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Doesn't do it for me
on 19 May 2008
As someone who has been into Opeth for some years now, I still cannot see the major appeal this album holds. It's an improvement over Orchid in terms of songwriting at least. There are still some very clumsy transitions, and even plenty of parts where they just stop, pause, and then play something completely different, but the songs as a whole feel like they have a kind of a shape, a beginning, middle, and end. To Bid You Farewell actually flows quite nicely and becomes quite hypnotic. The exception, however, is Black Rose Immortal. Opeth have never written anything as long as BRI before or since, though it's obvious why. The song is barely coherent; after about ten minutes they clearly start running out of ideas on how to make the song last longer, it keeps sounding like it's ended, only for another section to come in out of nowhere. The outro is nice but even that just starts after a pause following a completely different section. None of it flows logically at all. It's as if they tried desperately to write a 20 minute song just for the sake of it.
The overall style of the first two Opeth albums is quite different to the rest of their discography. Mikael Akerfeldt said that after Morningrise, he found that the twin-guitar thing that they were doing was being done to death by loads of other bands, and that everything that could be done with it had been done. They developed a different style for their next album, and I can imagine it was quite a shock when My Arms Your Hearse came out. In my opinion their style from then on is much more interesting on Orchid and Morningrise, which almost entirely consists of two guitars playing counterpoint melodies. Although many of the riffs are good, there's little variation in style besides switching from metal to clean passages and back again, which is nothing new these days. The more complex harmonies and arrangements that drew me to Opeth in the first place are not present on this album.
I don't recommend this to newcomers. Apart from the fact that I don't think it's very good, it's not representative of Opeth's style for the most part of their career. Pick up something more recent; I recommend Blackwater Park, Still Life, or Deliverance.