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Opeth probably takes the "modern" approach to metal to one possible extreme... some features of modern metal include random death vocals that do not make sense with the music underneath, and just plain too many ideas thrown in that just don't make much sense. Also, interesting riffage takes a back seat to pseudo-random sounding guitar patterns that are far too repetitive. In order to make up for this, lots and lots of long passages are thrown in that do not join together well. The song structures just don't make any fucking sense, when all is said and done, really. Finally, this is definitely not death metal, no matter what someone may say. Most of this isn't even metal. Go ahead, tell me Harvest is metal. (It's a silly acoustic interlude that manages to be 6 minutes long, but contain about one minute worth of ideas!) Then do yourself a favour and listen to some Iron fucking Maiden or something.
First, we have The Leper Affinity. The guitar work is just plain lifeless. It has no edge to it - no ability to grab one emotionally in any way. It's just... kinda... there. Listen to the guitar meandering under the verse at, say, about 1.40 into the song. Or 1.20. Or 2.15 - it's the same thing still. Boring. There's a decent riff around 2.17 in, where it seems like the song starts to pick up, but the problem is, the riff is worked right into the ground. Over it is a solo that is decent but lacks definition - it's also just kinda "there". It's a nice solo, but just not a particularly interesting one. Finally, the same transition again at around 3.15 in.
This is at once an album that has not enough ideas, and too many of them. Yes that is possible. The same riff tends to weave together many passages, so that the song becomes boring - instead of changing nicely to other ideas, one gets abrupt changes. "Oh, we gotta throw in a silly acoustic interval here". For example, at 4:15 into the song. Another boring-ass solo. Then, some clean vocals that just don't do anything for me. If I wanted to listen to this, I'd get James Taylor. The clean vocals are awful - they're just too "nice". Things pick up a bit later, but one is left with the feeling of "what the fuck was that middle section for?" - and again, the same riffs are used again in the second half of the song. Oh and then there's a piano bit. Which genius came up with that one? Want to hear a GOOD piano part, listen to the intro to WASP "Thunderhead". Now THAT is emotional right there. This? Well, this one just ended and I can't remember it.
Well, there's one song dissected bit by bit. And it just does not hold up under analysis. It is just not INTERESTING. The rest of the album is just like that. It kinda sits there. This is not HEAVY FUCKING METAL the way it is supposed to be played - nothing comes out and screams "On your knees!! I want you on your knees!" like metal is supposed to do. Yes, I subscribe to some pretty old-fashioned metal ideas, that metal is supposed to be impressive and majestic and arouse me into battle frenzy. Not this.
What's the rest like? Just about the same stuff. If you've heard one song off of this album, you've heard it all. So pretty much this album lacks any of the features that make metal great. It's not HEAVY. It's not even fast, or furious, or exciting. It lacks the pummelling riffs of a Black Sabbath, the screaming soloing of a Judas Priest... It's not even distorted - Hell, even mallcore can accomplish that, and this just has one passage at the end of Bleak that is (probably due to yet another brilliant idea) really over-distorted to sound awful.
"The Drapery Falls" has some really awful vocalists around 2:30 in - I swear, if I hear a singer breathe, I will flip out. Learn some techniques so you don't exhale into the mike, that just sounds unprofessional. "Dirge for November" is practically the same ideas again. "Dirge for November" finally - FINALLY - picks up a bit, but it is far too little, far too late. We have the only riff that's almost worth hearing in this album, at around 1:59 in. Too bad it sounds like a ripoff of Metallica "For Whom the Bell Tolls" kinda played around with a bit, so that half the effect somehow falls out anyway. It's difficult to acknowledge Metallica being better than someone else at anything, but unfortunately here is an example of that. Nonetheless, this is the highlight of the album. Though, when they crank up to 11, it's like most bands cranking up to "3". And the song is overlong anyway - after 4 minutes, right before the first acoustic part, they just should have stopped. Game over. New song. "Patterns in the Ivy" is good simply because they figured out when to stop, though while it is going, it sucks. The title track is just replete with bad ideas, as are all the other tracks. Acoustic interlude? Check. Death vocals over silly guitar patterns? Check. Forgettable solos? Check.
There are precisely zero really fucking memorable riffs here - in fact, most of the riffs aren't even metal riffs, they sound like badly recycled 70s rock riffs. Didn't I hear a Pink Floyd album once that kinda, almost, a bit, sounded like this, but sucked far the fuck less?
Ya know, I'd love to get all worked up about this album and release some really malicious invective in their direction. But, I can't. This has put me right to sleep. That might be the most damning of all. Metal isn't supposed to be a fucking lullaby.