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So after all this time we finally get to experience Opeth's latest work Watershed. After the controversial (and my opinion disappointing) album Ghost Reveries, the metal community was buzzing with anticipation for this album. Now that its finally here, what can I say about it? Well really its just another Opeth album.
But that doesn't change the fact that it completely kicks ass.
The album opens strong with easily the most beautiful intro to any album ever, Coil. Well,, though its over three minutes long, I would consider it pretty short for Opeth's standards and thus an intro song for this album. The classic acoustic guitar playing begins the album, as Åkerfeldt's voice softly eases us through the piece. It slowly rises in emotion as the keyboard builds up with some folky chords and the guest female singer quells and calms the song down till it ebbs away and lets the main first song explode on forth.
Heir Apparent quickly brings in the classic death metal intensity of previous Opeth albums. The ominous guitar riffs and heavy drumming quickly turns the tides of the album. Mikael's death metal growls are as good as ever. Deep, hoarse, guttural, its the voice of a beast and he lets out his fury without retaining any passion. The death metal riffs are a chaotic gale that only die down when acoustic passage are introduced but build up again for more death metal moments.
Mikeal does alot of uplifting clean vocals for most of the album with some few death metal growl sections tied in with some unsettling guitar parts. This is perhaps the most clean vocals on an Opeth album next to Damnation. The solos are typically rocking, but not insanely shredtastic. They at a good pace and they are more of classic rock then of heavy metal
The drumming is very awesome on this record. Sure it isn't the inventive jazzy rhythms of Martin Lopez but he has skills. Especially on the metal moments. He does some sick double kicks and fierce drum blasting. He does some really crazy shit at some points, where I had to re listen to just try and figure out what the hell just went happened.
The keyboards are so much better. They weren't really bad on Ghost Reveries, but I think they were not really used well in terms of Opeth's sound. They seem too intrusive to the feel of the music and just gave off a silly faux goth vibe. My conjecture is that they just needed to work with each other a little more to really understand how they can use the keyboard elements to work with the Opeth style. I think that is why they are so well done on here. They use some really choice "instruments" to use on the album. Many of the sounds used are building string choirs, folky wind chords, bell pads, and even some rock organ going on. Overall they are used more tastefully this time and enhance the atmosphere of the songs.
The guitar riffs as already mentioned are solid continuation of the Opeth death metal riffage. They are heavy, complex, and inventive, as always. There is also some dabbing in dissonance and just unsettling music themes that make the entire album like some dark soundtrack to a 1800's conspiracy. Perhaps the music video to Porcelain Heart has gotten to my head but every time I listen to the album I get that imagery of some old 19th century mansion and landscape, with some dark shit happening. Silly, right? But this album really does that musically. The band seems to have put some different folkish influences in the acoustic parts that give a fresh vibe to the music. The classic rock influences feel a bit abstract but in the end flows well with the music.
Opeth has once again made an amazing album that shows that the band has plenty of steam. The album stays true to the Opeth style but this time it sounds fresh and exhilarating. This would definitely make any newcomer to this band be a fan in no time.