Opeth
Watershed


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
June 3rd, 2008 | 4076 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Opeth's new album is great. Really.

There isn't much to say about Opeth that hasn't already been said. They're from Sweden. They write epic, extreme, progressive metal. Everybody seems to like them except a bunch of people on Metal Archives, (who like Dark Angel so they're easy to ignore, of course). They formed eighteen years ago, and despite a few miscues they've been quite successful. Are they overrated? Maybe. But they don't often let down their fans, and for that reason even I fell victim to Watershed's hype machine. Opeth's ninth studio album doesn't disappoint either. While Watershed isn't in the band's upper echelon of albums – a spot reserved for Damnation, Blackwater Park, and Still Life - it's still a quality record that meets, and at times exceeds, the standard Opeth has set over the years.

Watershed opens up rather differently than Opeth's past works. "Coil" is solely an acoustic track, but unlike the material featured on Damnation, it isn't quite as dark or depressing. That isn't to say that it's a light and fluffy song, as it retains some of the melancholic elements from Opeth's 2003 album, and combines it with slight Nick Drake-isms. One of the band's most powerful opening tracks, along with "Windowpane" and "The Leper Affinity", "Coil" is built on the subtlety of guitarists Mikael Akerfeldt and Fredrik Akesson, as well as the memorable, surprisingly catchy clean vocals of the former. Aside from the song's tone, it isn't all that different from Damnation, as the Akerfeldt's soothing performance compliments the gentle guitar play extremely well.

"Heir Apparent" and "The Lotus Eater" pick up the pace of the album and send it in a completely different direction. "Heir Apparent" is built in a typical Opeth fashion, sporting blistering riffs, accented by brief passages of clean guitar, and melodic harmonies. Akerfeldt growls and roars throughout the entirety of the near nine-minute track, retaining his spot as my favourite vocalist in death metal. Sure, the song may be a standard outing for Opeth, but they've done an excellent job with it. "The Lotus Eater", on the other hand, isn't quite as orthodox for the band. Rather placing emphasis on power and brutality as its predecessor did, "The Lotus Eater" relies more on the band's creative song writing quirks. On several occasions, the song fades out briefly, before a driving bridge brings the heaviness back into play. After a proggy solo four minutes in, the song settles down dramatically, indulging in an atmospheric mellotron based passage. The song is a chilling piece, and maintains an air of mystique. Honestly, each of "Coil", "Heir Apparent", and "The Lotus Eater" offer up some of Opeth's most entertaining moments, and never really lose their edge, despite lasting over twenty minutes.

Watershed isn't infallible, however. The band runs into trouble during the album's middle section, though not so much with "Burden" as it does with "Porcelain Heart". Perhaps the closest Opeth gets to 70s progressive rock, "Burden" isn't all that bad, but does have its drawbacks. The keyboard solo just over two minutes into the song is more bothersome than it is interesting. Even more unnecessary is the song's final minute, in which a meandering acoustic passage is increasingly de-tuned. The band's decision to end the song on this note is kind of confusing, as it sounds really stupid, and ruins the song's atmosphere in the process. "Porcelain Heart" is even more head scratching. Akerfeldt sounds like a parody of himself, both lyrically and vocally, as he whines "I wrote down a name (and read it twice) / I wallow in shame" and "I promised to stay (and held my grief) / I went far away". Honestly, it has to be one of most embarrassing moments of Opeth's career. The rest of the band bails Akerfeldt out half way through the song with an admittedly cool instrumental bridge, highlighted by its creepy guitar leads. The lullaby section which sounds reminiscent to a weaker version of Iron Maiden's "The Legacy" follows is also rather enjoyable, but neither really justify the song's length, which could have been at least two minutes shorter.

The remaining two tracks, "Hessian Peel" and "Hex Omega", close off Watershed on a high note. Both songs utilize beautiful soundscapes, based more around atmospheric acoustic structures than gruelling death metal. Opeth isn't afraid to amp up the heaviness, of course, but the distortion brings little in the way of aggression and power. Which is alright of course; we got enough of that in nine minutes of "Heir Apparent". Though Watershed is one of the easiest Opeth albums to listen to, it may take a few listens to appreciate it for what it really is. Essentially, if you're a fan of Opeth, you'll love this. If not, it's status quo, I guess.



Recent reviews by this author
Funeral for a Friend ConduitPropagandhi Failed States
Tycho DiveMegadeth Th1rt3en
Fair to Midland Arrows and AnchorsArch Enemy Khaos Legions
user ratings (3005)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
asdemonsburn
June 3rd 2008


793 Comments


Last two sentances sums it up nicely.

Mikesn
Emeritus
June 3rd 2008


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

holy unintentional tbt batman

Edit: YepThis Message Edited On 06.03.08

TojesDolan
June 3rd 2008


271 Comments


Well, at least you can't say they lied about it sounding like they said it was going to sound, anyway!

I like it but it's definitely not the Opeth I started listening back in the day. :'(

BallsToTheWall
June 3rd 2008


44378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Favorite Opeth album I have. I want to know who's the chick who sings in Coil.

Digging: Pharmakon - Abandon

Wizard
June 3rd 2008


19406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Everybody seems to like them except a bunch of people on Metal Archives, (who like Dark Angel so they're easy to ignore, of course).


Laughing my ass off!

Absolutely love the review Mikesn. I couldn't have said it better myself. Your descriptions are so well thought out, besides your drawbacks with Burden which I thought was a fantastic song (the King Crimson influence is really prominent in that tune which is awesome). Other than that, one of your finest reviews. Cheers!

The first 5 rating for me this year. Why can't I rate it?

Edit: I still need to give this a few more listens to determine if a 5 is a wise choice.This Message Edited On 06.03.08

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

jameskukucka
June 3rd 2008


308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

2 posts up^^^

I met Mikael before the progressive nation stop in New York, he said it's Axenrot's girlfriend.

I just picked up the deluxe edition of this and even after seeing it live, Heir Apparent just pummeled me..This Message Edited On 06.03.08

Wizard
June 3rd 2008


19406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Jealous!^^

yas666eer
June 3rd 2008


270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review mike.. as usual :D

i got the ltd. edition... its got some good studio/interview stuff.. would recommend that instead of the normal cd.

Unlike you though... i really like burden.. IMO M.A and F.A do an amazing job at the last 5 mins or so. but i did miss :lopez:.. i dunno if anyone can notice the difference through the album... Axe IMO ...mostly did textbook stuff

But M.A is pretty much opeth... i guess

DekWannaBFlea
June 3rd 2008


284 Comments


I am torn between a 3.5 and a 4.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2008


2676 Comments


Yeah, featured. Awesome review.

BallsToTheWall
June 3rd 2008


44378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh wait, I just realized it's out today. I'm buying it today.

Dayvan Cowboy
June 3rd 2008


63 Comments


Not surprised, tbh

Attention Whore
June 3rd 2008


42 Comments


Good I was looking forward to this glad its worth the money.

InYOface
June 3rd 2008


2 Comments


I guarantee this album sucks just like all of their other albums.

lateoctober
June 3rd 2008


171 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Got this 2 hours ago, impressive stuff and excellent review.

Doppelganger
June 3rd 2008


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review, pretty much agree with everything though the ending of Burden doesn't annoy me as much for some reason

Burn2Burn
June 3rd 2008


2378 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Album is seriously not that good...so weak compared to their other works. Heir Apparent is amazing, though; the rest - not so much.

Wizard
June 3rd 2008


19406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I guarantee this album sucks just like all of their other albums.

A troll is lurking around Sputnik!


InYOface
June 3rd 2008


2 Comments


I just listened to two songs on their myspace page, I was right, they are still garbage.

dub sean
June 3rd 2008


980 Comments


Really? Two songs man, you must have a really great idea of what the full album sounds like!



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy