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Watershed
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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2008
Watershed is the ninth Opeth album; and in some ways it signifies a new start for them. This is not totally surprising, given the band has a new guitarist and a new drummer now. Also, they they seem to be in a transition phase musically because Watershed, while encompassing lots of their past hallmarks, also delves into new musical territory.

The differences are mainly demonstrated in their impenetrable song structures, as Mikael Akerfeldt has constructed the album in a more evocative way this time time around. Unlike any other Opeth album, Watershed begins with the short acoustic track "Coil", where strummed acoustic guitars and beautifully arranged string work form the leeway for Akerfeldt and female guest singer Nathalie Lorichs to deliver the verses in an addictively melodic tone. Lorichs' vocals are amazing, and while the song clocks in at only three minutes, that's its charm.

Overall, Watershed is no where near as heavy as the previous Opeth discs, as it boasts a more experimental aesthetic throughout. However, the second track "Heir Apparent" is arguably the heaviest, most brutal Opeth song to date. Not only is it crushingly heavy, it is also the first Opeth tune with no clean vocals whatsoever. Sure, they have other tracks like "Blackwater Park", "Wreath", "The Amen Corner", and "April Ethereal" among others, but all of them contain some clean backing vocals, whispers, humming, et cetera whilst "Heir Apparent" is delivered with Akerfeldt's unmistakable growls from start to finish. Occupied by an assault of guitar fury in its chaotic intro, the piece contains laser-precise drumming and Akerfeldt's suffocating vocals that are contrasted by deft string work and clean, psychedelic-like guitar harmonies soaring over Axenrot's percussion. The ending to the song is equally baffling: smooth layers of guitar melodies overlapping each other.

New drummer Martin Axenrot will pleasantly surprise many an Opeth fan with his performance here. Not only does he play with admirable restraint on most of the album, but he also proves how capable a drummer is on "The Lotus Eater", which is another sound experiment for the band. The drumming on this dissonant tune is stupifyingly good, perhaps among Opeth's finest. Certainly the most technical song on the disc, it features blast beats over which Akerfeldt sings with clean vocals and then growls atop rapid-fire guitar riffery. Very interesting. The rhythm exercise of the song brims with energy, particularly during the instrumental break where guitars, drums and bass clash with each other without taking away from the composition.

Akerfeldt's love for the 70's is exemplified by the gorgeous ballad "Burden", whose main melody is very similar to the stuff Dan Swano does on Unicorn's Emotional Wasteland album. A bit like the material on Damnation, this one sees Opeth branching off into pure balladry mode, with moving guitar solos and vocals. The ending is especially confusing, as Akerfeldt's guitar is manually detuned in the finale. They obviously did it to escape the mellow ballad mood of the tune, and it definitely sets it apart. Despite that weird ending, Opeth proves they can write the best songs in any genre.

This album contains some of Akerfeldt's most enigmatic and personal lyrics, hence the reason why they have been excluded from the booklet. "Hessian Peel", the only ten-plus-minute song on the album, is a total embodiment of Opeth's current musical and lyrical vision. From the sombre acoustic intro to the mournful clean vocals, it evokes a funereal atmosphere where Martin Mendez' bass stands out in the mix. Too bad the bass in Opeth has been almost inaudible since the band's Dan Swano-produced albums, but this track has a healthy dose of his bass throbbing beneath Axenrot's calculated drum battery and the guitar duo's smashing rhythm parts. The song also contains some backward lyrics, most notable between 2:03-2:22. Obviously a reference to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", the lyrics read: "Out of the courtyard | Come back tonight | My sweet Satan| I see you". It's a dark tune with ghostly bursts of atmosphere, and Per Wiberg's Mellotron sounds as well as the string arrangement further enhance the tune's power.

Great shifting of dynamics permeats "Porcelain Heart", the only track Akerfeldt co-wrote with Fredrik Akesson. This is perhaps the only song where polar opposites are merged in a single composition: hammering guitar riffs are side by side with oboes (speaking of which, there is plenty of flutes, oboes, cellos on this album -- all live, not keyboard generated) and Akerfeldt's shift from hellish growls to lullaby-like singing in the middle part attests to his diversity. This is perhaps his most haunting moment -- very emotive and heartfelt.

The album ends on a creepy note with "Hex Omega", a curious mix of waves of guitar dissonance, strings floating across the whole track, and a forlorn piano motif. The droney ending of the song lends it a very creepy feel as well.

Watershed to me is a transition from Ghost Reveries much the same way Still Life was from My Arms, Your Hearse. It was only with Blackwater Park when they fully achieved the sound they were aiming for, so I feel their next album may present a larger picture as to where they want to go musically. At any rate, this album is another worthy addition to Opeth's back catalog.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2008
Watershed is the ninth Opeth album; and in some ways it signifies a new start for them. This is not totally surprising, given the band has a new guitarist and a new drummer now. Also, they they seem to be in a transition phase musically because Watershed, while encompassing lots of their past hallmarks, also delves into new musical territory.

The differences are mainly demonstrated in their impenetrable song structures, as Mikael Akerfeldt has constructed the album in a more evocative way this time time around. Unlike any other Opeth album, Watershed begins with the short acoustic track "Coil", where strummed acoustic guitars and beautifully arranged string work form the leeway for Akerfeldt and female guest singer Nathalie Lorichs to deliver the verses in an addictively melodic tone. Lorichs' vocals are amazing, and while the song clocks in at only three minutes, that's its charm.

Overall, Watershed is no where near as heavy as the previous Opeth discs, as it boasts a more experimental aesthetic throughout. However, the second track "Heir Apparent" is arguably the heaviest, most brutal Opeth song to date. Not only is it crushingly heavy, it is also the first Opeth tune with no clean vocals whatsoever. Sure, they have other tracks like "Blackwater Park", "Wreath", "The Amen Corner", and "April Ethereal" among others, but all of them contain some clean backing vocals, whispers, humming, et cetera whilst "Heir Apparent" is delivered with Akerfeldt's unmistakable growls from start to finish. Occupied by an assault of guitar fury in its chaotic intro, the piece contains laser-precise drumming and Akerfeldt's suffocating vocals that are contrasted by deft string work and clean, psychedelic-like guitar harmonies soaring over Axenrot's percussion. The ending to the song is equally baffling: smooth layers of guitar melodies overlapping each other.

New drummer Martin Axenrot will pleasantly surprise many an Opeth fan with his performance here. Not only does he play with admirable restraint on most of the album, but he also proves how capable a drummer is on "The Lotus Eater", which is another sound experiment for the band. The drumming on this dissonant tune is stupifyingly good, perhaps among Opeth's finest. Certainly the most technical song on the disc, it features blast beats over which Akerfeldt sings with clean vocals and then growls atop rapid-fire guitar riffery. Very interesting. The rhythm exercise of the song brims with energy, particularly during the instrumental break where guitars, drums and bass clash with each other without taking away from the composition.

Akerfeldt's love for the 70's is exemplified by the gorgeous ballad "Burden", whose main melody is very similar to the stuff Dan Swano does on Unicorn's Emotional Wasteland album. A bit like the material on Damnation, this one sees Opeth branching off into pure balladry mode, with moving guitar solos and vocals. The ending is especially confusing, as Akerfeldt's guitar is manually detuned in the finale. They obviously did it to escape the mellow ballad mood of the tune, and it definitely sets it apart. Despite that weird ending, Opeth proves they can write the best songs in any genre.

This album contains some of Akerfeldt's most enigmatic and personal lyrics, hence the reason why they have been excluded from the booklet. "Hessian Peel", the only ten-plus-minute song on the album, is a total embodiment of Opeth's current musical and lyrical vision. From the sombre acoustic intro to the mournful clean vocals, it evokes a funereal atmosphere where Martin Mendez' bass stands out in the mix. Too bad the bass in Opeth has been almost inaudible since the band's Dan Swano-produced albums, but this track has a healthy dose of his bass throbbing beneath Axenrot's calculated drum battery and the guitar duo's smashing rhythm parts. The song also contains some backward lyrics, most notable between 2:03-2:22. Obviously a reference to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", the lyrics read: "Out of the courtyard | Come back tonight | My sweet Satan| I see you". It's a dark tune with ghostly bursts of atmosphere, and Per Wiberg's Mellotron sounds as well as the string arrangement further enhance the tune's power.

Great shifting of dynamics permeats "Porcelain Heart", the only track Akerfeldt co-wrote with Fredrik Akesson. This is perhaps the only song where polar opposites are merged in a single composition: hammering guitar riffs are side by side with oboes (speaking of which, there is plenty of flutes, oboes, cellos on this album -- all live, not keyboard generated) and Akerfeldt's shift from hellish growls to lullaby-like singing in the middle part attests to his diversity. This is perhaps his most haunting moment -- very emotive and heartfelt.

The album ends on a creepy note with "Hex Omega", a curious mix of waves of guitar dissonance, strings floating across the whole track, and a forlorn piano motif. The droney ending of the song lends it a very creepy feel as well.

Watershed to me is a transition from Ghost Reveries much the same way Still Life was from My Arms, Your Hearse. It was only with Blackwater Park when they fully achieved the sound they were aiming for, so I feel their next album may present a larger picture as to where they want to go musically. At any rate, this album is another worthy addition to Opeth's back catalog.

BONUS DISC:

Besides the DVD and 5.1 audio mix as well as a cool "puzzle" (study the picture of the guy closely!), the Special Edition version also has a bonus disc with three tracks: the Middle Eastern-flavoured "Derelict Herds" with cool clean and heavy passages typical of Opeth; the amazing Robin Trower cover "Bridge of Sighs", a fairly loyal rendition of the original but Akerfeldt's vocals and especially the run-out blues solo are soul-crushingly beautiful; and the Swedish-sung "Den Standiga Resan", a largely acoustic tune dripping with sadness (it only features a heartfelt electric solo at the very end). Actually they were also supposed to include "Would?" by Alice In Chains, which would have been amazing, but sadly that tune has been left out.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2008
4.5 stars. While I do not think of "Watershed" as their finest hour, Opeth have crafted an intelligent Progressive Rock/Metal album that continues with the direction of their previous album "Ghost Reveries" but incorporates more Rock than Metal this time around. Mike Akerfeldt is the only remaining band member who has made the entire journey from debut album to current day activity. After hearing that all the other band members were gone I was listening to this new album and waiting for a huge crash and lack of creativity but "Watershed" is innovative beginning to end. Mike Akerfeldt wrote most of the music on previous albums anyway, so my anticipation of the worst was almost entirely unnecessary. With this new recording he adds even more '70s Prog-Rock touches than ever before all the while maintaining that undeniable Opeth feel to the music. As far as hearing anything here resembling albums from the past I am frequently reminded of the slower sections from "Still Life". Those thinking this new album is going to be their most Metal album yet will be disappointed. In fact, the very first time through "Watershed" I was a little confused. The more times I spin the CD the more details I notice, the more ingenious the arrangements become, the more impressive this album sounds. "Blackwater Park" and "Still Life" continue to battle for the top spot as my favorite Opeth album, but I intend to listen to "Watershed" many more times in the future regardless of where it ranks in their amazing catalog.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon June 8, 2008
Among the unknowing, Opeth has a reputation as one of those typical Scandinavian black metal bands. But they left most of that genre's stereotypes behind ages ago when they went prog. This album will probably divide longtime fans sharply into two camps - those who praise the band's continuing progression and experimentation, and the rest who cry sellout. (You can see that pattern in the reviews here.) Regardless, open-minded and adventurous listeners will find this album unexpectedly fascinating. The album is primarily quiet and haunting, with snippets of brutal metal appearing occasionally to manipulate the mood. (Your typical prog metal band constructs albums in the opposite fashion.) Keyboards and melodic vocals are prominent, with the lengthy songs laid out as suites passing through many experiments in style and emotion.

On first playing the opener "Coil," I was telling myself that the fragile acoustic balladry was just an intro and would surely erupt into loud metal at any second, but the song remains quiet throughout. Other thematic surprises include the bizarre jazz fusion break in "The Lotus Eater" and the detuned acoustic guitar solo that finishes off "Burden." Opeth remains among a dying breed of artists who construct albums as full compositions, with unexpected connections between songs and unconventional arrangements, and all of the band's adventures in experimentation can be found in the extra-epic "Hessian Peel." The only potential source of concern for this album is that with so many recent line-up changes, the Opeth sound now appears to be mostly a showcase for the ideas and talents of leader Mikael Akerfeldt and not so much a group effort, though fortunately keyboardist Per Wilberg and brand new drummer Martin Axenrot are especially impressive here. Not to mention Akerfeldt's continuing sense of musical adventure, on constant display throughout this fascinating album. [~doomsdayer520~]
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2008
Leave it to Opeth to surprise us with every new album. Riding on the momentum built by their last two albums and recent successful tours, the Swedish quintet released in May their ninth studio album, "Watershed". Known for their wall-of-sound compositions and overall crushing tone, the album starts off with "Coil", a 3-minute acoustic song featuring diverse instrumentation, Mikael 'kerfeldt's softer side, and a cameo by female vocalist Nathalie Lorichs. It's quite a bold move for a progressive death-metal band, but it pays off as it leads into the merciless "Heir Apparent", arguably an upcoming single.

From there we are treated to a diverse tapestry of sound, most of which we can call "vintage" Opeth, with several surprises thrown in the mix. The band had received some criticism on their previous studio album, 2005's "Ghost Reveries", namely that their trademark loud-to-soft transitions were becoming too forced. Whether or not they chose to acknowledge this criticism is moot, but the transitions in this album are much more fluid and graceful. Songs like "Hessian Peel" grow slowly from folk-inspired acoustic passages to the chthonic assault that makes Opeth such a powerful force. Along the way the band makes use of flutes, ("Porcelain Heart"), and strings to great dramatic effect ("Burden").

Though their 70's-prog influences are still shining in this album, the Swedes are far from going soft. "Heir Apparent" and "The Lotus Eaters" contain some of the roughest, fastest riffage heard since "My Arms, Your Hearse". This is no surprise - 'kerfeldt has been saying for a long time that it was a worthy successor to the album, released a decade ago. In between, it is clear how tightly the band has honed their craft. Even with a lineup change, replacing longtime guitarist Peter Lindgren with Frederik Akkeson and drummer Martin Lopez with the apty-named Martin Axenrot, there is a definite sense of consistency in the band's catalog. The dynamic, and often frantic, balance between intense and soothing, is still there, but not as deliberate and self-aware as it was in "Ghost Reveries".

With "Watershed", Opeth have created an eponymous album that vastly exceeded my expectations. Much like prog-metal peers Symphony X and their release of 2007's "Paradise Lost", they have perfected their style and created a remarkable work of power, consistency, and beauty. Though not perfect, as exemplified by the album's lackluster closer ("Hex Omega"), it is a solid musical statement, driven by 'kerfeldt's intricate and disciplined songwriting. Whether you're a fan of the dark side of distorted metal or the serene landscape created by lush acoustics, Opeth will deliver.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2008
I've been a fan of Opeth's since "Still Life" -- though I've since bought all of their albums. I keep waiting for this band to peak -- for the wave to break on the beach and then pull back, never to return. I kind of thought the "Deliverance/Damnation" period was that point. The band seemed to me at their weakest during that time. But then "Ghost Reveries" comes out and melts my face, and now we have "Watershed".

Quite simply, this is -- in my opinion -- the finest work to come from Opeth. None of their prior albums, to me, are as clearly a declaration of exploring new territory while at the same time still making an Opeth record. I love their previous stuff, but it's been done -- you know? Honestly, I didn't know what to think of this record at first. I don't think it gelled until I'd listened to it 5-6 times. It's definitely a record that is made to be listened to from start to finish, and it hangs together very well.

If you're not an Opeth fan yet, I think this would be an excellent introduction. All the elements are there and it's so very fresh. Witness the power of a great band at the top of their game.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2008
Leave it to Opeth to surprise us with every new album. Riding on the momentum built by their last two albums and recent successful tours, the Swedish quintet released in May their ninth studio album, "Watershed". Known for their wall-of-sound compositions and overall crushing tone, the album starts off with "Coil", a 3-minute acoustic song featuring diverse instrumentation, Mikael 'kerfeldt's softer side, and a cameo by female vocalist Nathalie Lorichs. It's quite a bold move for a progressive death-metal band, but it pays off as it leads into the merciless "Heir Apparent", arguably an upcoming single.

From there we are treated to a diverse tapestry of sound, most of which we can call "vintage" Opeth, with several surprises thrown in the mix. The band had received some criticism on their previous studio album, 2005's "Ghost Reveries", namely that their trademark loud-to-soft transitions were becoming too forced. Whether or not they chose to acknowledge this criticism is moot, but the transitions in this album are much more fluid and graceful. Songs like "Hessian Peel" grow slowly from folk-inspired acoustic passages to the chthonic assault that makes Opeth such a powerful force. Along the way the band makes use of flutes, ("Porcelain Heart"), and strings to great dramatic effect ("Burden").

Though their 70's-prog influences are still shining in this album, the Swedes are far from going soft. "Heir Apparent" and "The Lotus Eaters" contain some of the roughest, fastest riffage heard since "My Arms, Your Hearse". This is no surprise - 'kerfeldt has been saying for a long time that it was a worthy successor to the album, released a decade ago. In between, it is clear how tightly the band has honed their craft. Even with a lineup change, replacing longtime guitarist Peter Lindgren with Frederik Akkeson and drummer Martin Lopez with the apty-named Martin Axenrot, there is a definite sense of consistency in the band's catalog. The dynamic, and often frantic, balance between intense and soothing, is still there, but not as deliberate and self-aware as it was in "Ghost Reveries".

With "Watershed", Opeth have created an eponymous album that vastly exceeded my expectations. Much like prog-metal peers Symphony X and their release of 2007's "Paradise Lost", they have perfected their style and created a remarkable work of power, consistency, and beauty. Though not perfect, as exemplified by the album's lackluster closer ("Hex Omega"), it is a solid musical statement, driven by 'kerfeldt's intricate and disciplined songwriting. Whether you're a fan of the dark side of distorted metal or the serene landscape created by lush acoustics, Opeth will deliver.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Watershed has been created by a very different Opeth than 2005's Ghost Reveries, and it shows. With the arrival of ex-Arch Enemy guitarist Fredrik Akesson and new drummer Martin Axenrot, Opeth has taken a hard right turn toward prog and thrash, adding harder blastbeats and over-the-top technical guitar work to their formidable sound. Though its heavy elements have moved somewhat closer to the prog-metal norm, Watershed also features a stunning amount of experimentation and richness in its clean sections, making this Opeth's most bizarre, and possibly most satisfying, record.

While the heavier in some ways makes for a more immediate record, one that grabs you by the throat in a way that other Opeth efforts have not, it is also a bit disappointing. In the past, the absence of these traditional metal elements has almost seemed to create a halo effect. Even the heaviest and most punishing songs (post-Morningrise) always seemed to have been written as much for acoustic guitar as electric, and those big, epic chords made Opeth sound like nothing else. Now, traditional speed metal breakdowns and twin harmonies eclipse that particular brand of thunder on some tracks, which is satisfying but is also common in the metal scene. Still, it's effective and will certainly satisfy your headbanging urges.

The clean side of Watershed makes up for the heavy bits' hint of conservatism. These parts are as gorgeous as ever, and now add instruments not heard before. The brief opener, Coil, is entirely acoustic and features a number of new sounds for Opeth - woodwinds, strings, and female vocals. At the end of Lotus Eater, an accordion, or maybe a street organ, can be heard. The lush Burden is a career high point, featuring a deeply lush and beautiful intro and an equally striking and bizarre outro as Akerfeldt detunes his acoustic guitar while playing, until the chords fall apart completely.

There's no question that Watershed lives up to its title. It is more richly orchestrated than any other Opeth album before it, and Akesson's guitar work is undeniably technically superior to Lindgren's. Taken in the context of the rest of Opeth's outstanding catalog, Watershed is vital and forceful, breaking more new ground than any of their albums since My Arms Your Hearse. Highly recommended and easily a record of the year candidate for me. Highlights: Coil, Heir Apparent, Burden.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2009
Opeth's ninth-studio album, "Watershed" is definitely a notable album for the band, for the year 2008, heck, for the decade even! Owning most of the band's discography, I can say that this is a change from the sound of their other albums. However, I would also like to point out that Opeth is a band that can change their sound with every album, while still retaining the sound they aim for; but the nuances that arrive with every album, be it more progressive, heavier, more experimental, add to why Opeth are such an interesting and exciting band.

Known for having an average of song lengths over ten minutes long, the band keeps the songs short enough to listen to multiple in a row, but long enough to be the progressive band they are and keep that portion of them intact. This album is certainly more experimental than most of their other albums, going from all-acoustics to straight-up blast-beat death-metal to Pink Floyd-inspired psychedelic progressive rock. This is one of the big reasons why this album is so great: The experimentation with the sound makes it exciting and keeps you wondering what the next track will have in store.

The music is very inspired and all five members are quite talented, making the album even more enjoyable. "Watershed" remains as complex as all other Opeth albums, that's for sure. In addition, Mikael's signature songwriting is razor-sharp, often using the heavy-soft-heavy technique he's mastered over the years. The production is also great so the sound is always clear. Even Mikael's deepest and harshest death growls sound fresh and roaring over the soundscape of the band.

Well, here's a run-through of the seven songs that prove why this is such an amazing and crucial Opeth album, and one of their very best, if not their overall best.
"Coil": A three-minute song where the main instrument is Mikael's acoustic guitar, although some slight bass guitar can be heard. Both Mikael's vocals and a female guest vocalist are heard here, going back and forth between lyrics. The trade-off is nice and this is a great way to start off the album.
"Heir Apparent": Probably the overall heaviest song on the album, with the thickest, most metallic guitar work and the most intense drumming. Mikael's death growls come in for the first time on the album, and the intensity of this track is a great contrast to "Coil":
"The Lotus Eater": Also a heavier song on the album, but not as heavy as "Heir Apparent". This song is also more progressive and features some incredible guitar work throughout.
"Burden": One of the most beautiful songs on the album, this is the Pink Floyd-inspired, psychedelic-progressive rock of the album. Very beautiful vocal melodies with more mystical lyrics that show Mikael in his prime. A great organ solo in the middle where a slower section starts, which is the part that reminds me most of Pink Floyd. The song ends with ominious laughter that turns into a quick beat, but soon fades. Very interesting, indeed!
"Porcelain Heart": An exciting and ingenious song that's about as heavy and progressive as "The Lotus Eater", with all five musicians at the top of their game here.
"Hessian Peel": The longest song on the album at over 11 minutes, staring off with a beautiful, piano section, then soon explodes into a progressive epic and ends with rhythmic, almost techno-sounding organ work.
"Hex Omega": An overall great song, showcasing the heavy-soft-heavy songwriting technique. The band goes from their usual heaviness into a very mellow song with a slower pace, acoustic guitars and clean singing. They then explode into a slow-paced, groovy section with a huge-sounding guitar riff that seems to be influenced by epic doom metal. Mystical lyrics and a hypnotic vibe make this quite the awesome song.

Considering that this is the only Opeth album that I've ever listened to in a row, and I've done that twice since I've gotten the album, you can tell that I love this album, and how great it is. Although listening to it all the way through can be quite a tiring experience, it's very rewarding, as the whole album is outstanding. The tension-and-release aspect that the band has, and that most music should have, is just as great as can be, the songwriting, the music itself, the vocals, lyrics, all about this album is definitely enjoyable. Listening to "Watershed" all the way through will also help you obtain the vibe of it and keep it constant.

Overall, this is not Opeth's heaviest album, but it's not their lightest, either (that title would go to "Damnation"). This is, however, their most experimental album and probably one of their utmost progressive (next to "Blackwater Park" and "Orchid", although "Still Life" did have some very progressive songs). Keeping that in mind, approach this album with an open mind and a will to listen to different song textures, be they heavy or soft, fast or slow. Remember that, and this will be one of your favorite, recent albums! On another, positive note, Metal Hammer ranked this as their 2nd best of 50 album for 2008. "Watershed" lost only to Metallica's "Death Magnetic", which, although is excellent, we know "Watershed" is actually a pinch better! Thanks for the time, and peace.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
In terms of virtuosity and complexity this album is one of Opeth's top albums. The work has an excellent flow and the pieces are arranged in a clever and unique way. But, like much progressive rock and progressive metal it fails to emote authentically and passionately.

It seems as though Akerfeldt has taken too much from his pal Steven Wilson on this album and succumbed to Wilson's flaw of not being able to create those spine tingling melodies and visceral beauty that were so present on Still Life, Blackwater Park, and Damnation as well as, but to a lesser extent, on Ghost Reveries and My Arms Your Hearse.

This album is intellectually interesting and challenging, but what had made Opeth so brilliant from my perspective, was their ability to both intellectually challenging and interesting, but also to be able to evoke so much at a visceral level. In this sense, Akerfeldt's work had always reminded me of Mahler, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff in that it connected with an aesthetic that evoked a deep beauty. The works by these composers and much of Opeth's work allowed a listener to be engaged intellectually in listening, but also to lose their self in the beauty of the art. It is rare when one can totally subsume and lose oneself in a piece of art, but Opeth had done this for me for a great portion of their work; with this album though, Akerfeldt has ultimately, whether consciously or not, given up much of this.

Those who love this album will not understand this review, as I am not completely able to deconstruct why I feel this album has lost much of what made Opeth so unique, but I think those that did not like this album will get it. Mainly, because the phenomenological experience of listening to music or perceiving art in general is not something that we can reduce to language, as we do not experience music in a way that is entirely reducible to language.

I have listened to the album 15-20 times since it has come out, and my experience of it has not changed much, so I don't think this album is a grower, rather something that Opeth had prior to this album is missing, but it has nothing to do with the heaviness or lack thereof of the music that is for sure.
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