After six albums of establishing connections between the seemingly contradictory genres of extreme metal, folk, and progressive rock, Opeth have finally decided to devote an entire album to exploring their classic folk/prog influences with “Damnation.” As such, this isn’t a metal album, but Opeth’s creativity and top-notch musicianship are still in evidence. Anyone who’s heard “A Fair Judgement” from the band’s last album “Deliverance” knows just how good Opeth is at weaving together intricate fabrics of music and vocals to create something captivating. Haunting atmospheres and painstaking arrangements pervade the eight tracks here, ensuring that any open-minded Opeth fan will be more than satisfied. Even though they’re largely acoustic, and the vocals are all sung cleanly, the songs on “Damnation” contain every bit as much power and emotion as those on any previous Opeth album. While some songs build to massive crescendos (“In My Time Of Need” is a prominent example), mellowness is still the order of the day. Mikael Akerfeldt’s entrancing singing voice is ideal for inducing hypnotism, and his and Peter Lindgren’s guitar interplay is stunning in its eloquence. Anybody who doubts these guys’ ability to pick with the best of them needs to hear this album. Drummer Martin Lopez is, as always, a monster on the kit; it’s the complexity of his work, more than anything else, that keeps “Damnation” from being just another light-rock album. With most Opeth albums I make an effort to comment on specific songs, but on “Damnation” the beginnings and ends of the tracks seem rather arbitrary. Each one bleeds into the other, creating an “album” in the truest sense of the word. This samey feeling is both a blessing and a curse: those expecting the sudden, dramatic shifts of Opeth’s previous work will be sorely disappointed, but if you want to settle into one listening mode and stay there “Damnation” is an excellent choice. I happen to prefer the heavier approach of such albums as “Still Life” and “Deliverance,” but “Damnation” is still more than worth adding to your collection.