on June 18, 2004
Blackwater Park is an album of amalgamation and perfection, not just for Opeth but for metal as a whole. Until this point, Opeth had been carving out a niche of their own in the world of heavy music, with releases like the stunning 'My arms, Your hearse' or 'Still Life'. But Blackwater Park truly is a 'monumetal mark' to quote the title track, not just in terms of a vision fully realised, bit in terms of finally eliminating any barriers that might be left to the band to take their music onto a new level.
What is immediately apparent upon listening to the opener 'The Leper Affinity' is not just the seamlessness, the perfected ebb and flow of the music, but the incredible comfort with which this supremely talented band approaches music of extreme complexity. Much of this crystal clear, coherent sound can be laid, I believe, at the door of genius producer Steven Wilson, of Porcupine Tree fame. The vocal harmonies have certainly bear his influence, and by God, this record sees some of the best vocal parts they've yet laid down on tape, from the hypnotic mid section of 'Bleak' to the heartbreaking chorus of 'Harvest'. 'Blackwater park' sees the band stretching its creative muscles like never before. Each song has its own distinctive stamp, and each is filled with reams of immaculate ideas and intelligent execution. 'Bleak' has a unique, middle Eatern tinged riff, 'Harvest' evokes sepia coloured autumn days perfectly, while 'The Drapery Falls' rides in on a lilting, melancholy melody that returns in its conclusion and draws tears to my eyes. But the culmination of the record comes in the practically transcendent title track, which surely merits a high water mark for what can be done with the metal genre. It is unrelenting, brutal but hopelessly delicate, the middle section representing acoustic perfection. The cataclysmic conclusion has to be heard to be believed.
One aspect of the record which I've rarely seen commented on is the quality of Akerfeldt's lyrics. His grasp of imagery and his ability to match the words to the mood of the music are particularly immpressive. Worthy of note is the recurring theme of disease and purity, not the most original theme for a metal band, but tackled with real taste. Grotesque images like 'Lepers coiled beneath the trees' and 'perversions bloom(ing) round the bend' are effective in highlighting the dense, intertwined, ghastly nature of the music, while his smart use of natural imagery to paint his evil portraits around, (trees and flowers feature in the above lines) lead one into considering deeper themes of dangerous conempt for natural power, and our task to safeguard the natural world. A brief and obtuse reading of his poetry, perhaps, but a necessary one.
A lanmark release, 'Blackwater park' is utterly obligatory for fans of this type of thing, but newcomers are highly recommnded to start here, with Opeth at least, as this record is very cleverly constructed to reveal layers of complexity beneath initial accessiblity. In fact it's the kind of record people will come back to in 20 years and say: 'That was the most important CD of its time'. The word for this kind of album is, of course, 'masterpiece'.
on December 15, 2010
I'd heard the rave reviews of Opeth for years, so I finally decided to give them a go. Not knowing where to start, I picked the Royal Albert Hall dvd, where they play this album in its entirety all the way through. So naturally, I was completely blown away and had to buy this album immediately.
It covers so much ground musically, it's hard to describe, but since it involves some death metal, it automatically gets categorized like that. But it's a hell of a musical journey, extremely vast in scope, that'll force you to experience almost your full range of emotions and leave you on a high when finished. Even days later, a song or piece of a song will be stuck in your head and still bring a tear to your eye it's so beautiful.
About the sticker on the cover - yes it's directly on the cover, but it's easily removed with some acetone(nail polish remover), which takes off the sticker without damaging the cover in any way whatsoever, I promise.
on July 16, 2004
This to me is Opeth's darkest album. It also has the best acoustic melodies I've ever heard. Every song is solid, if not epic. "My Arms, Your Hearse" is great also, but lacks the majesty and polish of this release. If you've never heard this band before, this may be the best place to start. This is actually the only Opeth CD that is perfect from start to finish. I would also highly recommend the Lamentations DVD. It truely helps the listener understand the band.
on July 1, 2004
I have owned this album for about a year now, and I think I've finally got a handle on just how good this is. This isn't a one-time listen album to fully understand. You need to listen to it several times to really grasp just how far-reaching, intelligent, innovative, heavy, and just plain good this album is.
Mikael Akerfelt (I think that's how you spell the lead singer's name) is one of the best vocalists in all of metal music, regardless of subgenre. He can peel paint off the wall with his throat shredding wail and he can also floor you with melody and a truly beautiful singing voice, as evidenced by "Dirge for November". His musical arrangements are so complicated and textured that I still can't pick apart each layer. The texture of the music creates a very dark musical atmosphere. It almost gives the impression of being in a sparse forest, at night, in the winter. When I listen to Blackwater Park, I actually start to feel cold. It's eerie as hell.
To review: Blackwater Park = best heavy record ever, Mikael Akerfelt = brilliant. Buy this album already!
on May 7, 2004
It's fortunate that I was introduced to Opeth by a friend who had the sense not to try and classify them. If she'd said "black metal" or "death metal" I might have been less inclined to listen. Fortunately she didn't, and I'm now the proud owner of all the albums by this phenomenal group.
Being relatively new to Opeth, I couldn't say if there is a "best" album, but Blackwater Park is a superb one without any question. The sheer amount of great riffs, melodies, beats and vocals (yes, he does growl, but when he sings clean, he has a wonderful voice) is quite amazing. Unlike many bands, for whom the idea of contrasting loud and soft is nothing more than a gimmick, the heavy stuff here is as good as any metal band you could name, and the soft stuff is genuinely gorgeous to listen to. The acoustic "Harvest" is a great song, and the guitar lines on "Bleak" are inventive, powerful and mesmerising. The title track itself is another standout track, flowing from soft to hard with no sense of difficulty at all. But really there is so much on offer here that it is pointless to single out individual tracks.
Opeth will, if there is any justice, gain a reputation as one of the most important bands in recent memory. In terms of variety, musical skill and inventiveness there are few around who can get close.
on April 15, 2004
First of all, disregard any review that gives this cd less than 4 stars, they dont know what they are talking about. 130+ 5 star reviews vs. 4 one star reviews, I think the majority wins here. One person actually went on to say that if you want good music, listen to Good Charlotte, im sorry but Good Charlotte is far from good music and nowhere at the level that opeth is. Another person said that Mike Akerfelds voice is crap, again, doesnt know what he is talking about, his voice is probably one of the best in the metal biz. He's able to let out a spine chilling growl or the clearest vocals you can imagine. He has a great deal of vocal depth and this is seen on this album. Yes this album contains some deep grunting vocals but a) they are much more tasteful than other death metal bands and b) you get used to them, at first I wasnt a fan of them either but once you begin to understand opeths music you see the necessity for it and they dont bother you at all. The music and lyrics are haunting and beautiful, surrounding you with an atmosphere that only opeth could create. Some noteable favorites are The Leper Affinity, The Drapery Falls and Blackwater Park, however all songs are great. Also be warned that opeths music requires a few listens to before your appreciation of them sinks in, so dont shy away after the first listen. Again anyone who gives any opeth cd one star can go back to their mindless and lackluster music, if you dont understand it, dont rate it.
on April 12, 2004
The Skinny: Moreso than any other metal band, Opeth fans tend to disagree over which CD is the finest by this four-piece progressive metal band. This CD, in my opinion, is their masterpiece due to the blend of intense thrash (Blackwater Park, Leper Affinity) and acoustic mood pieces (Harvest). Opeth flexes their entire range of musical talent on this masterpiece.
The whole CD builds to the angry finale "Blackwater Park" (which does not stop at being merely "complex" but showcases unpredicable transitions as well (The song kicks back from 5th gear to 2nd after one furious verse for an acoustic interlude)
Standout cut: The Drapery Falls - showcases the whole Opeth package with dramatic tempo shifts and amazing harmony.
If you like this CD, try: I tell friends that "Blackwater Park" is Metallica's "Master of Puppets" as far as incorporating musical complexity, but not just for the sake of being complex. If you would like to begin listening to Opeth, start with Blackwater Park. If you like their acoustic work, immediately purchase "Damnation" and "Orchid."
on March 12, 2004
After reading tons of reviews, I bought this album, and extremely pleased with it. There is quite no band like Opeth; I know that sounds cliched, but this time, I cannot find any band which shares Opeth's sound, as well as their intelligent song writing skills. I dislike death metal in general, but don't be put off by Opeth's (subjective) label as progressive death metal, they are truely an unique band. Of course, Mikael uses the death metal style vocals, but when he uses them, he uses them very, very well. Never is a moment in the album where I get sick of them. He also has a beautiful "clean" voice, which he beautifully shows in Bleak, the second track.
Onto the songs themselves, first is The Leper Affinity. At the first few listens, I was puzzeled by its harshness and lack of "delicacy", but it's very well constructed. Over-lapping guitar riffs add character to the song, and make the song dynamic and flows from one passage to another. An emotional, and well pieced solo from Steven Wilson (I think) ends the song.
Bleak in next, and in my opinion, the best song on the album by far. It begins with, you could say, mid-eastern influenced riffs, and explodes into Mikael's tough vocals. Then the rythm changes, and Mikael sings, "Break of morning, coldness lingers on, shroud me into nightmares of the sun", which never fails to move me. The same lyrical format repeats (albeit with different words, obviously), and the song only gets better from there. The chorus, beginning with "Devious movements in your eyes," is beautifully sung cleanly, as I previously mentioned. I forgot to mention the many different passages this song takes, changing tempo and volume, which are highly effective and again, add Opeth's own unique-ness. The song also has a couple guitar "solos", where the effect used on them is just effective. I can't describe it, but Mikael is a genius at adding things to a song to make it stand out. The song ends with a repeated chorus, and afterwards "Slight twist, shivering corpse... this is all you need." Wow. I found the "slight twist" part very comical, since the way it's been mixed and sung, it was a big twist coming on from the chorus of the song. Sorry if I don't make any sense here, but you'll have to listen to it to understand.
Harvest is next, a lighter song with layers of guitars, which create a soothing and somewhat "cold" effect. Clean vocals throughout, and some nice guitar touches, which finish of the song. An interesting piece, but I wouldn't say it's better than "good"; for Opeth, anyway. The Drapery Falls is probably the song which introduced me to Opeth, and eventhough I don't enjoy it as much as I did before, it's still a very good song. The riffs are repeated, and so are some of the vocals. This is probably one of the most repetitive songs in Blackwater Park. I can say that Mikael's (clean) vocals to "Pull me down again and guide me into ah-ah..." are extremely original, and enjoyable to listen to. The song then turns heavier, and accompanied by Lopez's fast drumming, death metal style vocals turn on and fill up the rest of the song; but not before some clean passages which break up the middle of it. A better than average song, but not the best.
Dirge for November is the next track, and is probably the albums most emotional and beautiful track. Forgive my ignorance, but it's either the keyboard or guitar riffs that stand out here, right at the start of the song and before the end. The end solo creates a mental image of sadness, desperation and moves you into tears. I think that when a piece of music has the power to do that, it's worth checking out.
The Funeral Portrait, I haven't heard too much of, neither the title track, so I refuse to comment on those; however The Funeral Portrait doesn't seem to be as aesthetically pleasing as the other tracks, but ignore this advice now, since it will probably grow on me since. I forgot to mention my surprise of the lyrics in the album; they're highly interesting to read over, and show Mikael's large vocabulary.
I urge you buy this album, it's a MUST in your collection. Any fan of good music will love this.
on March 2, 2004
'Blackwater Park' is perhaps the best example of how ingenious melodic death metal works when it's at its best... stretching progresseively from powerful highly paced death metal passages to quiet low-paced, yet naturally inserted riffs this album unfolds a gothic universe of great diversity.
Some say that Opeth sold out by doing Blackwater Park. That's plain ignorant... they developed as most musicians should do, and in my opinion the development seems natural considering their previous releases. Its like saying that 'Death' should have done 'Scream, Bloody Gore' over and over again... give me a break! 'Blackwater Park' is a masterpiece due to its ingenious blend and the brooding dark atmosphere which signifies nordic metal altogether has not been lost... rather it has been intensified by a group of very skilled musicians.
Future releases from Opeth will probably prove the diversity and courage of the band, but altogether: This is a MUST OWN album!
This review is an extract from the upcoming Metal Music Guide Mazzer.dk ([...] It will be launched by 01.07.2004. Bookmark us now!
on February 18, 2004
Opeth, best classification that i can give them is "Progressive Death Metal" They have some of the deepest and most amazing lyrics that i have ever heard; very poetic stuff.
The music is amazing, Heavy and fast at times, Slow and melodic at others, but always VERY well composed. The singer's death metal growl is fascinating, and sounds almost inhuman, while his melodic vocals are eerie and chilling.
The way to enjoy opeth is to think of them not as music, but as dark poetry being read to music, because if you think of it just as music, you might end up making the mistake that i first made when listening to them. I heard this cd, and got creeped out by the vocals, the melancholy sound of the slower tracks, and the long song times. That was back when I listened to nu-metal crap like limp-bizkit and KORN (i was 14 at the time). Now that i am older and have been listening to real metal for a while, i appreciate opeth for what they are, a very sophisticated band of ARTISTS, not just ENTERTAINERS like so many musicians out there are.
And when you listen to this album, it may seem strange and difficult to grasp, with its complex melodies and long track lengths. This album requires at least three spins before you REALLY start to enjoy it.
As far as which track is the best, "The Leper Affinity" is the best Opeth song EVER. It is simply amazing, thats all i will allow myself to say about it.
Saw these guys live a couple weeks ago, and they are just as good live as on their albums.
Down with nu-metal, peace out!