OPETH — Pale Communion (review)

OPETH — Pale Communion album cover Album · 2014 · Metal Related Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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Pale Communion (2014) is the eleventh full-length album by Swedish former extreme progressive metal act Opeth. While Opeth certainly haven't been shy about producing the more progressive rock orientated releases in the past, Pale Communion is the first time that such a release from them has followed another one, in this case Heritage (2011). It's obvious in this case that Opeth have moved on and become a different band to that which made fan favourites like Still Life (1999), Blackwater Park (2001) and Ghost Reveries (2005). Obviously this is extremely bad news for fans of Opeth's special brand of extreme progressive metal and anyone who was hoping that the band would return to their usual (sorry, old) style following Heritage are going to have every reason to be upset given the direction taken on Pale Communion.

This isn't exactly Heritage Part II but neither is it a metal album in any shape or form. It reminds me a little more of Opeth's earlier progressive rock record Damnation (2003) than it does Heritage but it isn't exactly a carbon copy of that album either, though there are certainly more nods to both those albums than anything that featured death growls. The music has more of a rocky edge to it than Damnation but as far as something this progressive goes it somehow seems more one dimensional than Heritage did. The musicianship is of course highly competent and as always I really enjoy Mikael Åkerfeldt's clean singing, but there's also something about the album that causes my attention to wander after a few tracks and that wasn't a problem I had with either Heritage or Damnation.

While fans of progressive rock who always thought Opeth were wasting themselves on extreme metal are probably going to be lapping up the current more progressive yet not at all metal incarnation of the band, I have to consider that I ultimately write reviews for metal sites and while I did enjoy Heritage enough to give it a 4.5 star rating back in 2011 even considering the same point of view I just don't get the same spark from Pale Communion in order to recommend it too highly. It's a good progressive rock album but even when solely compared to Opeth's own Damnation and Heritage Pale Communion just falls short of the standards I expect from these guys and unless it suddenly grows on me years down the line I feel confident to say that right now, this is the weakest album they've ever done.

72/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/opeth-pale-communion-t3739.html)
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bartosso wrote:
more than 2 years ago
yeah well, let's be honest, Opeth should go post-avant-jazz-black-metal with a pinch of folk psychedelia. Now it's just another heavy prog band. I mean, Heritage was more experimental, not in a good way for the most part, though. Where did the genuine emotions and flow go?
J-Man wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I like this one quite a bit more than Heritage. Something about it just seems more confident to me.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I would probably list this album as my 3rd favorite from Opeth, Ghost Reveries and Heritage being my two favorites. I'm interested to see your review of this album :)
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I really like this one. To my ears it´s a much, much better album than Heritage, which I still have very Little love for, even now after having listened to it for a couple of years. My review (which is already written but not posted yet) will be a lot more positive than this one :-)
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I didn't like this album as much as 'Heritage', but I still thought it was a pretty solid album.

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