Ah yes. Opeth - a band that is nigh on impossible to describe in mere words. To fully experience the true musical wonder of this band is to feel something powerful yet quite majestic. This isdue in part to the gorgeous amalgamation of death metal and cleaner, more progressive elements. I know that 'ShadowsFallen' has done a pretty much perfect review on this but I just wanted to get my opinion across in a track-by-track format (cue long sigh from a majority of readers). Anyways, here goes...
Ghost Of Perdition - The album opens with some lightly-struck chords before launcing into a brutal onslaught of death metal. The first thing I noticed was that the guitars were tuned differently on this record - the result is a good one and the heavier songs that are present on the album (this being one of them) are some of the heaviest Opeth have done in my opinion. The riffs are fantastic - Peter and Mikael work wonderfully well together to produce some tight riffs that help the song flow wonderfully. Also, the rhythm work is splendid. Bass makes itself known with some cool, thick lines and the drumming is superb. There are a few fills thrown in here and there but the beat is kept relatively simple. After the first clean vocals of the song you can hear the first keyboard parts - they definitely add an eerie and gothic atmosphere and it sounds great over the top of the guitar riff. After about two and half minutes of metal, the listener is soothed by the always impressive clean vocals of Akerfeldt. For some reason this interlude reminds a little bit of the hymn 'Kum By Yah'... it all sounds very dreamy and a guitar solo is played for a few seconds or so before the distortion and drums pound their way back into the song. I particularly like the lyrics in this section and there is some wicked double-bass drumming. Guitar riffs continue until another collection of cleanly-sung vocals are heard. The double-bass drumming is re-introduced as are the death metal vocals. There are so many great guitar riffs in this song it is untrue - some eerie keyboards (I think) accompany clean vocals and guitar before the song moves into another section which includes one great guitar solo and yet another mammoth riff. Ideas from the interlude come into play and the outro is basically a heavier version of the interlude with a cool guitar riff. All in all, this song is an absolute masterpiece. Clocking in at 10:29 and it is worth every second. Awesome. 5/5
The Baying Of The Hounds - It would be nearly impossible to top the incredible opener that is 'Ghost Of Perdition' but track two tries bloody hard. This is death metal mixed with keyboards for the most part but what impressed me the most is the lyrics. A quick glance in the booklet reveals what all the growling is. Clean vocals are introduced, pre-empting a guitar solo leading into some dissonant riffs. The calm after the storm it appears...the bass and drums combine really well in this section. Keyboards are present, playing a simple melody before Akerfeldt comes back in with his clean vocals. The atmosphere that Opeth creates with not just this song but plenty others is awesome - no other band seem to do this, aside from TooL, which is a completely different experience. As the song moves back into metal territory the song becomes a little bit more intense. Simple, distorted riffs pound away and another solo is played, this one being a bit longer and more technical than the other one. One thing that strikes you about the guitar playing is that unlike a lot of metal playing, shred is exempt from Opeth's works. Sure, there is a certain degree of technicality present but nothing an intermediate guitarist could not handle. However, the riffs and solos crafted are wonderful and nothing can take that away for sure. Another clean interlude without vocals plays before the intensity kicks back in and the manic death metal growls burst through the speakers. The song continues in the same vein until the end. Terrific follow-up to a pretty much perfect opener. 4/5
Beneath The Mire - This is a very different sound compared to anything else produced by Opeth. It soon mainfests itself into the typical metal sections that Opeth have perfected it seems, just as they have perfected the beautiful clean sections. I particularly enjoy the clean vocals on this song. A simple guitar riff is played underneath but Akerfeldt really shines before a little guitar solo is played. The interlude is very soft and laid-back and is certainly a unique feel. Akerfeldt's voice compliments the atmosphere wonderfully and yet another guitar solo is played. It is kind of bluesy if I say so. After, the song somehow becomes eerie again before a quite frightening scream from Akerfeldt. The rest of the song is pretty standard run-of-the-mill stuff - another guitar solo but nothing outstanding. There are some weird effects in the outro as the bass and drums fade out. All in all, this song is great and shows some good vocal work from Akerfeldt. 4/5
Atonement - There is no death metal in this song. The drums are extremely simple and laid back as is the overall mood. There is a heavy keyboard presence but when the vocals come in they are soaked in reverb - some people won't particularly like this and I for one think it would have been better if it was sung like Akerfeldt usually sings. The song drags on for five minutes or so before a short silence. I thought this would be the end of the track but another section of clean instrumentation occurs. Atmospheric yet nothing hugely exciting, it is simply a segue for what is to follow in my opinion. Overall, an average song. 3/5
Reverie/Harlequin Forest - What an intro; fantastic vocals again from Akerfeldt and some more of the guitar riffs that made the first two tracks so enjoyable. I find this song to be quite catchy, especially the vocal melodies and the simple yet powerful guitar riffs. Death metal vocals are introduced after three minutes or so before the breakdown of the song. A single guitar plays before some harmonics introduce more impressive vocals from Akerfeldt. The mood of the song immediately changes - again it sounds very dreamy and the keyboards add so much atmosphere when accompanying the guitar riffs. A guitar solo plays and the distortion on the rhythm guitars is brought back. The transition from the cleanly sung vocals to the harsh is odd in that it works so incredibly well. The moods of the song change in what seems like an instant - you find yourself asking "How the hell did I get here?!" sometimes. The outro is a lengthy one with a repeated riff and eerie melody lurking in the depths. It reminds you of those E-bow melodies that were ever-present on 'Blackwater Park' and while the outro may be slightly too lengthy, this is probably one of the best songs on the album. 5/5
Hours Of Wealth - Undoubtedly the most emotional song on 'Ghost Reveries'. You can instantly tell that this song is going to be a soft affair with the intro. Also, I do think that the guitars are in standard tuning for this song. As you depart from the intro keyboards and bass are introduced - for some reason this part of the song reminds me of the music present on some 'Final Fantasy' games. It is all very pretty before the reverb-laden voice of Akerfeldt comes in. Unlike 'Atonement', his voice is much better on this track. Lyrically the song tell a little story it seems of a man who appears to be alone. However, the highlight is the lenghty guitar solo that ensues after the final line of lyrics. Quite bluesy in places and very melodic. This is the best clean song on the album and a huge step up from the rather disappointing 'Atonement'. 5/5
The Grand Conjuration - This is undoubtedly the heaviest song on the album. It opens up with quite a quirky and odd guitar riff before launching into what is the monolithical highlight on the album in terms of riffs for me. Awesone stuff. The verses are a lesson in eerie atmospherics - the keyboards sound very creepy as does Akerfeldt's voice. A drum fill signals a death metal section for what appears to be the chorus - it is here you realise how versatile Akerfeldt is as a singer. His range is quite magnificent. After another verse a lenghthened chorus that leads into a fairly impressive guitar solo occurs. The dissonant riff that follows introduces yet more of the brutal death vocals and the drums speed up a notch with some crushing double-bass. Everything is in full force before an abrupt stop and an eerie keyboard riff. After a short section of serenity, the song is launched into madness with a demonic scream from Akerfeldt and what is the heaviest section of the song. The drumming is pretty impressive before that quirky intro riff is played again and the verse returns. A variation of the heavy riff that impressed me so much is played over the unintelligible vocal samples before the song ends with the return of the mammoth riff. It is the heaviest affair on the album and it is one of the most impressive. A definite recommendation. 5/5
Isolation Years - This track harks back to the clean and serene moods of 'Atonement' and 'Hours Of Wealth'. It is very gentle throughout with softly-sung vocals from Akerfeldt and pretty guitar work accompanied some keyboards that emphasize the calm mood. As it only clocks in at 3:51, it is one of the shortest songs on the album yet it is the perfect closer. As the song fades out and the album ends, you are left feeling that little more complete musically. 4/5
In conclusion, whilst I hold 'Blackwater Park' and 'Still Life' to be better albums than 'Ghost Reveries', this album defintely holds it's own. Akerfeldt is at the top of his game vocally in my opinion and the overall structure of the songs is great; some fantastic riffs are on offer and the songs in general are marvellous. I do hope this review was worth reading. It is not a patch on the other review but I just wanted to get my thoughts across and decided a review was the best way.
Overall rating: 5/5