39 May 2008
by Danny Montana
Prog rock has never been cool and prog metal is arguably even less cool but Opeth have somehow managed to rise above and beyond the condescension once again with their latest grand opus, Watershed.
Everyone appreciates the raw tenacity found in any band’s debut album and knows that over the next few years all the rough edges will be worn down and that rough diamond will sparkle. This is exactly what happened with Opeth, as they revealed their unorthodox leanings with Orchid as they showcased a semi-death metal, semi-folk amalgam of trademark organised confusion.
The Swedish pioneers grew and grew, smoothing their palates more and more, culminating in 2005’s Ghost Reveries touched down with a hugely compelling mixture of massive, rolling riffs, death metal grunts and growls and sweet, mesmeric singing.
Watershed is a grand exercise in using everything a band has learnt to date in the most effective way. There are twists and turns so magical and unexpected that you’ll hear something new with every listen – even if you spin the record twice a day for the next three months.
‘Porcelain Heart’, at eight minutes, is still the album’s most commercial sounding song and as such was rewarded with the status of the first single. ‘Hessian Peel’, however, is an entirely different proposition as an acoustic introduction is complemented by an extravagant arrangement which almost seems to tell a story, even without the words.
Watch the video to ‘Porcelain Heart’ by Opeth
Akerfeldt does tend to sing much more on Watershed, even when confronted by some enormous, unexpected blastbeats on ‘The Lotus Eater’ but as the psychedelic riffs drive and roll across the song, those growls seep out eventually. This song might showcase everything that is righteous about Opeth.
Indeed, while a watershed usually demarks a significant departure or change in course, Opeth have simply created another magnificent record which showcases each and every one of their talents in the most fantastic way.
Watershed by Opeth is out now on Roadrunner Records