Sound — 10
Oepth are quite the enigma in Metal. I have no doubts, that, had any other band released Watershed, they probably wouldn't be considered metal. More progressive rock, I think. The album seems to have a loose concept, and is extremely, eerie sounding. There's elements of Death metal, metal, progressive rock, jazz, and even some blues in there. It starts with Coil, a nice acoustic opener, and Mikael Akerfeldt sings beautifully in the first half. The second half is sung by Nathalie Lorichs, and the first Opeth song to feature a guest, female vocalist. After this, we get the heaviest song on the album, Heir Apparent. Although it's heavy, of course, there's a good dose of acoustic thrown in, which contrasts the heaviness quite well. The Lotus Eater is the weirdest track, I think. It starts heavily, and in typical Opeth fashion, winds down toward the middle. Then a little break, and a jazz fusion part that completely took me by surprise. And the ending is just, awesome. Burden is entirely acoustic; almost a prog rock ballad, with some great soloing, and a really awesome ending. Porcelain Heart, I think, is the weakest track. It alternates between a doomy riff, and a beautiful classical guitar, and there's a nice mellow solo. Now! My favorite track, Hessian Peel. The first half is all mellow (save one riff), there's some beautiful vocals, and orchestral instruments. The second half is heavy, has an excellent solo, and one of my favorite Akerfeldt riffs ever. Finally, Hex Omega, It alternate between heavy and mellow, and is a great closer to the album. The bonus tracks are great too, if you have the Special Edition.
Lyrics — 10
Mikael Akerfeldt has always been one of my favorite lyricist's. This album is no exception. The lyrics fit the eerie atmosphere perfectly, and are very dark. Mikael Akerfeldt's vocal performance on this album is probably his best ever. His clean singing has gotten better throughout Opeth's lengthy career, and the singing is even better than on Ghost Reveries (which, I thought, was his previous best). His singing is very emotional and melodic, and his growls are, as usual, top notch. The growls aren't used much however; that's one of my few gripes with the album.
Overall Impression — 10
Watershed has actually taken the throne from Still Life and My Arms, Your Hearse, as my favorite Opeth album. The songs aren't quite as long winded (the songs are more around mayh in length), and they aren't repetitive in the least. All of the songs are great, but standouts would be, Hessian Peel, Burden, The Lotus Eater, and Heir Apparent. Even Porcelain Heart, the weakest track, is still good. As I said, the only thing I wish, is that there were a bit more growls. If it were lost or stolen, this is an album that I would actually take the time to go out and purchase again. In short, get it. It's my pick for best of 08, already.