Opeth - Blackwater Park
On March 12, 2001, "Opeth" releases one of the pinnacles of it's carrier, the fifth studio album "Blackwater Park".
This album is without a doubt the band's breakthrough album to the Metal world scene. Just to be clear, for over 10 years before this album's release, "Opeth" did not embark on a single tour outside the borders of Sweden, its homeland. Following the release of "Blackwater Park" and the commercial success that came with it, the band embarked on their first tour in the US followed by a long tour in Europe and began to establish their status and expand their devoted fan base.
This commercial breakthrough was made possible, among other things, thanks to the band's unique collaboration with Steven Wilson, who not only produced the album, but plays guitar, piano and sings in 4 of the album's eight songs. It can be said that Wilson received an almost free hand from guitarist, singer and band leader Mikael Akerfeldt, thus helping "Opeth" to change not only the sound, but also the style that would allow their big break. It was a dual and fruitful collaboration that contributed to both sides. Following the change in the sound and musical line of "Opeth", Wilson will continue to accompany them on future albums as well and help them establish their status as a progressive-death-metal band. Wilson, on the other hand, will take the powerful roughness and riffs from "Opeth", which will begin to seep more and more into "Porcupine Tree's" albums, starting with "In Absentia", which was recorded shortly afterwards.
"Opeth", founded in Stockholm Sweden, in 1990, by guitarist and singer Mikael Akerfeldt and began it's career as a Death Metal band with Black, Doom and Progressive Metal influences. The first album "Orchid" released in 1995, drew quite a few of the aforementioned genres, which will continue to accompany the band on the next album - "Morningrise" from 1996, which was even darker and heavier. But then, the band's style began to change as they entered a mix, Folk, Jazz and especially Progressive influences, which would grow until 1999 with the album "Still Life", which brought the band even closer to Prog. This change in the band's musical line will allow them to arrive to Steven Wilson's production table, ready and willing for the creation of the album that will change their future.
The musical influence of the band on this album, can already be learn from the album title. "Blackwater Park" was a German progressive rock band, and it seems that the choice of name was not accidental.
The album includes 8 tracks, most of which were written by the band's leader, guitarist and singer Mikael Akerfeldt. It features the ultimate formula of "Opeth" - a combination of melodic ballads with Clean singing and a Metallic, brutal raged attack, with growling roars. Here exactly lies the greatness of the band which is radically expressed on this album. The incredible ability to shift between melodic, magical and soft moments to heavy, menacing and dark parts. Despite these all-too-extreme dynamic changes, "Opeth" manages to make this musical roller coaster feel like a quiet, smooth ride on the highway.
The album features the band's pinnacle tracks, such as the opening song "The Leper Affinity", which best presents the extreme and deadly combination between the rage attack with the growling roars and the clean and melodic parts. Between rough and cruel electric riffs, and delightful acoustic chords, up to the surprising ending of Steven Wilson's piano playing.
The second track "Bleak" takes us to a darker and heavier place, with influences from the band's first albums followed by a big surprise, with the melodic and quiet section in the middle of the piece, which develops with delightful guitar parts and clean vocals singing by Steven Wilson.
"Harvest" is as its name implies. It completely "harvests" all the growling singing and leaves us with a "clean", quiet and melodic piece, which has become a regular on the band's next albums, givig the listener a regular and momentary rest.
"The Drapery Falls" is one of the band's anthems in its live shows. Steven Wilson's influence is well felt here, especially in the more Progressive parts and in the Jazzy influences.
The fifth track "Dirge for November", is the first of two on the album, whose music was written in collaboration with lead guitarist Peter Lindgren. The song opens and ends with a kind of guitar lament, just like the name of the song implies ("Lament for November"). The song melancholic ending naturally connects to the theme of the next track "The Funeral Portrait".
The short instrumental track "Patterns in the Ivy" leads us to the main musical work and the theme song "Blackwater Park" which seals the album in an epic way.
As mentioned, the successful collaboration with Steven Wilson will continue on subsequent albums as well. After the album's release, "Opeth" announced a special project, a double album, half of which would be its heaviest, while the other half would be soft and with no death metal parts. In the end, the band decided to split the project into two different albums. The first and heaviest "Deliverance", and their quietest album "Damnation", which was its big turnaround.