Opeth - _Blackwater Park_
(Music For Nations, 2001)
by: Chris Flaaten (
My favorite band is out with their fifth album. When talking to other Opeth fans, no single album seems to be the most liked. Some favour their old material, some think they get better with each album and others, like myself, think _My Arms, Your Hearse_ [CoC #32] is their best yet. _Blackwater Park_ opens very much in the vein of _MAYH_ and my expectations enter lunar orbit. However, I notice the lack of linearity some minutes into the opener, "The Leper Affinity". They started including some verse/chorus elements on _Still Life_ [CoC #44] and this is now the norm on _Blackwater Park_. This does give the songs more identity, but of course makes the album more repetitive. Even though this is Opeth's longest running album, it contains the least music. The lyrics too are separated from each other, not following a concept like previous albums did. Well, enough about the structure -- let's delve into the music. Opeth have always flirted with progressive rock influences and have, by incorporating these into their extreme music, created a truly unique sound. On this album the prog rock elements are clearer than ever, and although this makes the music more melancholic and "beautiful", it also muffles the rawness and intensity and thus creates a small shift in their usual balance between brutality and beauty. This works well in "The Drapery Falls" -- a stunning piece with great atmosphere -- but in other songs I find myself yearning for more fuel. "Dirge For November" is a good example. After a one and a half minute long acoustic opening, the amps are turned on and the typical Opeth mellow-but-hard harmonies continue. This lasts for four minutes, though, with hardly any variation at all, and is then followed by a slow, repetitive acoustic guitar melody going on for two minutes. An eight minute Opeth song with essentially only three different elements... who would have thought? Still, there are solid enough quantities of well written music here to make this a good album; I just feel Opeth can do better. _Morningrise_ [CoC #14] was written over a five year period, _Blackwater Park_ was written and recorded in less than six months. That may be one of the reasons for what I feel is a slight lack of variation and dynamics, but then again, _MAYH_ was written in a hurry too. A good album, but my least favorite by this great band. [Pedro Azevedo: "At times uncannily repetitive for an Opeth record, _Blackwater Park_ nevertheless proved marginally more enjoyable for me than its predecessor _Still Life_. Brilliant music as one would expect from Opeth, fortunately not going too far into their mellow '70s-influenced side, but still not as close to matching the superb _My Arms, Your Hearse_ as I hoped it would be. Excellent record in its own right, though, with remarkable artwork to accompany it."][Brian Meloon: "I'm disappointed with _Blackwater Park_. Not that it's a bad album, but it isn't an improvement in any way. If anything, these songs are less memorable, partly because some of the riffs and changes are similar to ones on their previous albums. You will probably enjoy it if you like Opeth's style, but if you don't, it won't change your mind about them."] [Paul Schwarz: "Rare are albums which inspire such a feeling of wonder as _Blackwater Park_ does, yet from Opeth such an exquisitely brilliant release is not a surprise, but an expectation. Opeth are songwriters of the highest order who are expert at combining strains of dark, distorted intensity with moments of exquisite melancholic beauty. Opeth are truly in a league all their own."]
(article published 5/13/2001)
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