Sound — 10
Opeth's first major label release via Roadrunner is a release that will go down in history as a landmark album, like every other Opeth record. Opeth are constantly evolving as a band with each successive release and this one is no different. This CD is more ferocious than fragile. While I am new to Opeth, I can see that this CD is special. The overall sound of the album is dark and haunting with mellower passages winding throughout the music serving to build the already high tension to levels unknown before. For an example listen to the verses in "The Grand Conjuration." The drums count off the beat in the background and increase to a double-time feel just before the sonic fury unloads on you. And with this album, Opeth added a full-time keyboardist to the line-up, adding to the already trademark sound. Insane!
Lyrics — 10
Very, very, very dark lyrics, trademark Opeth. Akerfeldt is in my humble opinion one of the, if not the, best lyricist/vocalist in metal today and possibly of all-time. I'm not good at reading into lyrics but I do know these are unique to this album and serve to set the album apart from other bands and even other Opeth CDs.
Overall Impression — 10
Other-worldly. Captivating. Dominating. And just plain amazing. "The Grand Conjuration" has got to be my favorite song off the CD and is one of my favorite Opeth songs. Period. I wish I had a pen-head amount of the skill of any one member of this band because that would put to shame what I know. These guys are mucial genuises that continue to amaze with technicality, precision, and originality. If I lost this I would get it again ASAP. If it were stolen I would shake the thief's hand because of his fine taste in music. The best metal album of 2005.