Opeth - Damnation review
|Release date:||April 2003|
02. In My Time Of Need
03. Death Whispered A Lullaby
05. Hope Leaves
06. To Rid The Disease
07. Ending Credits
Opeth is not something one can easily absorb in one listen. The band's music is complex, even when sounding as seemingly simple as it does on their latest release, Damnation, due to hit the streets on April 22. But those hearty enough to give it a chance are sure to be amply rewarded.
Damnation is the Swedish four-piece's follow up to last fall's Deliverance. The two albums were recorded simultaneously, in a span of time the band would usually allot for one release. However, any fears of a rush job at the expense of quality are hushed when one sits down to listen.
Where Deliverance attacks with Opeth's usual blend of progressive rock and black metal, Damnation allows the mellower side of their music to exclusively take center stage. Where vocalist/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt moves from melodious hymn to curdled growl on previous releases, on Damnation, he takes his clean vocals to the next level.
This album isn't something that will immediately grab you. Even I needed a few listens for it to truly open itself up. But, after those few listens, and a few more and a few more still, I can honestly say that this is some of the most beautiful music heard so far in 2003.
Damnation is not metal in the general sense. Head banging is put aside in favor of head-bobbing or head-swaying, contemplation favored to aggression.
Akerfeldt and guitarist Peter Lindgren, for the most part town down their distorted guitars, giving a much more vital role to the acoustic. Martin Lopez's drums have been stripped down, Martin Mendez's bass is even more apparent in the mix and the vocals never venture into black metal territory. There is so much to take in and so much to get out of each successive listen.
Another noticeable change is in song length. On the six-track Deliverance, most songs ended up somewhere in the realm of ten minutes. Morningrise, an earlier album for example, had a song that was over 20 minutes. Here, with the exception of the rich and subtle opener 'Windowpane', which is nearly eight minutes, and 'To Rid the Disease', featuring beautiful piano work from producer Steven Wilson, the other six-tracks do not go beyond six minutes.
Wilson has been a vital part of the band's continued musical progression, not only at the production helm for the last three albums, but with backing vocals and keyboard duties here. But most credit must be given to mastermind Akerfeldt, who does not seem to have a limit to where his creative capabilities can go.
Opeth has been able to so effectively and beautifully combine its love of '70s prog-rock with its love of metal, that there really is no accurate genre label to dump them in; it is simply Opeth and Damnation is simply a marvel.
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