Sound — 10
I have spent years listening to this band, 7 to be exact. Ever since the beginning, I have wanted to speak my voice on them, now I finally am. When listing to this album, I get chills. The quality isn't as good as the newer recordings, but I think that is one of the reasons for the chills. Made in 1998, this was before they were endorsed by PRS or Laney, so the equipment might have not been close to what they play now. But, the rawness yet smooth transitions and song structure absolutely take over this album. I think they had the 2 Martins, Peter, and Mikeal playing on this one, and could possibly be the best metal lineup of all time. The fades between tracks is what makes Opeth, and this album delivers. Wither it is a clean guitar intro, or some delayed note over bass, it always gets me in these early Opeth albums. I did however realize that this was really the first really progressive record they had done. Morningrise and Orchid even with the influence of black metal, still sort of seemed progressive. But this album's structure, transitions, and even lyrics built it up to something amazing on almost every song. Even though the songs were less than 10 mins, the way that the whole album plays through seems more progressive. Plus, not to mention, Mikeals growls got a lot, LOT more guttural and dark, almost to where he is today.
Lyrics — 9
Being the first concept album they did, along with Still Life, the lyrics were derived from book. I never looked into it as much as I should because I am a fan boy, but in all honesty I am not a lyrics guy. Meanwhile, it seems like ever last word on the song, is the word of the next track. Like in The Amen Corner, at the end, Mikeal finished with Demon Of The Fall. Very cool. As I said before, the growling has more baritone and has become more "demonish" in this album. The only thing that gets me about this album is that in a couple of songs, the growling/singing overpowers the music itself. I love the growls, don't get me wrong, but when I want to hear some riffs or drum fills, the growling should stop for a half a second.
Overall Impression — 10
It seems like to this day, no mainstream band has gotten close to Opeth as far as creativity and originality go. You have your Porcupine Tree's and Textures, but they only get so close to this sound, not saying they are trying to achieve the Opeth sound. 1. Prolouge: an intro song, creepy as hell piano and rain pretty much get me hoping for the best, and does it come. 9/10 2. April Etheral: great "opening" song for the album, was shocked that the riffs had become shorter and less repetitive, very nice change. 8/10 3. When: this was and still is the pinnacle Opeth song for me. The clean beginning is a take it or leave it thing, but from there, this song made me love this music. The breakdown to clean around 5:40 is so enchanting and haunting at the same time. And at 7:50, 'And I Cryyy.......' is the best sounding ending to a song ever. Just sort of squeezes my heart every time I hear it. 10/10 4. Madrigal: one of the instrumentals. Basically a good transition. 7/10 5. The Amen Corner: another song that shows off that they have changed their ways. Very choppy and metal sound, when it used to be drawn out and way too sustained. 8/10 6. Demon Of The Fall: one of the heaviest Opeth songs til this day. Creppy intro followed by a fast rhythm along with the drums to the unmistakable growl. The ending to this one, along with When make me happy to be alive. lol 10/10 7. Credence: a mellow Opeth song with great sounding acoustics and singing. Along with the folky tone attribute, this song makes as another good transitions into the heavier songs. 9/10 8. Karma: starts out too fast for its own good. Then, sort of drops off into a murky very deep puddle. This was the part where the growling over the guitars didn't work. Least fav on album. 6/10, lol 9. Epilogue: freaking EPIC! Is what I say in my head when I hear this. Unbelievable ending to my fav album in metal of all time. Try listening all the way through then ending on this, speechless.....10/10