Opeth was one of those bands that clicked with me oddly. For the longest time I loved them, then for a shorter time I hated them (I for one welcome our Encyclopedia Metallum overlords, end sarcasm) and then I loved them again and still do. While "Blackwater Park" is most definitely the magnum opus of the band in my opinion, "Morningrise", the subject of my review is another one of my favorites.
"Morningrise" is the first album when Opeth started really experimenting with their sound. It still has that glaringly obvious black metal feel to it, and it's definitely their most cold and wintery album (sorry for the supreme cliche, but there's not really anything else to describe it with).
Like all Opeth albums *cough sans Heritage cough*, Lift Your Skinny Fists - I mean, Morningrise is long as fuck, clocking in at about 66 minutes with only five tracks, and about 74 minutes counting the nine minute bonus track. Yeah, five tracks, over an hour, you know the drill with this type of music. Oh, and there's one song that lasts about 20:15 on this record as well, so that should be a red flag to any discerning listener.
"Advent" kicks off the record and, while it's probably the weakest song on this album overall in my opinion, it's still great, and captures the essence and style of the entire band in one 14 minute sitting. The song begins with a light tapping of the guitars and cymbals, before suddenly a blazing fast KVLT riff comes hissing in at you in all it's glorious venom. It goes all pretty (and bassy) again, before it explodes into yet another blazing riff yet again, and by this point you know that with this album, you know it's gonna alternate between soft passages and heavy as a fucking ten tonne brick passages.
Following "Advent", "The Night and the Silent Water" kicks off and is a great song, and while unlike Advent it doesn't capture the full essence of Opeth's music throughout it's 11 minute duration, is still a pretty sick song in it's own right. Again, stuff changes between soft and heavy, heavy and soft, and as always with this album it always leaves that great black metal taste in your mouth as well. Oh, and did I mention the bass is great in this song also?
Speaking of badass bass lines, "Nectar" (probably the heaviest song here) kicks off with a kickass but way too short bass intro followed by a fiery guitar riff and some once again brutal vocals by Mikael Akerfeldt. This song just kicks ass on all levels (not my favorite song here, though - I'll get to that next for a bit of foreshadowing) and it's absolutely ball crushing (or tit crushing, depending on your gender) in it's brutal intensity and triumphant stature. Also, like any song by Opeth, the lyrics just destroy on every fucking level:
"And guide me inside your warped labyrinth To the well of sin I swear I will always love you Leave me speechless"
And, and, THAT BASS that follows right after that fucking scream...Dear LORD.
So Nectar is done, and finally, my all time favorite Opeth song ever, and perhaps one of the greatest songs I have ever fucking heard in my entire life time (okay, that's maybe a bit of a stretch, but YOU GET THE JIFT, it's my favorite Opeth song ever) rolls in: the magnum opus mammoth "Black Rose Immortal". This song towers over the rest of Opeth's individual songs by a massive time span, clocking in at 20:15. It will surround and grip you, it will leave you speechless, and it will most definitely leave you with a "HOLY FUCK WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST HEAR" look on your face. I could go on and on all day about this song, but I'm just gonna cut to the chase - the heavy parts are terrifying, viking-like, and frostbitten, and the clean parts are among some of the best things the band has ever done in the entire span of their career. One of the best death metal songs ever written, /thread.
...That's not all, though. "To Bid You Farewell", while a let down compared to the mammoth song that preceded it, is still an absolutely excellent song in it's own right. While there's a couple heavy parts, there's no growling, and Mikael's passion really, really shines here. This is a band that genuinely, passionately cares about their music and lyrics, and it shows - in "To Bid You..." Mikael spills his heart out over his cheating girlfriend (I think). It's not some false emotion, it is well concentrated and experienced emotion. For a person like me specifically, who has been wracked with terrible depression all his life, it's really heartwarming to see people who understand your pain - even if it's just through sound.
Overall, this is definitely DEFINITELY one of Opeth's best. Also, don't forget to get the reissue featuring Eternal Soul Torture, the nine minute bonus track. If you're not convinced, get Blackwater Park first, then this album. If you're still not convinced, download "Black Rose Immortal".