Review of Opeth "Ghost Reveries"
I have to admit -I was one of the many Opethian's skeptical of the band's new work after reading Roadrunner ads that presented the now quintet as 'the hottest new metal sensation since Slipknot'. Opeth were taking a hefty beating from many diehard metal fans out there who knew that the band had sold out. Some were even going so far as to proclaiming Ghost Reveries as the next St. Anger! I just ignored these stipulations and, being the diehard Opeth fan that I am, decided to take my stand in defense of their new album, with the optimism that it would be halfway decent. So you could imagine my apprehension when I received the new album in the mail and put it in my CD player for the first time.
I was sitting in my dark room, staring out my window at the despondent vision of ominous dark clouds, the rain pounding heavily onto the ground outside, with the drapes of my window only partially open, flushed with an unsettling feeling of bereavement; the perfect setting for a listening session with Opeth! I felt nothing short of exhilaration as I hesitatingly pressed the PLAY button, for I had been waiting for that moment for a long time. The first track unraveled into the most forceful, head banging riff I've heard yet from an Opeth song, perhaps reminiscent of Deliverance's Master's Apprentices - well maybe not quite as groovin' as the double-bass accompanied riff 6 min. into Blackwater Park's title track. But I knew, just after the first 20 seconds of the CD, that Opeth was still the band that I have grown to revere so deeply, in a genre all their own.
This, I suppose, would be the part where I delve into a track-by-track synopsis of the album, but this marvel of an opus just guides the listener through countless musical twists and turns, which are all brilliantly executed in light of Mikael's immaculate song writing, so I couldn't possibly accomplish this task with the space that I'm designated for this review. I will thus simply mention what I thought were perhaps the most noteworthy aspects of this transcendent work of art. First of all, this album, like all Opeth's albums, possesses its own unique thematic texture, this one existing somewhere in between sepulchral awakening and haunting carnival ambience, the latter due for the most part to the chilling keyboard tones of Per Wiberg. Mikael's clean vocals on this album are also worth mentioning--they are preeminent among his previous endeavors. His guitar solos, too, never sounded more epic, with some of them being eerily reminding of the lead work on such Pink Floyd tracks as Comfortably Numb, as if Mikael's fingers were possessed with the spirit of David Gilmour.
At around 66 minutes, this is definitely a must have, not only for every avid Opeth fan, but for anyone with a taste for progressive music in general. No - make that everyone, period. The three predominately soft tracks impeccably balance the brutal death metal facets. This album may surprise you, it may leave you agape, it may leave you at a loss of words, it may even incite suicidal impulses, depending on your current mental and emotional state. But one thing it will not do is disappoint. 5/5