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It disappoints me that anybody would give this album a bad review. But alas, sometimes the light in such amazing works are overlooked. This album is my personal favorite Opeth release, and displays a huge mastery of musicianship. Opeth managed to take control of their instruments and give birth to flowing, depressive, reverent music. The music in here goes beyond following timing, notes, keys, and flow. When writing the music, it seems as though all those elements were disregarded, and Mikael just allowed for beautiful music to flow out of his mind that reflected true beauty. Some people say metal can’t be pretty. Well, lets be honest, yes it can and this album proves it. The music in here does so much for the listener, you can either get caught up in the brutality of such songs as Blackwater Park and The Funeral Portrait, relax to the ambient masterpieces such as Harvest and Bleak, or gaze into the sorrow that exists in your heart through the depressive masterpieces such as Dirge for November. For sure nobody can listen to this album and not feel some sort of mood instilled in their mind. This album can also be listened to at any time of day or in any situation, personally I enjoy listening to it before I go to sleep. The beauty of the music allows me to forget every worry I have and just gaze into reverie.
As I said before, this music does not reflect the technical corner of music playing. Mikael and friends have clearly mastered every aspect of music writing and performing that they are able to conceive beautiful soundscapes in which every instrument works together in perfect harmony. Mikael must have invented his own chords while working on this album, because many of the chords are very exotic and not commonly used. Though the solos are short and there are not a lot of them, every time there is a solo it is placed just in the right spot and sparks just the right mood. The transitions in the album are perfect, and Mikael showed he really knows how to move into one idea to the next without making it sound random. It just flows perfectly from section to section. One section in the song will sound completely different from another part but when leading from one part to the other you would not notice the change due to the great flow.
The bass is very audible and actually displays some great feel. Martin knows his place in the band and keeps the groove and feel going. The drums do not receive a perfect score because even though Lopez is a master who can play 5 things at once on the drums, I still wait for him to take over and show his skill, but it never really happens. However the timing and fills are excellent. The piano playing is beautiful, especially at the end of The Leper Affinity. However it is quite slow in Patterns in the ivy. However it still captures the listener’s attention and reflects a sorrowful yet beautiful sound.
The vocals on this album are incredible. Mikael has mastered growling and has a beautiful voice. Just listen to the clean vocals in Leper Affinity when he sings “You sighted and let me in.” Every time he hits the note on Sighted, a chill runs through my spine. He continues to put so much emotion into his singing, and it really is something you must hear. The harsh vocals are loud and brutal. They rest softly on top of the music yet every word is pushed out hard and it is rather brutal actually.
The two best tracks are Blackwater Park and Dirge for November. Dirge for November starts off a bit awkward but very emotional. Then a relaxing guitar duet finds its way in there. Soon the distorted guitars are playing some cool moody chords and then the good part hits. The vocals come in with a very minor dark mood to them. You can almost picture Satan having his way during the vocal lines. There is a very red, bloody evil mood the main section of this song, but soon the clean guitar comes and slowly fades out with one of the most beautiful, depressive soundscapes I have ever heard. Blackwater Park closes the album with a bang. The opening is just evil and bouncy. The vocals are there for a little bit but an acoustic soundscape intervenes. It is very relaxing and you would never expect what will happen next to happen. Soon the whole band comes back in and the next 4 or 5 minutes of the song, which leads to the end, are the most evil, brutal, and well written moments in metal history. The song keeps getting louder and faster and the vocals drive a powerful message and then the song has built to the peak and soon a quiet acoustic line has come out of nowhere and it quickly fades out, leaving the listener speechless.
Would I recommend this album? No duh. This is my favorite album I have heard yet. People who dislike it should give it another chance and sit down with nothing else going on and truly absorb the amazing music it has to offer. I can guarantee you will have trouble finding another album with the same impact as this one. Before you buy this album, I suggest checking out the song Bleak, it is a good intro to what this album is like, and contains every element of the album. The rest of the album focuses on more distinct moods and styles, and is worth waiting to listen to. I suggest if you buy this album to sit down and relax with nothing else going on and listening to it start to finish, and you will be shocked.