OPETH — Watershed

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OPETH - Watershed cover
4.00 | 128 ratings | 15 reviews
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Album · 2008

Filed under Progressive Metal


1. Coil (3:10)
2. Heir Apparent (8:50)
3. The Lotus Eater (8:50)
4. Burden (7:41)
5. Porcelain Heart (8:00)
6. Hessian Peel (11:25)
7. Hex Omega (7:00)

Total Time: 55:00

DVD bonus tracks:
8. Derelict Herds (6:29)
9. Bridge of Sighs (Robin Trower cover) (5:56)
10. Den ständiga resan (Marie Fredriksson cover) (4:10)

Total Time: 71:29


- Mikael Åkerfeldt / vocals, guitar
- Fredrik Åkesson / guitar
- Martin Mendez / bass
- Martin Axenrot / drums, percussion
- Per Wiberg / keyboards

Guest musicians:
- Nathalie Lorichs / guest vocals on "Coil"
- Lisa Almberg / English horn, oboe
- Christoffer Wadensten / flute
- Karin Svensson / violin
- Andreas Tengberg / cello

About this release

Full-length, Roadrunner Records
May 30th, 2008

A limited edition release featured different cover art, a bonus DVD with the original album in 5.1 surround mix and three bonus tracks as stereo mixes, and a documentary called Rehearsal Tapes.

A pre-order package featured the album on vinyl with a CD version in a paper slip, the limited edition version with the original CD and the bonus DVD, a CD containing a keyboard version of Porcelain Heart called Mellotron Heart, a poster and a booklet signed by the band.

Thanks to UMUR, Pekka for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Opeth's Watershed is aptly titled, because it follows the departure of two long-standing members of the band: Peter Lindgren had been on every Opeth album up to this one, whilst Martin Lopez had provided drumming from My Arms, Your Hearse onwards. New drummer Martin Axenrot had appeared on The Roundhouse Tapes, whilst this would be the first release to feature Fredrik Åkesson on guitar, though he clearly missed no time in gelling with the rest of the group; he even gets a songwriting credit on Porcelain Heart, which is notable given how much of Opeth's material by this point was written solely by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

Still, the bulk of the composition work here is still done by Åkerfeldt, so this is very much an evolution of the Opeth approach rather than a radical shift in it. Nonetheless, there's still original surprises here and there; Nathalie Lorichs provides a haunting guest vocal on album opener Coil, and the addition of classical wind and string instruments adds a certain spice to things. The air of the spookier side of 1970s prog is still present here and there - Per Wiberg breaks out some Mellotron here and there which is outright haunting, and Burden sounds like a mixture of mid-1970s Pink Floyd and King Crimson's Epitaph - whilst the death metal aspects of the band's sound are as frantic and powerful as ever.

Whilst I would not put it in the top tier of the band's output, it's certainly a strong album, and a good start for a new phase in the band's existence.
“Watershed” is a crucial turning point in the musical trajectory of Opeth. A major line-up change saw the departure of long-time guitarist Peter Lindgren (since before the debut) and drummer Martin Lopez (since the third album “My Arms, Your Hearse”) and the recruitment of drummer Martin Axenrot and guitarist Fredrik Åkesson. Keyboardist Pir Wiberg who joined the band for the previous album “Ghost Reveries” remained on board.

With “Watershed”, Mikael Åkerfeldt and company developed the band’s two sides even further. The death metal side shows its fastest and most aggressive-sounding ever in the songs “Heir Apparent” and “The Lotus Eater”. However, Opeth’s progressive side, which I felt really began to broaden on “Ghost Reveries”, pushes the envelope even further hear, and in fact, I feel there are hints of the album “Heritage” that would come three years later.

The album opener is the surprising all-acoustic track “Coil” which includes not only some beautiful woodwinds with the acoustic guitars but also the guest vocals of Nathalie Lorichs, the girlfriend of Martin Axenrot at the time. A lovely though curious first track, the album’s real worth for me lies in the next two tracks, “Heir Apparent” and “The Lotus Eater” which, as I stated above, not only includes some of Opeth’s fastest, most aggressive metal to date, but also some fabulous progressive parts that go beyond what the band has managed before. Just listen to that funky dual keyboard passage with the groovy wah-wah guitar and drumming!

“Burden” is a classic, seventies type of heavy and slow number with harmony vocals and an organ. It’s almost so perfectly written that I feel it’s too much like stuff I’ve heard many times before on much older albums. Nevertheless, it gets some pretty good ratings on Opeth song ranking sites. “Porcelain Heart” is the third killer track for me. Slow and heavy and showing more technical playing in parts, it’s both haunting and brooding.

The last two tracks seem to me like the band is trying to decide where to go next. “Hessian Peel” is more like several short songs stitched together to take us on a journey that includes progressive acoustic-type music as well as heavy metal with death vocals. I might add here that Mikael’s vocals sound deeper and more sinister on “Watershed” than they do on most older recordings. It took me time to warm up to this track but I can finally appreciate and enjoy it. The final track, “Hex Omega” though is a little of a disappointment. I feel it has no solid direction and even after many repeated listens, I can’t keep my concentration on the song if there are any distractions. The one impression that remains is the sparseness employed in one part, which I recognize from a couple of tracks on “Heritage”, except that I rather like them on that album. Here I think the album is left to close with a song that begs the question, “Where are we going now?”

So here we see an all new Opeth (two new key members) taking bold steps but still keeping their death metal sound but for the last time. As history has shown, no future albums over the subsequent ten years ever included any death metal, but instead saw the band plough full onward with their progressive rock styling.
Transition to greatness.

I was inspired to check this one out after having seen Live at the Royal Albert Hall DVD so indulged in more Opeth, almost hoping that the brutal growling vocals would be used sparingly. The opening track did it for me. Beautiful acoustic Mikeal's wonderful clean voice and a guest from gorgeous vocal from angelic Nathalie Lorichs. The lyrics are filled with passion and pain; "Yes I can, see you, Running through the fields of sorrow, When you get out of here, When you leave me behind, You'll find that the years passed us by." A fantastic start.

'Heir Apparent' is a killer thrashing dark thing with tons of black metal influences and caustic brutal vocals. The riffs are even Morbid Angel meets Sepultura sound alikes. This is perhaps as heavy as Opeth get referencing their earlier material. It settles into synth flute and acoustic but only for a moment and then more riffing from newcomer Fredrik and speed double kick drumming from Axe who also does a great job on his first Opeth album.

'The Lotus Eater' is a great track I first heard on the Albert Hall DVD. I liked it better there but this is still full of innovation. The transition from clean to growling vocals is okay with me, and the lyrics are inventive; "All years caring for a liar, Benefit road is winding higher, You're a moth too close to the fire." The creepy interlude of synth is fantastic as are the lead breaks. The psychedelic passage of music is estranged but with a wonderful time sig culminating in the final moments and some of Akerfeldt's best singing. The end is talking to some girl about nonsense but it is effective.

'Burden' is an acoustic dreamy piece with some gorgeous vocals and atmospherics. The lyrics are somber and melancholy; "Some will ask goodbye, A broken line but underlined, There's an ocean of sorrow in you." Per's keyboard solo is fantastic. The song features a specific out of tune guitar outro that is rather chilling. It would be a pain doing that downtuning effect in concert as the guitar would be useless for the next number.

'Porcelain Heart' is another of the light and dark tracks, with quiet verses at the start and reeking of sadness and despair. The riff is okay, but the real drawcard is the sarcastic or cynical lyrics and Akerfeldt's vocal technique on sections such as; "I see roads beneath my feet, Lead me through wastelands of deceit, Rest your head now, don't you cry, Don't ever ask the reason why". The fade in of lead work and blasts of distortion are an effective augmentation.

'Hessian Peel' is a strange one with some interesting moments, even beginning with the weird note that doesn't belong there. The lyrics are melancholy expressions; "Will the children cry, When their mother dies, And in the autumn of their lives, Will they feel the same?" the reversed lyrics that follow are actually "My sweet satan I see you" and before one gets on their hobby horse about this backmasking, the whole thing was a joke reference to the backmasked words of Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to heaven' that is now legendary ("here's to my sweet satan, no other made a path for it makes me sad who's power is satan"). I don't know how I acquire all this information. Anyway the song here is rather well structured with a heavier guitar sound in the middle, and growls at the end that explode suddenly and make me reach for the volume switch.

'Hex Omega' ends it all with an organ driven track. This is a rather pedestrian track without a lot of innovative moments. It has nice vocals for most of it singing about the demons we lock inside over the years become harmful to our sanity. The riffs are good but I prefer other tracks, though I love Per's majestic keyboards and his gentle piano.

So overall this album is a transitional album breaking in the new members but has nothing masterful on it unlike other Opeth albums to follow. It is what it is, a good album with average to good songs. If you are used to master works of the band you may be disappointed. At least I can say it is not as bad as the mess of Deliverance, but sits in between 3 or 4 stars for me. I will stick with 3 stars as I know the band are capable of so much better.
Phonebook Eater
“Watershed” is Opeth’s eleventh studio album, but it still amazes me how the band became a true progressive rock band only with this release. “Watershed” is most definitely Opeth’s most ambitious and experimental album to date, a lot more than “Blackwater Park”, “Still Life”, or “Ghost Reveries”. Sure, it’s not as good as these mentioned albums, but it is one fabulous piece of art.

I certainly didn’t expect “Watershed” to be like this, and probably neither did all the fans. These were in fact very excited in particular about this album, since it had been three years since the band had recorded anything (“Ghost Reveries”). So when it came out, the album was a hit album, with many songs released as singles. Paradoxically, like I said, the album turned out to be very quirky and even eerie in some moments, even though the typical, Death Metal Opeth moments, alternated with soft melancholic ones, are still here. Now, more than ever the band bring use instruments such as flutes or electric pianos, that can dominate a really large part of the song.

“Watershed” has probably one of the best album structures that Opeth has ever accomplished; Seven songs, almost all of them quite long. It feels sometimes like this album was intended as an opera, as a sort of concept album that perfectly flows through the songs. It’s something in the atmosphere that unites all the tracks,and it could easily be what I like to think of “light darkness”, a sound that isn’t quite dark, but still has some mysterious moments.

Songs like “Heir Apparent”, or the opener “Coil”, have now become two of my favorite listens on my Ipod. And “The Lotus Eater” is even better; it is the perfect synthesis of the album, in almost nine minutes of changing styles, rhythms, and music. Then though some other songs a bit weaker and not as convincing; “Porcelain Heart” is a typical Opeth song, but it is somewhat predictable at moments. “Hessian Peel” has some pretty cool and eerie moments, but the metal parts don’t give to much feel to me. “Hex Omega” is then a little too similar (even thanks to the once again use of flutes, that don’t seem to be as “mind blowing” as before) to some of the previous songs. Special mention to “Burden”, a great, slow retro prog song, with tons of mellotron and haunting vocals by Akerfeldt.

An album that I strongly recommend, despite the negative views, and that I’m sure all the Opeth fans, even though at first they would be a little shocked and surprised by it, would love sincerely.
The Block
Heir Apparent

My introduction to Opeth was this album. For me they had to stand up to the greats, in my mind, which were Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation, though I only had “The Perfect Element” at the time. At first I was telling myself to turn it off every time I got to “Heir Apparent”, the first song I had ever listened to with growling. But in the end I began to like this album, and then, all of a sudden, I loved it.

With songs such as “Coil” with its great acoustic flavor, and “Hessian Peel” it’s hard not to like this album. “Coil” starts off the album on the right foot with great acoustic guitars and very nice clean vocals by Mikael Åkerfeldt that lead nicely into “Heir Apparent”. Right from the start “Heir Apparent” offers nice heavy riffs that bolster the melodies very nicely. This song has great contrasts in it, going from soft, lightly placed beats to heavy metal laden riffs that transfer perfectly into Åkerfeldt’s growling. The keyboards on this album are also quite superb, showcased in “Burden” a long with many others. “Burden”, besides having really cool keyboard solos, has some great guitar work by both Mikael Åkerfeldt and Fredrik Åkesson.

Now the vocals are what really make this album, and Opeth what they are today. They, and more specifically Mikael Åkerfeldt, are the pioneers in progressive death metal with their signature sound. Since Opeth has been going from clean vocals to death growls in the same song many bands have caught on and incorporated this technique in their albums, such as Haken’s “Aqurius” which just came out recently. Another reason why I like the vocals on this album is that now they are almost the standard for most of the metal and progressive metal that I listen to. Mikael Åkerfeldt is a complete genius in everyway, and his vocals show that.

The production on this album is great, providing great boosts to the highs and support to the lower sounds. Opeth’s ability to transfer from dark to light in one song can be credited to the production a little bit since you can hardly tell the difference all throughout, providing a nice smooth feel.

“Watershed” opened my eyes a long time ago and I can see it doing the same to anyone who is a bit tentative about heavier progressive metal. If you don’t already have this album I propose that you stop reading this review and go out to your local record store and buy it. For a great album Opeth gets 4.5 stars.
Melodeath mastery.

Opeth, after a string of fantastic albums, have continued a rather enjoyable trend of great progressive melodeath metal. The band, combining Akerfeldt's diverse influences from 70s rock like Camel and Yes to extreme acts such as Death and Atheist, are able to pull off a rather incredible feat, with some of the most dynamically acceptable death metal available. While the vocals can still be a bit harsh for the non-death metal lover, Akerfeldt's soft clean vocals still permeate the album like a calming perfume. Musically, as always, the band pulls off an amazing feat, synthesizing extreme metal and prog rock elements into a cohesive and dynamic release.

Coil starts the album off with a soft acoustic melodic piece of music. Akerfeldt's soothing acoustic guitar and equally soothing classically trained voice meshes quite nicely with Lorichs' vocals, which contrast Akerfeldt's in a musically beautiful way. Mellotron sounding keyboards back the guitar, adding a spectacular texture.

Heir Apparent fades in slowly and then crashes down with a deliberate power and thrust typical to Opethian epics. The song builds and recedes and builds until a final crescendo with the growling vocals. Some great Opethian riffing is heard, with some fantastic keyboard textures added. Fantastic jazzy breakdowns pepper the track, along with stupendous instrumental sections and psychedelic guitar solos, making this track another fantastic Opeth track, and the official start to this great album.

The Lotus Eater essentially picks up where Heir Apparent leaves off, using some of the same ideas to kick start the track. The advent of Akerfeldt's clean vocals on the metal section of the album is heard on this track, making this a go-to track for the more melody-loving metal heads. Some more psychedelic and 70s inspired instrumental sections are present on the track, with more Opethian riffs and rhythms. The major upside and most inventive part of this track is the funky keyboard solo with some great jazzy drumming, great funky guitar chords, and some great funky bass, too. That one feature is really what makes this track special and not falling into the monotony of Opethian riffs and solos.

Burden is a slower, more melodic ballad-like track with a much more melancholy outlook, with lots of modulated piano and great mellotron-strings textures. Great melodies are the main pro to this track, with some cool jazzy rhythms and solos. A great Hammond solo is another plus to the track, making this one of the more jazz inspired tracks on the album and a really great addition to this great album.

Porcelain Heart is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The song has one of the best mixtures of melodic rock, especially with that infectious acoustic section, and some great melodeath metal. The song again features some of that great liberating jazz influenced rhythms, with some great instrumental sections fronting them.

Hessian Peel, the longest track on the album clocking in at over 11 minutes, and it packs in 11 minutes of very epic music. Another melodic metal fusion track, the track poses both fantastic musical value and a rather haunting lyrical value. The song opens with a rather lengthy melodic section with mostly acoustic and clean guitars with mellotron textures added. About halfway in, the song starts to build, and then erupts into a death metal frenzy. The frenzy may leave you out of breathe, but fret not, because a beautiful melodic breakdown awaits. An absolutely genius acoustic riff is a major plus of the album, spicing up an already hot melodic breakdown. The song speeds up again, the fades out with an eerie Hammond riff. Spooky!

Hex Omega is one of the more "traditional" Opethian groove metal songs. It starts out as a steady metal song, with great groove-based Opethian riffs, and then breaks down into a more melodically based track. The two feels frequently switch back and forth, making this one of the more dynamic, if not more uninteresting, tracks on the album. The track ends the album in a more average fashion, ending as most of the other tracks on the album end, with a slow fade out of a keyboard texture.

ALBUM OVERALL: Watershed is one of Opeth's better albums in a string of great albums. Starting with still life way back in 1999, Opeth hasn't failed to deliver since. The album contains all of the essential Opeth elements: melody, intensity, death(ity), extremeness, acoustic beauty, and great backing band qualities, from the fantastic Melotron textures to the jazzy freestyle drumming. Each track has a little spice to add to the album, making it one hell of an album. However, this particular style, with riff then solo then Opethian riff than solo can get a little stale when a more inventive solo like a jazzy Hammond or mellow acoustic solo isn't thrown in. That is truly the only reason this album is short of a masterpiece label. 4+ stars.
After a string of albums where their sound had developed greatly, I knew that there was no point of me expecting anything definite from Opeth’s new album, other than the fact that I was expecting it to be one of the best albums that 2008 has to offer. Well I wasn’t wrong about that one expectation that I allowed myself.

Musically Opeth has gradually moved from being a band heavily influences by death metal over their eight previous albums to date. Their Damnation album was the proof that they can pull off an album’s worth of mellow material, and Ghost Reveries was like them confirming that they can still kick out some very heavy songs. While Watershed is musically closer to Ghost Reveries, it has its similarities to Damnation in the fact that many of its songs don’t feature Mikeal Akerfeldt’s growled vocals. Only Heir Apparent, Watershed’s second song is completely devoid of clean vocals. Akerfeldt himself said that Opeth’s credibility as an extreme metal band went down the drain years ago. Well I only half agree, because although there are many mellotrons and acoustics on Watershed, in the parts where the vocals are growled they are actually far more extreme than they were on Ghost Reveries. This is an album that I can tell is going to divide opinions but I must say, I think this is a masterpiece. And now I’m going to tell you why.

Watershed opens with Coil, an acoustic track. With just seven songs on the album opening with the acoustic track is the right move because it would just slow the albums pace if it were anywhere else. The music is the most simple that you’re going to hear on this album, and the vocals are a duet between Akerfeldt and a guest female singer. Coil is the only song that isn’t really anything to do with progressive music, as the other six tracks are some the most progressive that Opeth have ever recorded, none more so than Burden, which after Coil is the most ballad-like track, just a bit heavier and over twice as long. Both Coil and Burden would have just about fit into the whole Damnation theme, but at the same type manage to stand on their own (figurative) feet as not being ideas made over again. Burden even features a solo from keyboardist Per Wiberg that Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess would be proud of. The acoustic guitar playing in both is pure brilliance.

On a heavier side we get Heir Apparent and The Lotus Eater. As already mentioned Heir Apparent is the only song on Watershed not to feature any clean vocals, so with the exception of acoustic interludes that are just as good as those heard in the lighter songs it is the definitive extreme metal song of Watershed. But it is the Lotus Eater that takes the crown for best song of the album. Excellent clean vocals mixed with the harshest growls on the album, heavy guitar riffs, a blast beat drum pattern and even a jazz section, and you get a mini masterpiece. Both of these are easily the most accessible for the extreme metal crowd, but like any Opeth album you need a wider taste to truly appreciate everything the album has to offer. Reinforcing this point is the song Porcelain Heart, which is quite heavy, once again mixed with acoustics but only uses clean vocals. It also sounds much more like a traditional song that many of Opeth’s others. Next up is Hessian Peel which is the longest song on the album, and is broken into a light half and a heavier half. It features growls but only in moderation, meaning that the main album only has growls in two and a half out of seven songs. I especially like Hessian Peel because in my opinion it’s where Akerfeldt’s clean vocals make their peak, and the sense of anticipation the band gives just before the growls come in is excellent. You know when you hear it something is about to happen to propel the song forward and by doing so Opeth have something that justifies its length. It’s never boring.

Overall I think that Opeth made the right choice to mostly only use clean vocals on this album because on a musical front there is much that wouldn’t have suited a growl. There is a real emphasis on the progressive term with this album, more so than ever before, even Damnation, which was supposed to be all about the progressive music in the band’s sound.

Now it’s time to talk about the special edition of the album. I must admit this is the only part of the album that I’m a bit miffed about, because instead on the advertised three bonus tracks on the CD (at least from the website that I pre-ordered it from), they are only on the DVD, which means that for one, I can’t enjoy them in any CD player, and for two, I can’t transfer them to my mp3 player, I have to use either my computer or my television and DVD setup, and when I want to listen to music, I want to do it with a method that I consider to be standard. I wouldn’t mind so much is we were treated to perhaps some photo galleries to watch while the songs play, but all we get is the album cover, the song name, what number bonus track it is and a couple of options for moving elsewhere on the DVD. It’s a technically fault so the score doesn’t suffer, but it’s very annoying.

That said, the songs themselves are rather good, although I wish they’d included their cover of Alice in Chains Would? As I’d been looking forward to hearing that. The extra original song, Derelict Herds isn’t very heavy but it does feature some growls which some listens may find more to their taste after the main album, but both of the cover songs are sung cleanly all the way through. Bridge of Sighs is the best on offer here because although a cover it is typical Opeth. The only problem is at rare times Akerfeldt’s voice doesn’t always suit what the song demands. The final bonus track is Den Standiga Resan, which will give listeners their first chance to hear Akerfeldt sing in a language that isn’t English. It is the weakest of the extras though.

Elsewhere on the DVD is the misleadingly titled Rehearsal Tapes feature. While it does feature some rehearsal footage it has sections devoted to the band members talking about each other, with much attention being given to drummer Martin Axenrot. Then after they’ve talked about him we do get some rehearsal but just with Akerfeldt and new guitar partner Frederik Akkeson with just two guitars and a keyboard between them, while they talk about random things about the album. Very rarely do we actually see footage of the whole band practicing Watershed’s songs. We hardly see bassist Martin Mendez at all except when he’s talking to the camera. This feature is very random and overall a disappointment. I’ve watched it once and I don’t really feel the need to do so again. I’m not going to make the score suffer for this though, the score should be about the music, not the extra features. Is it worth buying this edition of the album? I’d recommend it to the most dedicated of fans only, all the must have work is found on the regular edition.

And so in summery let me tell you this; 2008 is shaping up to be a good year for metal music in my opinion. Already I’ve reviewed four albums from this year with scores of 95% of over, and credited two of them as a possible album of the year for me. Watershed is no exception to this despite it’s annoying faults and is easily one of the hotter contenders to be my favourite 2008 album. It is very much up to the high standard that Opeth themselves have set with their previous masterworks of progressive metal but it is so much more than that. Words cannot begin to really describe how I feel about this album, you just have to listen. If you thought Ghost Reveries and even the common fan favourite Blackwater Park were good, you haven’t heard anything yet.

Top 3 tracks: Hessian Peel, The Lotus Eater and Heir Apparent.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)
Watershed is the 9th full-length studio album by progressive Swedish death metal act Opeth. The album was released in May 2008 by Roadrunner Records. There have been a couple of significant lineup changes since the release of Ghost Reveries (2005) as the two longtime members, drummer Martin Lopez and guitarist Peter Lindgren, left the band in 2006 and 2007 respectively. New drummer was Martin Axenrot and new guitarist was Fredrik Åkesson.

The music on Watershed is generally no surprise if you know how Opeth usually sound. The combination of progressive doomy death metal and 70s progressive rock is still delivered in the trademark Opeth fashion. Mikael Åkerfeldt´s vocal style varies from deep brutal growls to emotional clean singing. He performs both styles to perfection. Songs like Coil and Burden where Mikael Åkerfeldt solely sings clean vocal parts, really show how much he has grown. His clean vocal delivery is stronger than ever and the melodies are more intricate than on earlier releases. His growling is also in a class of its own. He is one of those rare death metal vocalists that are almost instantly recognisable. The above mentioned Coil features a guest female vocal performance by Nathalie Lorichs. That´s a new feature in Opeth´s sound and a nice surprise. Actually Coil is quite a surprising opening song, but what a beautiful song it is. The 7 track, 54:54 minutes long album not only features beautiful and emotional tracks like Coil and Burden though but also great progressive death metal tracks like Heir Apparent, The Lotus Eater and the epic Hessian Peel where the two styles are more integrated. The former features some of the most brutal riffing yet in an Opeth track. As always the songs are very intricate and quite challenging both structurally and when it comes to technical playing. Both Porcelain Heart and Hex Omega took me a while to warm up to and I still feel they are a bit sub par to the rest of the material. We´re still talking high quality compositions though.

The Japanese version of the album has the track Derelict Herds as a bonus. The special edition version of the album, which is the one I own, include a DVD where Derelict Herds and two other bonus tracks are also included. The other two bonus tracks are Bridge of Sighs which is a bluesy Robin Trower cover and Den Ständiga Resan which is a pop/ folky type Marie Fredriksson cover. The latter features Swedish language singing by Mikael Åkerfeldt. Derelict Herds is a progressive death metal track which could well have fit on the original album ( those lucky bastard Japanese). The DVD also contains DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes of the entire Watershed album plus a making of Watershed documentary with interviews and video footage from rehearsals. A pretty good bonus in addition to the original album IMO.

The two new members fit perfectly to the lineup, which means that their addition don´t have consequences for the core sound of the band´s music. New drummer Martin Axenrot is a bit more hard hitting and less subtle than Martin Lopez, but he does a great job and Fredrik Åkesson adds a slighty faster solo style to the album than the solo style we´re used to from Peter Lindgren. We´re talking small details here though. The rest of the band are well playing as always. I remember I was afraid of what a keyboard player would do to Opeth´s sound but with his performance on Ghost Reveries, Per Wiberg convinced me that his addition to the lineup was only a new and exciting feature in Opeth´s sound. Fortunately he continues his tasteful approach to playing on Watershed and his choice of retro sounding keyboards really gives the music the right mystical and at times epic atmosphere. more modern sounding synths would have ruined Opeth´s sound IMO. One of the center elements on Watershed are the many acoustic guitar sections and those sections are still as amazing than on any of the preceeding albums. Just beautiful.

The production is warm and detailed. Maybe the most professional and well sounding production yet on an Opeth album. I think it´s the first time I´ve been completely satisfied with the drum sound on an Opeth album.

So all in all after having listened to Watershed now for a couple of years, I´m very satisfied with the album and while there are some tracks that don´t do as much for me as others, the quality of the material is extremely high. As such there are few new features on the album compared to the preceeding albums but when the outcome is a great as it is on Watershed I´m pretty much content. Opeth produce extraordinaire albums and have been doing that for years now. If any band deserve the masterpiece stamp for several of their albums it´s definitely Opeth. Watershed is another extraordinaire album in a now long line of extraordinaire albums by the band and fully deserves a 5 star rating.
2005's brilliant Ghost Reveries introduced Per Wiberg as an official recording member of Opeth, bringing along his vintage keyboards to refresh the band's sound to great effect. The time between Ghost Reveries and the next album Watershed brought two more new members, with Martin Lopez and Peter Lindgren quitting due to health and motivation problems respectively. Yet another Martin was introduced in the form of drummer Axenrot, who despite perhaps lacking some of Lopez's most subtle touches is an extremely solid and powerful drummer capable of handling the softer parts as well, and taking the other guitar was Fredrik Åkesson, about whom I honestly can't say anything, since I have no idea which guitarist plays which rhythm and solo parts.

Usually Opeth's albums begin with a bang or a fade-in followed by a flow of metal, but Watershed is launched with a truly gorgeous ballad, Coil. Originally intended as an interlude, Mikael Åkerfeldt turned it into a proper song when he hear Martin Axenrot's girlfriend sing. This fantastically beautiful duet between the big Å, whose both voices improve with every album, and Nathalie Lorichs serves as a perfect intro to A Heir Apparent, a track among the most brutal Opeth tracks ever. If not the most brutal. The one-note onslaughts around four and five minutes are absolutely devastating, and Wiberg's keys bring a twisted edge setting an atmosphere never heard on an Opeth album. The same growing keyboard presence is apparent in The Lotus Eater as well, which also makes great use of blast beats, dissonant fragments of melody, silence and a quirky instrumental section. All these tracks are among my favourite Opeth songs, as is Burden, a stunning power ballad with essentially a basic pop song structure, an explosive organ solo by Wiberg and a fantastic vocal performance by Åkerfeldt. And the fascinating air of weirdness is maintained by a detuned guitar outro.

But unfortunately four brilliant tracks in a row lead to a big let down when one suddenly doesn't meet the standards. Porcelain Heart is a considerably more plain track, even borrowing a distinct rhythm from The Grand Conjuration from the previous album. Despite this and it's slight disjointed nature it's a good song, only not near the opening foursome. Hessian Peel is a step up with its first half containing some very beautiful moments and the latter some brutal headbanging goodness, but as a whole it's still somewhat shapeless to me after two years of active listening. The same goes for the closer Hex Omega, a good enjoyable track, but not very memorable.

This album contains the most brutal, the most beautiful as well as the weirdest moments Opeth has ever recorded. And perhaps the best sound. If the rest of the album would be on the same level as the first four tracks, this would be my favourite Opeth album ever.
Conor Fynes
'Watershed' - Opeth (8/10)

With 2006's 'Ghost Reveries,' Opeth burst out onto the world stage and became a household name in the world of metal. Now, with new members and a fresh new perspective, Opeth has released yet another fantastic album. Falling just short of perfection, 'Watershed' offers a dose of some great Opeth material, paired with some rather half-baked material. There are some instant classics on this album, such as the innovative track 'The Lotus Eater,' which stands as being both the highlight of this album and one of the best, strangest songs Opeth has ever recorded.

The new band members, while they will obviously meet criticism from hardcore purists regardless, are in fact incredibly talented. The new drummer, Martin Axenrot is a fair improvement from his predecessor, and although the jazz percussive influences can't be heard as much anymore, there's an added dose of metal to be heard here, which compensates for the added focus on prog-rock. This album can be thought of as one part 'Ghost Reveries' and one part 'Damnation.' While Opeth is typically thought of as a death metal band, only three of the songs to be found here have death growling! This is a sign of the future for Opeth... Potentially they will come to the point where they scrap death metal altogether? Hopefully not, because the growls on this album are some of his best yet. 'Heir Apparent' offers some of the most bone- crushing death metal Opeth has ever done, and stands as being one of their heaviest songs yet.

The beautiful ballad 'Burden,' while being something of evidence of Roadrunner's commercial pressures on the band, still works out to be a really nice prog-rock song, reminiscent of classic 70's prog. The only song on this album that dissapoints is the closer 'Hex Omega,' which although having some good riffs, doesn't really pass as being a very fitting closer. In fact, if 'Hex Omega' had been replaced with a better finishing song, this album would have received five stars. But as a final impression, it injures the album's overall effect. Despite this shortcoming, the album pulls through however, and stands as being a great Opeth release, and does not dissapoint. Definately worth the purchase.

Members reviews

When Opeth in 2008 announced the upcoming release of their new album, Watershed, the emotions that it evoked were mixed, especially with two of my favourite members of the band, Martin Lopez leaving the band in 2005 and a year before the release of the album, Peter Lindgren left the band as well, being replaced by Bloodbath's Martin Axenrot and ex-Arch Enemy live guitarist Fredrik Åkesson respectively. Furthermore, 2005's Ghost Reveries marked the transition of the band's songwriting from a heavier edge to more progressive territories, leaving one to wonder what Watershed was going to sound like.

Album opener Coil brings listeners back to the band's Damnation album, with the acoustic guitars and Mikael Åkerfeldt's trademark clean vocals. The guest female vocals present on the song also helps in making this track an extremely soothing and beautiful one, and just from this intro track, one can almost be sure that there will be a markedly increased presence of such moments on the album. Imagine the surprise then, as Heir Apparent assaults the listener with a heavy, crushing riff, and one is brought back to the darker moments that were present on the band's previous effort, Ghost Reveries, and as sudden as these heavy riffs come in, they fade out and instead, the keys of Per Wiberg takes over, giving the music a chilling and haunting atmosphere before going back into their heavier mode. Mikhael's growls are stellar here, with a somewhat spacey sound to them, compared to the more aggressive and sharp style that he utilises on Bloodbath. Fans of Deliverance and Blackwater Park era Opeth, be prepared to be slightly disappointed as Heir Apparent could possibly be the heaviest song that is present on this ninth release of the band.

The reduction of heaviness on the album though, is fortunately made up for by the brilliant songwriting on Watershed, and this is evident throughout the album, with tracks that run for as long as 11 and a half minutes (Hessian Peel), yet containing not a single boring moment. The progression of the tracks are also typically Opeth, with the constant switching between heavy and soothing moments, though compared to prior releases, the death metal moments are notably fewer throughout the album. The Lotus Eater also progresses like a more updated and progressive version of The Baying of the Hounds, with the melodic and catchy yet heavy riffs on the guitar, and the usage of clean vocals on top of the heavy riffs. Burden would have easily fit on the Damnation album as well, with the song being filled with mostly instruments played in cleans, yet this manages to stand as one of my favourite tracks on the album with the calming yet somewhat desolate mood that it rouses in the listener.

Throughout the album, Fredrik also proves his abilities as a guitarist, and his ability to fit in the band, with the numerous face-ripping solos that he unleashes effortlessly, yet staying within the style that Opeth has crafted over the years through the capable playing of the acoustic guitars as well. Mikael's characteristic soaring guitar solos are also present alongside those of Fredrik, like on Burden. One of the main highlights on the album as well is the duel between Fredrik and Mikael on Burden, giving listeners a glimpse to the prowess of each of the musicians. The detuning of the guitar at the end of the track also provides a quirky moment, ending with a sinister laugh by Mikael. The Lotus Eater also shows Per Wiberg's ability on his instruments with the extremely complex solo slightly after the halfway mark. On top of that, Axenrot also shows that he is not only the blast-beats machine (like in Bloodbath), but is also capable of providing some jazzy moments like his predecessor, Martin Lopez, helping to address any displeasures from long time die-hard fans of the band. Martin Mendex also uses his bass like a third lead instrument, providing a constant soothing background melody underneath all the other instruments.

Watershed also stands as one of the shortest albums of the band's career, with all tracks having a combined runtime of under 1 hour, and this, combined with the large change of musical style could make this album the band's first divisive albums before their final transition into a full-on prog band with 2011's Heritage. While fans of what was on Deliverance and Blackwater Part could probably hate this, Watershed has over time become one of my favourite albums of Opeth, with the perfect balance between and fusion of heaviness and melody.

Originally written for http://www.heavymetaltribune.com/
Prog Geo
I think that most people will consider this album the most progressive from Opeth.It doesn't look me strange.Because there are classical instruments and not only the metal instrumentation.There is a jazzy/funky moment(the lotus eater)too.The variety exists.My favorite tracks are:Coil(a wonderful acoustic/folk song with nathalie lorichs),Heir apparent(heavy track with a great melodic ending.maybe the 2nd best track),The lotus eater(very progressive for the reason I said at the beginning),Burden(a very nice ballad in the vein of scorpions or nazareth) and Hessian peel(the best track).There are less death metal vocals but the reason is that sometimes don't fit with the lyrics.But generally in this album Akerfeldt has achieved a high level to his vocals.

The artwork is mysterious but very good.The man at the image looks to be a poet.Or a man that he writes on his diary.

There's no need to say again that especially this album is a must-have for music lovers.I believe that can appeal many listeners.Because it's progressive enough for the past of the band.In 2011 I feel that will come a bigger wave of progress in Opeth's music.

My grade:8,7/10
For those with a short attention span, I'll put it bluntly. Watershed, Opeth's ninth studio album, is their best effort since the masterpiece that is Blackwater Park, far surpassing the attempts of the last three albums; Deliverance, Damnation and Ghost Reveries.

The major problems of the most recent albums have been eradicated here and combined with a distinct shift in their approach to the music. Gone are the needlessly extended songs, as is the poor judgment that they displayed on one or two occasions in the accompaniment, and back comes the dark and melancholic atmospheres that have been missing since the aforementioned Blackwater Park. Since the release of Ghost Reveries, Opeth has undergone a fair bit of upheaval in the line-up with Drummer Martin Lopez being replaced by Martin Axenrot and Guitarist Peter Lindgren with Fredrik Akesson, changes that seem to have done something to re-invigorate the bands music. These changes have led to a noticeable increase in the technicality of the songs on offer here. With both new members coming from a more traditional style of Death Metal band where technicality can be king, this isn't overly surprising, but it is welcome and in no way, shape or form does it detract from the feel of the music. Its also noticeable that Keyboardist Per Wiberg also has a much more prominent role on this album than he did on Ghost Reveries, where he was rather unnecessary, and nowhere does this come through better than on Burden.

I've already touched on the reduction of song length being a good thing. Nowhere on here does Akerfeldt feel the need to extend musical passages for minutes at a time and this has lead to what is a very concise album with no fat, resulting in it weighing in at only 55 minutes. This has also expediated the return of the dark, melancholic and gloomy atmospheres of the past, replacing the unsuccessful attempt at a more upbeat mood on Ghost Reveries, and the concise nature of the albums musical themes allows this mood to breath, to flow without feeling contrived. Its this point that I feel is the most important of the album as Opeth's unique, dark atmospheres were always the bands Ace up their sleeve, though it still falls short of the feel of Blackwater Park.

The increased technicality of the band is also a very good change here. I'm finding that those intriguing and excellent touches that all great music has is more abundant on here than previously. A few highly intricate acoustic parts, the sound of an acoustic guitar slowly falling out of tune at the end of Burden, the inclusion of female vocals, courtesy of Nathalie Lorichs, on Coil, the keyboard solo(!) on Burden and many more besides make for good listening here. Many people have noted that their is a wrong note early in Hessian Peel that gets repeated, but personally I don't hear anything wrong there at all, the same goes for the sudden changes between heavy and soft. Opeth have always had these changes and quite a few of them have been very sudden, for me it still works very well. The big surprise is that there is considerably less use of Akerfeldt's growl on here with Coil, Burden, Porcelain Heart and Hex Omega all been clean vocal only. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what to make of this as the music is still great and Akerfeldt still sounds good whatever voice he uses.

Overall a very good album, but not quite a match for Blackwater Park, Still Life or My Arms, Your Hearse. That last part might be telling, because My Arms, Your Hearse was a transitional album for the band and Watershed feels as if it might also be just that, so watch this space.

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