Review Summary: Heavy Metal's most overrated album by Heavy Metal's most overrated band.
Having weekends off is great. I got to travel back to my hometown this past weekend and visit some old friends and catch up with their lives. Saturday night I stopped over at my friend Eric’s apartment to shoot the *** with him for the first time in a long time. We Didn’t really do much, ended up going on you tube and showing each other bands we have gotten into recently. Sometime during this band swap I asked Eric, “Hey, you still into Opeth?” He shrugged and stated in as blandly and unexcited as possible, “Yeah, I guess I really like them.” It seemed as though there was more to it, so I asked him what the hell he was talking about. After about a fifteen second incoherent mumble, I interrupted and said, “Look Eric, this is what I think about Opeth. Their songs are good, but they’re good in a way that isn’t fun to listen to. It’s like, ’that riff is good and creative, but I don’t necessarily want to listen to it.” Eric looked puzzled for a few seconds, then slowly opened his mouth. “Yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
In the five+ years I’ve been a member of MX, I’ve known two things. Seventy-five percent of people on this site are douche bags, and Opeth is amazing(supposedly). And of all the Opeth albums, Blackwater Park is their Magnum Opus, their greatest effort. Well, for Opeth’s sake, I hope this is not true, because Blackwater Park is one of the most boring, sleep-inducing, poorly written albums I’ve yet heard. But lets take a closer look, shall we?
Every since I started listening to Opeth, one of my biggest dislikes about the band is their ability to recognize a boring snippet of music and drag it out way, way, way too long. In the song Blackwater Park
the intro has one of worst riffs I’ve heard in years, and its repeated for one whole minute. And to make matters worse, the drums and bass don’t do anything except make the riff the focal point, which did I mention is terrible? And what about Dirge for November
? After the beautifully written intro (That by the way has nothing to do with the rest of the song) Akerfeldt and Lindgren insist on playing variations of the same riff for almost two minutes, only to swap out for a sister-riff that sounds very similar. The problem with both these parts is they aren’t very good, there isn’t anything memorable about them. They basically consist of some dissonant chords while put together in a unique way don’t sound good. And you know what the worst part of the song is? One of the prettiest guitar parts I’ve ever heard is the outro of the song. So I have to fast-forward through all the typical Opeth junk to get to it. I guess this is good topic to use as a segway into another reason I not only don’t love Opeth as a band, but get extremely frustrated while listening to them.
Akerfeldt and Company insist on coupling some of the worst music I’ve ever heard with some of the best, and not only best, but most creative. It seems like every Opeth song is a treasure hunt for the thirty-sixty seconds of good music hidden within eleven minutes of well…crap. For example, the song Blackwater Park is even bad by Opeth standards, but tucked into the song from 2:45 to 5:00 is one of the better Opeth clean riffs I’ve heard. Too bad the rest of the song is terrible. And what about A Funeral Portrait
, easily one of Opeth’s worst songs, the opening heavy riff is so terrible Hinder would scrap it. But oh wait, at the 2 minute mark Opeth cuts into one of the most amazing riffs I’ve ever heard. Lopez and company rock the house with this, everyone is spot on, not just the guitars. The only problem is the two minutes before this section and almost four and a half minutes after just plain suck.
I would have to say my biggest gripe with Opeth is simply the way Mikael Akefeldt plays guitar. His use of dissonant chords for the most part just doesn’t sound good. Dissonant chords if used and played correctly can sound great, Akerfeldt just doesn’t have a good grasp on how to do this. Not saying all his playing is terrible, every squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Demon of the Fall is a great song but for the most part….no, just no. In the song Bleak at about the six minute mark, Opeth plays a section with dissonant harmonies that sounds off. Its not necessarily a bad part, its leads in fine after a pretty acoustic part, there’s just something about the playing that throws me off and hurts my ears. And this is what frustrates me. Michael does write some incredible stuff, I must admit. Depending on the song, I’ll feel like Opeth is one of my favorite bands and I’ll get excited to listen to them more, which I end up doing. And what does Opeth do? They disappoint, time and time again.
But Blackwater Park does have some good material, right? There are some things that Opeth does that I like, yes, and some of it is on Blackwater Park. One thing I always admired about Opeth is that they can stray from metal completely and write good music. Patterns in the Ivy
is a terrific song, and I always end the song pleased and wanting more. The piano in the song adds immensely to the feel and makes for one of he strongest songs off the album. And although a boring and forgettable track, Harvest
is completely acoustic and features only clean vocals, something most metal bands can’t pull off. If only Harvest was a better song, more along the lines of Benighted or Isolation Years. Drapery Falls is easily the best track on the album, great music, catchy songwriting, good heavy sections and good instrumental work make for one of the better metal songs written in the last twenty-five years. Leper Affinity gets the nod from me, although there are parts that I like dislike within the song, I feel the good outweighs the bad, and this song will always be a song I can put on from time to time and enjoy.
And what about the instrumentalists? Lopez is no doubt a great drummer, and although he doesn’t impress as much on Blackwater Park as he does on Ghost Reveries, he still does a solid job and adds a good deal to the bands sound. Not many metal drummers can sound like they don’t play metal, and Lopez is one of those rare drummers that can play a soft section and add a whole new dimension to it. Mendez however is a pretty forgettable bassist, nothing compared to Johan Defarfalla. He really doesn’t do much to add to the sound of Blackwater Park, and I feel his style to be very underwhelming. As far as the guitar work goes, I’ve already stated my love-hate relationship with Akerfelt and Lindgren, however one thing I have not touched upon is the soloing aspect of the band. As boring and terrible as most of the their guitar playing is, usually when it comes time to solo, they pull through and do a good job. Leper Affinity
has one of my favorite solo’s, and there are a number of other times when they write tasteful solos on the album, like the short solo in the intro of Dirge for November
To wrap this up, Opeth is definitely a unique band, and Blackwater Park is a unique album. Many people like this band and praise their entire library, I am just not one of those people. I would say however that I tend to enjoy their softer, acoustic material more and think that is the strongest and most defining part of the band. I cannot deny the fact that some of their material is amazing, yet it is usually mixed in with such boring and un-listenable material that I just can’t enjoy their songs, which is a real shame. If you don’t know who Opeth is, I suggest trying out their material, but do me one favor. Try not to be such a whiny bitch if someone doesn’t like your favorite band.