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I remember it was a cold and long winter, it was raining outside almost all the time and I just discovered this album at the same time, at the right time I guess. Actually I bought this album in the end of the summer, but I knew it will be better for me to wait until winter arrives, and then to get into this album which only by his cover I could tell, will suits the winter as the moon suits the night. It's a brilliant mix of death metal and progressive rock, and it has a unique melancholic atmosphere which makes this album sounds much different than anything else out there. And no, I ain't talking about the poor emo trend which spreading like a disease on our days...hell not! Here it isn't a fake pose of some depressed teenagers or the usual sense you get from typical thrash/speed/heavy/death metal, here it's a real emotion which makes you feel something else than headbanging or moshing. The music here takes you to another places in your mind, makes you feel something brilliant and sweeping, a rare shivers from musical excitement in your back, a feeling that you and the music isolated together in an imaginative place in the other side of the world. Damn it, who the hell needs LSD when you got such exciting experience in a simple CD?
Now let me talk in a less emotional way, and talk about the music itself, in a more technical way. First of all, the production [by Steve Wilson and the band] is perfect.
The guitars sounds deep and bright. It sounds clear even when it distorted and it doesn't loosing strength and just sounds flawless but still internalized. The acoustic guitars sounds incredible. Clean and precise, pleasant as a fragile wind and even hypnotizing sometimes. The bass is dominant and intense, it doesn't blends beneath the guitars. The drums are overwhelming too, but the drumming isn't an extreme one as in typical death metal. It's a bit more mid-paced and it isn't brutal or something close to it...which is a positive thing of course, as Opeth's music isn't sounds like by the book death metal. The vocals (by Mikael Åkerfeldt) are amazing and outstanding. 'Åkerfeldt' sings low and harsh growls when it's the more death metal part of the music, and he sings also clean and melodic when it's in the softer tracks or parts of the album. He doesn't sings on high notes like a typical power metal vocalist, he has style much different than this. He usually sings in a calmly way and he has a very soft voice when he sings like that and he relaxing you and completely changes the mood of the song .
The songwriting here is topnotched. There are a lot interesting passages from heavy mood to melodic mood, a lot memorable melodies (especially in the pacific 'Harvest' and in the unparalleled 'Bleak' which sounds just perfect) and astonishing emotional lead guitars which makes you feel a musical orgasm. There are 8 tracks which clocks at 67 minutes, which means that the average length of each track is 8 minutes, and believe me that they aren't a tiresome tracks. Each song develops a lot and doesn't has the normal formula of the verse-chorus song [except the third track, and it doesn't means that it's a bad track]. It's actually a highly varied album which keeps on unique atmosphere and interest for each moment. There are also some keyboards here and there which keeps the melancholic mood of this album, listen to the perfect ending in 'The Leper Affinity' with the piano, it's just sounds excellent.
So, is it a masterpiece? yes. Is it a varied album? definitely yes. Is it REALLY deserves 100? Absolutely, it deserves much more than 100, it deserves your attention and money. Buy this album, you won't regret. Honestly, you won't like it at the first listening as in the fourth listening, but you won't like it in fourth listening as you'll like it in the tenth listening. The more you listen to it, the more you like it, exactly like that. And god forgive me than I mentioned the hollow emo fashion in a Blackwater Park review...