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Opeth – Watershed, Review #1

Discussion in 'Metal Reviews' started by Russell, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. Russell

    Russell __

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    Opeth – Watershed
    Roadrunner Records – 3 June 2008
    By Russell Garwood

    [​IMG]

    “It’s our new record, we think it’s pretty good. We hope you’ll like it.”

    So Mikael Akerfeldt introduces Watershed, surrounded by a 5.1 system in a very comfortable studio. The first spin of a new Opeth album doesn’t get much better than this, as we settle in for an hour of new Opethian goodness. Having only had three days to absorb the new record, a more comprehensive review from UM will be coming in the fullness of time, but until that date we thought some initial impressions would be appreciated.

    Halfway into opener ’Coil’ it becomes apparent that with Watershed the Swedes have taken a few more risks. Careful use of female vocals attests to that, and as the album progresses it becomes clear that with two debutantes in the lineup, the band have also introduced other new elements to the sound. This is coupled with a distinct sense of fun to the proceedings – in one section, tuned arpeggios segue into detuned guitars, into Mikael cracking up, and then into a heavily processed laugh, leading into the next track - all a bit different to the more melodious and less playful transitions we’ve heard from the band before. Also notable is increased use of disharmony: elements of instrumental noise creep in, coupled with (what feels to me) an almost cinematic, horror-inspired feel to the substantial number of eerie refrains throughout. Augmented by reversed vocals, quiet whispers in the background, and unusual effects, this feels like something just a little new from the melodeath veterans. The addition of Per to the lineup has more impact than the band’s previous outing, with extensive use of orchestrations, and an unabashed presence of Moogs throughout.

    That is not to say all the elements we have come to expect from an Opeth album are not present – there are quiet moments aplenty, while the heavy sections are just as abrasive as ever, showing that the band has not mellowed with age. More refrained track 'Burden' shows plenty of prog leanings, and there seems to be a larger palette of textures and styles influencing the melodic portions. As is to be expected instrumental performances are tighter than a mosquito’s ass stretched over a rain barrel, and the new members fill their predecessors’ shoes with few problems. The production is excellent, the 5.1 mix especially impressive, with some real attention to detail. All this makes for a multifaceted record, which will no doubt take some time to absorb. How does it compare to the band’s previous releases? I feel it’s too early to tell, but Watershed is certainly a solid entry into Opeth's back catalogue, and it will provide some solid listening for the next few months. A more extensive review from UM will be up in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, more thoughts as they come…

    Official Opeth Website
    Official Opeth Myspace
    Official Roadrunner Website
     
  2. Scourge of Malice

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    this album just sounds more and more interesting every time i read something about it
     
  3. TheWyvern

    TheWyvern Member

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    I welcome a more experimental Opeth. It's kinda like...you know when a football team has won everything but their players have to be replaced and the team restructured due to old age etc. Well, it's the same with bands. If you are not evolving then your are gonna become irrelevant, and it would be disappointing for a band like Opeth to become irrelevant, considering the trails they have blazed in the past. Of course, going back to the football analogy, when a team is restructuring, there is a settling in period where the team needs to mesh well. I believe this album falls in Opeth's current restructuring period, which, even if bad decisions have been made, can never be dull.
     
  4. ramses

    ramses Member

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    Yep, look at what Yes did in the 80's. Brought in Trevor Rabin, and some guys from past albums, with newer ideas/newer sound. I love the 70's stuff they did, but as a teen in the 80's the heavier sound spoke to me. The same with Opeth....Mikael, and the new guys are going to bounce ideas around, coming from different sounding groups. But, the positive of having new members is it's going to re-invigorate Mikael and Martin and give them even more to play around with.
     
  5. TheTechnogoat

    TheTechnogoat Protean

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    get back on the staff damnit! :p
     
  6. SWAT

    SWAT Nothing but Metal!

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    I am very eagerly awaiting this album, I wasn't the biggest fan of GR. So I hope this new album will kick ass!
     
  7. BloodSword

    BloodSword Member

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    Anticipation is "high" for this. Have been looking forward to this since I first heard about it.
     
  8. _eva_

    _eva_ Member

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    I am also looking forward to this album. Still need some patience, though.
     
  9. hibernal_dream

    hibernal_dream A Mind Forever Voyaging

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    How can you review an album after only one listen? I don't care if UM is trying to cash in from being the first to review this, no one is qualified for such a task.
     
  10. Tom Strutton

    Tom Strutton Member

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    Hibernal Dream, if you bothered to read the first paragraph of the review you would notice that it is only intended as a 'first impressions' review.. a precursor to a more in-depth review soon to come. I think this is perfectly acceptable and Russell has done, as always, a great job. :)
     
  11. Russell

    Russell __

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    It was written after three days and over 10 listens. Only the first one was in 5.1 in the studio, the rest in stereo from the promo. That's enough to form an opinion on the music which isn't going to change drastically (indeed I've since listened a lot more, and it hasn't). The only thing I can't (and didn't) comment on is the album's longevity. Additionally, the aim of the review was not to 'cash-in' as you so tactfully put it, but provide a useful indicator for fans of the band wondering what Watershed is going to be like. At the moment there aren't a vast number of people in the position to provide this so I thought I'd put the effort in and give it a shot.
     
  12. the_drip

    the_drip Martriden K

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    you did a fine job Russell.
     
  13. Matt

    Matt Active Member

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    Rus, how does this compare with GR (which was fantastic)?
     
  14. hibernal_dream

    hibernal_dream A Mind Forever Voyaging

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    That's good to hear. You made it appear in the review as though you had only one listen.
     
  15. TheWyvern

    TheWyvern Member

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    Hey guys I found the following at www.playametal.com:

    In a bid to crack America, Swedish prog-metallers Opeth have taken the surprising step of 'Hollywoodifying' their songs for a nation where 46% still think the band is a fragrance recently released by P Diddy.

    In an exclusive interview to hollywoodmetal.com, lead singer Mikael Akerfeldt spoke recently of his new record labels insistance that he wash at least once a day AND condition his hair 'to achieve the full bodied look that the girls go crazy over'.

    here he elaborates on the decision to change the name of some of his most beloved songs:

    'well, you know, i had just finished recording Watershed...and i was talking to Jens about how we could really hit America hard. And we had been drinking some of this fucking great wine from Argentina and he said, as a joke 'well, just change the names of the songs' And i was like 'what the fuck are you talking about?' but it kinda made some wierd sense...you know? so i sat down with my notebook and drafted a few names...and soon we were going through the whole back catalogue and making the names as lowbrow as possible to achieve maximum demographic penetration in America's agressively mediocre music climate.'

    So, without further ado, we present to you a few sneak previews of the new list of songs titles, with a dash of street-talkin' hollywood:

    Facelift of Melinda
    B-NTD
    'Dis Bleak
    The Master's Bitch
    Muthafuckin' Demonz in the Muthafuckin' Waterfallz (remixed by JZ)
    Dark Shit for November
    Playa got a 'Weakness' (for ho's) feat. Eve and Lil' Kim.
     
  16. Stormwatch

    Stormwatch Cock.

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  17. IntoPhagist

    IntoPhagist FloriiiiiiiooooooOOO!

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    Muthafuckin' Demonz in the Muthafuckin' Waterfallz (remixed by JZ)

    LOLOLOLOLOL!
     
  18. Wander

    Wander 10+2=6

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    Awesome! They would have become a hit right away if they had done that in first place!
     
  19. this one gets better every time i listen to it. can't really say i have any complaints. it's new and different...but still the same band.
     
  20. Matt

    Matt Active Member

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    This album is fucking great. There could have been more heavy songs though
     

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