography and an indispensable reference of the genre.


4/4,5 stars

Latest members reviews

5 stars I must say I definitely respect this album for what it is. While it isn't really a flawless essential masterpiece of melodic death metal it for sure provides with some high-quality music that remains through most of the album. The album is quite lengthy and has some 10-Minute mammoths inside, s ... (read more)

Report this review (#2675509) | Posted by Nhelv | Saturday, January 22, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First thing that I'm saying is that these growls sound ridiculous from the very first seconds, I despise them. The record would be much better if it had better melody building on the vocals. However if the album is highly important and influential within it's genre, I will ignore the vocals and give ... (read more)

Report this review (#2581956) | Posted by Ian McGregor | Wednesday, July 28, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of my favorite Opeth releases. A truly ass-breaking experience that caught me off-guard when I first listened it. As always, Opeth utilizes its musical knowledge to make songs very different from each other, while also being dynamic. The three +10 minute tracks in the album are the three bes ... (read more)

Report this review (#2572331) | Posted by Gorgut Muncher | Sunday, June 20, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars - Review #19 - "OOOOOUUUUUGGGHHHHH" After the excellent Still Life, Opeth released Blackwater Park, their heaviest (and most popular) album. Like I said, it's very heavy. So get ready to hear Mikael stub his toe and release agonizing screams in multiple points of the album. Surprisingly, Bla ... (read more)

Report this review (#2542868) | Posted by King Brimstone | Saturday, May 15, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm going to ask you a quick question. Do you like two minute songs over-extended to eight, nine and ten minutes, but still doing an amazing job? If you do, you will like this album, if you don't, you probably won't like this album. Look at Bleak, The Funeral Portrait, and Dirge For November: all ... (read more)

Report this review (#2493182) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Tuesday, January 12, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars On Blackwater Park, Opeth is able to channel to production/engineering talents of Steven Wilson to unleash their full potential with unfathomable songwriting ability paired with pure sonic bliss. This album was really a game changer for me and it really opened the door to so much new music. Hars ... (read more)

Report this review (#2454472) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Tuesday, October 6, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Before going through the reviews of each song, it is important to consider that this album is a journey. Unlike a lot of death metal acts, this album is quite melodic and progressive. This album is highly recommended to be listened from beginning to end. With Steven Wilson as the producer, this is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2266191) | Posted by ProgGod | Friday, October 4, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars BLACKWATER PARK is the album that most OPETH fans say is their favorite OPETH album, and for good reason too. When I first listened to the record I thought it was strange that a band would have long songs that had acoustic guitar and growling vocals, but since then I have heard way more Progressive ... (read more)

Report this review (#2151496) | Posted by progtime1234567 | Sunday, March 3, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Blackwater park is one of the strongest metal releases of 2001 and a landmark of early 2000's metal. Opeth were are creative peak years, pushing forward with each release. However it was with Blackwater park, that their leaps have increased. The production is crystal, matched to progressive ... (read more)

Report this review (#2119148) | Posted by sgtpepper | Thursday, January 17, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Now Opeth is one of the most affirmed prog entity (and it is all deserved), but there was a time when they were something different. I started listening to them with the former album "Still life", and immediately I came back to their older stuff. Now mixing death metal and prog could appear noth ... (read more)

Report this review (#1867349) | Posted by ale73 | Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | Review Permanlink

2 stars As a long-time fan of progressive metal, Opeth was a band name that kept popping up. I knew the day would come that I'd have to give them a shot, so where better to start than what seems to be one of their more highly-praised albums; 'Blackwater Park'. Now, the whole doom and gloom death meta ... (read more)

Report this review (#1781112) | Posted by martindavey87 | Monday, September 11, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Me too, I must add a four stars rating to what's one the finest Opeth record's ever. Blackwater Park is a concept about a park for leper people, in eight songs: the violent Leper Affinity, powerful Bleak, quiet Harvest, nostalgic Drapery Falls, sad Dirge For November, evil Funeral Portrait, ins ... (read more)

Report this review (#1536234) | Posted by MonsterMagnet | Sunday, March 6, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Opeth's 'Blackwater Park' is without doubt my favourite offering from the Scandinavian 4-piece. In this album we find Opeth at their absolute best, both creatively and musically. The songs presented here are hugely varied, transitioning flawlessly all the way from extreme death metal through to ... (read more)

Report this review (#1433801) | Posted by AndyJ | Friday, July 3, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The greatest thing about Prog Archives is that it allows us access to music we might not normally hear. I live in the city of Pekin, Illinois, an even more conservative neighbor of the relatively conservative city of Peoria. Therefore, the radio choices are limited. Probably the only contempo ... (read more)

Report this review (#1264760) | Posted by thwok | Saturday, August 30, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Ok, a new genre for me and a band with beautiful covers and an interesting approach. This is Blackwater Park from 2001 with the Swedish metal band Opeth. It's Opeth's fifth studio record(of ten) and shows a grey landskape with shadow figures in the background. It both impressed and in the end ... (read more)

Report this review (#984515) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Powerful is the principal adjective that comes to mind when I hear this album. Each track has an air of authority to it that gives the album a truly commendable level of focus and drive from start to finish. Musically cohesive, varied, and balanced, yet undeniably bombastic, it really packs a ... (read more)

Report this review (#950171) | Posted by Neo-Romantic | Friday, April 26, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I got this album after I already had Heritage, Watershed, Damnation and Ghost Reveries by Opeth. They all impressed me, but none as much as Blackwater Park. This is a truly monumental collection of songs that all work together to create an atmosphere that most musicians would die to be able to ... (read more)

Report this review (#827687) | Posted by zeqexes | Monday, September 24, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Blackwater Park is special in that it was the first Opeth record that Steven Wilson produced, so it sounds absolutely fantastic. Some might say the rawness of the band lost a bit of edginess, especially when the band is at their most rocking, which is a fair point, but the overall sound is sti ... (read more)

Report this review (#802210) | Posted by Biff Tannen | Wednesday, August 8, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was my first taste of Opeth. To this day, I consider it the most representative of the vintage Opeth sound as it not only shows both the soft and dark sides of the band, but uses a nice mix of Akerfeldt's trademark vocals (growls and all). This is readily apparent with the first track ("The L ... (read more)

Report this review (#771753) | Posted by Lofcaudio | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Opeth goes from paradise to hell with "Blackwater Park" Firstly, I would like to say that I hate so-called "death growls", then listen to this album was not an experience, say, enjoyable. But I decided to go ahead and get over my prejudices to hear this album. Unfortunately, I could not. "B ... (read more)

Report this review (#505502) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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