Wed Oct 12
1332 W Burnside
Stockholm, Sweden's Opeth have released one gorgeous metal masterpiece after another, without a hint of flagging quality, and Ghost Reveries—their eighth record—is arguably their best studio album to date. Not even Metallica can boast a track record like this, and if Opeth hadn't begun as a studio band, they'd likely have a similar-sized following.
Led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt, Opeth's particular brand of Swedish death metal lifts liberally from the singer's vast collection of '60s and '70s psych, folk, and prog records. With Akerfeldt's vision, the comparatively clean vocal passages juxtapose the dirt and darkness of the band's more pedestrian metal grind.
Following the deliberate disparity of their last two records (2003's Damnation and 2002's Deliverance segregating all their heaviest and most melodic moments, respectively) Ghost Reveries returns the band to the highs of their breakthrough fifth record Blackwater Park—a fantastic noise of enhanced harmonies, guitar textures, and a full-bloomed mix. The light/dark dichotomy is back, and so is the band's amazing songwriting. While album opener "Ghost of Perdition" dabbles in a bit of Tool riffery and tribal drumming—its 10 minutes also include haunting folk laments, and truly evil-sounding death crunch. "Hours of Wealth" could almost be an Elton John outtake after an opium binge. And "The Baying of the Hounds" contains some of the most beautiful music you'll hear this year, propelled at times by a Latin jazz beat.
The heaviest metal moments glide through shades of darkness where Morbid Angel might tread, while simultaneously indulging in moments of true emotive quality—recalling the best of Pink Floyd and Radiohead. No transitions jar, no iota of music ever seems out of place. Opeth have opened a gate through which pop fans can approach the most uncommercial metal, and headbangers can find a place to reflect on some genuine beauty.