Album: In Cauda Venenum
Label: Nuclear Blast
Non-Airable Tracks: None
As a self professed Opeth fanboy I felt obligated to like this new Opeth album. Luckily, Mikael Akerfeldt produced an interesting and musical album; I had no trouble enjoying it on its on merits rather than the sole fact that it is Opeth. If you weren’t a fan of Sorceress don’t worry, neither am I. This album is Sorceress + Watershed + Pale Communion + weird shit and am relatively confident you will find something to like in it. I will be considering the English release of the album for this review, although I did listen to the Swedish version and liked it just as much.
The first thing that struck me was how much more experimental this album was in comparison to Opeth’s older works. Influences like Pink Floyd, jazz, and obscure folk bands really shine through in the writing and production of this album. As a huge fan of Pink Floyd and progressive rock/metal in general I had no problems with the feel of the album. “Garden of Earthly Delights” combines Stranger Things with Pink Floyd while “Charlatan” brings a weird jazz djent feel that reminds me of Animals as Leaders. About 6 minutes into “All Things Will Pass” I got some very Dream Theater vibes. Musically this album might seem a bit pretentious to some, but I still think it is enjoyable even if you aren’t a fan of this style. Next I’m going to go through a few of the facets of the album that worked to make it so good.
The production of this album is top notch. All the instruments sound great and are mixed well. Effects, pads, and synths are tasteful and well layered. The songs periodically have spoken word and ambient sections and I think it works well in the album. Acoustic guitar is superbly recorded and used to full effect all over the album. The drums sound pretty much like the past few Opeth albums in terms of mixing/tone.
Guitar writing has always been a strong suit of Mikael and this album is no exception. As previously stated, the folk and jazz influences really shine in this album and the guitar riffs really are the forerunners of this. Listening to the album currently, I find it hard to pick a song or section that best highlights this, as every song seems to be a formidable wellspring of fire riffs.
To compliment the great instrumental writing, Akerfeldt pulls out all the stops on the vocals. No, there are no growls on the record. As a shitposter I was very much disappointed in this fact but as a fan I see no issues in Opeth making another album sans screaming. If anything, the lack of growls on this album allows one to appreciate just how great Mikael’s singing voice is. Powerful melodies and great tone abound in the vocals of this record. But that’s not the end of the story; Mikael really lets his vocals feel more pained and emotional all throughout the album. “Lovelorn Crime” features some of the most tender and poignant singing we have ever heard from him.
My favorite song of the album is far and away the 5th track “Lovelorn Crime.” This song brings the feel of the rest of the album into a piano led ballad with beautiful vocals and a moving guitar solo. The lyrics are sad and Mikael’s vocals sync with the instrumentation to convey great emotion. This song is like the Comfortably Numb of the album and it is definitely a song that I will be revisiting regularly. Having received the album through the label well before release, I have had access to the music for a over a week now and I have found myself listening to this song at least two or three times a day.
Overall, I liked this album and if you are at all interested in prog rock or Opeth I think you will too. It is certainly the best album of the non-metal era of Opeth. Give it a listen fucking ASAP.
sorrow/10; I would recommend to a friend
Sounds Like: Opeth
Lovelorn Crime: piano ballad, sad: 6:34
Dignity: good riffs: 6:35
Reviewer’s Name: Nate Smith
Date of Review: 9/30/19