Sound — 10
Oh yes. It's arrived. Chances are if you're reading this, you already own the album or have heard it through other means. However, for those of you that haven't, you're in for a treat. Opeth's ninth studio album further proves that Opeth are not a band for convention. On this effort, Mikael Akerfeldt and Co take a different approach to their sound than on other albums. This may be partially influenced by the inception of two new members: Frederik Akesson and Martin Axenrot on guitar and drums respectively. The performance by each of them on this album proves that they are able to live up to the quality of Lindgren and Lopez (the former guitarist and drummer respectively). Overall, this album has a softer, more melancholic sound than previous efforts. However, when Opeth unleashes their brutality in such tracks as Heir Apparent, it crushes the face of the listener in full force. In fact, Heir Apparent, possibly Opeth's heaviest song to date, feels as if they took all the heavy parts from previous albums and placed them into an incredible 8:50. This isn't to say that the softer songs are bad, quite the opposite. Burden, the "overblown ballad" is incredibly good. Several of the songs are more progressive and experimental such as The Lotus Eaters and Hessian Peel. Each song on the album shows Opeth advancing in an entirely new direction. This album may take a few listens to grow on you, but when it does it will be well worth it to hear these amazing peices of music.
Lyrics — 9
Mikael Akerfeldt, always a great singer, really brings out his best clean performance to date with the vocals on this album. He ranges from catchy, to melancholic, to haunting with ease. The growls, although used much less than on previous albums, are also excellent. I do, however, wish that Mikael used some more growls, despite the greatness of his clean voice. Lyrically, this album is also different than previous efforts. The lyrics are not printed in the booklet of the album except in a bizzare sort of code that one must crack in order to figure them out. However, the lyrics that can be heard (many, due to Akerfeldt's great voice) seem to deal with a recurring theme of a death in the family. This album may be a concept album, but that isn't confirmed at this point in time. Overall there is a solid vocal performance and solid lyrics like one would expect from Opeth.
Overall Impression — 10
The album, as previously stated, is much less brutal than Opeth's past catalouge, but there are still moments where the heaviness is apparent. From this great album, Heir Apparent, The Lotus Eaters, and Burden are some of the real stand out tracks. Overall, this album leaves the listener with a great impression. If you've never heard of Opeth, I strongly recommend listening to this CD. Even if you don't like their previous stuff, you're almost sure to find something here you like amidst the sea of experimentation.