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Best CD I Have Ever Listened To - 99%

ZuSNick, January 30th, 2004

Opeth is the best band on the face of the earth, and this is my favorite CD of theirs. To all who read this, carefully look at the reviewers who gave it bad ratings, and be absolutely sure to never EVER take anything those human beings say seriously in your entire life... but alas, this isn't about bashing, this is about reviewing, so it's time for me to tell you what makes this such an awesome CD:

Let's start off with the guitarwork - it's perfect. They're not obsessively shoving complex fast solos and leads into every minute of the album like some prog metal bands might (not that I'm against prog metal, I'm a big prog metal supporter). Rather, Mikael and Peter approach their guitars the way they SHOULD; with the idea of writing riffs that actually sound good, and fit the songs. There is great contrast with the heavy death/doom metal style riffs, and the beautifully written acoustic guitar parts which I think take a more active and important role in this album than their early work. Peter's soloing style is unique and awesome; he's a guitarist who can bring more power to a song by sustaining one note at the end of a lead for a period of time than some guitarists can do with the fastest of the fast shredding and sweeping etc. Another aspect that really draws me in personally is the way they sometimes have acoustic guitars playing at the same time as the heavy riffs, such as in "Bleak." One might think this would take the edge off of the heavy riffs, while in that song it actually has a very eerie, kind of dissonant tone that brings a whole new edge to the music. Everything the two of them do works perfectly for the songs, to give a very colorful, dark overall sound.

Now, I'm going to skip saying much about the bass and the drums; while I do know good bass and drums when I hear them, I wouldn't have the expertise in discussing such elements as my bandmates might. Plus those don't seem to be the focus of Opeth's music. So I'll go straight onto the vocals. Mikael Akerfeldt has one of the most powerful growls I've ever heard in metal; it's low, but not ridiculously low like silly Mortician-style nonsense. It's audible, it has a huge sound, and you can understand what he says for the most part. He adds appropriate echo to it in this recording as well, so that it doesn't cover anything up; just enhances the experience (I do the same thing when I record vocals). His singing voice is anything but whiny (despite other reviewers' opinions), with the exception of some parts of the beginning of "Dirge For November" - I suppose there's some slight whine in there. Nothing to stop me from thinking he's a great vocalist though. His vocal melodies are great... it's not easy to write vocal melodies, it's much easier to just do a lot of raspy voices and growls (which is probably why so many metal bands do nothing but that), and it's also easy just to sing every note that the guitar sings. But Mikael takes a more difficult process in order to create a more beautiful product. The acoustic-based song "Harvest" is a good example of well written vocal melody.

I'm excited for all their future albums, and I'm excited to go to my first Opeth show on 2/28/04! Hopefully won't be the last.