Opeth – Pale Communion


Artist

Album

Pale Communion

Label

Roadrunner Records

Year

2014

Genre

For Fans Of

Porcupine Tree - Dream Theater

Summary

A masterpiece, in every sense imaginable.

Rating

95 / 100

There isn’t a lot of debate when it comes to Opeth. There aren’t a great deal of people, who have even a passing interest in metal, that would disagree with you if you proclaimed the veteran Scandinavian’s as one of the best metal bands in the world, and those in the minority wouldn’t have much of a leg to stand on. 2011’s ‘Heritage’ saw the band departing from their heavier progressive death metal sound, and moving towards a much cleaner sound, a movement that is continued with the band’s latest release, ‘Pale Communion.’

Eternal Rains Will Come’ is likely to shock any fans of the group (particularly anyone that never got around to ‘Heritage’) with a much cleaner sound than anything the band has ever produced, relying on keyboards and synthesizers to create something of an atmosphere to the song. Throughout the six minute opener, the message from Opeth is very clever. Expect the unexpected, because they refuse to be placed into a box.

Cusp Of Eternity’ sees some more driving guitar work, with a palm-muted guitar riff holding things together throughout the verse. However, the track gives off a similar vibe to the previous track, sounding as if it could fit into the progressive rock scene of the 70s and early 80s (sporting a virtuosic guitar solo that is very fitting), while also managing to sound like the band is merely repeating history.

It just wouldn’t be an Opeth album without an eleven minute epic like ‘Moon Above, Sun Below,’ a song, which takes the listener on a journey through a multitude of soundscapes, showing off an incredibly melodic and versatile performance from vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt. At times the frontman gets as close to screaming as possible without actually getting there, at others channeling a sort of jazz fusion style, and others still showcasing some impressive three and four part harmonies (obviously with some help from his fellow band members). ‘Elysian Woes’ capitalises on this melodic approach, with an introduction featuring only an arpeggiated acoustic guitar and Akerfeldt’s beautiful clean vocals, with only minimalistic contribution from the instrumental side of things.

Voice Of Treason’ has more of an edge to it than any of the other tracks on ‘Pale Communion‘. Don’t get too far ahead, because like the rest of the album, the track doesn’t even come close to ‘metal territory,’ with the band opting to focus heavily again on the keys and synthesizer, while also throwing some strings into the soundscape for good measure. That said, at times, it has more drive than any other track on the record.

Conclusion

For someone to be able to appreciate Opeth’s entire catalogue, they need to be able to approach their music with a truly open mind, in the broadest sense of the term. Some of the more elitist fans among the band’s fanbase probably still haven’t forgiven them for bringing things down with ‘Heritage’, and naturally won’t take well to the band taking a few steps further down that road. However, the fans that can approach this album without bias and prejudice are in for a treat, because ‘Pale Communion’ is an absolute masterpiece.

Tracklisting

  1. Eternail 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

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