OPETH — Ghost Reveries (review)

OPETH — Ghost Reveries album cover Album · 2005 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
It used to be that me and Opeth and me didn't get along, despite the fact that I've given them more chances than usual. With so many prog and metal fans lauding their work, I kept feeling as though I should give them another spin, but each time they just left me cold again. Ghost Reveries was a case in point: even from an early listen, I had to admit that it was an impeccably performed album, with crisp production and solid performances from the band, but at the some time it didn't quite speak to me.

It was only after going right back to their debut and working through their discography patiently that I came to really get where Opeth were coming from, and to sniff out how Ghost Reveries stands in their discography. You see, what now makes it stand out for me is the playfulness: this is an Opeth album with a sense of fun.

I should put that in a little more context. They've hardly become bubbly pop-metal here, after all. But the dark, brooding atmosphere of earlier Opeth albums, whilst still very much present here, seems to be shot through with traces of a more hopeful, the music getting an occasional bit of extra pep to its step.

Opeth's previous two albums - the twinned pair of Deliverance and Damnation - had them leaning on the extremes of their sound, with Deliverance by far the heavier and harsher of the two and Damnation teasing out their gentler acoustic prog side more than ever. Ghost Reveries is the sound of those two halves of their sound coming back together again in a new configuration - Opeth having taken the chance to analyse the two separately and get a new angle on them. What's more, in the process they seem to have found space to expand their emotional pallette and even produce sections which are rather upbeat, or at least upbeat in comparison to the often dour tone of much of their prior discography.

As such, Ghost Reveries seems to herald a new maturity in Opeth's sound. It's not that they've abandoned their proggy death/death-ened prog roots so much as they feel able to stretch out a little further; they know where their centre of gravity is and can return to it with ease, so they can explore just a tad further away from it and still trust that they can make it all make sense within the framework of their sound. The pulsating electronic vortex which opens Grand Conjuration is a case in point, as indeed is the soothing and almost ballad-like concluding movements of Isolation Years.

In short, it took me a while, but Ghost Reveries has finally clicked with me and I now see it for what it is: Opeth simply embracing the joy of making music and following where their muse takes them, regardless of the expectations set by their prior albums.
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Warthur wrote:
61 days ago
This one's grown on me in a big way, so I've revised the review.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I'm not into Opeth as much as I used to be, but I enjoy this album sometimes. However, the only ones I love are Still Life and the first two albums.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
You know, i used to feel the same way. Something about the newer prog albums opened me up to them and i actually like this album and several others now. I have no explanation why :P
Vim Fuego wrote:
more than 2 years ago
That first paragraph also perfectly explains my relationship with Opeth too.


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