Tuesday, May 31, 2005


I am a fan of most kinds of rock music, but I have a particular fondness for progressive rock. During the past five or six years I was introduced to the music of Porcupine Tree, and that band has become one of my favorites. I became curious about Opeth when I noticed Porcupine Tree was opening for them on a tour during the last couple of years. Apparently PT’s leader Steven Wilson had been influenced by harder sounds, including some of those of Opeth, and it showed on PT’s “In Absentia” album.

When I realized Steven Wilson produced “Damnation” and provided assistance on keyboards, I immediately ordered the CD, and… it is simply one of the best discs I have purchased in a long while, including some of my Porcupine Tree CDs.

The songs smolder… something is bubbling beneath the surface in each and every number. Opeth has a reputation as a “death metal” band, and this album conveys a sense of quiet desperation, sometimes agony… but all the instruments have a “clean” sound. There is nothing fast, nothing sounds muddy, and there is no screaming. Instead, what you get is fairly quiet but tense album full of emotions that are barely concealed, ready to explode, with a band that displays remarkable patience in the musical arrangements. The crisp drumming and Wilson’s use of the mellotron (particularly on the album-opener “Windowpane”) make me think of those aspects of King Crimson’s sound in the Seventies. Mikael Akerfeld’s vocals are nothing short of incredible in that he can reveal so much emotion when he sings. He has a beautiful voice, wonderfully complemented by Wilson’s harmonies. The guitar-playing and bass-playing are solid, and the instrumental piece “Ending Credits” is outstanding.

While I wouldn’t say this is an uplifting CD, I think it a very organic work. There is strength to be found in the way all parts work together to create a whole. The result is a complete, mature, fully realized piece of art.

Now that I know more about Opeth, I intend to explore their louder side as well. It is good to know Wilson has produced other albums of theirs, too. Thanks to Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson for helping me discover a great new band!


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