Opeth: Blackwater Park (Vinyl 2xLP)
In many ways, Opeth’s Blackwater Park can be considered as their answer to The Beatles’ Revolver, both uncompromising and experimental, but equally commercially viable and unfuckwithable masterpieces. Twenty years on, Blackwater Park remains a breath-taking piece of work, dense with extraordinary melodic moments, spine-tingling atmospherics and agile but crushing heaviness. It is also arguably still the most cherished album in the Swedish metallers' illustrious catalogue as a rising progressive influence kicked open prog’s ornate doors, fed death metal through the cosmic kaleidoscope and introduced a generation of music nerds to a world of limitless musical possibilities. After four albums of imaginative and immersive heavy music, the band were primed and ready to make a career-defining statement. At the time, the metal world was flailing in a state of post-grunge confusion, meanwhile, Opeth were forging an entirely unique and fearlessly creative path.
Back in 2001, prog was steadily being rehabilitated in the eyes of the mainstream, but there was still something audacious about Opeth’s rise to prominence. With several songs passing the ten-minute mark, Blackwater Park was no kind of commercial compromise. Instead, its popularity and acclaim proved a couple of valuable points: that music fans (and metalheads, in particular) are often vastly more open-minded than they are given credit for, and that depth, subtlety, sophistication and imagination were all credible selling points. Already amassing a steadily building reputation, the record was received overwhelmingly positive from fans and critics alike. Owing to new production techniques, a lengthy recording time, and new personnel the record made its peers seem narrow, small and colourless in comparison.
From the towering grandeur of 'The Leper Affinity' to the psychedelic ebb and flow of the closing title track, Blackwater Park bulged with exhilarating dynamics and genre-mashing ingenuity, but it was also blessed with tunes: huge, life-affirming melodies and soaring choruses, instantly memorable lead guitar hooks and, through the gentler likes of 'Harvest' and the instrumental 'Patterns In The Ivy', flashes of exquisite, fragile restraint. Blackwater Park didn’t turn Opeth into millionaires, but it did introduce the band to a much larger audience, broadening their appeal from the somewhat restrictive confines of the metal underground to both the wider metal scene and, as only seemed right, the progressive rock world. Meanwhile, Opeth have spent the subsequent two decades forging ahead in a perpetual state of evolution, releasing many more ground-breaking and mind-expanding masterworks. They have grown from tentative beginnings to become one of the most consistently extraordinary live bands on the planet; and their music has continued to be a vital beacon in the heavy and alternative world.
2021 reissue, including bonus track.
- The Leper Affinity
- The Drapery Falls
- Dirge For November
- The Funeral Portrait
- Patterns In The Ivy
- Blackwater Park
- The Leper Affinity (Live)