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Opeth: Pale Communion

The Opeth of today is and isn't a different band to the one we have so eagerly followed. Yes the death vocals have been forgotten and the metal has been diluted but there is still no mistaking who you are listening to as Opeth continues to evolve. The mellow side of Opeth has always been there, just the musical mix in the past was more intense in their death metal pre Heritage era thus creating quite a dramatic contrast. While I won't deny that I do miss that side of the band, I have found myself enjoying Opeth's last album Heritage quite a lot and now Pale Communion even more so.

Pale Communion has that 70's progressive rock influence and sound to match, but is still very much infused with those Opeth trademark sounds of the past and a darkness remains along with Mikael Akerfeldt's magnetizing vocals, and the vocal melodies on this album are also most inviting. The guitars and keyboards are both so impressive on this release, with a strong input from the latter. Pale Communion was produced by Akerfeldt and mixed by Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree) so it's really not that surprising just how good this album sounds. Besides presenting the opportunity to experience a new Opeth release, my anticipation for Pale Communion was boosted by the fact that the Italian progressive rock group Goblin provided some inspiration. To the point of Opeth naming a clever instrumental track after the band. Those classic Dario Argento horror flicks like Suspira wouldn't have been the same without Golbin's wonderful soundtracks.

Opeth's albums have always featured exemplary performances and Pale Communion Is no exception, just take a listen to Martin Axenrot's drumming which is simply outstanding on this recording. From the start of the excellent opener "Eternal Rains Will Come" with that jazz/rock vibe Martin plays with such an entrancing feel. The next track "Cusp Of Eternity" is quite a straightforward number which has a fine groove and consistent pace that hooks you in, the aura this track exudes is also an attraction. "Moon Above, Sun Below" is the longest song on Pale Communion and displays the different sides of Opeth's sound. "Elysian Woes" is such a peaceful song while "River" starts with what could be labelled as a country feel featuring strong vocal harmonies, before unveiling some delightful rocking progressive style as Opeth gets heavier with a gripping instrumental section. Is that some double kicks I hear? Albeit briefly in "Voice of Treason" during one of the more lively passages, and that swinging feel of "Faith in Others" is another surprise that works so well especially with the added sounds of the string section.

As was the case with Heritage opinions will be mixed to say the least. But you would be kidding yourself by claiming that Pale Communion is not an Opeth release, as that it is and an exceptional one at that.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
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

Added: August 31st 2014
Reviewer: Scott Jessup
Related Link: Band Websiite
Hits: 4533
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Opeth: Pale Communion
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-08-31 08:49:42
My Score:

Well, if it hasn't already been obvious by now that Opeth have evolved from a daring, adventurous, progressive death metal act to a hard hitting, '70s inspired progressive rock band, then their latest release Pale Communion is all the proof you need. Their previous effort Heritage completely swung away from all extreme metal elements and threw lots of prog, folk, hard rock, & avant-garde flavors into their already eclectic mix, and Pale Communion is the next strep into their transition. What that means for all the fans who just can't let go of their death metal past remains to be seen, but for all those listeners who liked the bands progressive leanings but couldn't stomach the death metal growls, this new one will prove to be quite rewarding. Michael Akerfeldt's vocals are just gorgeous throughout Pale Communion, and the layers of keyboards (especially the wonderful Mellotron) courtesy of new guy Joakim Svalberg add all the vintage elements. "Eternal Rains Will Come" and "Cusp of Eternity" kick things off in fine fashion, two adventurous prog outings with some stellar guitar interplay from Akerfeldt & Fredrik Åkesson dueling over sumptuous keyboard textures. Drummer Martin Axenrot adds some intricate, jazzy rhythms on the epic "Moon Above, Sun Below" , the albums longest cut at just under 11-minutes. This one has it all, flamenco styled acoustic guitar work, heavy riffs, Deep Purple/Uriah Heep influenced Hammond organ, name it. The folk/country based "River" is a complete departure for the band, but it works, and "Goblin" is of course influenced by the legendary Italian act Goblin who created so many thrilling jazz/prog movie soundtracks back in the '70s & '80s.

Not much really qualifies as 'metal' on Pale Communion, but that's ok, as a good portion of the music still has heavy moments, but the progressive nature has been amplified greatly. If Akerfeldt's vision was to turn Opeth into a retro '70s prog behemoth, he is well on his way to making that a reality.

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