Opeth have had a very interesting past few years. With the release of their last album “Heritage”, the band have had mixed opinions due to their change in sound. One of the biggest problems is the loss of the death metal vocals. Now, I really don't mind if the death metal vocals are not their, in fact “Damnation” is probably one of my favorite Opeth album, but I will admit that the mix of the two styles in their earlier material is probably the reason I got into the band in the first place.
While many people will complain that Opeth aren't the same band anymore we have to take into consideration that these guys are getting older. Mikael really can't growl the way he did 10 years ago and I really respect their decision to loose the death growls. But while Mikael's vocals have gruffly diminished, he has been able to explore the diversity of his clean vocals.
Musically the album is pretty much a progressive rock album with the metal bits saturated. Now I know what your saying...”same as “Heritage” I bet. Well no. I remember seeing Opeth live during their tour for their last album and all I could think of was “this is like stoner psychedelic music”...which it was. This album is a lot more classic prog so I find it very much more enjoyable with more fluid arrangements with less improvisation and more sustenance.
Opener “Eternal Rains Will Come” is a great intro to the album. Starting off with blazing organs and clashing rhythms it then morphs into a more easier listening track with some pretty cool multi layered vocals.
“Cusp Of Eternity” is one of the heavier songs on the album. Reminding me of a more classic heavy metal style, the song has some pretty cool riffs and is a good little nod to an older metal sound.
“Moon Above, Sun Below” is the albums longest track and is probably one of the most diverse tracks on the album. Full of many different moving parts, the real highlight has to be the diversity of Mikael's vocals, showing off some clean gruffness which is a big departure from the evil growls on previous albums.
The ballad of the album “Elysian Woes” is an interesting and soothing moment on the album. I was pretty impressed by the instrumentation of this track, showing some pretty mature and experimental choices of arrangements for guitar and keyboards.
The albums instrumental “Goblin” is an interesting tribute to the 70s prog band Goblin. Full of proggy organs and some interesting prog instrumentation, the song is a prog lovers wet dream.
One of my favorite tracks on the album would have to be “River.” Starting off with a very almost joyous feel, this track is very different to what the band have ever done before, with a more lighter and nicer sound to the bands repertoire with very little bleakness or Gothic undertones. May be a new direction for the band.
In conclusion, this album surprised me. I went in expecting to hate it, but I was generally impressed by what I heard. These guys are never going to go back to their earlier styles, but at least it seems they are moving in a better direction than everyone thought they would. A great listen I would recommend to modern and older prog fans.
Genre: Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Hard Rock, Doom, Psychedelic Rock, Prog Folk, Folk Rock, Jazz Fusion, Heavy Metal
Country of origin: Sweden
Year of release: 2014