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Disappointment - 67%

oneinfinity, July 6th, 2008

This album could have been a turning point for Opeth. It could have been their chance to go away from their old standard sound that got more and more boring over the years. And it was hyped like this months before it was released. But now, as I listen to it, I am quite disappointed, because this is not a completely different and better Opeth. It's not like they didn't try. There are many good new ideas, for example the blastbeats and the funky keyboard part in "The Lotus Eater", the female vocals in "Coil" and the symphonic moments spread all across the album. The riffs are far better than on their previous effort "Ghost Reveries" and the proggy parts are the best of their entire career. So why does this album fail?

Because Mikael Åkerfeldt is simply the worst songwriter I know. It's all there and the different parts of the songs are good by themselves, but it's all arranged so randomly that it's almost painful to listen to. And it's not only the randomness. The transistions between the parts are horrible. Mostly they just jumps back and forth between heavy and proggy. Sometimes this works well (as in "Hessian Peel") but most of the time it doesn't. The worst case is the nice drum solo at 2:15 in "Porcelain Heart". You hear it and you think "Hey it's going to get more heavy!", but then suddenly it stops and all you hear is an acoustic guitar.

What is most annoying is that they seem to KNOW that they can't write a proper song that combines both the heavy and the mellow side of their music well. From the Watershed booklet:

Opeth: 1. A cluster of musicians expressing emotions by piecing random notes
and/or chords together
2. City of the moon

Well, I think they all have terrible mood swings if they want to express emotions with this. The best thing they could do is to either drop their heavy or their proggy side and become either a straight forward death metal or prog rock band. But this will never happen as Mr. Åkerfeldt is too afraid of selling out. Since they are signed to Roadrunner he constantly excuses himself with phrases like "There are still the long songs so we haven't sold out." or "Look at this riff, that's not mainstream." Maybe someone should tell him that changing a band's musical style to make it better and not for commercial reasons is not selling out.