Opeth is a Swedish heavy metal band from Stockholm, formed in 1989. The group has been through several personnel changes, but singer, guitarist and songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt has remained Opeth’s primary driving force throughout the years. Opeth has consistently incorporated progressive, folk, blues, classical and jazz influences into its usually lengthy compositions, as well as strong influences from death metal, especially in their early works. Many songs include acoustic guitar passages and strong dynamic shifts, as well as both death growls and clean vocals. Opeth is also well known for their incorporation of Mellotrons in their work. Opeth rarely made live appearances supporting their first four albums; but since conducting their first world tour after the 2001 release of Blackwater Park, they have led several major world tours.
Opeth has released twelve studio albums, three live DVDs, three live albums (two that are in conjunction with DVDs), and two boxsets. The band released its debut album Orchid in 1995. Although their eighth studio album, Ghost Reveries, was quite popular in the United States, Opeth did not experience major American commercial success until the 2008 release of their ninth studio album, Watershed, which peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard 200, and topped the Finnish albums chart in its first week of release. Opeth has sold over 1.5 million copies of their albums and DVDs worldwide, including 300,000 collective SoundScans of their albums Blackwater Park, Damnation and Deliverance in the United States.
Ghost Reveries is the first album by Opeth to include keyboardist Per Wiberg as a “permanent” member (although Wiberg contributed keyboard work to Opeth’s live performances starting around the time of Lamentations), and it is the last Opeth album to include drummer Martin Lopez and long-time guitarist Peter Lindgren.
The album’s only single is “The Grand Conjuration”. A music video of the song was released, although about half of the song was edited from the video, due to the length of the song. Lopez does not appear in the video, as he was sick and was temporarily replaced by Gene Hoglan.
Ghost Of Perdition—-Don’t be fooled by the few gentle seconds that open this track….as you will be slapped in the face in an unexpected way once the song comes alive. Heavy and filled with a monstrous darkness, the intermittent clean vocals make this so accessible to even the casual listener. This is epic and well crafted Metal.You will never find a moment of boredom.
The Baying Of The Hounds—-Aggressive right from the onset, the rhythm section of the band is in fine form on this track. The stomping bass line leads the pace of the song as the lyrics come growling out of your speakers with an angry intensity. The actual chorus line is damn catchy with an undeniable melody that is all supplied by the heavy bass and the drums. The clean vocals allow for even brighter moments in the song as they mix and soar above the music. This is superb.
Beneath The Mire—-a surprisingly bright and upbeat intro to this track may catch you a bit off guard….but you learn to expect nothing but surprises from Opeth. The melody line of the song is exquisite….the drums are masterful. This has such a pleasant melody line…it is almost in the category of some of the great Progressive Metal bands from Sweden. The dark and menacing vocal interrupts the reverie a bit and transports the song somewhere else…but it all comes back full circle when the clean and meticulous vocal enters and gives the direction back to the song.The added piano interludes makes everything even a bit more experimental and spacey. Fantastic band!
Atonement—-Seeming to grow arms from the previous track, the differential between the two is slight…so it plays like one very long song. The Hammond organ is just incredible to hear on a Metal record. The vocal sounds like it was recorded under bubbling water….giving everything a very hazy and druggy feel. Really nice…put together with what seems like many acts all in one song…every track on this release is a new journey.
Reverie/Harlequin Forest—-Two songs in one….but not really unique for Opeth…it seems every track they produce has so many elements of different songs mashed together…allowing everything to come across as one grand opus for the listener. The beginning of this is sweet and sedate…..the second element of the song opens up with a clean vocal and very accessible guitar and drum delivery…allowing you to fall into a groove that is damn pleasant. Its amazing the differential in the vocal delivery at times….one extreme to another. This has some melodic overlays that stand up next to the very best Alternative Metal ever offered.
Hours Of Wealth—-Again with the unexpected intro that leaves you sitting with your breath coming in hard pulses as you wait to see where this is all going to go. The drawn out gentle strains of the song….allow you to fully realize the talent, breadth and brilliance of this band. The strains of what sound like violins play in your brain as you sit and lose yourself in the beauty of this thing called Opeth. The vocal enters and I swear I can almost hear strains of Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode in the delivery…this is damn intricate and beautiful. There are few if any complaints to be found with this masterpiece of a release.
The Grand Conjuration—-With a strong return to the powerful musical delivery that started off the release, this has a very epic feel to the entire thing. Like the quasi-orchestrated sounds of so many bands at the time. The drums are just incredible….leading the song down a crooked path that allows for the vocal to tread lightly upon them as they begin. The high hats here and there give bright tones to the underlying darkness of the song…and then you get the fantastic death yell that changes the landscape of the song and then quiets it back to the gentle accessibility of earlier tracks. I kid you not….every track here is a journey.
Isolation Years—-Ending this incredible release with a gentle melodic acoustic strain, you feel the incredible urge to hit repeat and start the entire journey all over again. This is an epic release….a beautiful release…..a talented and exquisite release. Truly a masterpiece in the landscape of Modern Metal music.
***** out of 5