Sound — 10
Out of all the more recent metal bands I have heard, Opeth are the most innovative along with Tool and Dream Theater, all three have radically different sounds, and that is rare in metal nowadays. To begin, the music is diverse, for example the opening track "Ghost of Perdition" begins with a softly strummed clean guitar, but all of a sudden comes an ultra-heavy affair with lead vocalist, Mikael growling like none I have heard before, but then after a minute it changes into this syncopated chugging rhythm with a vocal melody that reminds me of Tool, for some reason, and afterwards it changes again with acoustic guitar and soft singing, and then a sweet solo from Peter Lindgren, although this is merely one example of their diversity, the rest would take ages to explain, but I can safely say, fans of progressive metal will not be disappointed, now to the actual musicianship, each member is a virtuoso at his respective instrument, and the addition of keyboards gives this album a certain eeriness that previous efforts didn't have, the styles I guess would be death metal mixed with jazz, folk, classical and psychedelic, I reckon the best approach to listen to this album, is to sit down and listen to the full thing from start to finish, this is not just some single-driven LP released by the next hardcore/generic metal band, it is a musical journey that will change your views on what metal should be, but only if you let it, I also must say that the album artwork is amazing, I like looking through the booklet to see some of the paintings.
Lyrics — 10
The entire record follows the concept of a man killing his mother and coping with it afterwards, the lyrics are really deep and thoughtful, it takes a good deal of analysing them to understand what they truly mean, but those are probably my favourite style of lyrics, so I have no complaint, but some may not like it, but hey at least you still have the music, which brings out a pile of emotions itself, and Mikael's vocal abilities are unmatched when it comes to growling, although his singing may be out of this world, it doesn't match the talents of Mike Patton and Maynard James Keenan, but still, in terms of what Opeth are on their own without comparisons, Mikael's singing is perfect for them and I must say no matter whether he is growling over a heavy-as-hell riff-fest or he is singing over a soft acoustic guitar/piano line, his talent as a vocalist is undeniable.
Overall Impression — 10
In terms of songwriting and innovation in death metal, Opeth hold the crown, their music is interesting to listen to, and I can admit that when I first bought this album I did not really like it that much, not because I thought it sucked, but because I wasn't as open-minded as I am now, so the CD lay on shelf for months, but meanwhile I was getting introduced to bands like Mr. Bungle, Tool, Tomahawk, Rush, Fantomas and A Perfect Circle, so when I had gotten used to their respective sounds, I decided I would give Opeth another go and now I haven't been able to stop listening to it, there isn't a weak track on here, but I guess I could say my personal favourites would be "Ghost Of Perdition", "The Baying of the Hounds", "Beneath The Mire", "Atonement", and "Hours Of Wealth", but the whole album is kickass, and any fan of progressive music, will enjoy it, I don't have anything negative to say about this album, I can say that if anything was perfect, this album would be closest to it, in terms of metal.