Sound — 10
This album, although not terribly close to, sounds quite a bit like Ghost Reveries in that it remains classy yet still has the harshness that should be in every death metal outfit. Steven Wilson is the perfect producer, and guest vocalist, for this band because his work on Blackwater Park, Damnation, Deliverence etc has been phenominal. However, Opeth don't owe everything to the producer alone. Songs such as Bleak and Funeral Portrait are exampls of songs that have good one measure riffs. Most of the songs now-a-days that have one-measure riffs are pathetic. Opeth is one of the few bands that doesn't suck in that way. Now however they have strayed from the one measure lick thing and have started to do eight measure riffs like in Ghost of Perdition. The only thing I may have had a problem with was the piano ending of Leper Affinity. But the band recover when they do the chromatic break in before the explosion of the Arabic presence of Bleak.
Lyrics — 10
I think Mikael Akerfeldt has really improved his lyric-writing ability over time. His ability to write lyrics that fit the best into the music piqued at Ghost Reveries and I doubt it will get much better. But the things that stood out to me the most about the vocals were the places Mikael put in his different bocal styles and harmonies. Adding Steven Wilson in on Bleak was a cool idea as well being such a great singer himself.
Overall Impression — 10
I really can't give this album less than a ten out of ten because of the sheer magnificence of the writing and arrangements of the songs. This album would fit well onto the shelf of any fan of either prog metal, death metal, heavy metal, or symphonic black metal. Opeth have a shocking amount of variety in their songwriting abilities and I would be absolutely shocked if they either didn't win a Grammy or if a 20th Century Masters of them wasn't made. The best songs are Leper Affinity, Bleak, and Funeral Portrait.