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Pale Communion

4.3 out of 5 stars 206 customer reviews

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Pale Communion, which was produced by the band s very own Mikael Åkerfeldt and mixed by longtime collaborator and Porcupine Tree frontman/guitarist Steven Wilson, is heralded by the lead single, "Cusp of Eternity. "

The new material find s Opeth once again challenging the boundaries of extreme music. In a recent interview with VICE s Noisey, Åkerfeldt stated, "I wanted to do something more melodic with this album... there s stronger vocal melodies and more melodies overall... I was pretty consistent with that frame of mind throughout the writing process. " Metal Injection s Greg Kennelty broke down Opeth s Pale Communion in a track by track review, exclaiming "This record knows exactly what it's doing and nails it through and through... one of my favorite records of 2014. If not my favorite record of 2014. "

Pale Communion follows 2011 s critically acclaimed Heritage which proved a milestone album for Opeth, earning them widespread acclaim and an ever-growing fan following. Debuting Top 20 on the Billboard 200 and racking up numerous "Best Of" accolades in 2011, Heritage landed at #2 on both Decibel s "Top 40 Albums of 2011" and Guitar World s "Top 50 Albums of 2011" lists.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 25, 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Roadrunner Records
  • ASIN: B00KQYNGVA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,878 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By J. Hill TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 25, 2014
Format: Audio CD
Opeth's last album, “Heritage,” drew a line in the sand. It said 'we can do whatever we want no matter what people expect of us.' In hindsight, it seems like they wanted to do this on “Watershed,” but couldn't yet shake the reluctance to make a major shift in style. “Heritage” made that shift, performed well in sales, and earned the band good reviews, so it was hardly a career misstep. The thing with “Heritage” is that it didn't sit well with a lot of fans on both sides of the Opeth fence. It predictably alienated much of the death metal crowd by forgoing that genre altogether, but even a faction of fans who like their more contemporary work complained that “Heritage” was only mediocre prog at best, and that many of the songs were just too “all over the place.” Three years later, it's still their lowest-rated album on Amazon (though 4 out of 5 stars is still not bad).

Maybe “Pale Communion” won't win back everyone who moved on after “Heritage,” but it's definitely an improvement on what they began with that album. The feature I like most about “Pale” is that it shows much more cohesion, confidence, and ambition than “Heritage” by marrying some of the melodic aspects of their older sound, and even a bit of metal, with the newer prog approach. Make no mistake, Mike and co. are still going for that '70's vibe, but the entire album presents satisfying moments that remind me at different times of “Still Life,” “Deliverance,” “Damnation,” “Ghost Reveries,” and “Watershed.” For the most part, those links to the older sound come from guitar and vocal melodies that have a definite kinship to “traditional” Opeth, sounding much like the softer parts from their past albums. “Heritage” had plenty of low-key moments, but the ones on “Pale” have a stronger flavor of the old material.
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Pale Communion is the beautiful new album from Opeth. Anyone who likes creative, intelligently composed music, with amazing players, should give it a shot. Or if you love prog. Or if you love Opeth. Especially if you love Opeth.

Overall the playing is as good you would expect from Opeth - the band as a whole is amazing. The Martins in particular, Mendez (on bass) and Axe (on drums), give stellar performances. In fact, drum-heads should pick this up immediately. For an album that is being touted as being melodic, the rhythm section absolutely crushes it.

I'm not going to review song by song, but the highlight songs for me are Moon Above, Earth Below, Eternal Rains, and River. River especially - it's probably in my top 5 favorite Opeth songs ever now. Opeth definitely should explore more dual-guitar driven songs. Imagine Allman Brothers, but more Opethy evil sounding and actually cool. Just a thought.

I'd like to comment regarding the backlash about the prog direction Opeth has taken. I've read a lot of fans whining and moaning that Opeth has "sold out" and "abandoned" their fans, because they are more prog-rock instead of prog-metal. It's nice that internet has given a voice to a legion of fans who think that Opeth owes them something, but they don't owe you anything. To me, it sound like a bunch of self-entitled babies upset that Opeth didn't make Blackwater Park II or Son of Ghost Reveries just for them.

First of all, claiming that they "sold out" is beyond silly, since they are now an even more niche genre than metal. Prog-rock doesn't exactly equate to top 40 pop. If Mikael starts writing duets with Beyonce to the backdrop of heavily produced dance beats, then you can claim they sold out.
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This album is not metal, not old death metal Opeth, not Blackwater Park. If you can deal with it and are into wonderful musicianship, Pale Communion will move you in ways that most albums this year wont. With lyrical themes of sadness and depression, Pale Communion is a more focused album than Heritage, which I did like. Akerfeldt said he wanted to make a more melodic album, and it shows. The song "River" and the final opus "Faith in Others" is just a melodic feast.

The biggest difference between this and its predecessor is that this feels more like a throwback to the old days of Opeth. Heritage was an album trying to test the waters of the new direction they were headed. This album seems much more comfortable with that style, but Akerfeldt has incorporated the classic Opeth guitar strums that could be found in classics like Morningrise or Still Life. While Heritage attempted to do that, Pale Communion feels more natural and effective in doing so. "Moon Above, Sun Below" best exemplifies this. This song takes you through the swings of the heavy, the beauty, grotesque stele that defines Opeth. It preserves the band's classic sound, but you never feel as though the band is taking a step back, which many felt was the issue with Heritage.

All in all, this album takes the sound of Heritage and progresses it even more. As the heading states, fans of metal will most likely deem this album boring or "not heavy". They claim that this isn't Opeth. My retort to that is that Akerfeldt has always been a frontman that has always looked for different ways to evolve the band in terms of their sound(and band members).
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