OPETH — Damnation (review)

OPETH — Damnation album cover Album · 2003 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Sleepwalker
Released in 2003, Damnation is the soft and melodic follow-up to what many claim to be Opeth’s heaviest release up to date, Deliverance. Yes, soft and melodic. Damnation features no growls and is mainly driven by clean and acoustic instrumentation. This is what makes the album a much more attractive effort than Opeth’s other albums to those who dislike the ferocious growls or crushing riffs.

Damnation opens with the memorable riff of “Windowpane”, one of Opeth’s best known songs and righteously, as it is a fantastic track. The beautiful melodic vocals of Mikael Akerfeldt together with the subtle instrumentation creates a hauntingly melancholic setting, which is very common for the album. Another song that does quite reach the greatness of the opener is “Death Whispered A Lullaby”, another melancholic piece that features some dissonant yet calm lead guitar. The album is far from a masterpiece though. My main issue with it is that it’s not very diverse and therefore somwhat dull at times. Most of the songs are somewhat similair to each other in sound, often being driven by clean guitar riffs with a mellotron to create a more rich and haunting feel. 6 out of 8 songs open with a clean or acoustic guitar riff before the drums and bass come in. This is just to give you an idea of what I mean when I say most songs have a similair sound. Composition-wise, some songs are far inferior to songs like “Windowpane”. “Hope Leaves” and “Weakness” for example sound much less memorable than some others and have an overall dull feel.

Damnation is, though being a nice album, far from a masterpiece and lacks consistency to keep me interested for the whole 43 minutes it lasts. Nevertheless, I completely agree with the people who state this is the album to start with when having trouble getting into Opeth, because of it’s soft nature. Though it’s always interesting to hear a metal band make such a soft and melodic album, Damnation certainly doesn’t rank among Opeth’s best.
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