Sound — 10
Haunting atmospheric leads and clean and acoustic guitars are the backbone of this album by the revered and respected band. Stepping away somewhat from their trademark sound, encapsulating death metal, progressive rock, folk and classical inluences, this album highlights the gentler side of Opeth that was first seen on songs like To Bid You Farewell of their album Morningrise, and in segments of their other material throughtout their work. This sister-cd to Deliverance (initially it was intended to be a double album) can be somewhat a surprise to a lot of Opeth fans, but it showcases how brilliant Opeth really is. While there are no growls, and very limited use of distortion, the melodies are simply beautiful, and are trademark Opeth. It was well-received by their audience, and for good reasons - technically proficient, yet a genuine music masterpiece without a trace of self-indulgence; the sound is panoramic, and image-provoking. Harmonies and melodies dominate this album, with solos and passages that grab your heart like a fall from a skyscraper.
Lyrics — 10
Mikael Akerfeldt strikes again. Not only a brilliant singer, he is also a talented lyricist, with lyrics and music complementing each other brilliantly to conceive images in one's head. It's enchanting, and draws you in. Mikael has a very distinctive voice that's surely one of the best in metal, and this album is yet another testament to that, complementing the melodies and progressions created by the music.
Overall Impression — 10
For Opeth, this is probably a natural album, seeing as they always play with a lot of melody, and there are a lot of acoustic and clean passages in their music (A Fair Judgement, Deliverance and Patterns In The Ivy, Blackwater Park, for instance). Outside of that, however, it doesn't really compare to anything else, as Opeth carved a niche that was entirely their own. While drawing on sounds of prog rock and fingerpicked acoustic music for influence, it's a record that stands on it's own. The most impressive songs for me are To Rid The Disease and In My Time Of Need, as they encapsulate everything great about the gentle and delicate side of Opeth. It's a fantastic album, and if by some means it was lost or stolen, I would certainly get it again. Excellent material