Opeth
Pale Communion


3.2
good

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
August 29th, 2014 | 521 replies


Release Date: 08/26/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Not Opeth on acid, just Opeth mimicking some guys on acid.

You can choose to mar Opeth's recent releases for any number of reasons, but when you boil it all down, the reason Heritage and now Pale Communion aren't well-accepted by Akerfeldt and company's long-standing fanbase is because neither is an Opeth album. Yes, yes, they're "Opeth" albums, but they're not Opeth albums. There's absolutely some cool stuff on the classic prog-turnabout of Heritage and Pale Communion, but neither deliver on promises made and self-fulfilled by Ghost Reveries or Watershed. Sure, Mikael is entitled to do whatever he well pleases, but the Opeth of 2014 is little more than Opeth's mildly self-influenced prog side-gig and it feels foolish to deny that. Whether that will last the rest of Opeth's already storied carriers or not remains to be seen, but for the immediate interim, we need to accept that the latest "Opeth" album is not great, and the aforementioned doppelganger hypothesis has a lot to play into it because:

We love Opeth, not "Opeth."

Opeth is a band that brought us a dark and appropriately austere death metal sound that could conjure up the ghosts in your closet and incite them against you all while simultaneously drowning you in the placid despair of a folk-based acoustic passage. Akerfeldt would cast his voice as the roaring shadow beckoning you to embrace the darkness or as an angelic light guiding you out of the shade... if only for a moment. While some of the mellifluous harmonies we've come to expect out of the big man are present on Pale Communion, that rich floor of merciless anguish is raised to a platform of mediocre crooning that simply doesn't create the same voluminous space Opeth need to develop the same sort of complex narrative we've heard on past albums.

With lower vocal and musical headroom it just doesn't happen in the same way. The magic of Opeth gives way to the prog bearings of "Opeth." And sure, we'd herald them if it were any other band, but for Opeth? There's just a sad sense of gothic magic that's had its black candlelight flame blown out by a hippie's bong smoke pervading the album. "Moon Above, Sun Below" probably comes closest to recapturing that magic with its monotone chant, strained calling, and very Opeth vibe to its hand-off from free flowing (hard) rock solos to medieval sounding acoustic passages, but in the end it's still not the authentic product.

Tracks like "Goblin" feel like '70s prog ripoffs that Opeth are better than, while "River" feels like some sort of Woodstock jam that's simply foreign amid the rest of Opeth's finer works. "Eternal Rains Will Come" strikes as one of few memorable tracks on Pale Communion and it's not hard to see why - it and "Moon Above, Sun Below" bear the brunt of Opeth's historical sound on this album, while the relevancy of much of the rest is gone with the wind.

Was this expected after Heritage? Sure - but does that make it any more acceptable? Certainly not. This is a well-defined, if experimental group that's somehow gone back to a school of musical thought that was prevalent forty plus years ago. We've come to expect forward thinking from Opeth - experimentation, combining genres in new and exciting ways, playing on your expectations of the dark with the light and vice versa, but what we get from Pale Communion is mostly a second full delving into a theory of the past with little to be said for innovation. So, sure, it's a solid prog album, but it's boring because, well, let's face it, if you're looking to do something new, you don't rip off something old.



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user ratings (621)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
August 29th 2014


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

Rant rant rant.

ChoccyPhilly
August 29th 2014


6633 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

That summary ^^ great review

Digging: /F - sj JJ*F : Pq?~?; ??????/?a?/?a/ J#?(?. .

TalonsOfFire
August 29th 2014


7509 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Agree completely with the first paragraph. Don't see how fans that defend their new sound can't understand this

Digging: Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
August 29th 2014


10402 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Couldn't have said it better myself man, fantastic review!

climactic
August 29th 2014


19123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yes

Digging: Bolzer - Soma

Totengott
August 29th 2014


991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I disagree completely with the first paragraph, but nice review.

Digging: Vali - Skogslandskap

OceanMechanic
August 29th 2014


464 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Part of me really wants to give this a negative rating but that's only because the band has done so much better in the past

Digging: U2 - Achtung Baby

ExplosiveOranges
August 29th 2014


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dat first paragraph. Sweet rev, Tom. Don't think this'll grow beyond a 3.5 for me, if even that.

Digging: Electric Wizard - Time to Die

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 29th 2014


4435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

damn, you still beat me to it haha. Great review though. I mostly agree with you, but its grown on me a lot lately.

tommygun
August 29th 2014


24954 Comments


decent review kinda milked that opeth/"opeth" thing a bit hard but yea nice

BMDrummer
August 29th 2014


7815 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

good review, awesome summary

Digging: Shellac - Dude Incredible

JokineAugustus
August 29th 2014


6089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fuck. Don't even have a blue ray player to play the bonus disc :/

Digging: Dot Hacker - How's Your Process? (Work)

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2014


16137 Comments


Album is tight as fuck.

B)

climactic
August 30th 2014


19123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

last paragraph is perf

fromtheinside
August 30th 2014


18363 Comments


this review is my favorite.

Digging: Gehenna - Seen Through the Veils of Darkness

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2014


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

probably more of a 3.23564

but yeah good review album is pretty boring

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

YoYoMancuso
August 30th 2014


11113 Comments


didn't this have a 4.0 average for like 26 minutes the other day

fromtheinside
August 30th 2014


18363 Comments


twentyfiive to be exact

YoYoMancuso
August 30th 2014


11113 Comments


i thought of something funnier than 24

climactic
August 30th 2014


19123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the hype for this album



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