on 2 May 2008
Oh my god...
Like all Opeth albums it takes a few listens to get into, that's the beauty of Opeth's lasting appeal as the music doesn't get old. But this one has some extra tangents that have never been used before. I don't want to spoil them for you but there are some interesting things going on in here.
A lot of the album really goes back to their Deep Purple influences I can here s1974-1975 Purple-esque sounds coming out from every dark beautiful corner of this album. Imagine DPs Child in Time mixed with Emperor mixed with Pink Floyd.
I think it is a daring move using a lot of the things they have done in the album but as a whole album it really works. Opeth fans and well versed music fans alike will not be disappointed by this album it is both sinister and beautiful.
For want of a better term I think the direct of the band is much more Prog than it has ever been. The new line up is great and the only thing that's missing from the record as previous ones is some of Martin Lopez's drumming. Don't get me wrong I love Martin Axenrot but Lopez was a bit more of a tasteful drummer. Axenrot has a tendency to over do things where Lopez would have known less is more.
All in all a great album - Well worth the money and I'm not saying this from a `fan boy' perspective this is from a music lover!
For `open minded' fans of - Deep Purple, Emperor, Pink Floyd, Mostly Autumn, Camel, Therion, Porcupine Tree and Katatonia.
on 2 June 2008
If you are new to Opeth about half this review will be lost on you... I do have some words for you however:- Opeth are worth getting into, they are worth the effort of listening to the album a couple of times. They will pay you back 10 fold. This album is in my opinion the most "aquired taste" of their discography so it might be worth getting one of their other albums first. Maybe Blackwater Park or Deliverance but deffinatly GO FOR IT!!!
So to the album. Overall I must say that this is an excellent album. The time taken over every detail is astonishing, the production dripping with new ideas and the songs moving into new places than other albums before. This album is as I said before and aquired taste. Some tracks like heir apparent will deffinatly turn some people off but it is important to give it time. To let your mind wrap around this and break it down so you can fully understand it. Here is a track by track breakdown of the album.
Track 1 Coil: This seems to be a good opening for the album, not diving in at the monsterishly heavy end of Opeth but rather introducing the rich sound scape that is retained through-out the album. I must say that the use of a female vocalist was an inspired decision. Not typical Opeth fair but great stuff.
Track 2 Hier Apparent: A heavy complex array of crushing guitar riffs soft keyboard/acoustic guitar sections. NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED! I am still trying to get my ming around the first riff 1:21. I must say i was impressed with the guitar work here, it is obvious that the guys have pushed it a bit further guitar wise. How the drummer keeps the tiem is beyond me. I would say that although good this is more of a viseral assult than anything else, it works in the context of the album but I will not often be listening to it as a stand alone piece. It is better on the album than it was live at Brixton and it was great there.
Track 3 Lotus Eater: This is the piece that you guys will have most likely heard all ready or at least an edited version of it. Starting with what seems to be medival folk music and then strait into a peice that really astounds. There is a great variety here (yes a funk section...) and it all really works. I must say that the soundscaped talking at the end is one of my favourite moments of the ablum. An excellent track that is of real substance.
Track 4 Burden: Here is the most accesible track on the ablum. Great singing, great solos and great song writing. Very easy to listen to. However i do not know how well this will sit with most opeth fans who I do not think are of the "I like my music accesible" varity. This is excellent however and needs attention! A near perfect production of a well written song is always welcome. Listen out for the de-tuning guitar and the laugh at the end... clever Mikael...
Track 5 Porcelain Heart: Another track you have probably heard through youtube or roadrunner records. The most encompassing thing i can say about this track is that I really tried to listen to it with an objective ear and I can't, it is too good; I got too involved. For me this is the standout track of the album. It flows through and carries you with it, one of Mikael's best compositions perhaps helped by Akesson.
Track 6 Hussian Peel: This is a most interesting piece. There is a lot going on, backward vocals, thick string sections and piano playing with a fragile beauty are the norm. This needs a lot of listens as it has abviously been recorded and produced in the most fantastic manner possible. I am particularly fond of the drumming here which is perfect for this track. Also it was nice to see some Easten influances at 08:45. This track is a close second to Porcelain Heart, but who knows how it will sound after more listens!
Track 7 Hex Omega: Starting with a crushing riff it then enters a wonderful flute section at 0:44. The originality of this album is still coming through at this late point of the album! That is what this track is, a great ending with some of the most lavish production of the album. It really drives home the importance of this album as a milestone for Opeth. This is something new, an explorable realm.
Get this album, keep it close, listen to it as much as possible and you will start to explore with Opeth. I hope above everything that this growth continues into next album. I give this album 5 stars because it still needs to grow on me and I am all ready in love with it. It stands tall with other offerings such as Still Life and Blackwater Park which is no mean feat. (sorry for it saying 4 stars I clicked the worng button)
on 26 October 2008
A couple of years ago, I purchased the album 'Still Life' as I was curious to see what Opeth were like after hearing positive comments about them. Being a fan of metal and prog rock, I thought there was a good chance I could get into them. However I was not blown away by it, and only really listened to the opening track 'The Moor' which is a great song. I only listened to the album a few times, and thought it was average at best.
After listening to their latest effort, my view of Opeth completely changed! This album really gripped my attention on the first listen, and ended up listening to it regularly, liking it more every time. This album focuses much more on the prog rock element; 'Hessian Peel' is an outstanding piece of prog rock with bluesy elements, which has a sound derived from the 70s. From the opening track you can tell this is going to be something different from Opeth, with its pastoral introduction of "Coil" (even has a female vocalist!). The next two tracks feature their very heavy, death growling vocals, but they also combine interesting experimental prog rock elements, really taking the listener on a ride with plenty of depth for repeated listens.
Personally my favourite song has to be 'Burden'. This song is just beautiful; it was while hearing this for the first time which demonstrated what a talent band Opeth are. Instantly likable, but still gets better with every listen. Its short piano introduction, the slow melodic verses which suddenly abrupt into dramatic harmony, and the awesome instrumental which has elements similar to Deep Purple and Pink Floyd, while still remaining unique.
It was after hearing this album I began to appreciate 'Still Life' and other albums. They are a band that get better with every listen, so if you are into bands such as Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Porcupine Tree or even Radiohead, there are worse things to do than listening to this with an open mind!
on 30 September 2013
Watershed is the ninth full-length studio album by the Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth. Released by Roadrunner Records, Watershed is the first studio album by Opeth to feature drummer Martin Axenrot and guitarist Fredrik Åkesson, who replaced longtime guitarist Peter Lindgren and drummer Martin Lopez. The artwork for the album was made by Travis Smith (who has created the artwork for eight previous Opeth releases) in collaboration with Mikael Åkerfeldt. The album has been described as "a major turning point" for Opeth due to the depth of its engagement with progressive rock. On the opening track "Coil", Mikael Åkerfeldt duets with Nathalie Lorichs, who was dating drummer Martin Axenrot at the time. The band has revealed that they were initially going to start the album with what eventually became the second track, "Heir Apparent"; however, they preferred "Coil" as an introductory track for its contrast to "Heir Apparent".
I like Watershed, it's a very good album and I would listen to it again, but I felt that it wasn't quite a patch on the other ones they did before that (I don't know why that is, but it's just what I thought at the time). In some parts of this album they sound a bit like Deep Purple, especially on "The Lotus Eater" and on the 11-minute piece "Hessian Peel", and some other parts of this album remind me of another rock band from the 1970s, Rainbow, notably in "Burden" and "Porcelain Heart". Still recommended though.
on 8 July 2008
Opeth's latest offering, "Watershed" was really something of a surprise, and comes as proof that they will never let us get comfortable and settle into a predictable rut as so many talented bands do. Instead, Opeth continue to challenge their listeners with something really quite different, not only from "Ghost Reveries" but also from all their previous albums. Of course it is still unmistakably Opeth, with Akerfeldt's trademark vocals and their unique combination of blasting death metal ferocity with mellow acoustic brilliance and awesome prog solos. However they have gotten a bit more experimental on us and mixed in some touches of jazz/blues (for example in the beautiful "Burden" and the unexpected funk section at the end of "the Lotus Eater"), a few moments of strings and flutes in the awesome "Heir Apparant", some very effective but not overused female vocals in the stunning opener "Coil" and the unexpected humour of the discordant ending of "Burden".
"Watershed" is also pleasantly varied and progresses very neatly through different styles, blending them together perfectly. They move very skillfully from the mellow acoustic sadness of "Coil" with its moving female vocals and beautiful lyrics into the brilliantly heavy, fantastically discordant "Heir Apparant", moving into the jazz tinged acoustic perfection of "Burden", then varying between the heavy and the melodic with their usual ease throughout the remaining songs. Some of them don't quite hit you at first and take a few listens to appreciate. Initially, hearing the complete change of direction of "The Lotus Eater" and the discordance of "Heir Apparant" I wondered what had gone wrong with Opeth, but "Watershed" is one of those albums that you will still be listening to in a year's time, not something catchy which hits you on the first listen and then you forget about it. I still think "Ghost Reveries" and "Still Life" probably can't be beaten, but "Watershed" hardly fails to live up to expectations.
on 12 October 2011
Having found Opeths previous offering Ghost Reveries a little too dense to wade through, getting lost within the heaviness of it all I was concerned in which way Opeth were aiming in their new album. Having heard the single edit of Porcelin Heart before hearing the alnum I wasn't exactly urged to go out and purchase the album straight away. Which was a massive shame because it meant weeks without hearing the genius of this album. I would certainly consider this up with Blackwater Park as one of Opeths best offerings.
From the beauty of the opening track Coil, with Mikael singing along with a beautiful female vocal to the stunning album version of Porcelin Heart every track on this album is a joy to listen to. Heavier moments are covered by Heir Apparent and the Lotus Eater harking back to Deliverance days and the likes of Burden showing the beauty of the Damnation album.
Overall, this is a great offering from Opeth, one of the best in their catalogue and well worth a purchase.
Well, for a start, it's better than Cavalera Conspiracy, so scratch one "best of the year/best in metal ever" sentiment off the list for that good-but-got-old-fast album. I can see myself liking Watershed for a lot longer. Already its made me giddy with glee a good few times during the impossibly sweet opener "Coil", recoil in horror at the sheer death metal force of "Heir Apparent" and brand "Hessian Peel" the new owner of my favourite riff, a twisting wretch of a thing its impossible not to air-shred to. Shredding seems a good place to begin talking about this album, as the change in guitarists from (my personal favourite Opeth member) Peter Lindgren to former Arch Enemy twiddler Fredrik Akkeson has brought a prolific sonic alteration to Opeth. Akkeson's fierce shredding (there's that word again) skills have, it seems, inspired head honcho Mike Akerfeldt to take the metal side of Opeth up a notch, with far less jazzy or bluesy fret-bothering than previous outings but plenty of blistering riffs (and harmonics!) to make up for it. While the change is apparent to any fan upon first listen, I doubt it'll cause many frowns.
Like I said, the opening "Coil", a mellow little number featuring Nathalie Lorichs (me neither) on vocals and described by Akerfeldt as "cute" (the song, not Lorichs, who happens to be his drummer's girlfriend) is as nice as Opeth has ever been. Such feelings are chucked inside a cement mixer, removed and hammered into fractionally smaller cement blobules before being urinated on by the relentlessly heavy and dare I say terrifying "Heir Apparent", which a good friend of mine described as "hunting for something to kill". New drummer Martin Axenrot silences naysayers immediately with his pummeling force, before soon after giving way to the more traditional, Lopez-style cool grooves that he's equally capable with. But a death metal drummer is a death metal drummer, and Akerfeldt, fully aware of Axe's abilities from their concurrent band Bloodbath again takes advantage of the lineup change to refine and tweak the band's sound. Thus, endless tom fills and even BLASTBEATS appear on this record, double kicks unstoppable and restless with plenty of snare foreplay to counterbalance. Per Wiberg has expanded his role as keyboardist to wind instruments, with flutes and English Horn the most prevalent. Akerfeldt always boasted of how his keyboardist could play anything, and its nice to finally hear it. The other most noticeable element on this record are the folk elements, Akerfeldt going as far to call one of the sections a "Nick Drake riff", a spot on assessment if I've ever heard one, reminding me of "Three Hours" the first time I heard it. So in summation of the sound, scary death metal meets English folk, with one complete and unabashed ballad thrown in for measure. And bear in mind, this is no "ballad by Opeth standards", this is a bloody ballad, as pure as they come and worthy of a place on any three-disc driving rock compilation. We also get a nod to Led Zeppelin in a backwards pledge to Satan, and a box that looks like an envelope for no immediately obvious reason. The standout track initially seems to be the classic-written-all-over single Porcelain Heart, though there's a lot of depth here and plenty to be discovered on repeated listenings (I'm currently on my consecutive third). I'm not fond of comparison, but there's no denying this is Opeth's most dense work since Still Life ten odd years ago, particularly impressive given the virgin lineup, but it also stands out as one of their best albums. It lacks the style-diversity of predecessor Ghost Reveries, but eclipses the focused nature of Damnation and Deliverance. Most importantly, its a great album and the best of the year so far. Sorry Max.
on 28 July 2008
I tend to get nervous when Opeth release a new album, because I'm always worried that their insanely high standards will one day slip and they'll give us something that doesn't blow us away. I'm happy to say that I'm still waiting for this to happen. Watershed is absolutely superb.
Some have criticised some of the newer elements on here, but I think they all work. The addition of the female voice on the opener is a great touch, and I love the funky breakdown in Lotus Eater - to me there is no suggestion that it was just chucked in there. Even the detuned guitar trick sounds right, and it's pretty hard to take a piece of music that's meant to sound bad and put it into a song so it doesn't just sound like exhibitionism.
As has been pointed out, there is less death metal growling on here than many of their albums, but that doesn't bother me, as Mikael's clean vocals are getting better and better over time anyway. His vocal performance on Burden is marvelous. And he CAN still do the growls when he wants to, as Heir Apparent will prove.
The "new guys" (Axenrot and Åkesson) fit in very nicely, and Per Wiberg really starts to make his presence felt with a lot of proggy keyboard work. Åkerfeldt is still the core of the band, and without him Opeth would no longer exist, but he knows how to surround himself with talent and write to their strengths.
It's tricky to pick out a best song, because Opeth's albums aren't really designed like that, but for me, Coil, Hessian Peel and Heir Apparent are especially excellent. But the album works brilliantly as a cohesive whole, and should really be listened to in this way.
I can now relax until they announce their next album, whereupon I'll start getting unjustifiably nervous again!
on 21 June 2008
For starters let me just make it clear that i am an avid fan of Opeth, and am therfore likely to be rather bias in their favour. That said, I have to say that this album is a joy.
As with other albums, 'Watershed' shows a further maturity, and new sound, as has become the hallmark of Opeth, with almost every album seemingly heralding a reinvention of one sort or another.
The key aspect of this album is the presance of contrasts. 'Coil', the opening track, is largely acousticly based, and shows off Åkerfeldt's ear for harmony and melody in a fashion which is not often showcased by progressive metal bands. Lyrical vocals, together with orchestral backing and a female backing vocalist make this piece all the more striking. Though it may seem a curious choice of instrumentation it works, undoubtedly.
The remaining 6 tracks generally provide a mix of intense riffs and vocals, against sudden breakdowns and instrumental (often orchestral) interludes. At times you may hear timbres more usually associated with jazz or folk, such is the wide ranging pool from which influence for this album is drawn. Particular favourites of mine are 'The Lotus Eater' and 'Hessian Peel.'
A further element of this album which is immideitely noticable is production. The sound of the overall mix on this album is extremely pleasing, as is the level of care taken over the voicing of each instrument, the clean and deep acoustic guitar of 'Coil' is case in point.
One percievable drawback is the sheer length of tracks, the longest is just short of 11.30, and this means that Opeth are not the most accesible band for the casual listener, but given time, this album leaves a lasting impression.
A strongly recommended, and beautiful work.
on 20 June 2008
Confronted through the post by a crushed cardboard envelope containing CD and bonus DVD, I played Watershed from start to finish (once) and then put it aside for a few days. I had to think. It was all too much. Was this Opeth's crowning glory and contender for the greatest album of all time ... or (like the story of the kings new cloths) nothing but a sham. I was almost too afraid to play it again incase it was the latter. But as soon as the PC tray closed and the disc started spinning, I knew that it was worthy of more than the meager 5 stars that Amazon can bestow upon its reviews. From the beauty of 'Coil' to the beast of 'Heir Apparent', no greater musical tapestry has been woven than this. Watershed is a masterpiece.
The complexity of the seven tracks (excluding bonus songs) is remarkable; each worthy of quality time dedicated to focus on the pleasures that it provides. Its just a pity we live in an MP3 age where music (wherever derived from) is instantly uploaded to player or phone and the limitations of this micromusic robs the listener of the opportunity to listen to albums the way they were intended, through pure, audio, hi-fi components. Thus the true majesty of Watershed will probably be lost in the tinny earpieces of a file sharing generation.
I recently accused Dream Theater of having an identity crisis and to the outsider, one could say the same of Opeth. But the difference is that DT sound like a mish mash of so many bands at the moment. Whereas as Opeth, no matter what they do, are distinctly Opeth. Experimental, suicidal, out on a limb or completely bonkers, they have pushed the boundaries out a little bit further each time, to the point where I don't know where they can go from here. And that could be their downfall ... or should I say Mikael's, as the band's illustrious leader could be in danger of out noodling himself when we're all left scratching our heads as to why his death metal growling is immediately followed by a spoon solo and three minutes of backward oboe.
That said, Watershed is ground breaking stuff. Is it Death Metal, Metal, Rock, Folk, Prog ... God knows! Mikael has created a genre all of its own and it is called 'Opeth'. And I love it!