It’s an event – there’s a new Opeth record!
Persephone starts us off with acoustic guitar work worthy of a duo playing in the corner at a wedding. And then a lady yaps for a wee bit before Sorceress begins with some real psychedelic choogling. That doesn’t last long, though, before it takes on a satisfying heavy chug. Finally! There’s a bit of a Ghost feel to this one. I like it!
The Wilde Flowers is a choppy, romping tune that feels slightly like it shouldn’t work but it totally does. The organ makes it, and I like the middle breakdown bit into the guitar solo. Cool. Will O’ The Wisp brings back the strummy acoustics and goes a bit folky on us. But then the sound picks up, the band comes in, and we’re off to the races in a nice mid-tempo swinger. Chrysalis blasts in like Opeth of old, now this is what I was waiting for ooo yeah! It’s pounding, loud, and built to be epic. Yeah! It slows to a sweet groove with about 2:30 to go, and even fades right out like the album’s ending…
Sorceress 2 brings back the acoustic noodling and… a flute? This one has vocals too, very dreamy and floating… As an interlude, it’s OK… The Seventh Sojourn brings us into an Eastern feel with bongo drums. It’s an instrumental excursion with strings and strumming guitars. I liked it, though the falsetto vocals near the end were oddly placed. Strange Brew leads us in gently, but it wasn’t to last! Bam! Off we go to the races with soe absolutely crazy proggy freak out rocking. Woohoo that’s fun! It gives and takes a bit before settling into a bluesy metal slinky tune that, so far, is the highlight track for me.
A Fleeting Glance starts off weirdly… is that a harpsichord? When the band comes in, it’s a good groove with those keys stabs throughout. Around 1:50 or so it goes full on metal guitars and fun time signature messing… It builds into a full-on epic ending worthy of Floyd, though. What an interesting tune! Era is next, with a minute or so of piano before the band blasts us off into the stratosphere again with a pounding (and counting) workout. Wow! This one totally rips! Another highlight track, for sure. And finally, Persephone (Slight Return) brings back the piano from the beginning or Era, and the lady yaps some more. As an end to the album proper, it works.
If that’s the CD you own, that’s one helluva wide-ranging disc, with lots of great moments and a few odd ones too! But of course, I got the 2CD set, so we’re not done yet…
The Ward starts out gentle, and then goes positively jazzy at high speed. It acoustic rocks a bit at the ‘chorus’ bit, but then rolls backs to the jazzy bit. I liked this track a lot! It probably should’ve been on the record, boys! Spring MCMLXXIV is a lighter-waving blues rocker ballad. The lead guitar here is amazing. The big organ solo at the end was fun, too!
And then we get three live tracks, recorded with the Plovdiv Philharmoinc Orchestra. Pale Communion’s Cusp Of Eternity is a big-boned tune made even larger by the orchestra. It’s a perfect melding of bands! Blackwater Park’s The Drapery Falls we know well. It starts out lighter, but then goes into full on growly vocals. The first time those vocals happen anywhere on this set! Once again, though, adding the orchestra totally works with the tune! And finally, were back to Pale Communion with Voice Of Treason (Live), which gets introduced as the first time they’ve payed it live, and since it’s the first time, why not do it with an orchestra! Sure, that’s what everyone does! But hot damn, this may be the best of the three live tracks, here. It has a fantastic groove, and it all fits perfectly. Hot damn! I love how he ends it, too, asking the crowd “not too shabby, right?” Haha awesome.
It should be noted, too, that the sound on all three live tracks is pristine, had to be soundboard. Gorgeous.
I think the album proper is going to take me a few more listens to get to it completely. But that’s OK, most every recent Opeth album does that to me, and I like it like that! But the second disc is an absolute must. If you’re in the shoppes and you have both copies in hand, definitely splurge for the 2CD version. Sorceress: I liked it! And soon enough, I’ll love it!
Here’s a CD Mike found at BMV. We talked about it, and I said I understood that earlier Opeth had more growly vocals, which made him unlikely to buy it. I said if he wasn’t gonna buy it, I would (and I did)! Honestly, it’s an amazing record, too…
The 5th Annual Toronto Expedition Series, Part 7 (CD)
Opeth nails a diverse record, here. It’s beautiful and soaring, full of absolutely brilliant musicianship. It also hits damn hard and has as many harsh growling vocals as it does regular singing vocals. There’s power lurking under every gentle moment, and care in every crushing moment.
Through the good headphones, this album* is an expedition into many emotions and moods, passion and energy, creation and destruction. When it ends, you feel you’ve heard the full, incredible story.
* From Wiki: “Like its predecessor, My Arms, Your Hearse, Still Life is a concept album. Frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt explains: “Still Life was not Satanic but an anti-Christian theme. It sounds pretty naive when I explain it like this. It kind of takes place a long time ago when Christianity had a bigger importance than it has today. The main character is kind of banished from his hometown because he hasn’t got the same faith as the rest of the inhabitants there. The album pretty much starts off when he is returning after several years to hook up with his old ‘babe’. Obviously a lot of bad things start happening with, as I call it on the album, ‘the council.’ The big bosses of the town know that he’s back. A lot of bad things start happening. They see him as a hypocrite in a way. It’s almost like a devil’s advocate or whatever it’s called.””
Opeth – Blackwater Park
I must begin my 202nd review/write-up/blurb/post/whatchamacallit with an apology. I’d said I only spent over $5.99 on one CD while I was in Toronto recently. Clearly, I forgot about this one, found at BMV for $5.99. Oops. Sorry! But I really think that’s it now. I think. Apparently my memory is completely untrustworthy, even only days after the event. I assume I’ll be forgetting all of your names next week, and how to type by next Friday…
So. Blackwater Park. 14 years ago, this was Opeth’s 5th album. According to Wiki, it didn’t chart in North America or the UK. Weird. But it received positive notices in the press, so that’s… something? I dunno. All I know is I played this thing twice before writing it up and it’s friggin’ EPIC!
There’s just something about Opeth’s sound. It’s just so huge… Reviews said this was a departure from their older stuff, as they were working with a new producer here, but all I heard was great heavy metal, at times blistering and growly, at others sweeping and achingly beautiful. Often all in the same song. This is complicated, ambitious and aggressive music. A tune like The Drapery Falls is a bit more accessible, acoustic guitars and tremolo effects making the whole thing eerie. Well, that’s before it explodes into full-on metal again… Dirge For November is gorgeous (and compelling in its velvet glove on an iron fist approach). The Funeral Portrait has one of the most satisfying new-to-me metal riffs I’ve heard in ages. What a sound! Patterns In The Ivy is a delicious, short acoustic guitar/piano reminder that I need to play my guitar more often… And the title track is so huge, so everything they do that the mind just reels. The rest are just as great.
This is one helluva gigantic record – actually, it’s a lot to take in and process all in one sitting, but I promise it’s worth it. I still don’t go for the growly vocals all that much, but here they just sound like they’re supposed to be part of it. Besides, he also sings, and the gorgeous instrumental passages temper the whole thing. These guys must just be monstrous in a live setting. Whoa.
Two thumbs up. Hells yeah! \m/ \m/