Review Summary: Boasting emotional slower sections, powerful guitar riffs and Mikael Akerfeldt's impressive screams, Orchid successfully created blueprints for Opeth's amazing discography.
Over the years, Opeth have really developed a name for themselves by means of evolution and ability to stand out in the progressive metal scene. Mikael’s inhuman harsh vocals and their trademark contrast between light and heavy really earns them the title of unique. While the transitions between heavy to light may not seem completely seamless on Orchid
, Mikael and co. manipulate this concept to perfection in the near future. However, the compelling ideas are presented here to great effect. This is a massive album filled with amazing screams, engrossing guitar riffs and fantastic musicianship that only improves as time goes on. In addition to these positives, Orchid
features the best slower passage in the history of Opeth’s vast discography.
The passage mentioned above happens to be in the definite album highlight titled “The Twilight is my Robe.” After all of the heaviness that precedes it, the song quickly slows down to an undeniably emotional ride featuring many layers of beautiful acoustic work. When the drums come in, it’s as if the guitar work takes on a life of its own with Mikael and Peter Lindgren picking away some very talented melodies on their guitars. In fact, many of the slower passages on this are among some of Opeth’s very best. While “The Twilight is my Robe” showcases the band at their emotional best, the acoustic passage in “Under the Weeping Moon” sees the band delving into darker territory with atmospheric acoustic guitar work. “The Apostle in Triumph” also adds to the album’s uniqueness with Anders Nordin showing off some tribal drumming that the band has never explored again in addition to some more epic acoustic work. As evidenced here, the slower passages on Orchid
alone makes this worth exploring, but make no mistake that the bulk of the album lays in the massive progressive metal sections.
Take “In Mist She was Standing” for example with it being driven by its engaging guitar work, fantastic drumming and Mikael’s often unbelievable screaming. Coupled with more fantastic style transitions, this song makes for the perfect opener. In addition to the compelling acoustic passages mentioned in them earlier, “The Twilight is my Robe” and “Under the Weeping Moon” also thrill with Mikael’s jaw dropping extended screams and impressive musicianship. While Opeth’s perfection of sound may be still to come, these epic tracks as a whole aren't among the band’s best work, but the band is still young here and despite the band's young age, they make for quite the ride that really gets the listener’s blood pumping.
However, the minor problems that exist on Orchid
happens to be its overlong nature, sometimes sudden transitions, and Mikael’s clean singing voice. He develops a beautiful singing voice overtime, but his voice here is rather lackluster. Though not terrible by any means, his definite strength lays in his ability to continuously belt out impressive growls and screams. In addition to this, the length of Orchid
proves to be way too long. It may not as much of a chore to get through as their later album titled Deliverance
, but some of the tracks that include “The Apostle in Triumph” and “In Mist She was Standing” surely could have been trimmed down. This also would have helped the style transitions sound more natural, but they simply come off as sudden in a song like “The Twilight is my Robe.” The lengths of the tracks would usually warrant the time to build up to the style transitions, but oddly enough they come off as forced, unlike what they’ll create in the future.
Despite the flaws of Orchid
, it still makes for quite the potent progressive metal album. It possesses a unique quality that many heavy albums don’t have and this uniqueness lays in the contrast and the vocals. Mikael proves to be one of the most talented harsh vocalists out there and the engrossing ideas presented on this album come full circle overtime. Long story short, this album successfully created the blueprints for Opeth’s amazing discography which contains many styles and masterpieces. It is for this reason many Opeth fans thank this album.