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Opeth. This is a name most veteran listeners of metal should be familiar with. Titans in the progressive metal and extreme metal scenes, Opeth have proven their mettle time and again since the release of their debut, Orchid. Of course, this record is no exception.
Opeth play a very unique style of progressive death metal, one that mixes a myriad of non-metal influences, most notably jazz. Notorious for seemingly excessively long songs that border on draggy, Opeth seem to receive as much hate as they do love.
I am one of those who love Opeth to death.
Those who know me ought to know that I am a massive fan of progressive death metal. It is quite easily my favourite genre in metal altogether. Opeth is my absolute favourite. Now, it might seem that I am being biased, but I quite honestly cannot say that I have ever found any Opeth song to be boring or draggy, as I feel that every part is properly in place and is there for a reason. For the metalhead that gets bored with the constant transitions between death metal and progressive rock that Opeth so embraces in most of their work, however, he needs not worry, for this record has two very straightforward songs.
There are two songs on this record, both of which are progressive rock pieces that clock in at roughly 4 minutes, highly untypical of Opeth. The first track, Still Day Beneath the Sun, is 4:34, while the second track, Patterns in the Ivy II, is even shorter, at 4:11 long. This implies an absence of the usual lengthy acoustic passages that segue between segments of the average Opeth song. However, this doesn't hamper Opeth's songwriting talents any, as they still maintain the elements of their style throughout the record.
All Opeth songs seem to carry an air of melancholy, especially their ballads and progressive rock pieces. Take Benighted, Credence, Harvest, Isolation Years or Burden, for example. They all have that gloomy atmosphere that Opeth have mastered creating. The two songs on this record carry that feeling too, as to be expected. Akerfeldt has a sorrowful touch whenever he sings these songs, almost sounding as though he were in tears. These emotions transmit from his voice to the songs, and then to us. Indeed, I am inclined to say that his singing has enough power to account for half of the songs' melancholy atmospheres.
Both songs showcase Opeth's finesse at executing hauntingly beautiful melodies and the seeming ease at which Opeth have in writing such pieces. Being a progressive rock band at their core, Opeth pay tribute to their roots with this fabulous record. It is straightforward, and the songs just penetrate to the soul of the listener. There is no long wait between segments, which many seem to despise. The songs have a continuous flow, bring their point across, and just as easily as they have come to spread the melancholy, they leave.
While two tracks may seem rather short, the record's two songs more than make up for the shortchange that the album seems to be. Akerfeldt and gang remain as effective and emotionally charging as they were back in the 90s and they don't seem to be losing their touch, even on the controversial Heritage record (admittedly harder to get into as compared to other Opeth records, but extremely rewarding once one "gets it"; still on par with all their material). This is a true collectors' item and any die-hard fan should love to own this simple but effective record. I know I am dying to get my hands on it.