By now most know that Opeth has set a new standard in progressive metal. To say that they do all things well, may be a bit of an understatement. Where once, in their early years, they were known for purely death metal. Now Opeth easily blends significant melodic progressive metal with nods to their death metal heritage. Mostly this comes in the form of persistent growling vocals and heavy riffs. Yet, they now offer sophisticated arrangements blessed with surprising rhythms, time changes, keyboards and vocals. Opeth is not content with past virtues or accolades. Their music has become both provocative and progressive. 'Watershed' is another fine example of their continuing evolution.
Though, as always, I can do without the dirty death vocals, Opeth's music is certainly compelling. One listen to the opening number, 'Coil,' makes you recheck the crystal case in your hands. Is this Opeth? Yes, of course. It's almost folk, nearly gothic, in feel; and with the female vocals it becomes mysteriously quiet and subtle. 'Lotus Eater' may give you the same sensations. Clean vocals are clearly evident (more please) though surrounded by the dirty, but their are moments that defy with almost jazz-like qualities. On 'Burden' the keyboards take on an almost eerie quality and then later takes you back to 1970's progressive rock. The guitar work soars in wonder. The vocals and vocal arrangements are simply brilliant reminding one of Pink Floyd. It's easily my favorite track on the whole album.
If you wish for more of their past, give a listen to 'Heir Apparent' where their death metal heritage thrives. However, as you continue in this musical journey you will be surprised by the accomplishment of 'Porcelain Heart' which is mysteriously subtle in its simplicity. 'Hessian Peel' also falls into this category with a strong reference to death metal about half way through. All the tracks on 'Watershed' are relatively long. But they are filled with brilliance and precision. This is an exciting and stellar album from a band unafraid to expand their scope.
Opeth has again exceeded their past boundaries on 'Watershed.' This is simply exceptional material: progressive, provocative and purely, again, evolutionary for this band. As much as I dislike even a single shade of death metal and its dirty vocals, I can easily make an exception for Opeth. This is fine music which deserves even the most jaded skeptic's attention. I'm sure their are some fans that will lament Opeth's melodic progressive qualities, but I say that they are either dwelling in the past or simply ignorant. This is a great work. Highly recommended.
- Craig Hartranft
Opeth continues to defy both category and comparison to any genre or past works. 'Watershed' may be exactly what the word implies, a significant moment of accomplishment and promise. It's incredibly provocative and immensely enjoyable.
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