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Ghost Reveries
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2006
The phrase "progressive death metal" has been used before, but it probably fits Opeth better than any other single band. Opeth are much more than a Metal band, They are a five man orchestra. Even when the music gets heavy it still holds a form of ambience untouched by fellow Death Metal bands. So melodic yet so brutal all in one dose. Opeth are truely pioneers among the metal scene friends!

Ghost Reveries begins with a moment of mellow guitar and tranquil peace, But the moment is soon over as the crushing riff of the instant classic 'Ghost Of Perdition' take the stage. This song alone is worth getting the CD, with several tempo changes and at about 2:34 into the song comes my favorite melodic piece of any Opeth song EVER.

Mikael Åkerfeldt is an amazing vocalist. Looking at him you would easily be decieved as he looks like an every day joe. But beneath that moustache and down that throat lie two of the greatest lungs in the history of Metal. The man has a great Death Metal growl, Which is normally audible. And his 'clean' vocals are to die for, He hits some very hard to achieve notes. This is truely one of the great Metal Vocalists that shall always be remembered and always respected.

Another of my favorite tracks is 'Atonement'. A soft gentle track with mezmerizing guitar and a beat that could put a crying baby to sleep. The reason I like it is because it stands out so well against all the powerful chugging riffs. That and Mikael truely shows talent here, some very charming and almost enchanting vocals.

I have to give credit to bassist Martin Mendez. I am a bassist and this guy plays some excellent B-Lines, Especially on easily the two most popular tracks 'Ghosts of Perdition' and yet another of my own favorites The Grand Conjuration, A track that reeks of "progressive death metal" from the get go with the headbang worthy riffs and inspiring drum blasts. Another thing that makes this a favorite is Mikael's constant changing vox from clean soft harmonous vocals to harsh audible growls.

People I can not stress enough how truely important it is for Metal Fans world wide to hear this album. This band has defined what it is to be a "progressive death metal" band and have set the bar for fellow bands. Also I just seen these guys play live at Gigantour in Detroit. Simply.. Amazing I would advise you all to do whatever you must to get to see these guys live!

Mikael Åkerfeldt and Devin Townsend are the only Metal Vocalists I would gladly knell and bow my head to if they were before me. Support the scene and buy this great album, and please click YES if you took the time to read my review. If nothing else it kept your intrest for a couple moments.

-A Loyal Opeth Fan
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116 of 127 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2005
A lot of albums came out this year. I maybe anticipated a few them a bit too much, and was disappointed as a result. Hence, I kept the hype for this album to a minimum. I've found this to be a sound approach, since it prevents catastrophic let-downs and allows for pleasant surprises. I'd have to put Ghost Reveries in the "pleasant surprises" category.

I've been a big fan of Opeth since I discovered them, but even with all the appreciation I have for their sensitive and equally brutal variety of melodic death metal, I wasn't sure what to expect in this new album. The lack of Steve Wilson's presence as well as the decision to sign with Roadrunner (a label known for putting out a lot of mediocre nu metal and "hardcore" music) both had me a little worried. I worried in vain - Opeth are obviously in charge here.

The balance between the songs at first brings to mind Blackwater Park, a fantastic album in its own right, but there's more to this album than Blackwater Park Part Two. Steve Wilson may not be in the producer's chair anymore, but his influence is plain to see: interspersed between the blastbeats and melodramatic classical passages are bits of psychadelia-tinged prog rock ala Porcupine Tree.

Another obvious addition to the music here is the full time keyboardist (who I believe toured with them for Deliverence and Damnation as well.) While there aren't many big keyboard features, it has had a drastic effect on their overall sound. Throughout the entire album you can hear keyboards in the mix, blending perfectly with the texture of the guitars. The way the keyboards often work on this album also brings to mind Dream Theater, and in fact that influence pervails throughout much of this album (but if Dream Theater's technical acrobatics are a turnoff for you, don't worry - Opeth retain a tastefulness Dream Theater has not demonstrated since the Awake days.)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's a good deal of restrained minimalism on this album as well. Chunky half-step thrash riffs pop up from time to time (but always topped with a signature Mikael riff to remind us he still eats hack nu metal guitarists for breakfast.) Coincidentally, they bring to mind Sepultura, the band that almost singlehandedly kept Roadrunner alive during the metal drought of the 90's.

There's also quite a few serene and ambient moments on Ghost Reveries, particularely in the last few songs. Overall this has to be the single most schizophrenic Opeth album thus far; it contains many uncharacteristically positive sections of more rock-based guitar playing, as well as a handful of Opeth's most brutal blastbeats. It has moments even more peaceful and soothing than anything on Damnation, but is distinctly Opeth in its overall sound, and of course in the complex song structures.

If I can type this much about it when I have only listened to it twice, imagine what I'll have to say after I've gotten a chance to really digest it. That will take a long time, as do most Opeth albums, but even upon first listen this is still an extremely agreeable listen. If you are an Opeth fan already, buy this NOW as you will not be disappointed. If you aren't familiar with them already but are interested in immaginative alternative metal of the heavier variety, this is almost as good a place to start as Blackwater Park was for me. And if you don't like Opeth OR alt metal, well... you're probably not reading this anyways, right?
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2006
When I first listened to Opeth's Ghost Reveries, I was blown away by the level of maturity and musicianship the band had reached. I have also been equally impressed with Blackwater Park, Deliverance, Damnation, and every other Opeth album I have ever devoted my time to.

I was slightly hesitant to buy this special edition disc because I thought it may be a ploy by Roadrunner to cash in on their new prospect--especially after reading the negative reviews of the bonus track "Soldier of Fortune."

First of all, I am very impressed with the documentary. Clocking in at more than forty minutes, the documentary provides a peek into Mikael Akerfeldt's thoughts for the future and reminisces of the past. There is very little mention of Martin Axenrot, but more of Martin Lopez's mental issues are exposed in this documentary. Perhaps I was reading into his body language too much, but Martin seemed to achieve the lost look and unfocused swagger that only a truly depressed person can manage during his in-session footage. This documentary picks up very well to where the documentary on "Lamentations" ended.

The 5.1 mix of the CD is also well done. If you have stereo equipment capable of playing this format, this is another great aspect of this special edition CD.

The cover of Deep Purple's "Soldier of Fortune" makes a little more sense (at least to me) after watching the documentary where Mikael proclaims his newly-discovered love for the keyboards and his "clean" voice. I personally like the song even though it does not necessarily fit into the traditional sense of what an Opeth song should sound like. Just listen to it with an open mind...

If you do not own "Ghost Reveries," I would definitely start with this special edition. If you already own the regular version and are a fan of Opeth, pick this disc up for the documentary alone... The video to "The Grand Conjuration" is slightly interpretative, but it didn't add a lot of value for me.

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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2005
The opening track starts with eight slow plucks at clean guitar strings, instantly providing the faithful Opeth fan echoes of their last masterful creation, 2003's spellbinding "Damnation". Then, at the song's eighth second, the Swedes unleash their trademark attack upon the senses: thunderous guitars and singer/songwriter Mikael Ǻkerfeldt's otherworldly growls. Any illusions that Opeth have softened are dispelled in the ten minutes that follow.

From here, "Ghost of Perdition" revisits several melodic themes that Opeth have explored before, all revering the quintet's vigorous energy. The opening riffs, bludgeoning and powerful, are reminiscent of "The Leper Affinity" (off "Blackwater Park"). The softer middle section, with acoustic guitars layering Ǻkerfeldt's harmonizing sounds like "The Moor"'s similar section (off "Still Life"). Finally, when the intensity returns, the double-bass drum melodies and unconventional guitars echo "By the Pain I See in Others" (off "Deliverance).

"The Grand Conjuration", the album's first "single" has everyone talking. It is what "A Fair Judgment" would have sounded like if it were to have been possessed by the devil. The main riff is memorable, but unfortunately overused for a 10-minute song. Opeth's musical ADD, which is what has made the band such metal icons, was discarded in the songwriting process for this heavy piece, which I think jeopardizes the song's lasting power (however, I might be alone in this ruling).

The song is also sandwiched in between two gems, the all-acoustic and hyper-melancholic "Hours of Wealth" and "Isolation Years". The first of which begins with guitars that would make Days of the New's Travis Meeks envious, followed by an urban, piano-driven section, whose tormenting vocals may remind us of "To Bid You Farewell" (off "Morningrise"). The song is perfect for the desperate man in a closing tavern with such lines as "Looking through my window, seem to recognize all the people passing by - but I'm alone and far from home - nobody knows me". For a band known for its darkness and intensity, Opeth shine in tranquil splendor.

Despite all the similarities, the album is hardly a clone. Unlike many metal bands today, Opeth commands the genre in which they play and are far from using a tired formula. "The Baying of the Hounds", a faster, less intense track, illustrates Opeth's newest innovation: integrating keyboards into heavier pieces. Although Ǻkerfeldt (under Stephen Wilson's wing) used pianos and mellotrons in their last two albums, they weren't integrated into heavier songs and were found sparingly and experimentally. In "Ghost Reveries", new fifth member Per Wiberg adds a flute-like sound to "Ghost of Perdition", a funky twang to "The Baying of the Hounds", a middle-eastern melody to "Beneath the Mire" and a melancholic ambience to "Isolation Years".

Although this album wasn't produced by Porcupine Tree songwriter Stephen Wilson (as Opeth's past three albums have been), you can still feel the British prog-rocker's influence in the mix. The vocal arrangements at the sixth minute of "Ghost of Perdition" sound shockingly similar to PT's "Shallow" (off "Deadwing). "Atonement" hast the repetitive, psychedelic atmosphere that Wilson and company craft with every album, and the soothing, bluesy guitar solo at the end of "Hours of Wealth" is identical to Ǻkerfeldt's solo in PT's "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" (also off "Deadwing").

The album is not perfect (as no Opeth album is), with such erratic and scatterbrained pieces as "Reverie / Harlequin Forest " and some weak points in "Beneath the Mire". Maybe I'm the one at fault - maybe I haven't yet captured the technical brilliance involved. But the album more than makes up for these faults. Opeth have proven themselves to possess metal's Hand of Midas. Having done no wrong in their 8-album, 11-year career, they follow this pattern of excellence with "Ghost Reveries". Hail, hail.

See also: Opeth - "Damnation", " Blackwater Park", "Deliverance"
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46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2005
After 2003's Damnation introduced a seemingly kinder, gentler Opeth to the world, you might've thought Mikael Akerfeldt and Co. had gone soft. Well, if so, you would've thought wrong, because Opeth aren't just back to metal with the new Ghost Reveries, they're better at it than ever before. While I was a huge fan of theirs a few years ago, my interest had sort of wanted recently, even if I do still think they've released some great albums (most notably Still Life and Damnation). Here, though, they achieve a level of focus and intensity unprecedented in their catalogue. Ghost Reveries is, simply put, their most original, interesting, and brilliant album.

Ghost Reveries is also Opeth's most aggressively proggy release to date-I don't know about anyone else, but listening to this album I was struck by thoughts of Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Isis, and the Mars Volta, even though Opeth don't actually sound like any of those bands-and therefore can take several listens to adequately get your head around. Not that your time won't be well spent, though, as Ghost Reveries is a remarkable leap forward for a band that had already been long since marked as innovators. Opeth have been known since their beginnings for their wide range of emotions and their extensive alternation of sounds, but on previous albums the dynamics tended to be of a HEAVY-light-HEAVY-light-HEAVY variety that got rather comfortable after a while. Here, though, everything is integrated much more seamlessly, exploring a stylistic range that takes Opeth well beyond the status of "that band that mixes death metal, folk, and prog rock."

Opeth do still mix styles with abandon on Ghost Reveries, but the patterns are varied considerably more this time around, with multiple sonic shifts per song, some of which can take a while to pinpoint. As a result, Ghost Reveries is a lot less predictable than what came before it-listening to albums like Still Life and Blackwater Park, I could settle into a heavier or lighter passage secure in the knowledge that it would probably continue for a while, but that's not so here. As tradeoffs go it's a worthy one-there's a lot more of a sturm and drang effect here; the death vocals hit harder for their sparser distribution; and the instrumental passages give you a lot more to chew on. Not to mention, the band's compositional style is just a lot more interesting here, with tighter songwriting highlighted by inceasingly intricate riff structures and guitar harmonies and some azz-kicking solos. For the first time, I can safely say that every second of an Opeth album is made to count.

The first two tracks-Ghost of Perdition, The Baying of the Hounds-are somewhat prototypical Opeth epics, but even then some changes are evident. Even during the heavier parts, there's more of a melodic metal approach, with Mikael's clean vocals (previously used almost exclusively for soft passages) making frequent appearances. Still, these tracks exemplify the band's traditional balance of viciousness and majesty, effortlessly incorporating bowel-shaking growls, gorgeous guitar melodies, and dizzyingly technical instrumental interludes while sweeping keyboard textures, gentle atmospherics, and screaming solos weave their way in and out of the mix. And it may just be my new stereo talking, but I don't recall the bass work being as prominent or interesting on previous albums as it is on this one.

Beneath the Mire, while superficially not that different from the two songs that come before it, is still probably the most rabidly experimental thing on here, shifting mood and tone every minute or so, interspersing head-banging metal with gorgeous vocal melodies and emotionally charged guitar leads, and closing with a bizarre, free-jazzy instrumental passage that wouldn't sound out of place on a Meshuggah CD. And although it sounds a lot different, the first all-nice track Atonement continues in the same vein. In sharp contrast to the pleasant but often lightweight tunes that generally provided a break from all the heaviness in the past, Atonement is a hypnotic, densely layered ambient piece driven by Eastern-accented guitar work, subtle keyboard flourishes, and even some hand drums and piano (never thought I'd hear that combination on an Opeth album). Another classic, the Grand Conjuration, steadily builds tension with some hushed, eerie melodies and foreboding clean vocals before releasing it with flurries of death vox, crazy Meshuggah-style polyrhythms (there's that name again), and ghostly keyboards. For its part, Isolation Years is a pretty nice closer; Akerfeldt's vocals get a little too close to the top of his register for my tastes, but the purty guitar leads and tricky drumming make the song register just enough.

Alright, I'm too bored and full of caffeine to write a suitable closing to this review now, so I'll just leave you with this: if you like Opeth, get this album. It's their best one yet, and easily among my prestigious personal top 5 of the year thus far.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2005
I think vocalist/ guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt said it best, "There is no other band in metal like us." Normally, I would have found this funny and conceited if most other band's had said that about themselves. However, with Opeth I think he's right. They do what they do and they do it well. Being a long time Opeth fan I was semi worried about them being signed to Roadrunner records. A few thing's came to mind. A. They're going to suck up and become a shadow of their former greatness, B. alof of nu-metal kid's are going to get into them and will mkae them mainstream. Well, those worries of mine have been put to rest. Opeth actually recorded Ghost Reveries prior to signing with Roadrunner. So, if that may have been keeping you from buying this, don't let it. This to me, is what metal is all about. Heavy music, growling vocals. Fast/tight guitar work and so on, yet mixing in a great singing voice, keyboards and acoustic guitars. They bridge everything that is good about metal together. They're all great musicians and don't need a cheap Cannibal Corpse type image to get attention. The fact is, a band like this, mixing acoustic guitars and death metal growls could have come out very sloppy and unnatural if not done by incredible musicians. I feel somewhat ashamed of myself for doubting them for even a second. They once again return with a brilliant epic album that lives up to the legend that is Opeth. The only change in Opeth is the official adding of Per Wiberg to the band, who does keyboards and things of that nature. This album(amoung many others released this year) shows us that metal is still alive and well in 2005.

1. Ghost of Perdition: This track really got me excited. Another epic track clocking in around 10 and a half minutes. The first few seconds have some melodic guitar before kicking in to a heavy song. Inbetween the distorted guitars and death metal growl's we find some great acoustic guitar's along with some great singing. Even though Mikael's singing voice seems to be going faster and a little rushed in this song, it is still brilliant. I love how Opeth can write song's with such length and have every second be as exciting as the last 5/5.

2. The baying of the Hounds: Amazing. The music here is just so tight and intelligent. The acoustic guitar that kicks in at 7 and a half minutes is brilliant and feels so sad and emotional. While the guitar a minute before was a fast paced riff that made me wanna just headbang. Per Wiberg here does a great job of adding keyboards in here that don't push other insturments away but only add the atmosphere. Not a track you will find yourself skipping 6/5.

3. Beneath the Mire: Begins with some mid tempo drumming and some haunting organs. Has some of the best singing here. I find it just so incredible how he can go from a heavy growl to an incredible singing voice. The guitar that kick's in at around 3 minutes and nine seconds into the song, is pure magic. Soon after some keyboard's kick in that remind me of A Fair Judgement from the Deliverance album 4.5/5.

4. Atonement: A melodic intro, with some odd/ interesting drum's along with some singing vocals coming in around a minute and twenty seconds. The keyboards here take control and is one of the most melodic songs here 4/5.

5. Reverie/Harlequin Forest: Start's out with a single guitar riff and some incredible violin type keyboards that I just find amazing. Has some of the best lyrics on the album here. Alot of tempo changes, which for most band's would seem like a song with no direction. However, Opeth are the king's of such type song's and they know what they're doing. Incredible epic song 6/5.

6. Hours of Wealth: The first all acoustic song on the album, a wonderful ballad. Definetly has a gloomy mood to this song. The lyric's seem pretty sad and come off as meaningful and avoid the "o poor me" cliche song 4/5.

7. The Grand Conjuration: The second this song start's you know you're in for one hell of a dark ride. Even though it doesn't begin as very heavy, you know you're in for one heavy song. At around two minutes it get's to that point. The lightning fast solo is one of the best here, really show's their talent. Also, the keyboards give off a dark sound, which adds to the heaviness of this song. Another thing I love about this song, is that about 5 minutes into this song you think it is going to end but then comes right back in for another round 5/5.

8. Isolation Years: This song begins with some moody guitar, which I personally love. One of the shortest song's here is the perfect closing song. Leaves the listener wanting to listen to the album again and again. Brilliant. "And isolation, is all that would remain. The wound in me is pouring out to rest on a lover's shore." 5/5.

So, I recommend this cd as much as I do any other Opeth album. It is anything but boring and one of the best of 2005. You can not go wrong with Opeth. An album that lives up to their legendary status. Enjoy
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2005
"So I picked up the new Opeth album the other day and guess what - it's great! Beneath the Mire is such a great song, and I could just headbang for hours and hours to The Grand Conjuration and Isolation Years is beautiful and Ghost of Perdition is so awesome and... and... and..."

That's the type of thing I expected to hear from my friends who, while being avid Opeth lovers, haven't yet found a major way to diss Ghost Reveries. I honestly expected something lower, something less progressive and farther away from Opeth style from their move to American metalcore label Roadrunner, but I just can't find something wrong with this album. Okay, it's no Still Life or Blackwater Park, but... wait, it is. It returns to the uber-progressive feel of both of these albums, takes the high points, and rids itself of the low points - honestly, I'm beginning to prefer the sound and overall feel of Reveries to Blackwater Park, which is my favorite Opeth album, not to mention one of my favorite albums in general. Yeah, Reveries is just that good.

The album seems to return to the gorgeous clean stylings of 2003's Damnation with the intro of the amazing Ghost of Perdition. After eight clean picks at an electric guitar, the song explodes (much like the amazing April Ethereal off of Opeth's most brutal album, My Arms, Your Hearse) into an amazing soundscape of Opeth's signature progressive metal style. You'll notice (perhaps not in this song) the distinct lack of death metal vocals on the album after at least one runthrough: it's almost as if Opeth is trying to ditch them in general, but have no fear, they're still there. Ghost of Perdition takes influence from a wide variety of places, such as the Gothenburg death metal scene with its catchy yet still heavy riffs, even Tool for a riff; the gorgeous acoustic sections are still there and better then ever, and Mikael's clean voice has never sounded better. Overall, Ghost of Perdition is one of my new favorite Opeth songs of all time: it ranks up with such masterpieces as Bleak, The Drapery Falls, and Black Rose Immortal.

The Baying of the Hounds begins with a brutal power chord, leading into an incredibly groovy lead electric part in the background, and then the cymbal countoff beings and the band launches into this lead riff. Thus begins, unfortunately, one of the weaker tracks on the album, in my mind: while still a good song in classic Opeth style, bringing influences from both the progressive Still Life and the brutal My Arms, Your Hearse, there's just something about it that never struck a chord with me (hahaha, I'm so witty). There's a good acoustic section in the middle of the song, where Mikael once again resorts to voice filters to give a more bleak sound to his already melancholic vocals, and the keyboards of new band member Per shine, not only on this track, but throughout the album: a gorgeous piano segment in Hours of Wealth, a funky groove for the intro of Beneath the Mire, and the Middle Eastern styling of Atonement. Anyway, despite the acoustic section of The Baying of the Hounds, it doesn't particularly have many redeeming factors.

The next song, though, does. Beneath the Mire begins with the grooviest drum part Opeth has ever written, and launches into something sufficiently creepy and fitting of the album's general mood to give anyone goosebumps while they're either dancing or headbanging. This is truly the song where Per shines: the amazing keyboard/guitar intro really does it for me, and for many, I'm sure. Another good acoustic section is another highlight of this great song, and a slowly fading intro rather reminsicent of Nine Inch Nails leads into the next song.

Atonement brings a sound of optimism to the table of Ghost Reveries: it just sounds happier than the previous (and following) tracks. Unfortunately, it's another one of the weaker tracks: it's highly experimental, and Opeth was obviously relying on that to keep the attention of the listener, but it's never been an album highlight for me. I see it as the worst of the three ballads on the album: after Hours of Wealth and Isolation Years. It's not a bad song by any means, it just pales in comparison to either of those songs, and the rest of the album in general.

Reverie/Harlequin Forest has a very fast buildup to a climax five seconds into the song, and while not the best song on the album, certainly does its job as another heavy song. It has some wonderful acoustic work and a very catchy, yet brutal, main riff. It has some of the better acoustic/experimental keyboard interludes on the album, and is very good for quite a while, but the end drags. A lot. Two minutes or more of the same riff gets a little excessive.

Hours of Wealth is the second ballad on the album, and has a more depressing feel than the aforementioned Atonement: beginning with a lovely clean electric section, a flute duet is added, and then the song gets really good at the one minute point: a lovely progression of eighth notes on the acoustic guitar with the bass adds a backup harmony and the keyboards create a beautiful feeling of loss, and then the piano comes in: while it's the same melody as on the acoustic guitar, it makes the entire song so very much better. It goes on the basic path of this hyper-melodic section for about a minute and a half, until at 2:30 we get keyboard and Mikael's desolate vocals, which again, continues for a while, and then flutes and a jazzy guitar solo round out this beautiful piece.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: The Grand Conjuration is here. This song, which was released as a "single" long before Ghost Reveries arrived, has been the subject of much talk in the metal world: some profess undying love for it, some hate it with a passion. I honestly am a combination of both, on a smaller scale: the intro is fantastic, a headbanger's paradise: very heavy start/stop riff leading into a progression of awesome power chords, before leading into Mikael's interesting clean vocal style and another heavy start/stop riff over his death vocals. It has a great guitar solo, several frantic, fast-paced heavy sections, and not many acoustics, making it rather akin to Demon of the Fall on My Arms, Your Hearse (and now I'm going to get lynched for comparing this "OMG HORRIBLE" song to Opeth's fan-appointed masterpiece). Anyway, Opeth could have more carefully chosen the lead-off single for this highly anticipated album, but as lead-offs go, this one isn't too bad.

And now, we complete our journey with the heartwrenching final piece, Isolation Years. Beginning with a beautiful lead clean electric guitar and then having a melodic harmony on the rhythm, it leads into the section with the bass harmony and scintillating cymbals, going into one of the most despairing Opeth ballads to date. There's a huge buildup to the chorus every time, which is deserving of all of the praise it gets: bleak, beautiful, and fantastic, Per's keyboard work is at its true peak on this song. It doesn't have the motion of Benighted or the lush, flowing nature of Harvest, but for what it is, it couldn't have been any better.

So that's it. Ghost Reveries. One of the most impressive releases so far this year. Some would argue that I'm wrong, that there's no way it could ever be as good as I say, and maybe it's not quite there, but it's certainly not disappointing. Contender for Album of the Year? Definitely. Best Opeth album? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on your point of view. It's up to you to decide whether or not you should pick up this album, but take my advice, if you so desire: do it. You won't be disappointed.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2005
Opeth has become my favorite band over the last two years, and that list included in my lifetime the Moody Blues, Genesis, Wishbone Ash, Nektar, Golden Earring, Camel, the Strawbs, Marillion, Porcupine Tree, and the Chameleons. You won't find a lot of continuity among those groups; their sounds are all, or mostly all, distinctly different, with but a few exceptions. But the common threads that you may interpret finding, which for me makes sense, is the sounds of each group are innovative (for their time) and were not really matched in any way by many other groups. Progressive music is the main thread for most of the music I've ever been drawn towards.

Opeth is metal and the vocals are not for most music listeners. But if you can absorb the music thru the unique dissonance of Mikael Akerfeldt's style of singing, which he uses about half of the time, and then allow his normal vocals to draw you in even closer the rest of the time, you will hear a sound that is not just brilliant but that continues to forge far ahead and beyond just about anything you think of as 'metal'. For me, this is progressive music at its best, but hard-edged in every sense. I was privileged to meet the band just quickly as they performed this summer in Austin, TX, and even in a small performance, they were captivating to my every expectation, and much more. They are a genius that continues to reward their followers.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2005
Ghost Reveries is, hands down, the most gratifying album I've bought in years (and that includes other Opeth albums). Deliverance and Damnation, while good records, had me a bit worried because to me they seemed a little too simplistic and repetitive at times. I was praying that Opeth wasn't about to do a Metallica and start playing more and more simple music because they can write to save their lives (yeah you Metallica). However, this album was the answer to my prayers.

Overall, the music is thrilling and intoxicating. Per Wiberg's pianos and organs really add a subtle substance to the color of the music that compliments Opeth's expansive progressions. The guitar work is nothing short of amazing for its creativity and mastery of tone. For me, Opeth has always been a band that could redefine the way guitar can be played. Akerfeldt's vocals are better than every too. His growls are actually intelligible and his singing voice has come quite a long way in improvement from the days of Orchid (although I think he was still good back then). Lopez's drumming is tight and thoroughly creative. I suspect that he had a lot of influence over the very different styles found in songs like "Beneath the Mire" and "Atonement". Mendez's bass is a bit understated and more of a supportive presence under the guitars. And while this is typical for him on the albums, he's much more pronounced at live performances.

Anyone who's never heard an Opeth album before could not pick a better time to start listening. There are treats for fans of insanely heavy music, acoustic melodies and even blues. There are many instances of progressive phrases along the lines of Dream Theatre but with an essence that only Opeth can create. I don't see how anyone who even remotely likes metal, rock or even trippy hippy music would not like this album. Buy it and you won't be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2008
Okay, after reading some of these reviews I decided to add my own two cents. Allow me to be the bad guy for a moment as I defend the reviewers who have claimed to love this album despite the 'barking' or extreme vocals. Let me state that I have no problem with said vocal style, and have grown to appreciate it as much as singing, but I do not need it to enjoy music. I can listen to Emperor's Anthems just as easily as Radiohead's OK Computer

It was not that long ago that I would have said the same thing, probably no less than five years time. Ten years ago, being a teen with typical angst, I held bands such as Korn and Nirvana very dear to my heart, and while I still appreciate the early work of Korn and Nirvana, I grew out of that phase of my life long ago, but I digress.

It was not until my family experienced a particularly tragic event which I will not presently discuss that I began to turn from more mainstream 'metal' to the darker realms which I now frequent. I suppose each person has thier own individual reasons for why they listen to one form of music or another, but suffice it say that said event was enough to open my ears to a sound which I had previously ignored and/or rejected. This was not even a conscious decision but a realization I have recently made as I re-examined my mindset and the factors which contributed to that mindset. Again, I digress.

As I began to desire heavier and darker sounds, this bands' name began dropping left and right in discussions until it became a proverbial avalanche, which prompted me to purchase this album nearly on year ago. After taking time to digest it and finding with much joy that it was excellent beyond all words, I began working backwards through their catalogue up to Orchid, which was their last album I purchased (aside from Still Life which proved to be difficult to find anywhere but online). Each album surprised and challenged my preconceptions of what this band was from the previous, and each holds a very special place in my music collection.

And that is my point. I understand why longtime fans would be upset about a band becoming more 'commercial' or signing to a label like Roadrunner, which is about as far from what Opeth has always been as you can get, but if it has brought more fans to the band and has made more people curious enough to check the band's back catalogue and not only give them their due attention but grow to enjoy them just as much as this, what is the harm? I say that knowing my stance may be the exception and not the rule as many will honestly believe that this is the only album the band has released, but that is not the band's fault, rather it is the stupidity and narrow-mindedness of the listener.

Besides, what if this is really where the band wanted to go? They would never have worked with Steve Wilson had they not wanted to do so, and they would not have signed with Roadrunner unless there is a good reason, and if you read the Biography section of Opeth's page, Akerfeldt states very plainly that it bothered him to hear fans say that they had trouble finding the albums. As an artist, you obviously desire to sell your product, not necessarily to make money but to deliver a message or to connect with your listeners, to know the work you created has meant something to their lives. Unfortunately, due to the way the media and corporate retailers work in this country, the only way to make that connection is to sign with a label that, while you may not like their current roster much, will do a much better job distributing your album. One more fact, before I digress again: It is not like Roadrunner has always been a nu-metal haven.

As I alluded to earlier, each of Opeth's albums have meant a great deal to me. Orchid continues to be my least favorite, and I'm sure some will eat me alive for saying so, but I feel they did not hit their stride until Morningrise. But then again, what do I know?

Since this is a review, I suppose I ought to talk about the album a bit, huh? Well, it took me some time, but after about 3-5 listens it began growing on me like very few albums ever had before. It offers a superb mix of 'death' style vocals with gentle clean singing, furious rifs and some of the best solos you are likely to hear in metal mixed with light acoustic passages that break up the heavier sections at all the right times such that they feel organic to the song itself, as if they were meant to exist in that spot. I found Still Life (which was the last album I purchased) to be quite similar, heavy but nowhere near MAYH or Deliverance, with some of the best singing in today's metal scene.

Finally, allow me to speak to one more subject: the heaviness of this album or the purported lack thereof. Trust me, people who really dislike any kind of screaming/yelling/growling in vocals are not going to like this as much as those who find it appealing. I play this and all other Opeth albums at work, and I cannot even begin to tell you how many dirty looks and off-color comments I get about the vocals, everything from calling it 'devil music' to awful music, disgusting, etc. etc. etc. My point is that if you really do not like that style, Opeth, no matter what label they sign with and no matter how proggy they get, will not change their minds just because they throw in some acoustic guitars and clean singing here and there. Once the more extreme vocals kick in they are turned off completely and there is no rescuing them.

In closing, if you like intelligent, complex, brutal but yet beautiful metal then check out this AND ALL OTHER OPETH ALBUMS.
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