Review Summary: Beautiful Brutality
Following the piano chord that occupies the very first seconds of Opeth's 2000 release, Blackwater Park, a crashing riff comes in, that promises that the album to come will take the listeners on a roller coaster ride through heavy peaks and soft, soothing moments. Opeth's Blackwater Park is a clear example of how both beauty and absolute brutal mayhem can be combined into one near perfect package. This album is one of the progressive death metal bands most popular releases, and also, in my opinion, their best, bordering on perfection.
Album opener The Leper Affinity is the perfect song to showcase both the bands talent and the bands signature sound. For a while, this song is absolutely bone crushing, with some very heavy riffing, great growled vocals from Mikael Akerfeldt, and then, all of a sudden, the song changes. The way this song flows from the heavy to the soft is simply breath taking, and this song is the perfect introduction to Mikael's vocals. He can do very low growls, which neither lack emotion nor energy, and then he can also do some gorgeous clean vocals, that soothe the ears. I can honestly not think of many better vocalists out there then Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt.
If the opener wasn't enough of a ride, then track 2 certainly will be. Bleak has always been my favorite song Opeth ever put out. This song is fantastically composed, beginning with an extremely heavy and yet atmospheric section, before going into a blues section in the middle, and then building back up to a thrilling finale. The growls on this song are some of the best on the album, and the clean vocals do not slack off either. The guitar work for this song is utterly amazing, with some powerhouse riffs in there, and the gorgeous instrumentals in the middle section. This song is one of the most perfect songs ever released.
Harvest and The Drapery Falls are two much more atmospheric songs, that drag on for a while and showcase some more great clean singing from Mikael. Harvest is one of the bands most popular songs, and the reason is immediately clear, with the fantastic use of various dynamics to create one of the most perfect atmospheres found in music. This song was an indication of what later albums would bring, as it had no metal found in it whatsoever. The Drapery Falls contains some growls, and great lyrics to accompany them, but is more focused on building a mood and a real feeling of desperation unmatched by any other song.
Dirge For November, The Funeral Portrait and Patterns In The Ivy are all brilliant in their own right, with the former being a song that contains 2 minutes of acoustic work, before the real heavy side of the band kicks in and it is, as usual, perfectly put together. Patterns In The Ivy is a pure instrumental acoustic song that merely leads as a warm up to the absolute brutality that is the title track. This song contains some utterly crushing riffs, quite possibly the heaviest on the album, and the song is just made even better by the 2 minute softer part in the middle. The lyrics to this song are extremely well written, depicting an evil environment that does not bare thinking about. This is Opeth at their absolute peak of brutality.
The instrumental work on this album is fairly technical, and fantastically written, with some real talent behind it. Each song conveys the emotions and mood that the lyrics would suggest brilliantly, creating a sense of dread that is missing from so many albums. This is a text book album on how to create a dense atmosphere without ever once compromising the musical integrity of the album. The growls and clean vocals are nearly perfect on here, proving Mikael time and time again to be one of the fore runners in the metal vocals scene. This album is a flat out classic that may take a few listens to get into, but once it has you hooked it will never let you go. Utterly incredible. 5/5