OPETH – Watershed

OPETH have gone through a lot of changes throughout their impressive rise to the top of the underground. Watershed their ninth studio album, sees the band continue to develop, refine, and expand their unique sound creating what may be their most complete work to date. Oddly enough, Watershed opens up in a gentle, understated manner with “Coil” a soft, acoustic number that would have fit right at home on the band’s predominately acoustic album Damnation. Embracing classic 70’s folk prog, the song evokes an almost cinematic quality once the wind instruments kick in and guest singer Nathalie Lorichs arrives to match Mikael Akerfeldt‘s tender croon. But the soft breeze soon disappears with the arrival of the powerful, mammoth sounding “Heir Apparent.” Thick, dense layers of riffs permeate throughout the song before evolving into a maze of carefully thought out arrangements and intricate textures. “The Lotus Eater” follows up with furious blastbeats courtesy of new drummer Martin Axenrot, who delivers a much more powerful, thunderous hammering than either of his predecessors. Further enhancing “The Lotus Eater” is multi-instrumentalist Per Wiberg who takes on a more prominent role this time around with his extensive choice of keys, organs, and pianos creating new layers of sound as well as busy free flowing movements to Akerfeldt and new guitarist Fredrik Akesson‘s treasure trove of riffs and baroque, almost classical scales. The level of composition and performance on this track is at an all time high, and it makes it worth the price of admission alone. Then there’s “Hessian Peel” which starts with soulful vocals and elegant acoustics, gradually building in atmosphere and mood before Axenrot‘s double-bass drumming and the band’s driving metal riffs come storming in. The song continuously builds and changes taking the listener on a road less traveled. It pretty much goes without saying, but OPETH have delivered yet another level of quality musical craftmanship, once again creating another album of the highest standards which isn’t likely to be topped until their next audio journey. (Roadrunner Records)

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