OPETH — Pale Communion (review)

OPETH — Pale Communion album cover Album · 2014 · Metal Related Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Checkmate, metalheads!

Even though the title of this review is intended as a joke, it's still true in a way - Opeth the metal band is no more. The fact of Opeth abandoning their extreme metal roots is of no importance to me, though. I was already disappointed back then in 2008 when Watershed was released, and it was a straight extreme prog metal album. Having recorded two retro albums since 2011, Opeth have become, more or less, a traditional prog band that, for the most part, follows in footsteps of King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant and the like. The problem is that even Damnation, the least metal of their albums, was still somehow compatible with the so-called "Opeth sound".

Pale Communion opens with "Eternal Rains Will Come" and let me tell you, it's the last song (except for 'River') that bears any conspicuous resemblance to the "pre-Watershed" Opeth. Don't get me wrong, there are no growls or heavy distortion riffs in the album and its heaviest moments sound more like hard rock on speed than any of their early 2000s stuff. There's flow and distinct focus on gripping harmonies in this song, though. Once you're done with it and the rest unveils before you, you feel like a kid that just found out most of the ice-cream fell to the sidewalk. Okay, that may be a little too harsh. Pale Communion is a solid melodic prog album with harder moments here and there. Apart from the two aforementioned tracks the record lacks in riveting ideas, flow and sophisticated harmonic passages known from their earlier stuff. As Heritage, it's a very well-produced and well-composed blend of Jethro Tull's folk rock and King Crimson's grandiose complexity. It is, however, less psychedelic than the previous album and instead marked by a more melodic/folksy character, so pleasantly reminiscent of Nick Drake. There's also a noticeable Steven Wilson influence, but as I always say, whatever Wilson does, Akerfeldt does it better.

Pale Communion is yet another semi-classic prog album - its influences, even though fairly diverse, are way too obvious. This perhaps wouldn't be much of a nuisance if the songs were conceived with a bigger dose of spontaneity that would in turn give more soul and emotional charge to the whole thing. Even though the latest Opeth release is not a pale imitation of classic prog(pun intended), it definitely pales (intended too) in comparison with Opeth's greatest moments. As such, Pale Communion, just as Watershed and Heritage, is a bit of a letdown.
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666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I thought Watershed was pretty strong but yeah, nothing they've released since really comes close to Ghost Reveries.
bartosso wrote:
more than 2 years ago
oh, there's another comment added before I posted, sorry ;p
bartosso wrote:
more than 2 years ago
4 comments, 4 different opinions :) I actually like Heritage a bit more than this one, at least for now. Still, the last truly great Opeth album is Ghost Reveries :)
aglasshouse wrote:
more than 2 years ago
This is very interesting to consider. I do love the prog rock sound honestly a little more than it's metal counterpart, so I'll definitely take a listen.
666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
In 2011 I loved Heritage and gave it 5 stars but in 2014 that's fallen to 3.5 stars.

In 2014 I've given this one 3.5 stars so maybe by 2017 it will have grown to 5 stars.

Either way I certainly don't hate this but I certainly don't love it either.

UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Interesting! I didnĀ“t enjoy Heritage much, but I really like this one :-)
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I've heard it once as well, and I actually thought it was a really good album. I also loved Heritage, and I'm happy with the direction their taking :)
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Only heard it once so far. Wasn't exactly blown away either (though I ended up loving Heritage). It reminded me a bit of Damnation, except the same magic wasn't there there this time.


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