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Opeth: In Cauda Venenum

In Cauda Venenum is now the fourth studio album from Opeth in the 'post-death metal' part of their career, and thirteenth overall. Since 2008's Watershed, Mikael Akerfeldt & Co. have fully embraced their classic progressive rock, psych, folk, and hard rock leanings, moving away from extreme metal completely and in the wake dividing their fanbase right down the middle. In Cauda Venenum certainly won't bring back folks yearning for the return of the death metal growls to the fold, but much of this new album contains plenty of 'metal' elements to join forces with the prog, space rock, folk, and psych leanings, making this one of Opeth's more rewarding & complex releases in years. Originally recorded in Swedish, the band decided also to give English versions of the songs, so you'll get two renditions of In Cauda Venenum across two CDs/LP's, each with a slightly different flavor but both containing an amazing vocal performance from Mr. Akerfeldt. I will reference the English version below.

After the haunting keyboard intro "Garden of Earthly Delights", the band rip into the engaging, ominous "Dignity", which features some stellar riffing courtesy of Akerfeldt & Fredrik Åkesson, easily one of the heavier tracks here, which is followed by the intriguing "Heart in Hand", another bruiser but highly proggy, space rock elements floating throughout and plenty of groove. "Next of Kin" sees some of the trademark Opeth folk creeping into the hard rock & prog, gorgeous passages seeping through the bombast, Joakim Svalberg's keyboards adding an orchestral flair to collide with the crushing riffs. The tender "Lovelorn Crime" follows, Mikael's longing vocals surrounded by piano and lush synths, which is followed by the frantic "Charlatan", the busy drums of Martin "Axe" Axenrot driving off Martín Méndez and his bulbous bass while guitars chug and the organ roars. It's one of the shorter tracks here but rocks hard, is quite proggy yet also catchy. The symphonic, mystical sounding "Universal Truth" again brings the hooks, but the psychedelic nature of the song will take you back to 1969, trippy keyboards, acoustic guitars, and lovely vocal harmonies sweeping the listener away to worlds beyond. Next up is "The Garroter", eerie folk and jazz textures providing for one of the albums more unique experiences, while "Continuum" again hints at folk, jazz, and psych, tender yet mysterious, with occasional moments of bombast peeking out from the almost Canterbury styled quirky prog rock. Love the screaming guitar solo and tremendous Hammond organ during the middle break, followed by Mellotron and acoustic guitar...breathtaking. The creepy 8+ minute "All Things Will Pass" closes out the album in style, fuzz-toned heavy rock riffing matching up with haunting vocals, acoustic guitars, intricate rhythms, and a wealth of prog-rock keyboard textures making for an enchanting listen.

It's been a real pleasure watching Opeth's slow evolution all these years to where they have arrived in 2019. While I've enjoyed all aspects of their career, and on occasion do indeed miss the glorious progressive death metal days, I've found plenty to love on these last four studio records and the remarkable ability for Akerfeldt and the band to create such original, musically complex works time and time again is awe inspiring. In Cauda Venenum isn't an album that will immediately grab you on first listen, but each time you allow it to seep into your soul it opens up new & glorious elements that you hadn't heard before, the rewards fully satisfying and leaving you craving for more. Job well done, and an easy contender for album of 2019.

Track Listing
01. "Livet’s Trädgård" / "Garden Of Earthly Delights" (Intro)
02. "Svekets Prins" / "Dignity"
03. "Hjärtat Vet Vad Handen Gör" / "Heart In Hand"
04. "De Närmast Sörjande" / "Next Of Kin"
05. "Minnets Yta" / "Lovelorn Crime"
06. "Charlatan"
07. "Ingen Sanning �"r Allas" / "Universal Truth"
08. "Banemannen" / "The Garroter"
09. "Kontinuerlig Drift" / "Continuum"
10. "Allting Tar Slut" / "All Things Will Pass"

Added: October 6th 2019
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1742
Language: english

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