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coverpic flag Sweden - Full Moon 55 - 04/08/01

Blackwater Park
Music for Nations

From Sweden comes this remarkable progressive death metal band, who throughout the nineties have blessed metal fans with their unique blend of hard and soft, aggressive and melancholic works of art. Their latest release provide more of the same, but with a better production and refined songwriting.

One of the high points of Opeth's style is the constant push/pull relationship between different guitar and vocal parts. Most of their songs contain both the aggressive, crunching guitar riffs with the typical death metal "cookie monster" vocals, and the more subtle approach of acoustic guitars with "clean" vocals - the latter providing a beautiful, melancholic counterpoint to the former.

Blackwater Park has been co-produced by Opeth and Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, who also provides some additional vocals, guitar and a lovely piano outro to the opening track. The sound is slightly more refined than on earlier releases. But the guitar sounds are still capable of tearing your wallpaper to shreds, you just have to turn the volume up a little more. The opening track, The Leper Affinity, sets the pace with some fast riffing, and the gloomy mood is there too, with a mournful voice lamenting the lost days of spring. Bleak follows up with a disturming vampiric lyrical theme, before you get a rare ballad - Harvest - beautifully done, and strangely fitting in between all the madness. The ride goes on, delivering interesting melodies, brilliant playing, and lots of gloom.

I like to compare death metal with opera: for most people the first impression will be that it's just utter noise, not worthy of being called music, but if you stay with it for a while, you'll eventually get it. Or not at all. It's definitely not music for everyone, but for those willing to give it some time, the rewards are plenty. Because of the beautiful "breathing spaces" in Opeth's music, Blackwater Park might be a very good place to start if you're interested in getting into some of the more extreme music that's out there. Five severed goat heads out of five.

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