I purchased this album as soon as I could get it. I own all of Opeth’s previous releases.I’m not sure I can add much more praise to this album. If you have any of Opeth’s other albums, you will buy this one. If you do not own an Opeth album, it doesn’t matter which one is picked up first, they are all excellent. Opeth is progressive-like-death-like-metal-like music. What does that mean? The band is not afraid to use acoustic guitars, a piano, or any other variation that may work. Overall there are harsh growled vocals and guitars that are loud and rock. The vocals change between a death growl and a very clear and pleasant sound. Two very active guitars on the album, and a bass that stands out more than it did on Still Life, but not as active as on Monringrise. The songs are longer than the average 3 to 4 minutes, be prepaired to be at attention for an average of 10 minutes. This album seems a bit busier than the previous albums. Complex stuff that may need a few listens to decifer. Favorites of mine on the album are Bleak, Harvest, and The Funeral Portrait. Bleak is one of the heavies on the album and Harvest is an all acoustic track. Funeral Portrait has the best riff on the album and is some nice meat in the sandwich of the album. My only hope is that Opeth doesn’t grow stale before they get big. These will be the albums retro-death metal heads will have in the year 2010. If you appreciate more technical death metal, you should like Blackwater Park. Opeth doesn’t unleash unbridled hatred, they simply tell a story instead with thier music. You need to tell a friend of Opeth. This album is worth your time and your money.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Blackwater Park was my first Opeth *album* (having only heard snippets of Morningrise before).A small point of interest – the chief criticism here seems to be band’s insistence on employing growl vocals.Like many, I found this practice aberrant, and frankly disruptive to otherwise excellent music.Repeated listenings to Blackwater totally changed my view on the matter – I realised that far from being the lamely overaggressive screaming of an otherwise talentless vocalist, the profound and multifaceted artistry in this volume would simply not be able to be communicated without the tool of harsh vocals.They are not used for their own sake, nor to simply stop the gaps of an incomplete band lineup, but are just another component in a seamless tapestry of such potent beauty and majesty there is insufficient time in most our lives to listen and appreciate all it has to offer, let alone to just bask in incandescent admirative glow one ends up helplessly projecting on repeated listenings of Opeth.Regardless, as you will discover in any of the acoustic or dynamically constrasted tracks such as “Harvest” or “The Drapery Falls”, singer Mikael Akerfeldt’s talent, ability and range is accomplished, to be more than modest.I suppose the fact that there are only SEVEN reviews of the odd hundred-and-fifty-three before this that are negative, and half of these are from people that could not lay aside a dislike of growling enough to appreciate the album should let you know that this may be the biggest hurdle for someone considering picking this upThe other 3 were either just plain wrong in their assumptions – anyone who questions Opeth’s musicianship or compositional talents can be safely and objectively sidelined as a cook: As whether you find them boring and prententiously irrelevant, or pray to them daily at nightfall , their technical talents cannot be queried by anyone with even an ounce of musical knowhow – or else provided no clear logic to their heresy.Buy this album if you one of those who considers music to be *anything* more than a diversion used when performing menial chores or long distance driving. Even if -it takes you a year to come to appreciate what it is, any rational person will eventually come to at least respect this masterwork.
I have read over many pages of reviews on Blackwater Park, and I am quite pleased to see the support Opeth is receiving, and from intelligent people. However, I also see many, many reviewers giving this phenomenal album a single star. This dusgusts me. I read a review saying that anyone who wanted to listen to real music should listen to bands like Good Charlotte and Grade 8. I strongly hope this was a joke. I’ve listened with an open mind to Good Charlotte, and they are nothing but a no-talent, can’t-decide-if-they’re-punk-or-goth, sell-out MTV band that writes songs about suicide with touching videos only to show the world that they know something about cliche "teenage angst" and depression.
Wow, that was pretty rough, wasn’t it?
But fine, go ahead, like Good Charlotte. But don’t insult Opeth simply because you don’t like the rougher sort of vocals Mikael Akerfeldt employs. Not everyone does, it’s understandable. They were an acquired taste for me. The same reviewer that cited Good Charlotte as "good music" (perhaps simply because they have "good" in their name?) complained that Opeth is "nothing but a scream band with no talent what so ever" (by the way, whatsoever is one word).
First of all, the quality of Opeth lyrics surpasses that of any band I’ve ever heard. The dark and haunting poetry that flows from Akerfeldt’s pen does not paint a scenery before you, but envelopes you in that scenery. Opeth has been oftencategorized as progressive, and that alone refutes any talk of "no talent." Progressive music is about establishing a pattern of music, and then varying it to different degrees. Those patterns weave in and out of each other, harmonizing and working together to create beautiful music. It takes a far greater knowledge of music theory to coherently structure anything remotely close to being progressive than it does to create a two-minute punk song, the likes of which Good Charlotte probably churns out in under half an hour. The reason Opeth, Dream Theater, and Yes songs run on for over ten minutes most often (of course the Yes epic "Close to the Edge" at around 18 minutes, Dream Theater’s "A Change of Seasons" at 23, and Dream Theater’s "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence at a whopping 42 minutes) is because they are more than just songs they are writing. These progressive bands are writing symphonies that cannot be concluded in any short amount of time. The songs are long because a vast amount of time and effort was put into them, not to mention skill and knowledge. The bottom line is, saying that Opeth has no talent is like saying that sugar tastes salty, that the ocean is made of sand, or that the sun is a ball of ice.
For any new readers looking into Opeth, please disregard the one-star reviews completely. They are unfair and completely irrelevent. Blackwater Park may be the highlight of Opeth’s career and is definitely worth a listen. If you don’t like it, fair enough, but don’t insult it on unjust grounds. Respect the music.
Not since my high school years, 93-97, had I been a fan of metal. After talking to a fellow college classmate about Slayer, I decided to take him up on his suggestion to check out the band In Flames. After purchasing Colony, and having the epiphany that there could possibly be great metal out there, despite the decline of The Headbanger’s Ball, and the obvious failings of the so-called metal bands dominating the charts in the US, I decided to peruse the reviews on Amazon to see where this hopefully resurrected metal fan needed to search next.
Everywhere I looked: Opeth. To boot, I had never heard such words used to describe a metal band: eloquent, majestic, beautiful, exquisite, touching, emotional, poignant, epic, delicate…ok, I must stop here because the references to positive transendence, though absolutely fitting, might give you the idea that this is not a heavy metal band at all.
And perhaps that is true. If there is a band in the metal genre which perfectly symbolizes the evolutionary certainty of all quality music bending the limits of genre, then Opeth is it.
No band has ever captivated my imagination and love for music the way this band has, and Blackwater Park is the album that started it all.
The escalating, soft tension of the opener, “The Leper Affinity” exploded into the most demonic of riffs. Not because the riff is pure evil, but because the melody, so seductive and oddly soothing, epitomizes true darkness as it is compelling in the true nature of sin. This band surpasses musical genius by honing the exact ebb and flow of extreme human emotions.
Throughout this 67 minute, 8-track opus, Opeth guide the listener through a world of vivid lament, psychosis, rage, reconcilliation, victory, and defeat. I do not know of any album (and my collection of pop/rock/hip-hop/jazz/jamband/soul/etc. reaches near the 2,000 mark) that ends so fittingly as this one, when Mikael exclaims, “The sun sets forever, over, Blackwater Paaaaarrrrrrrkkkkkkk!” at the album’s closing. At this zenith, the listener truly feels the inescapable suffocation of death, and the unfathomable possiblities of an afterlife. I dare any reviewer to name a band which can conjure such emotions.
What’s for sure is that Opeth accomplishes such seemingly impossible feats by coupling patient songwriting with flawless instrumental execution. Guitar players who instantly become enthralled with the idea of replicating the tasty guitar passages, pause for just a second. The tracks on this album are so layered, that if you wanted to produce the exact same sound live, you’d need a band to rival the numbers of your local city’s orchestra.
It is this thoughtfulness in composition that truly separates this band from others, and allows this album to rest upon the apex of metal along with its ancestor, Still Life (to this day I cannot decide which of the two reigns supreme). Every moment of this album, the extreme death/black/progressive elements and the folkish/melancholic-acoustic-doom progressions, accentuates the duality of darkness, in its most dormant and aggressive manifestations.
Together, these polar opposites collide to produce a musical experience unmatched by any in the metal field. Aside from pulling this fan from his metal grave, Blackwater Park ensures that this decade will not fail the world of music in producing an incomparable contribution to extreme/heavy music.
Let me just say that I, umm, don’t care for death metal. Even when the oft-talented musicians are doing more than unleashing dissonant slop, the “cookie monster” vocals usually turn me off. Opeth is…Err, wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. To simply call Opeth “death metal” is lazy and does them no justice. Vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt can unleash a growl so utterly demonic it sounds inhuman, but I think beyond that Opeth’s parallels to death metal are scarce. Opeth is better described as the bizarre marriage of metal brutality and pastoral elegy. Without a doubt, Blackwater Park is full of crashing guitars and brutal growls, yet Opeth balances with melodic acoustic passages and vocal deliveries with icy beauty. Often, these elements are encompassed entirely by one song. The 10-minute opener, “The Leper Affinity,” begins with flaming guitar riffs and bestial vocals, but as you approach the 5-minute mark, the heaviness falls away to be replaced by delicate clean singing and a dreamy acoustic section. Even at its heaviest, Blackwater Park remains surprisingly melodic, with fluid guitar lines and ear-catching riffs. Opeth is clearly more about dynamics of light & shade than the conventional sonic mire of other similar bands. (Although, truth be told, there aren’t really other bands like Opeth.) Producer Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree, No-Man) doesn’t seem like the right guy for the job…at least on paper. But Wilson’s background makes him the perfect choice. His ear for sonic clarity and arrangement are surpassed by few, and he is a wonderful complement to the band’s ambition.”Harvest” is gorgeous. Layers of acoustic guitars, sparkling overlays of electric chords, and the chilling, beautiful vocals of Akerfeldt. It’s probably my favorite song on the album. That’s because I can’t really listen to lots of the stuff here. The death vox are just too much for me. On a purely subjective level, I wouldn’t give this disc 5-stars.But forget that subjectivity. Sometimes you just have to admire what’s being done, even if it’s not your own cup of tea. Objectively speaking, Opeth is original and talented. If you like (or even tolerate) death metal vocals, I _strongly_ recommend you try Opeth. If you absolutely hate death vox, skip it. (Although I usually hate ‘em but I tried this, so whatever.) Blackwater Park is unique, progressive, heavy, and sometimes beautiful. If you take the plunge, you may be turned off by the oppressively cold and bleak sound (plus some unhappy lyrics). But be patient. Allow its grandeur to unfold. You might be blown away like so many others.