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Old September 7th, 2005, 04:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
Opeth17
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Opeth - Ghost Reveries

Opeth - Ghost Reveries
Roadrunner Records – RR 8123-1 - August 30th, 2005
By Josh Phillips



For reasons unknown to me, I was never eagerly anticipating this album and I really had no expectations to prejudice me. As a huge fan of Opeth’s work, I found it fairly disturbing that the impending release of a favorite band’s new album didn’t stir that much within me. But, I still placed that pre-order, received my copy and pondered what the hell my problem was as I tore through the plastic, without a hint of excitement. Well, whatever it was that kept me from building up my expectations and creating a bias for or against an album that I’d never heard, I thank it, for it gave me a view into Opeth I never expected to find.

Though it may be considered blasphemy to some, I’ve never thought Blackwater Park was Opeth’s magnum opus, and really, not even a great album. Ghost Reveries, to me, is the logical follow-up to Blackwater Park. The band went off and did their light/dark thing (Damnation/Deliverance, which I thoroughly enjoyed) and now are back to mix all of their elements together and create the album they’ve been meaning to for years now. But, unlike the sometimes killer, sometimes bland Blackwater Park, Opeth delivered to me an unexpected gem of an album, one that rivals even their best work.

There were rumors for quite some time before the album’s release that Opeth’s new record was going to be more black metal oriented with an occult vibe, and subsequently, that was the basic concept I was entertaining in my head. Fortunately, the band went in the complete opposite direction, threw an (extreme) prog album in my lap and caught me totally off guard. I didn’t listen to any music from the release until my purchased copy was in my hands and I was greatly rewarded to find something that sounded fresh, new and real. And yes, you heard me correctly, this sounds FRESH. Many have claimed that Opeth have gotten themselves stuck in a rut, but with the release of Ghost Reveries, I certainly cannot agree. One thing will always remain true about Opeth, and this is that they always FEEL like Opeth, no matter what. Though honestly, I was entirely skeptical after I had listened to the first two songs off this album, because there were a few moments that didn’t SOUND like Opeth at all. But, as the album went on, everything became clearer and clearer and as the sounds washed over me, it was easy to see that this was Opeth, a band with some great new concepts and over an hour of amazing music in hand. Different, yet entirely themselves.

One of the first things I noticed as I played the record, is that Mikael’s death vocal parts have greatly decreased in number. What I also noticed, is that to my surprise, that hasn’t bothered me. Mike’s extreme vocals have always been some of my favorite, but in many places they simply wouldn’t fit in. The second thing I noticed, is the presence of Per Wiberg. I was extremely skeptical about the possible uses of a full-time keyboardist, but the effect is felt and in songs such as “Baying of the Hounds”, “Beneath the Mire”, “Atonement”, and others, I couldn’t see this record being near the same without him.

With these two changes, Opeth has undergone a subtle makeover. Whereas Opeth could’ve fit the tag of Progressive Death Metal in the past, they have evolved fully into an Extreme Progressive Metal band. In my opinion, most of Opeth’s past records, if not all, have a very “cold” feel to them. Something that is hard to explain, but they all have it. Ghost Reveries on the other hand is a very warm album to me and I think the decrease in heavy sections is part of what accounts for it. Listening to this record is like being wrapped in a warm blanket of Opeth. Mike’s vocals have lost some of their tortured frailty and it is replaced with an air of confidence and acute melody we’ve never heard from him before. The keys and mellotron leaking through the atmosphere fill the album with upbeat sounds and the mood carries over into the excellent lead guitar work, which is again top-tier, even for Opeth. As I listen to every song, I am constantly smiling, something I don’t find myself doing with this band’s other albums. Not because they aren’t good, but because they don’t convey the same feeling. This, to me, is the greatest musical jump Opeth has taken since Morningrise to My Arms, Your Hearse, but it occurs in such subtle ways. If I had to compare Ghost Reveries to the prior Opeth catalogue, I would describe it as a cross between Still Life and Damnation with new, added elements, but this record refuses to be pinned down so simply. Mike’s prog obsession now pours through fully into the band’s sound and the potential they’ve had for that sound is realized here. Not on Damnation, but here. Other new elements are added as well and the randomness of the compositions that drives so many up a wall are here and as wonderful as ever, and to my strange self, as coherent as ever. I adore the Egyptian carnival intro to “Beneath the Mire” and the absolute MAJESTY of “Atonement.” I’d like to have that song playing as I pass from this world, just so I go in a state of pure tranquility.

Let it simply be known that Opeth has undoubtedly changed, and in my humble opinion, changed for the better. The subtle alterations in sound that bring out a new dimension in Mike’s vocals and the pure atmosphere of the music are stunning. Don’t come into Ghost Reveries expecting to hear a full-blown musical makeover, but do expect to hear an Opeth that has simply evolved. This album caught me as off guard as anyone and I was as skeptical as anyone. But, I listened to Ghost Reveries with as un-biased and objective a mind as possible (not easy to do with a band that evokes such stark emotional feelings as Opeth) and I was rewarded with an album that is simply great at its core. The band’s sense of melody is more impeccable now than ever, they are on top of their game as musicians and the songs fit together so well. Opeth, unlike many bands, can tell a story, not only in lyrics (Still Life), but in their music. In Ghost Reveries, most everything seems to fit and flow.

This album grows on you and its hidden secrets and rewards hide well beneath the surface, but if you are willing to unlock them, you’ll find a record that simply dwarfs the majority of music out there. Trust me, I took my time to absorb this album, I’ve already listened to it numerous times, I’ve gotten over my initial negative reaction and I’m not just kissing the ass of a band I enjoy. Opeth is a group that loves to experiment and on Ghost Reveries, they truly branch out into uncharted territory for their sound. “Experimental” does not mean “bad”, just give this one the time it deserves and let it wrap itself around you. The heavy parts are still there, and in force when they are. But to me, this is a prog album. A relic of the past, yet a path to the future. Premium, premium stuff. Where does this rank in the Opeth catalogue? Only time will tell, but I know it will be somewhere near the top. Now, instead of boring you further, I’ll simply point out some of my personal highlights. I hope you found my review as meandering as Opeth’s music and love or hate it just as much.

Highlights:

- “Ghost of Perdition” 2:34 – 4:08 Initially reminds me of the two acoustic songs on the second disc of the Blackwater Park limited edition, before drifting off into the emotional chanting of Mike, soon backed by a soaring lead. This section is repeated towards the end of the song, but accompanied by a matching riff and the drumwork of Martin Lopez. A great way to finish off the song.

- “Ghost of Perdition” “6:27 – 6:57 One of the heaviest riffs of the album with perhaps its best death vocal performance. Brutal.

- “Baying of the Hounds” 1:51 – 2:49 This section really grew on me. It is very un-Opeth like and felt strange at first, but the sheer catchiness of it has me tapping my foot along and agreeing.

- “Beneath the Mire” Intro. It’s so absurd, yet awesome. I never expected to hear this strange foreign carnival jam bust out in the middle of an Opeth record. One of many surprises and I adore it.

- “Atonement” The whole damn song. This is why I listen to music, pure and simple. You have to hear it, words would do no justice.

- “Reverie/Harlequin Forest” This is a perfect example in many ways of Mikael singing with a greater confidence and those clean vocals taking a more prominent role in the music. The clean vocal sections are followed by the bellow of death vocals and the twanging bass of Martin Mendez. Great light/dark contrast that works in a subtle way throughout the song. Also at the 7:19 mark there is a tremendous example of Mike’s clean vocal excellence and how he has done a great job of working them in against a heavier background.

- “Hours of Wealth” More examples in this light song of the soft changes Mr. Akerfeldt has added to his vocals (2:25 – 3:47, wow) as well as the presence of Per Wiberg.

- “The Grand Conjuration” Despite the way I feel about this song in proportion to the album (see below), Mike Akerfeldt’s death vocals are in tip-top shape on this track and it’s good overall, though perhaps the weakest on Ghost Reveries. Really great vocals and I love to hear Mendez thumping around on the bass all over this track. Look forward to hearing it live.

- “Isolation Years” A perfect way to close out this album. It makes the chaos of “The Grand Conjuration” seem fitting because of the great contrast and the peaceful close it brings. Akerfeldt really impresses me with his vocals on this record in all respects and this is yet another example of the solid emotion that permeates this album.

- The performance of the band. Every musician involved in this album is performing at as high a level as I believe I’ve heard from any of them. Martin Lopez reinforces why he is one of my favorite drummers. He plays with feeling, something that most drummers overlook in favor of technical skill. While Mr. Lopez can certainly blast away with the best of them, the touch he displays in handling the softer segments of Opeth’s music is amazing. Lindgren and Akerfeldt are always stellar on guitar, Mendez is a great, yet underrated bassist and is solid as his role continues to grow, while Per Wiberg's influence is part of what makes this record as great as it is.

Lowlight:

- “The Grand Conjuration” This song seems a small amount out of place to me. While the record still flows very well with its inclusion, it’s undeniably different than the rest of the album and oddly enough, what I’d consider to be the weakest song on a very strong release. Could've fit the occult album vibe well though, had the band gone in that direction.

All in all, this is a surprisingly great record and a release that caught me totally off-guard. This may, just may, be Opeth's best work, but I'm certainly not foolish enough to proclaim it that after such a short period of time. This is a must buy in my opinion and I also very much look forward to hearing it on vinyl. I repeat, premium stuff, premium Opeth.

9.75/10

Official Opeth Website
Official Roadrunner Records Website

Last edited by Opeth17 : September 11th, 2005 at 02:27 AM.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 03:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
Frostangelstorm
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Great album, but not among the best of Opeth. A refreshing listen, great replay value.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 02:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
Birkenau
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*yawn* Boring...

It won't be long until Opeth start wearing pig skin masks.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 04:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
Agalloch
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Quote:
It won't be long until Opeth start wearing pig skin masks.
Where did the hell did this come from?
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Old September 10th, 2005, 04:41 AM   #5 (permalink)
Birkenau
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Originally Posted by Agalloch
Where did the hell did this come from?
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Old September 10th, 2005, 06:11 AM   #6 (permalink)
Krilons Resa
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The days of Orchid are far behind us, unfortunately.

I agree with the above who posted that this album is a snoozefest.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 07:22 AM   #7 (permalink)
Midwinter_melancholY
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Great review for a great album, Opeth17.
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Old September 11th, 2005, 07:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
King Chaos
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I found myself wanting to listen to it more and more. I agree with alot of what the reviewer said. I wasn't excited either, because in the back of my mind I was expecting to be dissapointed.

@The guys who can't get over orchid: The times, they are changing. Don't be a dumbass. At least they are still doing new things but keeping the essential elements that make Opeth what it is.
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Old September 11th, 2005, 06:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
cyanhist
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I know Opeth since Orchid, I always loved their choices, this album is one of my favorites...
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Old September 11th, 2005, 07:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
dorian gray
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thoughtful review opeth17! a good read. i felt the same reluctance as soon as i stuck it in the player. yet, unlike you, my reluctance has yet to fade. there are some standout parts and a couple great tracks on GR but for whatever reason, i'm just not digging it. seems like this is a *new* opeth and if that's what they want to be, then cool. personally, i'm kinda sick of the "prog" thing. bands that "change" and "evolve" for no other reason than to stay "prog" are wearing thin with me.
Opeth are still an incredible band though.
cheers
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Old September 12th, 2005, 01:51 AM   #11 (permalink)
Johan
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Never a dull moment. Ghost Reveries is full throttle from start to finish. Wait, what about those mellow songs? Heck, they're part of the fuel! I much more prefer this variation than 100% all the time. You got to know slow to know fast. The mood of the album never wavers... at least not until the last song, which is a little too simple.
Ghost Reveries definitely beats the last 3 albums, and is on par with the ones before that. Magnificent Opeth.
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Old September 12th, 2005, 03:11 AM   #12 (permalink)
Hubster
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Boring
Uninspiring
Lousy
Unemotional
Soul-less
Diluted
Rushed
Badly produced

Need I go on?

The time has come. Too bad it's not Opeth's.

Goodbye Opeth, we'll miss you!
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Old September 12th, 2005, 06:31 AM   #13 (permalink)
A Gruesome Discovery
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Quite a few conflicting views on this one, which is always a healthy thing. I love it thus far; it's not my favorite Opeth album (it's only been out less than two weeks... how could it compete with albums I've been listening to for years?), but I think Ghosts of Perdition could easily become my favorite Opeth song. Definitely more of a classic rock/prog vibe than metal, though, which will probably turn a lot of people off.
This will definitely be my Fall album; it just sounds very "October"-ish.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hubster
Badly produced
The rest of your list I respect as opinions, but this one perplexes me. Everything seems to fit together very well, and it's not squashed to death. What do you find wrong with the production?
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Old September 12th, 2005, 03:52 PM   #14 (permalink)
Kenneth R.
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great review, great album. tr00 fans get lost.
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Old September 12th, 2005, 10:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
aestusmaris@hotmail.com
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Although I've only been an Opeth fan since '99, I had the luck of getting into opeth chronologically, as you can imagine, my first listen to My Arms Your Hearse was with mixed feelings, but over a period of 5 to 10 listens, it clicked. I think Ghost Reveries is one of these albums, although it only took 3 listens this time round. I respect peoples opinions and everything but Ghost Reveries soulless? un-emotional, play Harlequin Forest from the 'they are the trees..' bit and tell me that's un-emotional. I think GR is a great step forward from the band, and I can only speculate as what the next album will sound like. Oh and a good review by the way.
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Old September 12th, 2005, 10:15 PM   #16 (permalink)
ttiwguitar
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Lightbulb ttiwguitar

Quote:
Boring
Uninspiring
Lousy
Unemotional
Soul-less
Diluted
Rushed
Badly produced
Hmm.. describes Orchid perfectly.
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Old September 12th, 2005, 11:30 PM   #17 (permalink)
Valentein
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I think this is probably the best review of the album that I've read. Having listen to the album countless times already, I have the same conclusions for the most part.

Harlequin Forest is an EXCELLENT song.
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Old September 12th, 2005, 11:50 PM   #18 (permalink)
AutumnElegy
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You guys are nuts, each opeth album has a uniqueness that seprates it from EVERY other band and all opeths past albums. Indeed there are more progressive elements, but this CD is absolutly amazing, full of emotion and power, and all you assmunchs who said *yawn* like your cool or somethin really need to get a fuckin clue. We all know opeth will never go back to the mornigrise/orchid style days, I wish they would add those elements back in, but every opeth cd is a 10/10 in my book and ghost reveries is amazing. Buy it..now. I agree though, I have never disliked an opeth song...ever, I l LOVE every single song, but the grand conjuration sucks.
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Old September 13th, 2005, 12:05 AM   #19 (permalink)
ElectricWiz
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Opeth are basically competing with themselves at this point. They are miles ahead of anyone else. That said, I agree with this review, and even experienced the same kind of disinterest at its release for some reason (odd, having been an Opeth fanatic for a few years). About three listens in it opened up for me though. I think this is primarily because it does sound a bit different than previous efforts. Once you get into the "sound," of the album....you realize it has all the aspects of the usual offering by Opeth and more.

I'm calling it the #2 record of the year at this point, but really only because I think Nevermore just made the best record of their career - a stunner from start to finish. There is no other band, none, like Opeth though. They are essentially on a plane of their own as far as I'm concerned. The record is fantastic. I give it a 10 (which I also give to This Godless Endeavor).

I was around when, say, the original string of Maiden greats were coming out. If you wanna know what that was like, it was like this, now....Opeth. Every year you thought, "Ok, they topped it again somehow..." I feel sorry for people not paying attention to the career of this band, especially since some of them will get it later on, and then regret not having been there for the fun. Mikael Akerfeldt and company have breathed a galaxy's worth of life into metal again.
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Old September 13th, 2005, 12:56 AM   #20 (permalink)
Hubster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Gruesome Discovery
What do you find wrong with the production?
It's too clean. The album sounds "built" or constructed. it's been Pro-Tooled to the hilt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectricWiz
Mikael Akerfeldt and company have breathed a galaxy's worth of life into metal again.
They have but are no longer doing so. The diluted and simplistic nature of Ghost Reveries is a testament to this.

Opeth have had their time, much like Maiden after Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. The apex has been reached, the peak experience enjoyed.
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Old September 13th, 2005, 01:36 AM   #21 (permalink)
LedByTheReaper
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First Opeth album I've ever bought and I think it's pretty fucking amazing proggy goodness
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Old September 13th, 2005, 02:29 PM   #22 (permalink)
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its growing on me a lot.... that middle section of Baying of the Hounds (5:24 i think) is pure metal beauty.. god damn
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Old September 13th, 2005, 11:17 PM   #23 (permalink)
ElectricWiz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hubster
It's too clean. The album sounds "built" or constructed. it's been Pro-Tooled to the hilt.



They have but are no longer doing so. The diluted and simplistic nature of Ghost Reveries is a testament to this.

Opeth have had their time, much like Maiden after Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. The apex has been reached, the peak experience enjoyed.
You make me feel sleepy.
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Old September 14th, 2005, 05:27 AM   #24 (permalink)
Ikil
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Geez, when I use to just lurk these forums and read what people had to say, I thought Hubster had some brilliant points about certain things, and he still does. But gees, some of these arguments on GR baffle me. What is wrong with clean production? I mean, I hate when a band has perfect production on a cd and then they can't back it up on stage. With Opeth however, they can back up their production on stage and sound excellent. For me, the last 4 Opeth albums are some of the best produced albums in metal. I got no problem with a clean sounding album if a band can back it up live, and Opeth can.

Secondly, no way is this album weak and simplistic. For me, this is their most complicated work since Still Life, not taking anything away from BWP and DD, but for me, GR, musically, is better.

Ok, I will admit, NO Opeth album has grabbed me straight away, I guess with some Opeth albums, first time I have listened to them, I haven't concentrated hard enough because in the back of my mind I know that something Opeth does isn't going to sound bad. But when I do sit back and concentrate on the music and listen hard enough, thats when I can say that this is indeed a very fine piece of work.

I gave GR my all on first listen because the whole thing with RR and the whole black metal affair Mikael talked about 2 years ago. On first listen, I was impressed , but I wasn't overly impressed. After a few more listens, I became overly impressed because it grew on me. I worked out the elements, new influences. Sure, a little disappointed that this had no Black metal influence. But who cares, this is still a masterpiece for me. If you think this sucks because it isn't black metal, then what are you doing here?

For me, this is most likely gonna be my album of the year.

And I keep hearing people carry on about the Tool influence on GOP. Its funny that no one has carried on about the Gordian Knot similarities on Beneath the Mire. Maybe GK is a mystery to a lot of people around here.

Ikil
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Old September 14th, 2005, 05:57 AM   #25 (permalink)
Voivod
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Ghost reveries review

I think Ghost Reveries is a very good album (but not their best, just excellent in its own way) and I agree totally with Opeth17 regarding the abscence of that "cold" feeling... When I listened to it for the first time I thought that the album wasn't good at all. However, the thing that annoyed me the most in Ghost Reveries is that the patterns of song composition which were found by Opeth (for the first time and that 's why Opeth is a unique band) in their former releases are been repeated in this album as well more or less and in some some songs I said to myself "I have heard this before..."
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