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Opeth - Pale Communion Award winner

Opeth
Pale Communion
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 29 July 2014, 7:47 PM

OPETH is a Progressive Rock/Metal band from Stockholm Sweden.  They have one of the most storied and unique careers in music, and are one of the few bands in the history of what we have come to label as “progressive” or “heavy” music that are constantly evolving, and completely unafraid to change or experiment.  Though their earlier career was rooted in Death Metal, it was still a product all their own.  Over the years of their evolution, they have incorporated so many additional elements into their sound, and the one thing you could always count on with each subsequent release, was that you could not count on them making the same album twice.  Yet, everything they put out sounds like, well, OPETH.  “Pale Communion” marks the eleventh album from the band, and contains eight tracks.  “Eternal Rains Will Come” is the opening track.  The song opens in grand fashion, with a Proggy-Fusion feel, that swings with emotion and distinct accents.  Harmonic clean vocals enter the fray about halfway into the song, with a soft, beautiful approach.  It really has an old-school 70’s Prog feel to it, especially with the tone that the keyboards take.  Yet at the same time, there is a very modern element that reminds you that this is something you have not heard before.  “Cusp of Eternity,” by contrast, is a bit darker and moodier, a tale of suspense and mystery.  The chorus is just assertive enough without being overbearing to the ethereal feel of the track.  “Moon Above, Sun Below” really reminds me of the complexity and riff formation of earlier OPETH work, without the harsh vocals of course.  The chord patters are very distinct and intentional.  The famous interlude is back here again as well, and the song bends and turns with various melodies and directions.

“Elysian Woes” is the fourth track.  A terse acoustic melody carries the main part of a very atmospheric track, cautiously.  It is a very unassuming song that makes most of its presence towards the end.  “Goblin” is the fifth track.  A dancing keyboard melody twists behind the main instrumental riff, a riff of suspension. At any moment you feel as if the song is going to explode, but it never does, preferring to hold your attention to that feeling the entire way through.  This song really has a trippy, floating kind of air to it, almost as if you were attending a circus in an alternate universe.  The album turns back to more accessible melody with the song “River.”  The earlier part of the melody is built on major chords, giving you an uplifting and positive warmth.  It sways as does a summer breeze, and I feel like I am on the dock of a lake in the sunshine.  Later, it turns over to a darker melody, with a real contrast from where the song started.  “Voice of Treason” is another long and winding track, slow to reach the fruition of an accessible melody pattern.  As with a lot of Progressive music, the prize is found in the journey as opposed to a set destination.  They do nail a memorable chorus here.  Closing the album is a hymn called “Faith In Others.”  It’s a delicate number with a myriad of various passages, that just burn an indelible mark on your soul.  Overall this has to be some of the most pensive work that OPETH has done in their career.  There is grace and beauty to be found here at every turn, but I found the overall landscape was just not full enough with sound for me.

 

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Eternal Rains Will Come
2. Cusp of Eternity
3. Moon Above, Sun Below
4. Elysian Woes
5. Goblin
6. River
7. Voice of Treason
8. Faith In Others
Lineup:
Mikael Akerfeldt – Vocals, Guitars
Fredrik Akesson – Guitars
Martin Mendez – Bass
Joakim Svalberg – Keyboards
Martin Axenrot – Drums
Record Label: Roadrunner Records
     


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