3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A masterpiece..., 2 April 2003
Crushing and haunting in equal measure, this is, in my opinion, the best album Opeth have yet put out. Telling the story of a love doomed to failure from birth, each track (as to be expected from Opeth) spans the best part of ten minutes. They never drag or become repetitive, though, as each feels like four or five songs in one, as different chapters of the story pass by. The opening track, The Moor, switches seamlessly between parts where Mikael's roar sounds like it could strip paint from walls and slower, more melodic passages which draw you in and really show off the quality of his voice. This pattern is consistent throughout the album, with tracks like Benighted soothing you and displaying real tenderness, then being contrasted with a track like Serenity Painted Death's imposing riffs and searing vocals. The constant smooth changes of tempo and style grip you and force you to actively listen to each track in the same way that a printed novel's plot grips you, and as a result, I (for one) find it very hard to do anything other than listen to the whole album in one go. To dip in and out of it, while possible, as each song more than stands on its own two feet, doesn't do the scope of the album any justice - it's far more than a simple collection of songs.
Throughout the whole hour-plus this album spans, not a single note or word seems out of place. Anyone sceptical of the value of the traditional death metal growl as a valid from of singing (and there are plenty) should listen to this album; anyone who believes that death metal can't be anything other than relentless grind with unintelligable screaming over the top should listen to this album. Anyone who enjoys metal at all should probably just buy it straight off simply to experience the quality of the musicianship and songwriting.
In my opinion, the European metal scene is, on average, of a much higher quality than the American. Within Europe, the scene is dominated by Scandinavian titans such as In Flames, Meshuggah, and Dark Tranquillity. Brilliant as those bands are, Opeth are head and shoulders above all of them. And this is Opeth's best album. No metal fan should need any further encouragement.