Sound — 10
Opeth's 7th studio observation, Damnation, breaks away from the rest of their albums and is a completely mellow album. Akerfeldt describes this album as "a way to get in touch with the music of the '70s that influences my writing, even my heavier music, but this gets me closer to it than ever before." The softer side shown on this album is different from previous mellow parts that have been recording, Akerfeldt has let go of the need to be insanely technical as with past acoustic passages, and by no means is this a bad thing. This album is, quite frankly, beautiful. The guitar work is intricate, the bass provides steady rhythm to the delicate nature of the guitar and Martin Lopez' percussion is absolutely astounding. His drumming switches from playing with passion and feeling, to playing with power and an out pouring of emotion. The guitars sound awesome, and it should be noted this is not an entirely acoustic album, alot of the riffs are played with electric and most songs are more or less a 50/50 use of clean electric guitar and acoustic, both 6 and 12 string, with the 12 string creating some very exotic sounding lead acoustic work. Having said that the album is soft, mellow, beautiful and fragile, does not make this album less evil. Death Whispered A Lullaby and To Rid The Disease are evil tracks lyrically and sound comparatively darker than the rest of the album.
Lyrics — 10
Mikael Akerfeldt's voice as I said above, is delicate, beautiful and almost fragile sounding. Sounds strange to say about a death metal bands singer right? Opeth fans will know Mikael's softer vocals, and on this album his clean voice is at it's best. The lyrics on this album I believe are some of my favourite lyrics of Opeth's and of any band in general. Akerfeldt has connected with his pain and every powerful emotions he keeps inside himself and they pour out in the lyrics, and in his voice. I have the Lamentations DVD, where the entire Damnation album is played live, and it's obvious that these lyrics are very personal, and very close to his heart. This shines through on the album, especially tracks such as Hope Leaves, Akerfeldt's favourite track of the album. Closure is another example of the beauty in the album, the last lyric of the song "In the rays of the sun, I am longing for the darkness" sends shivers up and down my spine.
Overall Impression — 10
The only gripe I could pick out about this album, is the length. Standard Opeth albums range from 5 to 8 tracks and are all about 60-70 minutes each. Yet on this album, it doesn't even reach 45 minutes. Having said that, I can't imagine this album being different. I don't think you could successfully add to or change this album and not have it kinda spoil the effect given already. Closure is perhaps my favourite song on this album. The lyrics are very powerful, and the Arab-esque Outro has to be heard to be believed, other favourites include Windowpane (beautiful, with great solo's) and In My Time Of Need, but it's all stunning. If it was stolen, I'd cry. Then find out who it was, beat the shit out of them, get my CD back. If he'd sold it already, I'd beat the $30 (AUD) he owed me out of him. I recommend this to anyone, this album has universal appeal and I have gotten alot of people who have no interest in metal (death, black, heavy or otherwise) into Opeth through this album, including one Mormon. This album can appeal to anyone, and I recommend it to metal fans, and anyone interested in skilled musicianship, beautiful lyrics and vocals and powerful, emotive music in general.