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The definitive Opeth album - 92%

Thuggernaut, January 21st, 2008

Blackwater Park tends to be the "jumping-off" point for people interested in checking out Opeth's music. Basically this album is one that will make or break one's desire to hear the band, and for good reason: it contains some of their best but most progressive works. Many tend to be driven off by the long, meandering passages, while others are enchanted by them. Nevertheless, Blackwater Park contains a lot of Opeth classics, and does give a good representation of their overall sound. It is, for the most part, a logical evolution from their previous works My Arms Your Hearse and Still Life. It also incorporates a few elements heard on their later albums such as Deliverance, and thus is a good bridge between their older classics and newer work.

The majority of the songs on Blackwater Park blend together heavy death metal sections with progressive and acoustic sections. Songs such as The Drapery Falls and Bleak accomplish this quite well, really giving the listener a taste of the complexity and intrigue of the songs. Clean and death vocals are used in equal measure, and fierce death metal riffs fade into melodic passages to accompany them. You can note the changes in rhythm and texture are quite contrasting, though they still manage to hold together the song's overall atmosphere. This is different from their earlier album Morningrise, where the shifts in song structure were so complete that many times you would think you were listening to an entirely different song (Black Rose Immortal from that album can almost be 3-4 separate songs in my opinion). Heavier songs like The Leper Affinity and The Funeral Portrait give you a decent dose of death (albeit more repetitive than most dynamic death metal bands). Harvest and Patterns in the Ivy are entirely melodic, which are great for when you're in a different mood. Finally, the esoteric Blackwater Park gives you more of the complex style, while also hinting at a few rhythm and atmospheric elements that would appear in their later albums.

If one wants to try Opeth, Blackwater Park is the album to do so. It includes a good sample of all their works, prior and future to this one's publication. It also includes a lot of their classics. I rate this as one of their best, and definitely recommend it. If you don't like this one, chances are you won't like any of Opeth's work.