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MetalGuy71
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:36 pm

I didn't love Heritage as much as I thought I would, so I'm a little hesitant to check out this new one. I'll probably give it a listen at some point but I'm not getting all excited over it.

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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:48 pm

To me Heritage was very much a big mood piece, entirely created for atmosphere and environment, but maybe that's just me. It's one of those albums I can't just casually listen to in the background while feeding my kids or cleaning the house. But when I kick back and invest in it, it's totally transcendent, especially how some secondary instruments (organ, flute) weave in and out of the mix. From what I've heard of Communion, it seems more accessible. I'll take it either way.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:38 pm

This album has me in a grip. Each track has something different to offer, and the nuances are like happy surprises. Goblin is pure fun, a great homage, and awesome throwback. So far my favorite is Voice of Treason, very moving and has a great build. The whole album has a great fluidity about it, and made for a pleasant highway drive. This is a lovely record, best I've heard this year.

Also worth noting is the purity of the mix. I was able to crank it loud in my truck with absolutely no distortion. Barely touched the eq, too. So pleasant after a day of listening to the new Overkill, Accept, and Priest, which sound like garbage.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Wed Aug 27, 2014 5:15 pm

Quote :
I was able to crank it loud in my truck with absolutely no distortion. Barely touched the eq, too. So pleasant after a day of listening to the new Overkill, Accept, and Priest, which sound like garbage.

Dynamic range is an amazing thing:

Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls - Dynamic range = 5db
Overkill - White Devil Armory - Dynamic range = 5db
Accept - Blind Rage - Dynamic range = 6db

Opeth - Pale Communion - Dynamic range = 11db

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corplhicks
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Wed Aug 27, 2014 5:50 pm

Exactly. I respect the fact that some people can't tell a difference, but hell this is practically physical evidence. When your set of high watt import speakers are overpowered by a CD at moderate volumes, assuming everything is st correctly and there are no issues with connection, that should be more than enough proof! Laughing
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Gilbert
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:42 am

it is still impossible for me to get into this band.

I only own watershed, which I heard again last night. still nothing...
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MetalRob331
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:31 am

Gilbert wrote:
it is still impossible for me to get into this band.

I only own watershed, which I heard again last night. still nothing...

Im with you on that! I will say this new album has its moments, but like their past releases, I get easily bored.
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Runicen
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:22 am

I gave the new album a spin last night. I'm mostly just torn over the "new direction" of the band. I mean, they went from having a rather unique hybrid form of metal to (to my ears) just recreating the sounds of 60s and 70s psych/prog rock. I mean, they do it WELL, but it feels more like a step backwards than a genuine evolution.

Maybe some more spins will change my opinion, but it's not lighting my socks on fire just yet.
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glassprison
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:47 am

Runicen wrote:
I gave the new album a spin last night.  I'm mostly just torn over the "new direction" of the band.  I mean, they went from having a rather unique hybrid form of metal to (to my ears) just recreating the sounds of 60s and 70s psych/prog rock.  I mean, they do it WELL, but it feels more like a step backwards than a genuine evolution.  

Maybe some more spins will change my opinion, but it's not lighting my socks on fire just yet.

That's pretty much how I feel. If there were a couple of heavy sections thrown into some of these compositions I would probably appreciate it a lot more.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 12:30 pm

There's tons of heavy on this album, even more than Heritage. Cusp alone is practically a metal song.

I can understand why this wouldn't be someone cup of tea, but i certainly wouldn't call it a step back for the band. The creativity and songwriting here is astounding, and like most traditional prog and jazz it requires multiple listens to truly appreciate that. That's how musical transcendence works with more complex forms.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:39 pm

The album definitely has heavy sections, but they don't use the modern-metal chunka chunka processed guitar sound, so maybe that confuses people that think metal didn't exist before digital distortion pedals, dual rectifier amps, active pickups and mid-scoop EQ curves. It's heavy in a Rainbow, Deep Purple, Lucifer's Friend, kind of way. Plus the drums sound like actual drums, not cannon fire.

Backwards? C'mon. The primary difference are instrumental sounds. Vintage guitars, tube amps, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, mellotron, a real string section instead of synth pads, etc. From a songwriting perspective it's still Opeth and couldn't be mistaken for anyone else. They aren't copying 70s prog rock, they are using the instrumental sounds of the 70s as inspiration. The painting is very similar, but the canvas changed.

If you have an appreciation for music from that era and understand bands like King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Lucifer's Friend, Camel, Yes, etc then I think you'll really enjoy this album. If that style isn't your cup of tea then there are a million other metal bands out there to choose from.
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Boris2008
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:28 pm

The fact that I've only just given this a listen kind of shows that it wasn't really a priority for me. I liked Heritage but i don't go back to it often and I've been meaning to check out the back catalogue for ages and haven't gotten round to it.

But this record is fantastic! I couldn't care if it's not metal, it's amazing! Catchy enough to draw me in, interesting enough to keep me there. Love it.
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glassprison
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:54 pm

By heavy I just meant that kind of growling Opeth style that was Ghost Reveries, Deliverance, etc. I understand that it might still be "heavy" in the sense that you guys are suggesting; you'll get no disagreement from me there. Still, it was pretty drastic to just eliminate altogether many of the aspects that people came to expect from an Opeth record (Watershed to Heritage). They absolutely have the right to do so, but I disagree with with what S.D. suggests; that is, "there are a million other metal bands out there to choose from." No other bands were doing quite what Opeth was from 1993-2010.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:44 pm

How is Heritage and Pale Communion so shocking when Opeth already released Damnation, a mellower album than either of those way back in 2003?

Mikael stated back in 2011 that Opeth either had to change or end completely. He was no longer inspired by writing death metal songs and was also tired of the modern metal production sound. He considered disbanding Opeth entirely and going solo the same way that Steven Wilson did when Porcupine Tree ceased to inspire him. But Martin Mendez was supportive of changing the direction of the band and told Mikael to write whatever he wanted and the band would support him. So Mikael wrote the song "Lines In My Hand" and that track solidified the direction they would explore on Heritage. Pale Communion is an even stronger record and all the performances are inspired so it's obvious the rest of the band is happy with the new direction.

Sometimes a group evolves to a point where some of their fan base can't follow, you can either take the easy route and just keep regurgitating the same style on album after album, or you follow your muse and create the art you want to create. Some fans will move on, some will follow right along with you and sometimes you might grab a whole new group of fans as well.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:58 pm

Quote :
How is Heritage and Pale Communion so shocking when Opeth already released Damnation, a mellower album than either of those way back in 2003?

It was different because it was released just 5 months after Deliverance, and there was the sense that it was something different, after which they would go back to the previous style, which they did for the most part with Ghost Reveries.


I understand the rest of what you are saying, and I'm willing to support the band's new direction even if I don't enjoy it as much.

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Runicen
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:14 pm

I don't disagree with any of the points being made here, but I think there's a context that was lost to Opeth's music by ditching the heavier MODERN texture in their music. I'm not expecting them to maintain blood ties to Deicide in everything they did, but a lot of what made Damnation so amazing was that it was a mellow album released by an otherwise incredibly heavy band. Opeth was amazing because their quiet passages AND their loud passages meant something in the context of their songs.

In a few ways, I feel a bit like this is a medicated version of what they did.

Imagine you have a rather intense friend who is suddenly put on some really intense drugs to mellow him out. Yeah, it's still him in there, but now everything is sort of forcibly subdued and it seems unnatural. That's close to how I feel about Opeth. It feels like too dramatic a shift to be natural to them and I find myself wondering when they'll actually let some overt heaviness enter their music.

By comparison, you have an album like Ki from Devin Townsend, written when he was almost phobic about heavier music having just cleaned up. It gets HEAVY, but it never lets itself jump over the hill and have a full release. You HEAR his restraint by what he does do but also in what he doesn't do. With Opeth's new direction, it doesn't have the quality of "This is the same personality through a different lens." It feels like something new entirely OR the old thing being artificially restrained.

Did that come across at all or did I disappear up my own metaphorical ass?
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:34 pm

I understand what you're getting at but I definitely can't agree with it.  "Artificially restrained" would be a band continuing to release exactly what the fans expect even when the artist no longer feels inspired by it.  Mikael was being restrained by the expectations of the genre, by being brave and deciding to do exactly what he wanted to do (whether the old fans liked it or not) he reinvigorated the band and his own songwriting.  

There is still just as much juxtaposition of style here as their earlier albums.  Listen to the track River, which starts out as a major-key acoustic rock number not unlike CSN&Y and then changes halfway through into a heavy fusion jam.  Or listen to Moon Above, So Below which with a more "metal" guitar sound could fit on any of their albums from Blackwater Park onward.

We've gotten to a point where people seem to think "heavy" can only be accomplished by massive metallic riffing 100% of the time and it's becoming increasingly obvious that people are reacting more to instrumental sound than they are the actual content being played.
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Runicen
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:17 pm

S.D. wrote:
I understand what you're getting at but I definitely can't agree with it.  "Artificially restrained" would be a band continuing to release exactly what the fans expect even when the artist no longer feels inspired by it.  Mikael was being restrained by the expectations of the genre, by being brave and deciding to do exactly what he wanted to do (whether the old fans liked it or not) he reinvigorated the band and his own songwriting.


I would NEVER take away from this. It honestly just may be my subjective take that this particular "ballsy" move hasn't really had much impact with me. it's also not helped by the fact that "prog" is becoming hip again, but not in a way I particularly like. Progressive music, to my ears, has always been about taking established song forms and %$#@ing with them until they were still recognizable as what they started as, but have blurred into other areas like smeared watercolor (damn, I'm on fire with deep metaphor today...). I can't help the feeling that Opeth WAS more progressive as a metal band that pushed into other areas than they are as a "Johnny Come Lately" prog band just mining the same vein in much the same way as Steven Wilson, etc.

Granted, all respect to Wilson as a producer and remixer - his work on a number of reissues can't be touched. Ditto for loving a LOT of Porcupine Tree (particularly the earlier stuff up through In Absentia). Same for Akerfeldt in making this move, but while it's a ballsy move to make music that completely divorces the band name from its original audience and vibe, it's not speaking to the quality of the music and I don't feel the same sense of "Wow" when I listen to the "new" Opeth that I did with the old Opeth. Before, I was blown away by songs that made me go, "How the hell did he make those sounds work together?" Now, it feels kind of rote and no number of vintage sounds or weird time signatures or touchstones among older bands are really going to change my mind on that.

So, props for Mikael having the guts to follow his muse where it wanted to go, but I don't think the music was really served by it.


S.D. wrote:
We've gotten to a point where people seem to think "heavy" can only be accomplished by massive metallic riffing 100% of the time and it's becoming increasingly obvious that people are reacting more to instrumental sound than they are the actual content being played.

There are different types of heavy, but I'm not looking for riffage here. I'm looking for emotional dynamics and this "new prog" stuff doesn't really seem to do emotions at all, much less dynamics within it. Keep in mind, I'm speaking as a metal fan who started on prog. Metal is and was my "second language" after bands like Pink Floyd at their most atmospheric and pretentious. Think in terms of Classical music - you have softer passages and then you pull in the ENTIRE orchestra to darken and thicken out the intense passages - creating a sonic dynamic. It sounds louder and more intense literally because more air is being moved, and violently at that!

I mean, when I have to say that I think "The Final Cut" is heavier than the new Opeth album, that's kind of saying something...

Not saying what they're doing can't be good or talking any smack on people who love it or even just like it, but I feel like there was a baby tossed out with the bathwater here and that's my great disappointment. Granted, ask me again in six months and I may be saying, "Blackwater Park, Shmackwater Park..." We'll see how that rolls out though.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Sat Aug 30, 2014 12:37 pm

I understand what you both mean (Runicen and S.D.) and agree with you both, but I too am feeling a bit left out with the last two albums. Admittedly I'm a new Opeth convert (past 4 years) but fell in love and appreciate both their heavy and the beautiful well orchestrated pieces. M.A. is an amazing guitarist/musician (saw them on the Heritage tour). I think what I love most about Opeth is that they can meld the heavy with beautiful and complex "runs" in the middle. Think "Reverie/Harlequin Forest" or "Grand Conjuration."
Neither had crunching riffs.
Neither had detuned 3 chord progressions.
But both are very "heavy" and flat out amazing pieces of work. I don't enjoy Opeth because they sound like Priest or Metallica, but rather because they started and defined a genre. I didn't like harsh vocals before Opeth and the way they blended them in won me over. Because of Opeth I now enjoy bands like Insomnium and Amon Amarth. Honestly I'm not sure I would have had an appreciation for them if it weren't for Opeth.
Of course they're free to make whatever they want. Being the extremely talented musicians they are the new album kicks ass on a musical level. It's diverse and complex and an album that you'll hear something new every time you spin it.
Heck, I even listen to it while I'm making dinner. Problem is that my wife (who is a country music fan) didn't say a word when I did. That would never happen with Orchid, or Ghost Reveries.
Therein lies the problem Smile
Having said that I want the 70's inspired Opeth that listens to Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Budgie. Not the Yes and Camel inspiration that this album is closer to. (I'm not dogging Yes or Camel, love both)
Will I see them when they tour? Yes. Will I hope they close the show with Blackwater Park, In The Mist She Was Standing or The Baying of the Hounds? Yes, yes and well Deep Purple.
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Wayne
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Sun Aug 31, 2014 8:01 am

I can't decide on how I really feel about opeth these days. I've been a fan for a long time, since they released morningrise, and they've firmly remained one of my favourite bands. What I always loved about them was the fact they were so different. I looked forward to every album as I could spin it knowing I'd be getting some death metal but they are such talented musicians I knew they'd be much more to discover. I could see as the years rolled by they would ultimately end up ditching the death metal side of things which is a shame in my eyes as the contrast they offered between the heavy death stuff and the lighter prog stuff created a unique musical landscape.

I have enjoyed heritage and I really do like pale communion. Lets face it despite the change in style these guys have bags of talent and know how to write good music. I can't help but wish they had retired the opeth name and started again if they are now ditching the death metal forever. I totally get it that people change and musical tastes and influences change, evolve and develop but I can't help but think when bands want to change, and I'm not talking minor change where they develop their sound I'm talking major overhaul with a new direction, then it should be done under a different name. Alas business is business and the opeth name has a certain pulling power that a new name or a M.A solo album wouldn't have.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:17 pm

Alfred Hitchcock didn't change his name when he did films in different genres, neither did Stanley Kubrick or Howard Hawks or Robert Wise or Orson Welles. Same artist, same vision, different styles. Mikael is Opeth, he's the leader/songwriter/producer, whatever he decides to do with Opeth is his choice...the audience has the option to either follow along or hop off if they no longer enjoy the direction...but asking an artist to change the name of the band is silliness.

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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:06 pm

S.D. wrote:
Alfred Hitchcock didn't change his name when he did films in different genres, neither did Stanley Kubrick or Howard Hawks or Robert Wise or Orson Welles.  Same artist, same vision, different styles.  Mikael is Opeth, he's the leader/songwriter/producer, whatever he decides to do with Opeth is his choice...the audience has the option to either follow along or hop off if they no longer enjoy the direction...but asking an artist to change the name of the band is silliness.  


Well that's your opinion and I respect that but i'll disagree and say that changing the bands name is not silliness. Silliness is trying to compare film directors to a metal band if I'm honest.

Bands, especially in the rock/metal world of music cultivate a far more unique and special bond with their fanbase than in most other entertainment media. As a fan I have access to a wide variety of music in a wide variety of styles. Heck I own thousands of albums by so many bands in so many styles that I can always find a band or an album to listen too no matter what mood I'm in. I don't need or particularly want a band like Opeth to start sounding like its 1972 again. I have albums by other bands that fill my need for 70's progressive rock. I want Opeth to sound like Opeth, that cool progressive death metal band that uses their incredible song writing and playing abilities and their love of 70's prog rock to make them stand out as unique and interesting.

If their tastes in music have changed and they want to start a new chapter either form a side project like M A did with Bloodbath and so many other artists do like mike amott with spiritual beggars or start a new band and draw a close to Opeth.

Yes fans are free to move away but keeping the Opeth name will always guarantee a certain number of sales buy older fans hoping for a return to the old days so it is with a business eye that MA carried on with the name.

I look at bands like Anathema and I can't help but feel that keeping the name has probably hindered them based on the market they are trying to break into these days. They would be at home on stage with cold play yet many people would still see them as a death doom band. They should have retired the name after eternity and started again.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:32 pm

Only now would this conversation even be happening.

Did Pink Floyd change their name when they changed their style, did the Beatles when they released Revolver, what about Deep Purple? Black Sabbath went through a style change on Heaven & Hell, dump the name! What about Rainbow when they released Down to Earth?

I'm afraid that people just see music as product these days and as such brand identity is king.

Glad to see bands like Opeth & Alcest still following where their inspiration takes them.
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Runicen
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:05 am

Boris2008 wrote:
Did Pink Floyd change their name when they changed their style, did the Beatles when they released Revolver, what about Deep Purple? Black Sabbath went through a style change on Heaven &  Hell, dump the name! What about Rainbow when they released Down to Earth?

I'm not as familiar with the Rainbow discog, but I can definitely say that the other examples here aren't really particularly applicable to the IMMENSE directional shift we're talking about here.

I mean, the Beatles making Revolver took what they were already doing and added to it. Nothing was taken away and no major transition took place short of no longer writing with an ear towards reproducing the songs live. There were also signs of that happening on Rubber Soul, so the change was more gradual.

With Pink Floyd, there were transitions as the main writers changed out, but I don't really know that there was a huge break with a core sound after Syd Barrett left. Even then, Saucerful of Secrets had enough of his sound that it comes off as more of a transition than an abrupt break.

Purple changed singers, but there really weren't any super abrupt changes where you'd have to say "This sounds like two different bands." Hell, even with Coverdale fronting the band, it didn't sound too different from the Gillian albums. Ditto for Gillian starting with the band on the Concerto album. It was musically a lot more ambitious than what came before, but short of the addition of the orchestra, it still sounded like the same band.

The closest example I can come up with for what you're going for is Marillion after Fish left and they brought in Steve Hogarth. Not only did the singer change (and that was a DRASTIC change), but so too did the music, becoming a lot more atmospheric and stretched out compared to the much more muscular and "note heavy" stuff that came before (my perception). And, in that example, the band have said pretty regularly that they wish they had changed the band name because of how much their legacy dogged them ever afterwards.

Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins is in the presses now lamenting the fact that he doesn't feel like he can move in the directions he wants to with SP without being expected to play his 90s stuff over and over again when he tours and that he may retire the band name if the new stuff doesn't go over well. Granted, he's a bad example because he's one step down from Morrissey on the "jerking around your fans" spectrum, but I think the illustration still works.

When you're talking about a songwriter or a director, the expectation is that you're getting a solo project. When you're talking about a "band," you expect the band. I mean, this is why Ian Anderson has retired the Jethro Tull name - he wants to work with who he wants to work with without hearing any crap about it. He may have been "the band" (debatable since the players in the band have definitely flavored the material too) in that he wrote almost all of the material himself, but he still recognized the power of the name, even if just to pack the thing away.

This new Opeth would have been received very differently as a series of Mikael Akerfelt albums. Note that few people were really disappointed when Storm Corrosion didn't sound like death metal. Nobody really expected it to or it would have been an Opeth album.

I mean, maybe this IS all unfair and we're all being closed-minded about this. I'm not questioning the value of the music or even saying he shouldn't be ALLOWED to continue using the same. What I AM saying is that, to my (subjective) mentality and ears, this feels a bit like a bait and switch and I'm not as keen on what I've been given in exchange for what was expected. I don't, personally, feel that this is as strong as what's gone before. Opeth was always kind of the medicine wrapped in candy. You got really smart composition and really wildly inventive music but it was couched in terms of metal: riffs, growling, etc. It was only on repeated listens that you ended up getting the whole effect - the albums sort of unveiled themselves under scrutiny, but they drew you in. You WANTED to dig deeper and you ENJOYED digging deeper.

The new stuff has a bit more of a "homework" feel to it, where it's the "Only those of truly advanced musical tastes will try to take this in" vibe. Sorry, but while I like depth in my music, I hate feeling like I'm required to "get" it in order to proceed. Lest we forget, music is about enjoyment and - at least for the moment - I'm deriving a considerable bit less from the latest stuff than I did from the stuff that drew me in to Opeth in the first place.

Just my take and, honestly, it won't stop me from picking up the next one out of curiosity if nothing else. Whatever my gripes about the name, I have the utmost in respect for the MIND behind the music and Mikael will always get my $20 as I follow him through his journey, even if nothing ends up glued to my CD player like Damnation did.
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PostSubject: Re: the official OPETH thread   Tue Sep 02, 2014 1:51 pm

On a long flight I listened to Pale Communion again. The problem for me is that the first half of the album seems boring as hell, until you you get to "Goblin," which is really fun, and then the final three tracks are just absolutely brilliant in composition and execution.

While I appreciate what they did here, I then for the first time in a few years I re-listened to Damnation and was just amazed by how much better I found that album: while it might be more simple the melodies and lyrics that they came up with are just particularly special and also accessible, just an incredibly great album.
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