Some of the most rewarding experiences in life come from stepping outside your boundaries. Some people are merely content with making what had already been before, or endlessly variating on one common theme. But to truly create artistic greatness, one requirement is set, and that is thinking outside the box. Open your eyes to the wide world around you, and see there is more to music than a recycled riff, a rehashed 4/4 drum fill, or monotonous vocal lines.
Opeth, by way of recording this album, are an excellent candidate for making music that thinks outside the box. While being rooted in the some of the heaviest and darkest of musical subgenres, death metal and black metal, their album Damnation proves that it takes not only musical proficiency, but innovativity and variety to become truly known as masters of the craft of songwriting, and this pure, clean, acoustic progressive rock record can be safely ranked among the greats of its genre.
One thing that Opeth does keep returning to is a common theme of sombreness and gloom that besets every album they write. No matter how pummeling the drums, how distorted the riffs, or how ferocious Mikael's vocals were in the past, everything gave you the feeling you were in a black and white movie, walking through autumn forests, touching the leaves that fall slowly to the ground. This whole album evokes that feeling in an even stronger form. Where the solemn, quiet moments were usually punctured by ravaging death metal moments, on here, the whole album keeps the common feel of gloom and doom throughout. Mikael's vocals are clean, ethereal, and beautiful; Steven Wilson adds some vocal harmonies to underline the depressingly bleak atmosphere.
Musically, the band is on top of their game. Mr. Åkerfeldt's vocals are better than ever before. The acoustic moments are of eerie and breathtaking quality. The bass is never overwhelming, but subtly underlines the mood. The drums are effective, and Lopez displays some awesome fills and beats that keep you hypnotized throughout the album.
So once you get into this album, be prepared to dissolve from reality and consider your surroundings trivial. It takes time to admire music like this, but it is ultimately rewarding in the end. By making a totally averse, quiet and pure record, the band manages to outdo themselves once again. Even if you are a purist metalhead, this album touches you in the deepest corners of your heart, and there's a good chance it'll stay there for a good while, too.