This is about as perfect a metal album can get in my opinion. Blackwater Park is a major triumph in the Opeth catalog, and ranks right up alongside Morningrise and Still Life as the best material the band has released. Why you ask? Well, these three albums perfectly blend thunderous death metal, acoustic progressive rock and folk, and intricate progressive metal, in such as way that even the brutality is beautiful on the ears. When was the last time you heard someone call death metal beautiful? It certainly is in this instance.
"The Leper Affinity" meshes crushing and intricate guitar riffs with growling and clean vocals, as well as some tender acoustic sections, for a song that is as haunting as it is jarringly powerful. An Opeth classic. One minute it lulls you into a serene sense of calm before the rampaging riffs once again blast into the mix with the impact of an earthquake. If you love ultra complex riffs and time changes, then"Bleak" will certainly float your boat, a song also littered with some neat Middle Eastern themes and dark lyrics. Wonderful acoustic guitar work and haunting vocal melodies are the rage on the gorgeous "Harvest", while "The Drapery Falls" is a metallic and punishing track, another contender for a classic of the Opeth repertoire. The presence of Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson is all over this piece, as well as the rest of the album, and it seems that both he and Opeth really benefitted from their collaboration here, as evidenced on subsequent albums from both.
More tender and heartwarming acoustic interludes mixed with rampaging death metal abound on "Dirge for November", but it's all death on the crushing yet melodic "The Funeral Portrait", complete with some great sounding guitar riffs and horror induced vocals. "Patterns in the Ivy" is the calm before the storm of the epic title track, a song that goes through many twists and turns, and is just a joy to listen to.
This album, and really any of the Opeth discography, is not one that listeners might get all at one sitting, or even a few. This is an album that will grow on you over time, and reveal new layers with each listen. As that happens, the songs will become like close, personal friends to you, and you might start to get a warm, fuzzy feeling each time the sounds flow through your speakers. It took me a good three years to fully appreciate and understand the magic created by this band, and I can finally say that Opeth have been releasing some of the most thought provoking and challening music around, and Blackwater Park is one of their jewels.
1) The Leper Affinity
3) The Drapery Falls
4) Dirge For November
5) The Funeral Portrait
6) Patterns In The Ivy
7) Blackwater Park
8) Still Day Beneath the Sun (bonus)
9) Patterns in the Ivy II (bonus)
10) Harvest (video)