Review Summary: Boring, this album has far too much drag and unnecessary filler.
Introducing the most hyped up album in Opeth's discography and ironically the only one that fails to live up the mass hype surrounding it-Blackwater Park. This is an album with a mammoth running time and not a whole lot to show for it; an album that focuses on drilling the same riff into the listener's skull a thousand times and then continuing to do so for the next two minutes. Whilst riff changes, speed changes and all other changes are present here they are far less noticeable than on previous or future releases from the band. This is Blackwater Park-one of the most overrated releases I have ever heard.
The album is a mixture of acoustic sections and heavy metal sections combined and given the tag of progressive death metal. In place of the pseudo-black metal shrieks found on the band's earliest stretch of albums, Mikael Akerfeldt sticks to a low growl and some fairly monotonous clean singing. This is by no means a bad thing as he does both styles very well and his growls have a lot of power behind them but when the album in question runs for seven minutes past the hour mark, you would think he would switch it up a bit. From The Leper Affinity right through to the end of the album this is mainly a mixture of deep growls and low clean singing with a few higher screams every now and again, althugh they are seldom used. The title track is the biggest sinner for the vocals as this is the only song on the album that uses exclusively death metal vocals despite having one of the best higher screams on the release.
The instrumental work is another problem that can be found with Blackwater Park. To begin with, for saying this garnered the tag of death metal; there is not a whole lot to show for it. The guitar work is rarely too intense nor intricate and would not feel out of place on the average doom metal release or sludgy album, and the drumming occasionally abuses the double bass but this is rare. The softer sections are the real problems I have with this release. The Drapery Falls in particular has little change in its clean sections and relies on the use of three or four acoustic chords until the heavy section kicks in, which is around two-three minutes into the song. The biggest snooze fest on the album aside from this would either be Dirge For November or Harvest. Harvest is more mood-oriented and fails to create much of an atmosphere at all whilst Dirge For November takes forever to build up and then drags on for far too long afterwards.
The positives about this album are found in occasional moments on the individual songs. Whilst none of them are particularly bad aside from the three mentioned before, many of them lack any real flow and just feel like a collection of wildly conflicting styles contrasting every couple of minutes that clash together and kill off any momentum the album has whatsoever. Bleak is the one song that gets everything right, from the heavy as *** introduction through the bluesy central section to the even heavier closure this has some great riffs, a more than characteristically varying vocal performance and the middle section transitions back to the heavy stuff perfectly. The opener The Leper Affinity makes great use of the soft to heavy dynamic well as well despite dragging on far too long.
BWP is just a release that feels too long as though the band could not be arsed coming up with any different ideas save for every two or three minutes when it will change into an acoustic section.