Daniel Garrett Irwin

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Last Active 06-06-13 11:24 am
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Opeth: A Band of Many Wonders

Opeth is one of my favorite bands of all time. Their ability to blend so many genres and crank out original, ass-kicking tunes is something that needs to be heard to be believed. There's 10 albums right now, with an 11th in the process of being made. And on that note, I present my arrangement of the Opeth catalog, from most favorite to least. Note: this was a difficult list to make, since the band's track record is so consistent.
Blackwater Park

The peak of Lindgren and Akerfledt's music careers, this album has everything to offer for both close-minded metal heads and the casual listener. Those who favor brutality can rejoice with many a song such as "The Leper Affinity", "Bleak" and the title track, while those who enjoy the more softer side of metal will have a field day with cuts like "Patterns in the Ivy" or even "Harvest". This mammoth of a an album is by far the best way to bring in newcomers to the legend that is Opeth, and doubles as an essential must-have for the die-hard fan.
Still Life

"Still Life" improved on the foundation of past Opeth albums in 1999. The album's themes of love, death and the beauty of life are well complemented by top-quality production and writing, and other improvements to the band's trademark blend of beauty, brutality and originality. This is one observation that is so breathtaking, it's dying to be heard.
Ghost Reveries

Breathtaking melodies, earth-shattering brute force, dynamic instrumentation, an epic scope, grade-A production values, sizzling band chemistry, honest expression and expansive variety all mixed perfectly into every single track. Such tracks are not limited to, but include "The Grand Conjuration", "Reverie/Harlequin Forest", "Soldier of Fortune" (yes, a cover of Deep Purple), "Ghost of Perdition", and the jazzy, other-worldly "Atonement". Overall, this is a musical triumph on par with "Still Life" and "Blackwater Park".

It may be the shortest and softest of the bunch, but "Damnation" features some of the most varied and inspired instrumentation from the band to date, and also the absolute best vocal delivery from Mikael Akerfeldt on any Opeth album. Not to mention, it has a really good flow to it. Best tracks here are a no-brainer: "Closure", "Hope Leaves", "Windowpane", and the mellotron-laden finale "Weakness". A clear inspiration by progressive rock albums of yesterday, the 7th chapter in the Opeth canon officially confirms that the band has taken the rock/metal world by storm.
My Arms, Your Hearse

One of the lesser known albums in the Opeth canon, and also one of the heaviest. The transitions between doom-laden riffs, chilling cleans and dramatic melodies are handled with real sincerity and precision. And the really somber lyrics help set the tone for the sonic whirlwind that is "My Arms Your Hearse", the first of many albums that put Opeth on the map as a promising force in heavy metal. Standouts include "Credence", "Demon of the Fall", "Karma", just to name a few.

One of Opeth's most varied productions, "Watershed" blurs the line between rock, metal and progressive even further than before, and yet the boys come out with a renewed sense of inspiration at the end. The band does not lose track of their musical and lyrical chops, while opening a door for new musical opportunity. Standout tracks: "Coil", "Heir Apparent", "Hessian Peel", the jazzy "Lotus Eater" and extras like the all-Swedish "Den standiga resan".

The title track itself is pretty much worth the full price of admission; the signature Opeth brand of beauty and brutality with just enough mind-bending moments, and an outro that can only be rivaled by another excellent song here, "Master's Apprentices". "A Fair Judgement" is very melodic, and a welcome addition to the Opeth songbook. But yet, the album (as a whole) simply doesn't have the same level of excellence as, say, "Still Life" or "Blackwater Park".

There's only 5 songs on the record and they're pretty long. Outsiders will not be familiar with this one compared to newer Opeth titles, as this was recorded around the same time as "Orchid". However, the songs are adventurous and pack a punch, especially the 20-minute "Black Rose Immortal" and the truly heartfelt "To Bid You Farewell".

The first, and probably least popular album in the Opeth canon, due in part to a low recording budget. But it still gets points for being brutal, original and exciting. The band's unique blend of death metal and progressive rock attributes would only come to define the band later on, setting the tone for future releases. Standouts include "Forest of October" and "The Apostle in Triumph", and the all-piano "Silhouette".

"Heritage" is a continuation of the style changes heard on "Watershed", with an increased emphasis on folk and jazz influences throughout. Like "Damnation", there are no death metal elements, but the band's adventurous talent is still intact. And while some people may argue that the Opeth formula is wearing out, closer inspection reveals otherwise. Songs such as "Folklore", "Slither", "The Devil's Orchard", and "Famine" suggest that after 20 years, Opeth hasn't aged a bit. It may not be as deep or episodic as past albums, but "Heritage" remains a winner for a band whose catalog is just about perfect.
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