OPETH — Orchid

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OPETH - Orchid cover
3.65 | 84 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 1995

Filed under Death Metal


1. In Mist She Was Standing (14:09)
2. Under the Weeping Moon (9:52)
3. Silhouette (3:07)
4. Forest of October (13:04)
5. The Twilight Is My Robe (11:01)
6. Requiem (1:11)
7. The Apostle in Triumph (13:01)

Total Time: 65:30

2000 bonus track:
8. Into the Frost of Winter (1992 rehearsal recording) (6:20)

Reissue Total Time 71:50


- Mikael Åkerfeldt / electric and acoustic guitars, lead vocals
- Johan De Farfalla / electric and acoustic bass guitars, backing vocals
- Anders Nordin / drums and percussion, piano
- Peter Lindgren / electric and acoustic guitars

About this release

Full-length, Candlelight Records
May 15th, 1995

Reissued by Candlelight in 2000 with a bonus track.

Thanks to CCVP, UMUR, Pekka for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Orchid" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish progressive death metal act Opeth. The album was released through Candlelight Records in May 1995. Opeth was formed in 1989 by then lead vocalist David Isberg, and went through many lineup changes (including the exit of Isberg), before settling on the four-piece lineup, who recorded "Orchid": Mikael Åkerfeldt (electric and acoustic guitars, lead vocals), Johan De Farfalla (electric and acoustic bass guitars, backing vocals), Anders Nordin (drums and percussion, piano), and Peter Lindgren (electric and acoustic guitars). "Orchid" was produced by the prolific Swedish producer/musician Dan Swanö.

In the early years the band played a more conventional old school Scandinavian death metal style, but as the band grew and developed as songwriters, they began composing more structurally complex and progressive tinged material. The tracks on "Orchid" are for the most part very long (four out of seven tracks on the album exceed 10 minutes in length), and feature many different sections and dynamic changes. While the basis of the music is slow- to mid-paced doom/death metal with growling vocals and heavy riffs and rhythms, the music also features melancholic acoustic sections, piano, clean vocal, and extensive use of harmony guitar parts. There are also the occasional black metal influenced moment and an ethnic Scandinavian folk atmosphere to some of the parts. Åkerfeldt sings a few clean vocal parts on the album, but the vocal style is predominantly growling (and sometimes a slightly blackened type of growling).

The material are generally well written although the structural complexity of the tracks and the stylistic consistency of the material sometimes scream for a little more diversity and moments which stand out. At 65:30 minutes it´s a pretty long album and after a while the tracks have a tendency to sound a bit the same. Individually every track on the album are high quality compositions though. The sound production is decent considering that "Orchid" is a debut album, and the musicianship is on a high level on all posts too.

So upon conclusion "Orchid" is a promising first album by Opeth, but it´s also the sound of a band who were not even close to having found their identity yet. The journey towards finding that identity is sometimes the most interesting part of an artist´s career, and there are certainly some interesting ideas and experiments featured on "Orchid", but overall it´s not a perfect release and could probably have prospered from some culling and a little more structure. Still a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved.
siLLy puPPy
When it comes to progressive extreme metal, no story would be complete without a reference to Sweden’s OPETH, a band that started out as just another pioneering death metal band from the Swedish underground but would soon blossom into one of the most unique metal bands of any genre. While long associated with Mikael Åkerfeldt who has been the only member to appear on every single OPETH release, the band was actually formed in 1989 by the original vocalist David Isberg who after finding a lineup would soon solicit band membership from former Eruption band member Åkerfeldt. For whatever reason the other band members rejected this decision and soon departed and the pair were left together to start anew.

Interestingly the band name came form the word “Opet” which was taken form the Wilbur Smith novel “The Sunbird” and is the name of a fictional Phoenician city in South Africa which translated into “City Of The Moon.” After a ridiculous amount of personnel changes, the whole thing became too much for founder Isberg who left the band in 1992 which allowed Åkerfeldt to take control of the project and the rest is history. After the tumultuous start Åkerfeldt took the bull by the horns and recruited the new lineup of guitarist Peter Lindgren, percussionist / pianist Anders Nordin and bassist Johan De Faralla. OPETH was quite lucky in the fact that they circumvented the whole demo thing after Lee Barrett of Candlelight Records offered to sign the band with a mere exposure to a rehearsal.

OPETH were also fortunate to have tutelage of the metal veteran Dan Swanö who participated in not only the production and engineering but also provided the necessary funding and mentoring of what he deemed a promising talent emerging. While 1994 was spent developing the band’s sound and recording the debut ORCHID, the album finally emerged in May 1995 to mixed reviews. Riding the initial explosive underground growth of both the death and black metal scenes as well as the progressive rock revival of the early 90s, OPETH was one of the most audacious bands to emerge in the mid-90s with roots in all of the above and delivered an epic progressive death metal sound well beyond the scope of other extreme metal contemporaries. ORCHID was both bellicosely brutal as well as tenderly melodically beautiful.

Unlike the following OPETH releases, ORCHID is a far more diverse album that introduced the reverie of classic 70s progressive rock wrapped up in blackened death metal clothing that allowed complex epic length tracks to unfold on ever-changing journeys that embarked on heavy death metal riffing, folk music, subdued acoustic classically inspired guitar parts and piano parts along with death metal growls, black metal shrieks and even clean melodic vocals. The mood is one of complete depressive annihilation with pummeling distortion and frenetic vocal insanity to sublime twin guitar sweeping melodies that evoke calmness, placidity and the light of eternal hope. This rollercoaster ride is a true metal mood swing as the alternating dynamics sound as bipolar a concert that would feature Morbid Angel playing with Simon & Garfunkel.

ORCHID is the test of perseverance and patience as the original album clocks in close to 66 minutes and most later releases contain the early underproduced demo “Into The Frost Of Winter” as a bonus track. The inclusion as a bonus was a wise move as it demonstrates how quickly the band had grown from a brutal raw black / death metal band to the sheer sophisticated prowess of this debut studio album where five of the seven tracks exceed eleven minutes, one is close to ten and the only two short tracks are the acoustic interludes of “Silhouette” and “Requiem.” Åkerfeldt was obsessed with the occult during these years and likewise the lyrics are dark and twisted about Satanism and evil and likewise the downtuned guitars and overall sound was created to accompany the gloominess of the underworld.

In many ways ORCHID encapsulates the entire career of what OPETH would become on the more successful following albums. The brutal death prog that mixed extreme metal and 70s progressive rock was already fully developed as were the myriad ingredients of heaviness with folk, classical and even jazzy extra touches. While i may be in the minority, i truly find ORCHID to be the most captivating album of OPETH’s entire discography as it embraces a wider spectrum of sounds that would be jettisoned for the more streamlined albums to come. One of my biggest complaints about the majority of OPETH albums is that the percussion is tamped down to simply keep the beat of the compositional flow. Not so on ORCHID where fully fueled bombast is allowed off the leash as much as it is tamed into submission.

Likewise this is the album that is allowed to express the most extreme examples of death metal with faster tempos, blastbeats and absolute fury delivered in Åkerfeldt’s unique vocal style. While many may find this one a bit too long for its own good, i find the opposite true as it more than any other OPETH album has enough changes in the tempos, dynamics, intensity and stylistic shifts that allow the melodies to exhibit extreme beauty and the bombast to pummel the senses. Even within the greater OPETH canon, ORCHID is utterly unique and single-handedly launched a completely new strain of death prog just at the time when bands like Dream Theater and Anglagard were reviving the progressive rock scene from its lengthy slumber. Yes, i stand in a lonely room but ORCHID is the epitome of what i consider the perfect OPETH sound and there is not one track that doesn’t shine as brilliantly a supernova in the heavens above. A woefully underrated masterpiece to my ears.
The Crow
This is a great debut album, in my humble opinion!

Here we can find really good tracks like In Mist She Was standing, Forest of October and The Twilight is My Robe, being the last one the song I like most from this album. But it's obvious that they were trying to get their own sound, and we can find a lot of death metal here.... Another weak fact is that this album is maybe a bit too repetitive. The tracks are not really different between them. Nevertheless, the quality of all them makes the listening really worthy.

The Fredrik Norström's production isn't bad, but far from the last Opeth's releases. I think that up to "Still Life" they would not achieve a really good sound... But here, like in "Morningrise", we can hear a great bass sound and playing by Johan de Farfalla, who is a great bass player in my opinion (better than Martín Méndez in my opinion... At least he's more original!)

Another interesting fact from this album are the instrumentals, both very good. Silhouette its maybe my favorite Opeth's instrumental song, great job from Anders Nordin here. And they have not released another song played only with piano

Best songs: In Mist She Was Standing (great opening... It gives a good idea of what the album is), Forest of October (the most complete track in Orchid... A bit slow, with even some doom elements. A little classic) and The Twilight is my Robe (the best acoustic work of the album... Romantic and beautiful tack)

Conclusion: this album is not for Opeth's beginners, because due to its obscurity and not well-developed sound, it can be too hard to newcomers... But if you are acquainted to the career if this great Swedish band, then I strongly recommend you this album, because apart from its obvious quality, is the beginning of this metal legend. And a really good beginning, in my opinion!

My rating: ***
So here we have the very first Opeth album, released by Candlelight Records in 1995 but recorded in the spring of 1994. By the time Opeth hit the studio, none of the founding members remained in the band, the last one, David Insberg, having left two years prior. On the current roster were a young Mikael Akerfeldt (vo/g) who was joined by Peter Lindgren (g), Anders Nordin (dr/piano), and Johan De Farfalla (bass/backing vo ) for the debut.

This album and its successor, “Morningrise”, show Opeth as they never would sound again. Though labeled as death metal with some black metal aspects, Opeth were from their first platter already showing prog tendencies. The songs are mostly over ten minutes and are composed in multiple parts with tempo and meter changes, not to mention the frequent acoustic breaks. I’ll admit here that my knowledge of death metal is rather sparse and lacking and so I did a bit of research, first reading the Wikipedia article on death metal and discovering that I already was familiar with its origins (which as it turns out are close to those of black metal). In the eighties I had in my cassette collection albums by Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, and Possessed, and it was these bands among others that inspired both the death and black metal movements. To further educate myself, I found a playlist on YouTube with 224 videos of old school death metal and I listened to the first two dozen songs. From those I conclude that early death metal was fast like trash but featured growled, or perhaps more accurately roared, guttural vocals. This matched my loose impression prior to hearing the album. When someone somewhere commented that early Opeth albums were more straightforward death metal, I imagined something like early Gorguts: fast, technical, and brutal.

The guitar sound strikes me as rather primitive for the day. Though we are talking mid-nineties here, the distortion sound, the tone, and the use of delay are similar to albums I picked up in the eighties. The one that comes to mind most readily is an EP by Ruthless. The guitars have a rawness to them and sound a bit high tone compared to the city-leveling, bombastic, full-on distortion whump! of later albums like “My Arms, Your Hearse” and “Blackwater Park”. But the dual guitars play complex and melodic riffs that more than once remind me of Paul Di’Anno-era Iron Maiden. This cannot just be me because I read someone describe the guitar playing as Celtic-influenced and I have read the same appraisal about Iron Maiden.

Rather amazingly, this debut death metal album opens with a 14:10 mini-epic that introduces more than a couple of harmonized dual guitar riffs for the first 2:20 of the song before the vocals finally come in. Around the 3-minute mark the speed picks up, but with more emphasis on slower melodic riffs I feel the music is more akin to early nineties thrash bands like Sacrifice, Slayer, or Annihilator because raw speed has given way to complexity in music and song structure. The first acoustic break comes at 3:48 and get used to it because this is what the band is going to build its career on: frequent acoustic breaks in heavy songs. True to melodic form, the lead guitar parts are not wailing or shredded but exude a taste for style and feeling over volleys of notes.

Three of the next five tracks are all lengthy numbers featuring more melodic riffs, a few speedy sections, some wonderful mid-eighties early death metal heavy riffs, frequent exploitation of acoustic guitars, and some noteworthy bass guitar highlights. There are moments, especially in “The Twilight Is My Robe” when the acoustic passages become frequent to the point of redundancy, I felt at first, the uniqueness and surprise quickly wearing off. However, by the end of the song the quick binges of speedy heavy parts actually seem more like the breaks while the acoustic parts carry the weight of the song.

Throughout these tracks, Mikael’s death growl is harsh and demonic, sounding like his vocal chords are being given a good shredding while the lead guitars eschew shredding altogether and stick to being melodic and emotive. There is still room for some great trad metal guitar moves in places. On the down side, the clean vocals here often sound weak as though they were deemed a necessary part of the songs but no fully adequate singer was available. Mikael would certainly perform clean vocals much better later on down the road.

There are two short instrumental pieces. “Silhouette” is a piano composition by drummer Anders Nordin. It could have been rather pretty but I feel the playing is clunky and graceless. The keys are pounded throughout and the tempo seems ready to derail at inappropriate times. “Requiem” is an acoustic guitar number with bass guitar, and despite the band’s insistence on working in acoustic guitar sections into their songs, this instrumental is unremarkable.

The true highlight of the album for me is in the final track, “The Apostle in Triumph”. Beginning with an upbeat acoustic piece, it sounds like something that might have been an outtake from Led Zeppelin’s third album, hand drums and a restless bass guitar adding to the interest. Then bizarrely, the music fades out and for two seconds there is only silence. Another acoustic composition begins, and you might be wondering here what has happened as “Requiem” was followed by two more acoustic only bits. But “Apostle” is a mighty track of 13 minutes with some ominous guitar riffs and brutal vocals. Much more emphasis goes on the heavy music than on any other track, I presume. At 7:25 a huge surprise is dropped on our cochleae with an instrumental segment that features a guitar that sounds more like a viola. I suspect it is played by adjusting the volume dial but done with such a speed and agility that I would not be surprised to hear another technique had been employed. After the first two listens to this album, this song had cemented itself as my favourite track of the album and one of my top ten favourite Opeth tracks, at least until I acquired more albums when the list had to be expanded to a top 20.

Though Opeth would go on to release many excellent albums later on, this earnest debut, though a little rough in a few spots, establishes the band as more than just another death metal outfit. Rankings of Opeth album usually put “Blackwater Park” or “Ghost Reveries” at the top but at least one list I found has “Orchid” in the number one position.

A more straight forward death album this is not. These four young men produced quite an achievement in their early days as Opeth and set their course for progressive melodic death metal.
For those only familiar with what Opeth would release from My Arms, Your Hearse forward, the first two albums from these progressive death metal juggernauts should come as a bit of a shock. Orchid is the debut album from these Swedish lads, and instead of hearing the trademark mix of seventies' progressive rock and death metal that made them famous, this observation instead shows the band in their musical infancy - while not an immature or unfocused effort by any means, Orchid shows Opeth without the precision and sense of direction that characterized their future masterpieces. This album has more of a black metal influence than any future Opeth albums, and the leanings into jazz and progressive rock territory aren't found too frequently here. While the extremely long compositions are somewhat progressive by nature, most of Orchid's progressive qualities are due to its blend of melodic black metal, death metal, doom metal, and folk music, which (at the time) was quite unique. This is probably my least favorite Opeth album, but it's a very solid entrance into the scene nonetheless.

Aside from two short instrumentals, all of the songs on Orchid are well over nine minutes long; you could definitely say that this is a tough nut to crack if you don't give it your full and undivided attention. I've been listening to this album on and off for quite a bit of time, though, so I have given it plenty of time to grow over the past two years or so. Even though Orchid has a few flaws which I will address shortly, I do have a pretty great time whenever I take it out for a spin - while they aren't particularly concise or cohesive, it's clear that Åkerfeldt and company had plenty of great ideas on this debut, even if the compositions tend to be a bit too sporadic for my tastes. Most of the musical fragments that make up Orchid are individually spectacular, but the transitions between sections are something Opeth would perfect over the course of the next few albums. For songs this long, most of them seem to lack any sort of unifying theme or cohesive structure to latch onto. Most of them kind of just 'happen', and while I do enjoy listening to the album a great deal, it lacks the dynamic power and compositional prowess that makes Opeth such a terrific band. There are notable exceptions ("The Twilight Is My Robe" is one that comes to mind), but the transitions tend to make this a somewhat incoherent release, especially from a band who would later on compose some of the finest musical masterpieces ever penned.

Though Opeth could've still improved as composers at this point in time, they were very accomplished musicians from day one. The fantastic use of acoustic guitars, fast paced metal sections, and melancholic folky parts shows the diversity and talent of these young musicians, and the guitar section has always impressed me here. The twin lead solos are truly spectacular, and I think that (although Opeth would later endure many lineup changes) they were well-rounded players from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the production (courtesy of none other than the legendary Dan Swanö) could have used a bit of work - though the man is undoubtedly a spectacular producer, the sound on Orchid is a bit thin and powerless. Everything's certainly audible, but it doesn't pack any sort of dynamic punch that I would've liked to see.

While I am a bit dissatisfied by the production and generally weak transitions on Orchid, this is still a promising and rather impressive debut from Opeth. Many better things were to come, but it is here that the band began to plant the seed for their unique brand of progressive melodic death metal. And, while the sections joining these sections could've been more fluid, there are still plenty of memorable moments throughout Orchid. This is probably the last Opeth album I'd recommend purchasing, but that's not saying much when you have a discography as spectacular as theirs. 3.5 stars are deserved for this promising and original debut.
Fantastic medieval/goth/classical death metal

ORCHID is an ambitious death/black metal with dark medieval and classical elements. Just listen to the first seconds of In the mist she was standing and you'll imagine headbanging Mozart along with Beethoven in bovver boots. But seriously, these harmonies are built in a classical way and it is admirable. Mike was always a master of beautiful harmonies. But the way he develop his compositions in this, the first Opeth's release, is too stiff and clumsy. It's not a bad thing after all, but most people appreciate well flowing composition instead of bridgeless fifteen minutes' pieces with themes changing unexpectedly or very long atmospheric passages springing suddenly into a death rage.

ORCHID is extremely genuine record, devoid of professionalism or experience. Mikael realized his dreams, created music which he considered beautiful and moving, he didn't care about trends in the music or coherence of the work. That's why it is so captivating - there are genuine emotions, raw sound and great harmonies. It's absolutely must-have for atmospheric death metal fan.
Conor Fynes
'Orchid' - Opeth (7/10)

As one of my favourite bands (and the band that got me into death metal in general,) I had listened to Opeth quite a bit before moving onto their first record; 'Orchid.' With a raw production and a sound that can be likened to blackened death metal, 'Orchid' has many of the traits that got me to fall in love with this band's music; just unrefined. This early on there trademark melodic hooks, brutality interspersed with acoustic segments and an eerie vibe to the music. What makes this release a bit of a step down from latter albums however, is that it doesn't have that overall feel of cohesion and function alot of the others do, as well as being a little too long for it's own good.

With five of the album's seven tracks clocking in anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes, it can be difficult to listen to the album from start to finish without some level of fatigue. Each of the tracks (including the two interludes) have qualities about them, but they don't sound so much like effective compositions as they do a collection of (albeit good) riffs and inspired sections clumped together in different tracks. This is not at all to say the songs are not 'good,' but it's hard to tell most of the songs apart from one another.

The grand exception to this rule however, is the highlight to the album; 'The Twilight Is My Robe.' Although the first listens to this interesting album didn't distinguish this song from the others, it quickly grew on me that this track was quite a bit more accomplished then the others in terms of composition. A galloping intro and mournful verse structure segues into one of the band's most beautiful acoustic passages before erupting into a headbanging instrumental section reminiscent of Iron Maiden. While the song set up is much akin to the other tracks (heavy/light sections,) the riffs here are more vibrant and above all; memorable than on the other songs. The metal instrumental section rates as being one of the highlights of the album, as it had me pumped from the first intent listen onwards.

The good news here is that Opeth would go on to perfect this style with their next album 'Morningrise' and lead to a much more functional album. As far as 'Orchid' goes, it's clear that Opeth was still trying to work out some kinks in their act, and while this debut is impressive and gives a good idea of what the band is about, the compositions (and eventually, the production) would be cleared up to make way for some of the best heavy music ever written. A great album for riffs and some really inspired sections, but not quite as good as some of the real gems Opeth has to offer in their repetoire.
To be honest, I don't think it's fair to compare this album to the later Opeth releases, due to the fact that there other albums where achieved when Opeth really had achieved the sound that they were searching for.

Many fans of Opeth (I have seen Lamentations, and I think that the testoesterone driven metal fans have only respect for the death metal side of Opeth, and seem to ignore the brilliant musicianship that was presented in their acoustic passages, the trait which attracted me to them in the first place.) seem to not have any real respect for this album, being ignorant to the fact that the album was basically a demo, the production is quite bad due to the fact it was their first recording and that (in my non perfectionist way), the music is still present, so stop worrying about the production and listen...with ears.

The songs aren't the strongest Opeth songs, and they didn't really seem to have much hooks. The music presented is well crafted and their some lovely folky like acoustic passages. The vocals, which seem to be growls throughout nearly, I really enjoyed. When it comes to growlers, Mikael is probabbly one of the most unique and one of the best. His early growls almost have a Cradle Of Filth ambient feel to them.

Some people may say that the songs have no real structure, but I did develop a pattern. Most of the songs followed this specific pattern.

I. Instrumental section II. Verses with growls III. Acoustic section. IV. Return of verses with growls V. Another acoustic section. VI. Instrumental outro

I like this way of organising music. It reminds me of classical forms like sonata, binary and rondo. My band Eternia, also organise our long songs in a similar fashion.

The lyrics seem to have a concept, but to be honest, if it is, it's about a man who is journeying through...A FOREST (nudge nudge nudge wink wink wink), trying to find his soul, who appears to be a woman.

1. In Mist She Was Standing - After an early Fates Warning and Iron Maiden like melodic metal intro, mixed with black metal undertones (kind of like early In Flames), the song then portrays elements of Genesis like dramaticism and a dollop of Morbid Angel like growls. The slow section is very reminiscent of Pink Floyd. The random screams add to the atomesphere of the almost folk like passages. To be honest, the music is spectacular. The song seems to be quite lengthy, but due to the fact it is almost like a musical journey...it really succeeds itself.

2. Under The Weeping Moon - This song is very doom orientated, and sounds like My Dying Bride (the kings of doom). The middle section sounds like the dark sections in Rush' Cygnus suite. The instrumental sections ae very dark and eerie and leave you feeling uncomfortable, but in a good way. To be honest, to spot a production error, there is way too much echo on Mikaels clean vocals.

3. Silhouette - Weird piano instrumental. The production is quite poor, but it adds to the ghostly feel to the song.

4. Forest Of October - A very Candlemass like intro, with a cool scream from Mikael. This is another dark piece, with some random acoustic sections. But they work...somehow. Another doom filled piece.

5. The Twilight Is My Robe - A darker version of Iron Maiden (isn't that Cradle Of Filth?) I feel that the acoustic passages could have been extended. This song sounds alot like The Carpenter by Nightwish. Probabbly the most interesting song on the album.

6. Requiem - A nice wee interlude.

7. The Apostle In Triumph - The intro of this song is very folky and reminds me of traditional music. The acoustic parts with added percussion are cool. The middle section is quite eccentric and reminds me of Antonius Rex. The layered vocals on this song sound quite good as well.

CONCLUSION: If you love Opeth, don't buy this album, buy the rest, then buy The Candlelight Years. This album is great album, and is amazing as a debut, but buy albums from Still Life to Ghost Reveries first (to be honest, Watershed was a bit of a let down.)

Members reviews

Primeval Scum
An extremely underrated work in the Opeth discography. This is one of their crown jewels.

How is this rated lower than everything but Heritage? This is one of my three favorite Opeth albums, right up there with Blackwater Park in terms of quality and consistency.

"In The Mist She Was Standing" is a full-blown epic in the vein of "Black Rose Immortal" and is a sure-fire Opeth classic. "Forest of October" is my personal favorite track because of the haunting acoustic melody that begins and finishes the song. The instrumental interludes "Silhouette" and "Requiem" are dark and majestic and add significantly to the atmosphere of the album. The bonus track "In The Frost of Winter" is a raw black metal demo that reveals a different side of Opeth. The riff in that song topples mountains.

This is a glorious, beautiful album that deserves more respect and recognition that it gets compared to other Opeth albums.

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