Album: Blackwater Park
Label: Music for Nations
Non-Airable Tracks: NONE
This is the fifth effort from Swedish prog metal legends Opeth. Written by Mikael Akerfeldt and produced by Steven Wilson, this is one for the books. Every prog metalhead has heard this album and will agree that it is truly one of the best. Akerfeldt’s magnificent songwriting mixed with the band’s outstanding technical abilities create an unprecedented accomplishment in metal’s history. Melodic but brutal, powerful but vulnerable, this album has songs for any taste. Often switching from metal to acoustic and back several times per song, this album is a rollercoaster ride that will not disappoint.
Musically, every part is well thought out and performed perfectly. Martin Lopez’s drumming stands out to me as a perfect example of metal drums fitting their role. Martin Mendez holds down the low end with bass parts that are interesting but not distracting. Akerfedlt and Lindgren combine their abilities for some crushing guitar riffs but also pull it back in soft acoustic interludes and melodic solos. One particularly orgasmic solo is about 2:45 into “The Leper Affinity.” Mikael also displays his vocal prowess in amazing death growls as well as beautiful clean melodies. In my opinion he has one of the best voices in metal, and uses it to convey a wide range of emotion over the tracks of Blackwater Park. For a full range of the band’s ability, check out “The Funeral Portrait.”
Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the contribution of Steven Wilson. Wilson produced the album and is responsible for the flawless clarity of the record. He also lent his piano, guitar and vocal abilities in various parts throughout the record. Listen for his great vocals during the chorus of “Bleak” as well tasteful piano in “The Leper Affinity” and “Patterns in the Ivy.”
Lyrically this album is very dark and edgy in nature. It deals with murder, loss, and distrust. It goes through its topics very seriously, but not too seriously. The lyrics are as frightening as they are ambiguous and one can really get lost trying to unpack all of the details. Unlike some other death metal bands, the murder and gore never seem cheesy, and none of the lyrics are simply shock value.
Overall I give this album a 10/10.
Sounds Like: Opeth
1 – “The Leper Affinity” – really good solo, awesome in general. 10:23
2 – “Bleak” – great melodies, another banger. 9:17
Reviewer’s Name: Nate Smith
Date of Review: 9/15/2018