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When Opeth released the stunning and beautiful "Still Life", expectations for the band had arguably reached their peak. After all, it would be extremely difficult to match gems such as "Serenity Painted Death", and "Face Of Melinda". Opeth, I am happy to say, shattered those expectations beyond belief. This is an album whose musicality cannot be matched. Whether it's the crushing progressive riffs of songs like "The Leper Affinity", "Blackwater Park" and "The Funeral Portrait", or the acoustic softness of "Harvest" and "Patterns In The Ivy" (which has a wonderful piano mixed into the song), this album will be sure to please almost anyone who listens to it. I highly recommend this album to an aspiring Opeth fan, or just about anyone (providing they can look past Mikael Akerfeldt's frightening growls).
While the above-mentioned songs are amazing, I must describe the remaining three songs with more depth. "Bleak" is my all-time favorite Opeth song, and justifiably so. Beginning with a very strong chord and continuing in that memorable riff, followed by Mike's growls, it hooked me from the very beginning. The best part however, has to be the cleanly-sung chorus (performed by Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson). The acoustic middle of the song, with Mike's clean vocals, definitely made this song a highlight.
"The Drapery Falls" is (not surprisingly) a fan favorite, and will continue to be for a very long time, if not forever. The acoustic guitar gives way to a very nice opening riff, segueing into more acoustic guitar with clean vocals, before being trampled underfoot by a bombastic chorus which made goosebumps appear on my skin. "Dirge For November" is equally brilliant, following the same formula and song structure as many of their songs. Soft opening, hard riffs, and ending with a piano/guitar medley. While some see this as Opeth's weakness, I myself am constantly amazed at how they can take the same formula and make it sound fresh and exciting every single time.
Equally as important as the music are those who perform it. As I have already stated, Mikael Akerfeldt's harsh vocals are very scary (in good way of course). Even before Blackwater Park, he had established himself as one of the best vocalists in metal. It's no wonder Bloodbath asked him to return after Peter Tagtgren left. He is a very able singer as well. The clean vocals are very soothing and add a level of atmosphere and sensitivity that help solidify Opeth's reputation. The dual guitar work of Mike and Peter Lindgren is always impressive, as they churn out riffs and solos like nobody's business. Martin Lopez is great as always behind the kit. He definitely keeps pace with the guitarists and he adds complxity and even more sophistication. Martin Mendez is also impressive on bass.
The above review can be used to describe almost any Opeth album, but it is on Blackwater Park where all these qualities are at their best. It is album where their ambitions have only begun to be realized, and will make for nothing short of an electrifying listening experience.
Highlights: Bleak, The Drapery Falls, Dirge For November.