Release Date: Jun 3, 2008
Genres: Scandinavian Metal, Progressive Metal, Goth Metal
Number Of Tracks: 7
Opeth take more steps in a new direction than in assuring that they maintain their meticulously high standard.
UG Team, on june 16, 2008 9 of 11 people found this review helpful
Sound: Perhaps it's in the water, perhaps it's Roadrunner's relentless promotion, but whatever the reason may be, the hive mind of the metal legions has been solely dedicated to the release (or, for the more impatient of us, leak) of this, the newest 'observation' from Opeth. They've got a new drummer, a new guitarist and as always, they have quite a name to live up to. Of course, it is not just the Opeth name that sets expectations for this album, but the unbelievable hype that's been generated by people as the disc eventually leaked to the internet. Business as usual, perhaps, for a band this big but this album is an entirely different beast to what you might expect. The immediacy of opening track 'Coil' is one that left me quite taken aback, as if I had skipped to the middle of a song rather than just put on a CD. After what is quite a tranquil and pretty opening number, what appears to be normal service resumes, However even though the familiar sound of flattened-5th badassery is present, there is most definitely a wholly different atmosphere to that of 'Ghost Reveries' or indeed any other album.
Even though this album is soft to the point of it being a prog rock album with death metal playing second fiddle, the feel of these songs is entirely different. The easy way out would be to attribute this to the two new members, Fredrik kesson on guitars and more specifically Martin Axenrot on drums. It must be said that the Latin subtleties of previous drummer Martin Lopez is missing, but what Axenrot lacks in exotic influence, he brings forward in the form of a domineering and ber-confident attitude. His ominous presence on the music can be felt as soon as he is heard on the fervent dirge introducing 'Heir Apparent', and is felt for a fair while after the more doom-laden passage closing 'Hex Omega'. Now, my own personal yearning for the reunion of the Lopez-Mendez groove machine aside, Axenrot performs absolutely astonishingly. Actually, it would be unfair to say that any one of Opeth has not hit the level of excellence displayed by Axenrot as far as their own personal performance goes. kesson's moments comes mostly in the form of his guitar solos, which put an interesting technical spin on some of the music and bring in a melodic style not found in Opeth before.
Despite the noticeable and significant impact that both of these new members have had on the sound, it is I feel in the keyboards and piano of Per Wiberg that the most important atmospheric change occurs. Wiberg has truly broken in as an established and vital piece of Opeth's puzzle. On 'Ghost Reveries' he would lurk in the background, adding some stuff here and there to enhance the mood, whereas on 'Watershed' he very much is the mood. There are a surprising number of occasions where the rest of the band sits back while Per takes centre-stage with a lead melody or a solo, or surprisingly enough when miscellaneous instruments such as oboes and violins will get a moment. Opeth have always been ones to experiment, but the amount of different textures to be found on this album is quite impressive. They have branched out excessively and found themselves in some weird territory, which results in quite a few of the songs reaching a point where there is no apparent direction. As is displayed perfectly on 'Hessian Peel' (funnily enough, the only song to break the 10 minute mark), a brief acoustic interlude followed by a piano solo reaches a horrible anti-climax, at which point Opeth decide to bring out the metal which, as quality as it is, appears to be purposeful only as a means to continue the song. This tendency to drift around aimlessly (and I swear, 'Porcelain Heart' is the most rigidly structured meandering song I have ever heard) plagues a few songs on this album. When you look at the Opeth of old, the songs were drawn out but always had a definite direction to head in, and while parts of 'Watershed' do not have that, it is far from lost in songs like 'Burden' and 'The Lotus Eater'.
Quite a shock, indeed. While the album is undeniably Opeth's most progressive album, the way in which some of the songs progress (if they do at all) is not as convincingly professional as we have come to expect from Opeth. Don't get me wrong though, this complaint, as significant as it is, does not apply to the entire album and the first four tracks especially are immaculately crafted and executed. Every song has its moments; in fact almost all of the music found here is vastly enjoyable. Whether it's 'Hessian Peel's diverse playground for bassist Martin Mendez to shine through, or the highly energetic blastbeat/clean vocal combination of 'The Lotus Eater', this album does have all of the makings of a quality progressive metal album, and it is simply the bands position in an experimental phase that prevents it from reaching their usual level of excellence. // 8
Lyrics: When talking extensively about Opeth, it is incredibly unusual to get so far without even mentioning the name of Mikael kerfeldt, but it is always a safe bet that his vocal performance will always blow you away. 'Watershed' is no exception. His death growls, while heavily underutilised, are better than they have ever been, with an astoundingly low tone reached, further extending his impressive range. Taking up a more prominent role here are his clean vocals, which are as great as ever. However, the way they are produced in quieter sections can be quite undefined, and sink further into the middle of the mix than lead vocals really should be. It is no big problem, although a little more power in some of the longer and more repetitive sections would have done wonders.
Now, one department where this album meets and even exceeds expectations is in the lyrics. The booklet that comes in the bizarrely packaged special edition does not contain any lyrics, instead opting for suggestive imagery and some mysterious code. However, fans transcriptions have been accepted fairly quickly as what is being said by Mikael, and the lyrics are absolutely fantastic. They take the familiar Opeth imagery and poetic feel and mould it around one very large and incredibly intriguing concept. While I'm sure definitive meanings for all of the lyrics will be discovered over time, 'Watershed' seems to be a concept album concerned with a family plagued by bad luck and the death of a mother figure. Throughout the album there appear to be different perspectives used and events referenced (most notably the 'conversation' between Akerfeldt and guest vocalist Natalie Lorichs) which all add up to quite an involving and moving experience. // 9
Overall Impression: Well, what can I say? 'Watershed' has been receiving universal acclaim, and ratings as a career highlight from many fans, however there is a certain coldness about it and a slightly unfocused feel particularly on the latter half of the album that puts me off. There are leads and vocal parts all over this album that are typical Opeth, however there is just a mystery X factor that is holding back the full emotional rollercoaster that albums like 'Blackwater Park' displayed so well. 'Unsatisfactory' may be too harsh a word as this Opeth do deliver the goods, just in a somewhat scattered form. Even on that oh-so-exciting first listen, after 3 years of waiting, after the frankly exhilarating album highlight 'Heir Apparent', the album as a whole does not feel quite right. I have faith that this road Opeth are one will lead them to more great heights, however 'Watershed' is not one of them. // 7
siegel, on june 16, 2008 4 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: Opeth's 9th "observation", Watershed, is finally here, three years after Ghost Reveries, and I had no idea what it would sound like considering the huge difference in style from Deliverance/Damnation to Ghost Reveries. Two songs were released as singles, Lotus Eater and Porcelain Heart. I have to say that I was a bit nervous the first time I heard these songs. The Lotus Eater was unlike any other Opeth song, with Akerfeldt rapidly alternating screams and clean vox and an upbeat keyboard groove coming from out of nowhere. Porcelain Heart seemed to be missing some death growls and was a tad short for Opeth's standard ten minute format. After a few more listens, though, I saw the genius of these songs and realized that Watershed was going to be another masterpiece, which I can now say is true. The arguably "more death metal" new band members, Axenrot on drums and Akesson on guitar, threatened to take away some of the progressive element, but it all worked out well. Axenrot, while noticeably different in style from Martin Lopez (definitely more blastbeats) is extremely capable and knows when to tone it down and when to turn on the jets. Akesson brings the element of shredding to Opeth, but it is tasteful and in moderation and fits very well into the songs. Also, this is the album where keyboardist Per Wiberg really shines. There is a lot of keyboard in this album, but at no point do you think "Ugh, get rid of the friggin keyboard there." Whether it's just backing chords or the times when he plays a melody unaccompanied by other instruments, I'm really digging the keyboard. Mendez also delivers the goods with many well timed bass grooves. Right, so here's a little song by song analysis:
01. Coil - a short acoustic opener with guest vocals by Natalie Lorichs (her only appearance and yes, Akerfeldt also sings on this song). Beautiful song with great singing and a sweet acoustic riff heard a couple of times.
02. Heir Apparent - possibly their heaviest song ever. I'd describe it as Master's Apprentices on steroids. If you aren't headbanging and/or playing air guitar at some point during this song, something is terribly wrong. Gnarly dimented riffage, a creepy acoustic interlude, and a brilliant outro melody make this an Opeth classic.
03. The Lotus Eater - unlike any other Opeth song, for reasons mentioned earlier. The middle part with a mellow yet dark guitar thing followed by some groovin keyboard jamz is very cool, but the best part is after this when the song kicks back up with an out of left field riff and a very interesting vocal melody that eventually fades into some shady characters speaking in different languages. Cool song.
04. Burden - the "ballad" of this album. It took a few listens to get used to this, considering it's softer and at times simpler than the usual Opeth song, but then I saw that this is a masterful song that many would not expect to be the kind of thing Opeth excels at. At first it is carried not by a clever guitar lick but by keyboards and some very good singing. It then escalates into a guitar/keyboard jam with less structure than usual, but it is still awesome. It ends with acoustic guitars playing a cool upbeat folkish thing and then slowly being detuned while still playing, creating an ominous effect. Great song.
05. Porcelain Heart - with no screams and a more definitive direction than typical Opeth songs, it is easy to see why they made a video for this. Don't get me wrong though, this is still a great song with a lot to offer. It really shines in the two soft parts where Akerfeldt is pretty much by himself singing and playing guitar. The second of these soft parts is particularly goosebump inducing. Another great song.
06. Hessian Peel - from the solitary bass note it begins with, you know this is going to be epic. It starts with a happy little melody that seems innocent until a crooked note is thrown in that foreshadows the coming storm. After a good six minutes or so of being soft and pretty with one of my favorite clean vocal performances of the album, it erupts into some mammoth riffs and the rest is history. The longest and definitely one of the top songs of Watershed.
07. Hex Omega - last song. Like Porcelain Heart, it has heavy riffs but no screaming and the best parts are the soft parts. I would describe the clean part as transcendent yet immense, if that makes any sense what'soever. It ends with a slow and glorious riff, and that's the album. Very good way to end it. // 10
Lyrics: Opeth's lyrics are the kind that don't always seem to make sense, but are definitely well thought out poetry, and I'm not looking for life lessons from a death metal band, so this is the way it should be. My favorites here are probably those of Porcelain Heart. More important is the singing. This album really emphasizes Akerfeldt's clean voice, which is present in large doses in all but Heir Apparent. For those unfamiliar, Akerfeldt has an uncannily good voice for someone in a death metal band. On the other side of the spectrum, his screams are great like usual, although there are a good bit less than say, the Deliverance album (I think his vocal cords are slowly dying, so maybe that's for the best) My only miniscule complaint is that after "fields of sorrow" in Coil, "ocean of sorrow" in Burden was a tad repetitive. For that reason (but mostly because some people disregard perfect 10 scores, which this deserves), I'm giving a 9 here. // 9
Overall Impression: Watershed holds it's own and more against any other Opeth album (not that there's any need to compare masterpieces). The point is that this is a thoroughly mind-blowing artistic statement that stands above most metal and music in general. A cool thing about this album is that it is Opeth's first record that is truly diverse in it's sound from song to song. If I had to pick my favorite tracks, I'd say Heir Apparent and Hessian Peel, but they are all top notch. Please buy this. It is worth way more than the $12.98 I paid at Target (that deal ends very soon, so hurry). // 10
unregistered, on june 23, 2008 4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound, on it's own, is a unique blend of all of Opeth's great predecessors, Blackwater Park, Ghost Reveries, Still Life, and Deliverance. With the bland of the eerie, Watershed manages to convince the listner that Opeth has not forgotten it's ways, despite the success of Ghost of Reveries. From the misleading intro, Coil, to the beautiful finale in Hex Omega, Opeth proves once again they are the best metal band going today.
01. Coil - a beautiful acoustic introduction with vocal performances by a Swedish singer and Mikael Akerfeldt. Coil contains a beautiful chorus and does what it's suppose to introduce Watershed
02. Heir Apparent - perhaps the heaviest Opeth song written thus far. With the combination of keyboards, frantic guitar works, and manic growls from Akerfeldt, Heir Apparent manages to take the throne as one of the best songs Opeth has ever written. Truely a wonderful highlight of album.
03. The Lotus Eater - Akerfeldt was reported in saying that this was his favorite song of the new album, and I can understand why. If people want to try and grab a taste of the direction where Opeth is headed for, listen to the Lotus Eater. With eerie jazzy keyboarding and a spectacular chorus delivery, Opeth manages to be 3 for 3 here.
04. Burden - like Harvest, A Fair Judgement, Reverie/Harlequin Forest, Burden fills the emotional side of Akerfeldt/Opeth. By the acoustic end you will smile, due to the showing off guitar work expressed in the song. The last two minutes of this song is perhaps the most beautiful I've ever heard Opeth sound.
05. Porcelain Heart - the first single, and perhaps the weakest of the new album. Despite it being my least favorite of Watershed, that doesn't make it a bad song. On the contrary, it's a very good song. "Rest your head now, don't you cry, don't ever ask the reason why" is some of Akerfeldt's best clean vocal performance.
06. Hessian Peel - the main even in the album. There is not much to say about this song other then the word Breathless. From the misleading clean guitar work to the manic growling, Hessian Peel has potentially taken the throne of my top 3 Opeth songs of all time. A true Opeth classic that never becomes dull with the 2nd, 3rd, 100th listen.
07. Hex Omega - the closure of the album and it's an impecabble one at that. The final chords to watershed alone destroy anything that is playing in radios today. // 10
Lyrics: Akerfeldt never disappoints his fans with cheesy lyrics or bad vocal performances. In fact, Watershed is Mikael at his best. Though not as dynamic like Still life or eerie like Ghost Reveries, I like to think Watershed is in a category of its own. Watershed combines the darkness of Deliverance and the beauty of Blackwater Park and turns it into one dynamic gem of its own form. // 10
Overall Impression: I must be honest, I listened to this album before it was released. With its first play on my Ipod, I vowed on June 3rd I would be at my local CD store to support the best band going today. Watershed is not just music, it's an experience. // 10
unregistered, on june 17, 2008 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: I have had high expectations to this album, and have waited for too long. The waiting, has been worthwhile and to this date, I feel Watershed is one of Opeth's greatest works. The album is very fragmented though, due to their amount of movements have outnumbered it's potential. But nothing is perfect, and as far as complaints go, my subjective and personal opinion is that Watershed could have lasted longer. It could have been more structured, but due to my appreciation of unnatural movements, it's just the thing for me. // 9
Lyrics: Not much to say about the lyrics really, because no lyrics came with the Special Edition. But luckily, Mikael kerfeldt's voice came in digital-sound format directly in my post. His voice is as beautiful as always and of course: Brutal as always. But I prefer his calmer moments with haunting, semi-dissonant acoustic background music. As I have read in several interviews, he has told "he is not a good clean singer blahblah", but Mikael? // 8
Overall Impression: 01. Coil - a very beautiful opener. Relaxing but short. Too short.
02. Heir Apparent - powerful contrast to the opener. Starts out with partly odd-timed dissonance, leading fluently into a haunting melodic line. There are some nice movements in this song, and Mikael's vocals are top notch. The acoustic passage and the outro is fantastic. Also includes an encore if I dare name it. Haunting song, one Opeth's best.
03. Lotus Eater - Opeth's shot at blastbeats with an apparently schitzopheric drummer. Look's like blastbeats just aren't Opeth-friendly, but I have to say, the rest of the song is mindblowing. Not to mention the insanley off-the-hook and cool jazz-funky wah-guitar/synth riff in the middle leading into one of Watersheds more interesting melodic riffs. Powerful ending too. I find myself rewinding to the jazz-funk riff now and then. It just have to be heard!
04. Burden - "Oh, hello '70s-Opeth, I really love your solo on Burden!" Yeah, I do. A haunting solo which can contest Dream Theater and Joe Satriani. Not on techinque, but on the feel. It is one haunting song, with an ending even more haunting. No fear, you will get your sleep tonight, because Burden also includes one synth-solo which bring Opeth even closer to Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree. And about that ending: I'll let someone else spoil it for you, because it is actually very strange and obscure.
05. Porcelain Heart - I really hope you did not watch the music video with a consumer-friendly cut of the song. Get the CD and listen to the real shit. Porcelain Heart is another very haunting piece from my Swedish neightbours. Very strange composition in the beginning with alternating heavy and calm (another haunting one) acoustic some times before it develops into a repetition which does not feel boring at all. Porcelain Heart comes packed with both a sudden ending and a nice acoustic bridge! (Also another haunting one, just the way I like Opeth) Porcelain Heart may or may not be boring, but non-proggers are most likely to skip it, and watch the music video with MTV-friendly women.
06. Hessian Peel - several minutes of acoustic goosebumps are just what I needed when I arrived at track 6. Very nice buildup: Calm acoustic, drums and bass coming in, the vocals hovering above and the keyboards float like waterlilies, and suddenly, some classical piano "kicks" in. The following is a weird rythm of bass-pulses which happen to be followed by Opeth's most extreme riff to date. Marduk anyone? Anyways, from that point, Hessian Peel is a ride of joy and energy which I have never heard Opeth kick before. A great solo and a nice outro leading into the epilogue.
07. Hex Omega - I could as well have listened to Dream Theater instead of Hex Omega, but apparently this song attracts me. It has a nice middle-eastern flavour to it. It is a very interestic song, but loses a little of the calm and serenity which usually comes from an Opeth song. But I am not one to blame someone for making their own music. A good song anyways. A well deserved 7 because of a very climatic ending.
Bonuses from the Special Edition:
08. Derelict Herd - not a very interesting song. Cool hook but not much else.
09. Bridge Of Sighs - cover of Robin Trower. Never heard the original, but at least from what Opeth has showed me, it is a psychedelic 70's song with good vocals and guitar work.
10. Den Standiga Resan - Opeth cover of a Marie Fredriksson song. Very beautiful folk-track with some interesting guitarwork.
So, despite a few flaws, Watershed is an album which is intersting from start to finish and has a lot of musical ideas which Opeth must work more on. They are really up to something big. Except for that, there is not much bad things to say about it. Though, I still believe a few non-proggers out there would want their money back for being too impatient to let art grow on them. Opeth is not just about the metal. Opeth is art. // 8
undeaded, on june 16, 2008 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: There are few bands that could be considered peerless in the music scene but Opeth are one of the ones that are leagues and bounds ahead of anyone considering themselves to be tagged with 'Progressive Death Metal'. So it's no wonder that when there's rumours of an Opeth album in the works, the whole metal community waits with baited breath and hope for the outcome. This album was held up by high expectations of the incredible standards we've come to expect of Opeth. Following up 'Ghost Reveries' was never going to be an easy task, but, and sorry to ruin the ending, Opeth come out triumphant. Mixing the 1970esque Prog-Rock album 'Damnation' and the the heavy sounds of 'Deliverance', 'Watershed' stands at the ground for leaving behind the full on death metal assaults, but using the rough vocals to accentuate the music. The album is both deceptively soft and deceptively rough and while Mikael kerfeldt is happy to share duties with native pop vocalist Nathalie Lorichs on 'Coil', the blastbeats are ever present in songs such as 'Hessian Peel' and 'The Lotus Eater' although used sparingly to form the dynamics and textures we are so used to with Opeth. // 9
Lyrics: Mikael kerfeldt has all the credentials to sing clean and growl in a melodic death metal band and Opeth takes many of it's sounds from the Gothenburg metal and moulds it to a prog rock song structure (or lack thereof). kerfeldt sounds as strong to this day as he ever was. His growls are distinctive and switches to clean, melodic singing to give the songs their dynamic feel and tempo changes of the prog rock genre. The lyrics themselves are laced with metaphors and imagery. Many seem to be addressed to certain people with lines such as 'Why did you leave me?' and 'You follow the siren in your head', which gives the lyrics a personal meaning to kerfeldt. The lyrics however seem to tell a story without being too explicit, leaving a lot up to the imagination. // 8
Overall Impression: Opeth will always be the bastion of 'progression' in any type of metal. There is no other band like them and while people may find the death part of progressive death metal hard to listen to, those who revel in it will be in for a treat as Mikael kerfeldt with his soaring riffs, imagery, textures and tempo changes take you on a ride through Watershed. It feels like a new beginning and a step in a different direction in progriseveness for Opeth. We can only wait and see. // 9
BringMeTheCalm, on june 16, 2008 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Oh yes. It's arrived. Chances are if you're reading this, you already own the album or have heard it through other means. However, for those of you that haven't, you're in for a treat. Opeth's ninth studio album further proves that Opeth are not a band for convention. On this effort, Mikael Akerfeldt and Co take a different approach to their sound than on other albums. This may be partially influenced by the inception of two new members: Frederik Akesson and Martin Axenrot on guitar and drums respectively. The performance by each of them on this album proves that they are able to live up to the quality of Lindgren and Lopez (the former guitarist and drummer respectively). Overall, this album has a softer, more melancholic sound than previous efforts. However, when Opeth unleashes their brutality in such tracks as Heir Apparent, it crushes the face of the listener in full force. In fact, Heir Apparent, possibly Opeth's heaviest song to date, feels as if they took all the heavy parts from previous albums and placed them into an incredible 8:50. This isn't to say that the softer songs are bad, quite the opposite. Burden, the "overblown ballad" is incredibly good. Several of the songs are more progressive and experimental such as The Lotus Eaters and Hessian Peel. Each song on the album shows Opeth advancing in an entirely new direction. This album may take a few listens to grow on you, but when it does it will be well worth it to hear these amazing peices of music. // 10
Lyrics: Mikael Akerfeldt, always a great singer, really brings out his best clean performance to date with the vocals on this album. He ranges from catchy, to melancholic, to haunting with ease. The growls, although used much less than on previous albums, are also excellent. I do, however, wish that Mikael used some more growls, despite the greatness of his clean voice. Lyrically, this album is also different than previous efforts. The lyrics are not printed in the booklet of the album except in a bizzare sort of code that one must crack in order to figure them out. However, the lyrics that can be heard (many, due to Akerfeldt's great voice) seem to deal with a recurring theme of a death in the family. This album may be a concept album, but that isn't confirmed at this point in time. Overall there is a solid vocal performance and solid lyrics like one would expect from Opeth. // 9
Overall Impression: The album, as previously stated, is much less brutal than Opeth's past catalouge, but there are still moments where the heaviness is apparent. From this great album, Heir Apparent, The Lotus Eaters, and Burden are some of the real stand out tracks. Overall, this album leaves the listener with a great impression. If you've never heard of Opeth, I strongly recommend listening to this CD. Even if you don't like their previous stuff, you're almost sure to find something here you like amidst the sea of experimentation. // 10
Burning_Angel, on june 16, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Oepth are quite the enigma in Metal. I have no doubts, that, had any other band released Watershed, they probably wouldn't be considered metal. More progressive rock, I think. The album seems to have a loose concept, and is extremely, eerie sounding. There's elements of Death metal, metal, progressive rock, jazz, and even some blues in there. It starts with Coil, a nice acoustic opener, and Mikael Akerfeldt sings beautifully in the first half. The second half is sung by Nathalie Lorichs, and the first Opeth song to feature a guest, female vocalist. After this, we get the heaviest song on the album, Heir Apparent. Although it's heavy, of course, there's a good dose of acoustic thrown in, which contrasts the heaviness quite well. The Lotus Eater is the weirdest track, I think. It starts heavily, and in typical Opeth fashion, winds down toward the middle. Then a little break, and a jazz fusion part that completely took me by surprise. And the ending is just, awesome. Burden is entirely acoustic; almost a prog rock ballad, with some great soloing, and a really awesome ending. Porcelain Heart, I think, is the weakest track. It alternates between a doomy riff, and a beautiful classical guitar, and there's a nice mellow solo. Now! My favorite track, Hessian Peel. The first half is all mellow (save one riff), there's some beautiful vocals, and orchestral instruments. The second half is heavy, has an excellent solo, and one of my favorite Akerfeldt riffs ever. Finally, Hex Omega, It alternate between heavy and mellow, and is a great closer to the album. The bonus tracks are great too, if you have the Special Edition. // 10
Lyrics: Mikael Akerfeldt has always been one of my favorite lyricist's. This album is no exception. The lyrics fit the eerie atmosphere perfectly, and are very dark. Mikael Akerfeldt's vocal performance on this album is probably his best ever. His clean singing has gotten better throughout Opeth's lengthy career, and the singing is even better than on Ghost Reveries (which, I thought, was his previous best). His singing is very emotional and melodic, and his growls are, as usual, top notch. The growls aren't used much however; that's one of my few gripes with the album. // 10
Overall Impression: Watershed has actually taken the throne from Still Life and My Arms, Your Hearse, as my favorite Opeth album. The songs aren't quite as long winded (the songs are more around mayh in length), and they aren't repetitive in the least. All of the songs are great, but standouts would be, Hessian Peel, Burden, The Lotus Eater, and Heir Apparent. Even Porcelain Heart, the weakest track, is still good. As I said, the only thing I wish, is that there were a bit more growls. If it were lost or stolen, this is an album that I would actually take the time to go out and purchase again. In short, get it. It's my pick for best of 08, already. // 10
ozzyslayer, on november 10, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Overall Opeth has a very unique sound about them that tends to grab you and suck you in, and in my opinion especially on this album. Generall speaking the album can shift from brutally crushing prog/death metal, to flutterly blues and jazz influenced pschedelic rock without any awkward feel. The production is also very good. The drums sound clear and full which is great when combined with Martin Axenrot's drumming. The guitar work on this album really impress me, both sound and playing wise. The sound is everything Opeth is known for and more, with plently of variety. Some of the best are the haunting acoustic sections that flow into pounding, tech metal anthems that won't dissapoint. One thing about this albums I love is it's balance from metal to psychedelic rock and everything in between. The keyboard parts and and jazz fusion freak outs all combine for a very Ozzy era Black Sabbath vibe. it's an experience, not an album. // 10
Lyrics: Lyrically speaking Watershed is very haunting, the kind of lyrics that flow in and are digested later. Though I don't find any of the lyrics to be completely amazing, they are full of raw passion and good raw vibe, so I have no complaints. Though it is important to notice that on Watershed the actual delivery of the lyrics rather than the words themselves are what will hook you. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall I love Watershed, it's powerful, yet haunting. Mezmorizing yet entertaing. With everysong you become more entranced by it's strength and yet how fragile it's structure is. I love it! It's in my opinion Opeths best album. I love every song and I've listened to it rather commonly (perhaps every 2 weeks) since it came out. I especially love the psychedelic and jazz influences on it. If it were stolen, I would but another copy for sure, it's one of those albums you've gotta have. // 9
unregistered, on may 12, 2009 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound of the guitars is lushly decorated with reverb, an effect seldom used to great effect on Death Metal albums. The reason it works is that this is not a Death Metal album, but being that I am not the stuck-up metal purist I was when I shunned all Grunge as "crap" simply because it was popular, I am open-minded enough to enjoy it anyway. And enjoy I did. As an audiophile, this album had plenty to offer; lush guitars as previously mentioned, deep, fathomless bass that revealed the inadequacies of my speakers (perhaps some caulk is in order..), and of course the keyboards of Per Wiberg.
While Per's playing is fantastic, I can't help but wag my sound-loving finger at the use of synth. Now synth has its place, but I find its strength is in creating new sounds, not possible before Moog and other innovators of the 20th Century birthed a new technology with seemingly endless potential. But I used to design and install church organs - digital ones to be exact - and I can tell the difference.
It pained me to see a good pipe organ go. The main element lost in their replacement with cheaper digis is the extensive dynamic range. This is most apparent as the last chords of Hex Omega fade to silence in tell-tale digital steps that can be heard a mile away. They do not descend with a smooth, organic decay, but rather diminish in discreet steps that have no place except maybe a rock-'em for Jesus guitar-based church somewhere in Alabama.
It's not like there is a shortage of actual Catholic churches in Sweden or the UK. Lately they are hurting for money. Rent one and record the real McCoy. Of course you run the risk of a "troo" black metal band arriving in corpse paint and burning it down, but still...
Despite the mediocre organ samples, Per's keyboards are a surprisingly cohesive addition to the band. I'll admit to being a bit nervous about him: No offense to keyboardists, but their addition to brutal Death Metal bands usually yields a tremendously over-indulgent, inevitably softening effect. In this case, Per expands on the already brutally brilliant sound of the band rather than neutering it, leaving us with an impotent version of the familiar beast. It has happened before, but I will not name names. // 9
Lyrics: I have to admit I have no earthly idea what Mikael is singing about. Honestly I don't care. Yes, that makes me a rogue pox amongst the faithful Opeth congregation, but again I don't care. I hear that it's a puzzle. I will simply delight in the poetry of the lyrics and in Mikael's brilliant execution.
One thing I will add is that the death metal growls are phenomenal this time around. We know the man can sing, but over the years his death vox have grown increasingly brutal. I guess practice makes perfect. The are deep, brutal screams not suitable for the weak of heart. There are also too few of them on this "observation" (aka Opeth album.) That said, Heir Apparent is a metal horns in the air, headbanging whirlwind of masterful brutality that simultaneously pulverizes your face and gently caresses your head as you lie bleeding: in other words, classic Opeth.
Coil, Lotus Eater and Heir Apparent all sport very cohesive lyrics and music, but as the album progresses both begin to lose their touch. It's not the quality of material that suffers as the album proceeds into tracks 4-7, it is simply that there appear to have been truckloads of great ideas that were put in a room and forced to play nice by threat of corporal punishment, or Pro Tools. // 8
Overall Impression: Everything here is very, very good. Excellent to brilliant in the case of Heir Apparent. The problem is not the quality but the lack of consistency. At times I wanted to reach into the studio, grab Mikael by the neck and say, "ENOUGH!"
By that I mean that often times the band resorts to messing around rather than developing material. While I approve of the twin "Axes" and what they add to the band, certain features just seem last-minute ideas thrown in out of boredom or wanting to quit and head to the pub for a few rounds. Case in point, the detuning of the guitar at the close of Burden. At first this messed with me, and I thought, "wow, that's different!" Then I realized it was merely another weird thing to do.
Ghost Reveries suffered from this as well. Whole tracks in that case seemed to be born of home-studio monkeying rather than true inspiration. They are initially interesting, but over time I just skip them because I get the idea.
I'd say I could do without the latter half of this record. That said there is a wealth of material in this latter half that is quite delicious. It just doesn't hold together the way an Opeth observation should.
This album is a good listen, and it will mess with your head the first few times you listen to it. Over time, though, I predict that you, like me, will probably switch over to a stronger, older effort such as Blackwater Park or My Arms Your Hearse once the glory of Heir Apparent has concluded. This will likely be a very delicious occasional listen, though, particularly on a long drive when I have nothing else to think about.
Admittedly, I enjoy Watershed more when I can sit down and listen without interruption. Such devoted quietude is hard to come by these days. // 7
serpent_sun, on july 23, 2009 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Watershed, in every way possible, sounds like an album condensed to its bare vitals. A popular criticism often leveled at the group by non-believers has finally been addressed; the band has been known to jam on a particular groove to the point just shy of overstaying its welcome. It's a very fine line to walk, and the band has had extensive practice on this balancing beam over the years, yet the haters seem to feel the 10+ min compositions drag too long. Well, for the first time the songs have been cut down to barest possible length without tarnishing the amazing quality the band has been known for since it's conception. // 10
Lyrics: Songs like The Lotus Eater transition from movement to movement at such an alarming rate compared to past compositions, that while your brain is wrapping itself around what the hell just happened, you're already being assaulted by the next riff or soothed by the next acoustic, keyboard laced passage. It's an utter overload of brilliance in a shortened time-span that keeps Watershed from fully sinking in on the first several listens, revealing veiled nooks and crannies with each subsequent exploration. This condensed style is a double-edged sword however, as it drags along the only criticism one can shoot at the album; When it's over, it just feels like a song is missing. This is completely the fault of the band for spoiling us over the years with grand 60+ min opuses, while Watershed clocks in at a paltry 54 min. I can't help but feel gipped a bit by this, especially since most of these songs feel like they could go on for several more minutes and explore even more territory than the vast amounts of ground they already cover.
Mikael Akerfeldt's vocals are even better this time around in every area possible. His clean vocals are more heat-felt and shiver-inducing than ever, and the death growls are even more rich and guttural, further cementing him as the best goddamn voice in contemporary metal right next to Mikael Stanne. The other notable change is the keyboards; While Per Wilberg's keys were a welcome addition to the atmospherics on Ghost Reveries, they admittedly felt detachable and tacked on. This time around, the keys have been completely integrated into the band's sound with such seamlessness, that you're left wondering how they ever got by without them. The departure of drummer extraordinare Martin Lopez and long-time guitarist Peter Lingren haven't left a scratch on the band's sound, contrary to the expectations of many, proving once and for all that Akerfeldt is still the indispensable core of the outfit. Though they will be dearly remembered and missed, Fredrik Akesson (ex-Arch Enemy) and Martin "Axe" Axenrot (Bloodbath) are welcome additions to the machine, and perform to the high standards set by the previous members, while adding a dash of their own styles to the delicious mix. // 10
Overall Impression: Akesson contributes a note of virtuosity to the band that had been excluded till now (he lets loose a ripping un-Opeth-y lead on Heir Apparent), and while Axenrot lacks the jazz sensibility of Lopez, he makes up for it with pure blunt force trauma, as well as a surprising knack for a poppy beat (just listen to his tasteful, head-nodding breakdown in Lotus Eater at the 5:45 mark). Opeth is always pushing the envelope, and Watershed can seamlessly transition from steamrolling death metal to anthemic arena rock, to off-the-wall prog, to poignantly vulnerable acoustic balladry, to freaking jazz fusion at the drop of a hat. The guessing game keeps each minute pregnant with possibility and hunger for more, all the while sounding like no band but Opeth. I'm convinced anything these guys touch turns to gold, and they can simply do no wrong as long as they keep thriving. It's just a bummer about the shortened length, but you know what they say about a good act: Always leave em' wanting more. // 10