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Ghost Reveries

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Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • I think vocalist/ guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt said it best, “There is no other band in metal like us.” Normally, I would have found this funny and conceited if most other band’s had said that about themselves. However, with Opeth I think he’s right. They do what they do and they do it well. Being a long time Opeth fan I was semi worried about them being signed to Roadrunner records. A few thing’s came to mind. A. They’re going to suck up and become a shadow of their former greatness, B. alof of nu-metal kid’s are going to get into them and will mkae them mainstream. Well, those worries of mine have been put to rest. Opeth actually recorded Ghost Reveries prior to signing with Roadrunner. So, if that may have been keeping you from buying this, don’t let it. This to me, is what metal is all about. Heavy music, growling vocals. Fast/tight guitar work and so on, yet mixing in a great singing voice, keyboards and acoustic guitars. They bridge everything that is good about metal together. They’re all great musicians and don’t need a cheap Cannibal Corpse type image to get attention. The fact is, a band like this, mixing acoustic guitars and death metal growls could have come out very sloppy and unnatural if not done by incredible musicians. I feel somewhat ashamed of myself for doubting them for even a second. They once again return with a brilliant epic album that lives up to the legend that is Opeth. The only change in Opeth is the official adding of Per Wiberg to the band, who does keyboards and things of that nature. This album(amoung many others released this year) shows us that metal is still alive and well in 2005.

    1. Ghost of Perdition: This track really got me excited. Another epic track clocking in around 10 and a half minutes. The first few seconds have some melodic guitar before kicking in to a heavy song. Inbetween the distorted guitars and death metal growl’s we find some great acoustic guitar’s along with some great singing. Even though Mikael’s singing voice seems to be going faster and a little rushed in this song, it is still brilliant. I love how Opeth can write song’s with such length and have every second be as exciting as the last 5/5.

    2. The baying of the Hounds: Amazing. The music here is just so tight and intelligent. The acoustic guitar that kicks in at 7 and a half minutes is brilliant and feels so sad and emotional. While the guitar a minute before was a fast paced riff that made me wanna just headbang. Per Wiberg here does a great job of adding keyboards in here that don’t push other insturments away but only add the atmosphere. Not a track you will find yourself skipping 6/5.

    3. Beneath the Mire: Begins with some mid tempo drumming and some haunting organs. Has some of the best singing here. I find it just so incredible how he can go from a heavy growl to an incredible singing voice. The guitar that kick’s in at around 3 minutes and nine seconds into the song, is pure magic. Soon after some keyboard’s kick in that remind me of A Fair Judgement from the Deliverance album 4.5/5.

    4. Atonement: A melodic intro, with some odd/ interesting drum’s along with some singing vocals coming in around a minute and twenty seconds. The keyboards here take control and is one of the most melodic songs here 4/5.

    5. Reverie/Harlequin Forest: Start’s out with a single guitar riff and some incredible violin type keyboards that I just find amazing. Has some of the best lyrics on the album here. Alot of tempo changes, which for most band’s would seem like a song with no direction. However, Opeth are the king’s of such type song’s and they know what they’re doing. Incredible epic song 6/5.

    6. Hours of Wealth: The first all acoustic song on the album, a wonderful ballad. Definetly has a gloomy mood to this song. The lyric’s seem pretty sad and come off as meaningful and avoid the “o poor me” cliche song 4/5.

    7. The Grand Conjuration: The second this song start’s you know you’re in for one hell of a dark ride. Even though it doesn’t begin as very heavy, you know you’re in for one heavy song. At around two minutes it get’s to that point. The lightning fast solo is one of the best here, really show’s their talent. Also, the keyboards give off a dark sound, which adds to the heaviness of this song. Another thing I love about this song, is that about 5 minutes into this song you think it is going to end but then comes right back in for another round 5/5.

    8. Isolation Years: This song begins with some moody guitar, which I personally love. One of the shortest song’s here is the perfect closing song. Leaves the listener wanting to listen to the album again and again. Brilliant. “And isolation, is all that would remain. The wound in me is pouring out to rest on a lover’s shore.” 5/5.

    So, I recommend this cd as much as I do any other Opeth album. It is anything but boring and one of the best of 2005. You can not go wrong with Opeth. An album that lives up to their legendary status. Enjoy

    Posted on January 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • After 2003’s Damnation introduced a seemingly kinder, gentler Opeth to the world, you might’ve thought Mikael Akerfeldt and Co. had gone soft. Well, if so, you would’ve thought wrong, because Opeth aren’t just back to metal with the new Ghost Reveries, they’re better at it than ever before. While I was a huge fan of theirs a few years ago, my interest had sort of wanted recently, even if I do still think they’ve released some great albums (most notably Still Life and Damnation). Here, though, they achieve a level of focus and intensity unprecedented in their catalogue. Ghost Reveries is, simply put, their most original, interesting, and brilliant album.

    Ghost Reveries is also Opeth’s most aggressively proggy release to date-I don’t know about anyone else, but listening to this album I was struck by thoughts of Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Isis, and the Mars Volta, even though Opeth don’t actually sound like any of those bands-and therefore can take several listens to adequately get your head around. Not that your time won’t be well spent, though, as Ghost Reveries is a remarkable leap forward for a band that had already been long since marked as innovators. Opeth have been known since their beginnings for their wide range of emotions and their extensive alternation of sounds, but on previous albums the dynamics tended to be of a HEAVY-light-HEAVY-light-HEAVY variety that got rather comfortable after a while. Here, though, everything is integrated much more seamlessly, exploring a stylistic range that takes Opeth well beyond the status of “that band that mixes death metal, folk, and prog rock.”

    Opeth do still mix styles with abandon on Ghost Reveries, but the patterns are varied considerably more this time around, with multiple sonic shifts per song, some of which can take a while to pinpoint. As a result, Ghost Reveries is a lot less predictable than what came before it-listening to albums like Still Life and Blackwater Park, I could settle into a heavier or lighter passage secure in the knowledge that it would probably continue for a while, but that’s not so here. As tradeoffs go it’s a worthy one-there’s a lot more of a sturm and drang effect here; the death vocals hit harder for their sparser distribution; and the instrumental passages give you a lot more to chew on. Not to mention, the band’s compositional style is just a lot more interesting here, with tighter songwriting highlighted by inceasingly intricate riff structures and guitar harmonies and some azz-kicking solos. For the first time, I can safely say that every second of an Opeth album is made to count.

    The first two tracks-Ghost of Perdition, The Baying of the Hounds-are somewhat prototypical Opeth epics, but even then some changes are evident. Even during the heavier parts, there’s more of a melodic metal approach, with Mikael’s clean vocals (previously used almost exclusively for soft passages) making frequent appearances. Still, these tracks exemplify the band’s traditional balance of viciousness and majesty, effortlessly incorporating bowel-shaking growls, gorgeous guitar melodies, and dizzyingly technical instrumental interludes while sweeping keyboard textures, gentle atmospherics, and screaming solos weave their way in and out of the mix. And it may just be my new stereo talking, but I don’t recall the bass work being as prominent or interesting on previous albums as it is on this one.

    Beneath the Mire, while superficially not that different from the two songs that come before it, is still probably the most rabidly experimental thing on here, shifting mood and tone every minute or so, interspersing head-banging metal with gorgeous vocal melodies and emotionally charged guitar leads, and closing with a bizarre, free-jazzy instrumental passage that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Meshuggah CD. And although it sounds a lot different, the first all-nice track Atonement continues in the same vein. In sharp contrast to the pleasant but often lightweight tunes that generally provided a break from all the heaviness in the past, Atonement is a hypnotic, densely layered ambient piece driven by Eastern-accented guitar work, subtle keyboard flourishes, and even some hand drums and piano (never thought I’d hear that combination on an Opeth album). Another classic, the Grand Conjuration, steadily builds tension with some hushed, eerie melodies and foreboding clean vocals before releasing it with flurries of death vox, crazy Meshuggah-style polyrhythms (there’s that name again), and ghostly keyboards. For its part, Isolation Years is a pretty nice closer; Akerfeldt’s vocals get a little too close to the top of his register for my tastes, but the purty guitar leads and tricky drumming make the song register just enough.

    Alright, I’m too bored and full of caffeine to write a suitable closing to this review now, so I’ll just leave you with this: if you like Opeth, get this album. It’s their best one yet, and easily among my prestigious personal top 5 of the year thus far.

    Posted on January 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • The opening track starts with eight slow plucks at clean guitar strings, instantly providing the faithful Opeth fan echoes of their last masterful creation, 2003’s spellbinding “Damnation”. Then, at the song’s eighth second, the Swedes unleash their trademark attack upon the senses: thunderous guitars and singer/songwriter Mikael Ǻkerfeldt’s otherworldly growls. Any illusions that Opeth have softened are dispelled in the ten minutes that follow.

    From here, “Ghost of Perdition” revisits several melodic themes that Opeth have explored before, all revering the quintet’s vigorous energy. The opening riffs, bludgeoning and powerful, are reminiscent of “The Leper Affinity” (off “Blackwater Park”). The softer middle section, with acoustic guitars layering Ǻkerfeldt’s harmonizing sounds like “The Moor”’s similar section (off “Still Life”). Finally, when the intensity returns, the double-bass drum melodies and unconventional guitars echo “By the Pain I See in Others” (off “Deliverance).

    “The Grand Conjuration”, the album’s first “single” has everyone talking. It is what “A Fair Judgment” would have sounded like if it were to have been possessed by the devil. The main riff is memorable, but unfortunately overused for a 10-minute song. Opeth’s musical ADD, which is what has made the band such metal icons, was discarded in the songwriting process for this heavy piece, which I think jeopardizes the song’s lasting power (however, I might be alone in this ruling).

    The song is also sandwiched in between two gems, the all-acoustic and hyper-melancholic “Hours of Wealth” and “Isolation Years”. The first of which begins with guitars that would make Days of the New’s Travis Meeks envious, followed by an urban, piano-driven section, whose tormenting vocals may remind us of “To Bid You Farewell” (off “Morningrise”). The song is perfect for the desperate man in a closing tavern with such lines as “Looking through my window, seem to recognize all the people passing by – but I’m alone and far from home – nobody knows me”. For a band known for its darkness and intensity, Opeth shine in tranquil splendor.

    Despite all the similarities, the album is hardly a clone. Unlike many metal bands today, Opeth commands the genre in which they play and are far from using a tired formula. “The Baying of the Hounds”, a faster, less intense track, illustrates Opeth’s newest innovation: integrating keyboards into heavier pieces. Although Ǻkerfeldt (under Stephen Wilson’s wing) used pianos and mellotrons in their last two albums, they weren’t integrated into heavier songs and were found sparingly and experimentally. In “Ghost Reveries”, new fifth member Per Wiberg adds a flute-like sound to “Ghost of Perdition”, a funky twang to “The Baying of the Hounds”, a middle-eastern melody to “Beneath the Mire” and a melancholic ambience to “Isolation Years”.

    Although this album wasn’t produced by Porcupine Tree songwriter Stephen Wilson (as Opeth’s past three albums have been), you can still feel the British prog-rocker’s influence in the mix. The vocal arrangements at the sixth minute of “Ghost of Perdition” sound shockingly similar to PT’s “Shallow” (off “Deadwing). “Atonement” hast the repetitive, psychedelic atmosphere that Wilson and company craft with every album, and the soothing, bluesy guitar solo at the end of “Hours of Wealth” is identical to Ǻkerfeldt’s solo in PT’s “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” (also off “Deadwing”).

    The album is not perfect (as no Opeth album is), with such erratic and scatterbrained pieces as “Reverie / Harlequin Forest ” and some weak points in “Beneath the Mire”. Maybe I’m the one at fault – maybe I haven’t yet captured the technical brilliance involved. But the album more than makes up for these faults. Opeth have proven themselves to possess metal’s Hand of Midas. Having done no wrong in their 8-album, 11-year career, they follow this pattern of excellence with “Ghost Reveries”. Hail, hail.

    See also: Opeth – “Damnation”, ” Blackwater Park”, “Deliverance”

    Posted on January 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • The phrase “progressive death metal” has been used before, but it probably fits Opeth better than any other single band. Opeth are much more than a Metal band, They are a five man orchestra. Even when the music gets heavy it still holds a form of ambience untouched by fellow Death Metal bands. So melodic yet so brutal all in one dose. Opeth are truely pioneers among the metal scene friends!

    Ghost Reveries begins with a moment of mellow guitar and tranquil peace, But the moment is soon over as the crushing riff of the instant classic ‘Ghost Of Perdition’ take the stage. This song alone is worth getting the CD, with several tempo changes and at about 2:34 into the song comes my favorite melodic piece of any Opeth song EVER.

    Mikael Åkerfeldt is an amazing vocalist. Looking at him you would easily be decieved as he looks like an every day joe. But beneath that moustache and down that throat lie two of the greatest lungs in the history of Metal. The man has a great Death Metal growl, Which is normally audible. And his ‘clean’ vocals are to die for, He hits some very hard to achieve notes. This is truely one of the great Metal Vocalists that shall always be remembered and always respected.

    Another of my favorite tracks is ‘Atonement’. A soft gentle track with mezmerizing guitar and a beat that could put a crying baby to sleep. The reason I like it is because it stands out so well against all the powerful chugging riffs. That and Mikael truely shows talent here, some very charming and almost enchanting vocals.

    I have to give credit to bassist Martin Mendez. I am a bassist and this guy plays some excellent B-Lines, Especially on easily the two most popular tracks ‘Ghosts of Perdition’ and yet another of my own favorites The Grand Conjuration, A track that reeks of “progressive death metal” from the get go with the headbang worthy riffs and inspiring drum blasts. Another thing that makes this a favorite is Mikael’s constant changing vox from clean soft harmonous vocals to harsh audible growls.

    People I can not stress enough how truely important it is for Metal Fans world wide to hear this album. This band has defined what it is to be a “progressive death metal” band and have set the bar for fellow bands. Also I just seen these guys play live at Gigantour in Detroit. Simply.. Amazing I would advise you all to do whatever you must to get to see these guys live!

    Mikael Åkerfeldt and Devin Townsend are the only Metal Vocalists I would gladly knell and bow my head to if they were before me. Support the scene and buy this great album, and please click YES if you took the time to read my review. If nothing else it kept your intrest for a couple moments.

    -A Loyal Opeth Fan

    Posted on January 13, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • A lot of albums came out this year. I maybe anticipated a few them a bit too much, and was disappointed as a result. Hence, I kept the hype for this album to a minimum. I’ve found this to be a sound approach, since it prevents catastrophic let-downs and allows for pleasant surprises. I’d have to put Ghost Reveries in the “pleasant surprises” category.

    I’ve been a big fan of Opeth since I discovered them, but even with all the appreciation I have for their sensitive and equally brutal variety of melodic death metal, I wasn’t sure what to expect in this new album. The lack of Steve Wilson’s presence as well as the decision to sign with Roadrunner (a label known for putting out a lot of mediocre nu metal and “hardcore” music) both had me a little worried. I worried in vain – Opeth are obviously in charge here.

    The balance between the songs at first brings to mind Blackwater Park, a fantastic album in its own right, but there’s more to this album than Blackwater Park Part Two. Steve Wilson may not be in the producer’s chair anymore, but his influence is plain to see: interspersed between the blastbeats and melodramatic classical passages are bits of psychadelia-tinged prog rock ala Porcupine Tree.

    Another obvious addition to the music here is the full time keyboardist (who I believe toured with them for Deliverence and Damnation as well.) While there aren’t many big keyboard features, it has had a drastic effect on their overall sound. Throughout the entire album you can hear keyboards in the mix, blending perfectly with the texture of the guitars. The way the keyboards often work on this album also brings to mind Dream Theater, and in fact that influence pervails throughout much of this album (but if Dream Theater’s technical acrobatics are a turnoff for you, don’t worry – Opeth retain a tastefulness Dream Theater has not demonstrated since the Awake days.)

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s a good deal of restrained minimalism on this album as well. Chunky half-step thrash riffs pop up from time to time (but always topped with a signature Mikael riff to remind us he still eats hack nu metal guitarists for breakfast.) Coincidentally, they bring to mind Sepultura, the band that almost singlehandedly kept Roadrunner alive during the metal drought of the 90’s.

    There’s also quite a few serene and ambient moments on Ghost Reveries, particularely in the last few songs. Overall this has to be the single most schizophrenic Opeth album thus far; it contains many uncharacteristically positive sections of more rock-based guitar playing, as well as a handful of Opeth’s most brutal blastbeats. It has moments even more peaceful and soothing than anything on Damnation, but is distinctly Opeth in its overall sound, and of course in the complex song structures.

    If I can type this much about it when I have only listened to it twice, imagine what I’ll have to say after I’ve gotten a chance to really digest it. That will take a long time, as do most Opeth albums, but even upon first listen this is still an extremely agreeable listen. If you are an Opeth fan already, buy this NOW as you will not be disappointed. If you aren’t familiar with them already but are interested in immaginative alternative metal of the heavier variety, this is almost as good a place to start as Blackwater Park was for me. And if you don’t like Opeth OR alt metal, well… you’re probably not reading this anyways, right?

    Posted on January 12, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now