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Amazing Opeth review on Sea of Tranquility

Discussion in 'Opeth (Archived)' started by batmura, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. batmura

    batmura Sea of Tranquility

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  2. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Meh, preffer my own review :)

    Issue #4 of NS, hopefully...



    Over 10 years and 6 albums after their 1995 debut release of 'Orchid', Sweden's Opeth have made a long and arduous treck to 2005. Their humble roots residing within the city of Stockholm, Opeth have, since their outset, subverted all trends which managed to ensare the various scenes they were associated with. Never allowing themselves to be pidgeonholed with a single sound throughout their career, Opeth have continuously demonstrated why they are one ofa the most distinct bands in the music scene. Seemingly drawing praise from all stretches of the metal domain (and others, following Damnation), Opeth have shown that constant musical progression whilst keeping a steady fanbase was not merely a pipedream that brought tears to the eyes of aspiring musicians everywhere. They have shown that it can be done, and fittingly, they've done it again.

    Opeth's 'Ghost Reveries' can be adequately summed up with the phrase, 'the album that Deliverance should have been'. It shows a development of the rudimentary ideas forged during Deliverance, implemented with more maturity. Finally, after a somewhat dispiriting full-length release and mellowed-out, somewhat meandering experimental album, Opeth truly have something to call the successor to 'Blackwater Park'. 'Ghost Reveries' shows Opeth, once again in their element, venturing head first into uncharted territory for a metal band.

    On first listen, one will undoubtedly find themselves reacquainted with that distinct Deliverance vibe. Listening to the rhythm guitars, it's evident that Opeth haven't deviated far from the drone/groove based riffing found on Deliverance. The advantage this time around being that those riffs are supplemented by new member Per Wieberg's keyboard parts, Martin Mendez' undertonal yet ever-colourful bass work and Mikael's somewhat new-found, magnificent vocal style.

    On that note, 'Ghost Reveries' is undoubtably Mikael's strongest vocal performance yet. The issue of Whether one may or may not appreciate the new vocal style is almost entirely overshadowed by the solid delivery and conviction in the vocal lines. After many albums of dabbling in sung vocals, and using them to augment various parts, Mikael is now finally ready to provide sung vocals which are iconic of Opeth, and solid enough to be placed alongside singing greats.

    The rhythm guitars, as noted before, have not deviated much from that 'Deliverance' vibe, and seemingly also that Deliverance tone. Perhaps a bit more wet and warm, as opposed to dry and hollow, speaking of course, in entirely arbitrary terms. They stay true to the sort of developmental album 'Ghost Reveries' is, as will be discussed later.

    The bass guitar is actually more eventful than the rhythm guitars a lot of the time. This adds a very interesting dimension to the low-end of the recording, with even the most mundane and monotonous riffs on the album being enriched by interesting undertones.

    The drum work should really need no mention to those who have known Opeth for a few years. Martin Lopez is beyond exceptional on this album, crafting drum beats that are both fitting of the respective parts they reinforce and also very interesting to boot.

    The new element is of course the keyboards. Mellotrons and various ambient synth effects feature quite prominently throughout the album, used as more of a complementary tool rather than an element that drives the music.

    It's worth saying that this album has Opeth's most evident progressive influence yet. Quite probably even more so than Damnation, which felt more like a soft rock album. Along with the progressive rock influence, it seems that Per has also injected the band with his own style, adding a touch of stoner-rock influence, while Mikael, always looking to broaden horizons, has added very evident touches of old-school blues style to his various solos and improvisations on the record.

    It's been rumored that the lyrics on this album are in fact a conjoined concept story. In the wake of the album's release, the lyrics becoming public and also Mikael from the band speaking out, it seems that this was the original intention, but it was lost somewhere down the track as songs with unrelated themes found their way on the album.

    Having spoken of 'Ghost Reveries' being a developmental album before, it's now time to elaborate on that buzz word. Essentially, most of Opeth's older albums, in particular 'My Arms, Your Hearse' and 'Still Life' were were almost entirely riff driven, with the focus being on layering each individual part with instrument tracks and having the musical journey consist of aurally deciphering them - 'Ghost Reveries' seems like the polar opposite. The individual parts on 'Ghost Reveries' are usually quite simple, with the rhythm guitars being most indicative of this. The way that these have been implemented shows more focus on the development of a song as a whole. The song structure is a lot stronger, and more focal than other albums that Opeth have done. This is great for those who look for an 'experience' in listening to an album, and want to savour the journey. Not quite so great for those who look for hooks, or memorable riffs to enjoy their listening experience. This of course leads to some individual parts of the album being quite monotonous, yet when placed within context of an entire song, they seem to fit just fine.

    There are a few instances on the album which are a bit of a downer, and can only be called crude ideas at best. The intro to 'Beneath The Mire' is one of these. What was attempted there is admirable, but the execution is subpar at best, giving a sort of stoner/middle-eastern/modern RnB feel. Fortunately however it leads into one of the most powerful parts of the album, with walls of rhythm guitar and e-bow barraging the listener with one of the most blissful aural experiences that can be imagined. Getting back to the crude aspects of the album, Peter's solo during 'Beneath The Mire' is most certainly one of these. Whilst his lead playing may have worked during the 'Orchid' and 'Morningrise' days, all it's indicative of here is someone who's struggling to keep up with the new tier of musical artistry that Opeth have entered. Another notable element is the trademark, 'chorus' riff in 'The Grand Conjuration'. Whilst the chord progression isn't so bad in itself, the idea is simply too simple and repeated way too many times to be enjoyed, particularily during repeated listens. It almost feels like Opeth are forcing the song over the 10-minute mark. The track in general could use some cutting down.

    Having said all that, this album does feature some very solid sections, with unique ideas featured all over the place, showing that Opeth are still innovating. There is an astounding 3 'mellow' tracks on this album, which when coupled with the 'mellow' segments on the 'metal' tracks creates a very large portion of the album that is non-metal. What is still so very unique about Opeth is their ability to make these sections not seem like filler material, but actual elements that enhance their music.

    In songwriting terms, this is Opeth's most solid release yet. Over 10 years in the making, Opeth have finally achieved structural fluidity, and a level of flow in their music which surpasses that of most metal music. The individual parts may be a bit weak in comparison to older releases, prompting devotees of the 'Still Life' and 'My Arms, Your Hearse' era to cringe at times, but nonetheless this is Opeth's strongest and most mature release in recent years, showing marked progression, and very hopeful prospects for the future.


    Reviewed by: Ermin Hamidovic
     
  3. steel102

    steel102 ________

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    moonslap for president.
     
  4. NeverIsForever

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    that is an awesome review, Moonlapse
     
  5. aestusmaris@hotmail.com

    aestusmaris@hotmail.com The Devil's armpit

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    That's a really good review dude, good that you didn't refer to individual tracks too often but only for reference, go pimp yourself to some big music mags and get paid!
     
  6. wankerness

    wankerness Member

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    Nice review, now time for some suggestions to improve it. :D

    The bass guitar is actually more eventful than the rhythm guitars themselves a lot of the time. This adds a very cool dimension to the low-end of the recording, with even the most mundane and monotonous riffs on the album being enriched by interesting undertones.

    First, "themselves" sounds extremely redundant. "A lot" should probably be replaced with "much," it sounds clunky the way it is. Finally, since the rest of the sentence sounds professional (with words like mundane and monotonous), "cool" is just a terrible word choice.

    Essentially, as most of Opeth's older albums, in particular 'My Arms, Your Hearse' and 'Still Life' were driven almost entirely by the part currently playing, attempting to overlap, fit in as many undertones, overtones, harmonies, dissonances and atonalities over the one section, 'Ghost Reveries' is almost entirely the opposite.

    This sentence is a mess and both has improper grammar and makes it very hard to decipher what you're trying to say.

    Sorry to sound like a jerk, most of the review is fine and it's better written than your average "professional" metal review (such as the one linked to in this topic). This is just the english major in me coming out, I guess. :p
     
  7. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Yeah that's cool, thanks for the critique. I was really starting to push the review towards the end because I had so much to say about the album but I just lost the will to adhere to English standards hehe. I'll look into rephrasing those paragraphs.

    Glad you guys liked it too. I actually applied for a freelance reviewer position down here ages ago but got rejected. I don't really think it's as 'professional' as some of you guys say, but I do really appreciate the sentiment. Thanks!

    EDIT: I've posted a revised version of it, based off wankerness' comments, and also the fact that lyric booklets have come about for the album..
     
  8. Valtiel

    Valtiel Child of Metal

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  9. T-Rat

    T-Rat Muse Of Fire

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    oooh, good review Moon...
    (i'z an english teechur, and you mostly got gud grammerr... we all need editors...)
     
  10. oddentity

    oddentity New Metal Member

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    It's a fine review, Moonlapse, and I agree with most of it, but there was one point I disagree with - namely, the beginning of "Beneath the Mire". For me, that intro is one of the highlights of the album. It's just so "camp" and tongue-in-cheek. I love it! It sounds like a twisted side-show carnival, performed Opeth style. I'm sure the band had a lot of fun creating that one.

    Another thing I've found about this album is the joyous nature of it. There is a real sense of the band celebrating the sound of Opeth. Their pleasure in sharing this celebration with their long-time fans is quite evident. Even though I think "Still Life" is a greater work (and a true masterpiece), I really do enjoy this aspect of Ghost Reveries.
     
  11. Hubster

    Hubster ...

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    Nicely written, but I have to disagree.

    There's nothing "stoner" about the album at all. Stoner is akin to Doom, and then akin to the work of Cathedral! There's no stoner or doom influenced work on this record.

    But, to get to the point, a well written review Moonlapse. Good luck on the writing career there mate!
     
  12. goreISart

    goreISart blood drenched

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    Wrong. what about the psychadelic track?, "Beneath the Mire"?
     
  13. Yicjdic

    Yicjdic Member

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    Im thinking you need to do more smoking and less talking. You've kinda limited your scope there by saying stoner is akin to doom.
     
  14. Hubster

    Hubster ...

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    ^ Listen to early Cathedral... and I refer to Doom, not Doom Metal.
     
  15. King Dedede

    King Dedede Member

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    That is an excellent and well-written review Moonlapse (though I don't completely agree with all of it).
     
  16. naboo

    naboo Just Ask The Axis

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    Moonlapse, you really don't think highly of Peter do you?

    Great review by the way. I liked it more than the one on Sea of Tranquility.
     
  17. jeanreno

    jeanreno I said no olives!

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    Protip: Install a spellchecker or something.
     
  18. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Quite the contrary, from what I've seen of Peter, he seems like a really nice guy. It's his guitar playing I don't particularily like.
     
  19. Botfly

    Botfly "I Am"

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    Yes, and make sure you have Clippy there to asist you.
     
  20. naboo

    naboo Just Ask The Axis

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    Yeah, that's actually what I meant; his guitar playing.
     

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