7 of 8 thought this review was well written
Opeth - Morningrise
Mikael Akerfeldt - Vocals, guitars
Peter Lindgren - Guitars
Johan DeFarfalla - Bass
Anders Nordin - Drums
After the delayed release of their first album Orchid, Swedish death metal band Opeth had already written most of the material to be recorded, including their longest song to date, Black Rose Immortal (a fair bit ambitious for only the band's second record). In March 1996 the band went into the studio fresh with Edge of Sanity's Dan Swano to record their sophomore effort, Morningrise. Still regarded today by many fans to be the band's pinnacle to date, this incredible album is almost impossible for me to truly express in words here, but I'll do my best.
The first of only five songs on here, the album kicks off with Advent
and gets right to the chase, no long intro, just pounding double bass, before slowing down again to a lovely bass interlude. The track continues jumping between pace throughout, but never losing consistency, and contains some of the most beautiful passages on the album, as well as some of the heaviest. The acoustic section in the middle is probably my favourite part, with DeFarfalla's bassline beautifully intertwining with the melodies. I should mention that the bass playing on this album by Johan is unlike any other Opeth album, instead of simply laying down basslines he plays high melodies which weave themselves around the guitars and give the music another dimension. Although his tone is very wet, his playing is one of my favourite aspects of Morningrise.
Advent transitions easily into The Night And The Silent Water
, which starts off at a medium pace and keeps it for pretty much the whole song, never really changing speed but continuing to dip seamlessly into acoustic passages. The transitions between everything on this album is another great thing about it, you can get totally immersed in it and hardly notices time passing you by. Both Mikael and Peter have revealed that The Night And The Silent Water is their least favourite Opeth track, due to personal reasons I believe. Overall this is probably the weakest track here, but it is not a bad song at all, and I especially like the music from 7:30 onwards.
is the next track, and has a more epic feel to it than the last song. Once again the bass gets showcased quite a bit, but there’s not a lot I can say here that I haven't said already - heavy passages, slower passages, flowing dreamily in and out of one another. This style of playing is prevalent throughout the whole album, it's too hard to describe every aspect of every song, but everything is there for a reason and you'll have to judge the beauty for yourself.
The next song is the mammoth Black Rose Immortal
, Opeth's ambitious 20-minute epic. Other bands trying to do this would probably drag riffs out until they can't be dragged any longer, but as you probably know, Opeth are not just 'any band' - they can make 20 minute songs with so many passages that flow effortlessly, and you can never feel as though it's dragging on. I won't describe any parts of BRI, you really must hear this majesty for yourself. It encompasses everything that Opeth's music is, it is 20 minutes of pure magic, and your life is worse for not hearing it.
This brings me onto the last real track here, To Bid You Farewell
. This was the first true ballad that the band wrote, and it's an absolute gem. The mood is sombre, the guitars perfectly intertwining and the bass hauntingly beautiful, I love this track. The lyrics are also some of my favourites, and the emotion really shines through in Mikael's lovely but frail voice. When I listen to this track, I just close my eyes and let the music flow over me, it's incredible. And when the distorted guitars come in at 7:05, aah, music at it's best. I love it.
Once again I seem to have written too much, but I hope I was able to express the beauty of this album. After listening intensely to Morningrise for this review, I think it is probably now my favourite Opeth album, and one of my favourite of all time. I urge you to check this album out, especially those familiar with this amazing band. Even if not, I don't know how any metal fan would not be able to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of this album. Also, although the sound is not as crystal as later albums, the production gives an almost transcendent atmosphere to Morningrise, and it is something Opeth have never really been able to replicate.
To quote another reviewer . . . Opeth has never released anything less than an excellent album. But they have only released one perfect album.