Watershed review by Opeth

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  • Released: Jun 3, 2008
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (215 votes)
Opeth: Watershed

Sound — 9
I have had high expectations to this album, and have waited for too long. The waiting, has been worthwhile and to this date, I feel Watershed is one of Opeth's greatest works. The album is very fragmented though, due to their amount of movements have outnumbered it's potential. But nothing is perfect, and as far as complaints go, my subjective and personal opinion is that Watershed could have lasted longer. It could have been more structured, but due to my appreciation of unnatural movements, it's just the thing for me.

Lyrics — 8
Not much to say about the lyrics really, because no lyrics came with the Special Edition. But luckily, Mikael kerfeldt's voice came in digital-sound format directly in my post. His voice is as beautiful as always and of course: Brutal as always. But I prefer his calmer moments with haunting, semi-dissonant acoustic background music. As I have read in several interviews, he has told "he is not a good clean singer blahblah", but Mikael?

Overall Impression — 8
01. Coil - a very beautiful opener. Relaxing but short. Too short. 02. Heir Apparent - powerful contrast to the opener. Starts out with partly odd-timed dissonance, leading fluently into a haunting melodic line. There are some nice movements in this song, and Mikael's vocals are top notch. The acoustic passage and the outro is fantastic. Also includes an encore if I dare name it. Haunting song, one Opeth's best. 03. Lotus Eater - Opeth's shot at blastbeats with an apparently schitzopheric drummer. Look's like blastbeats just aren't Opeth-friendly, but I have to say, the rest of the song is mindblowing. Not to mention the insanley off-the-hook and cool jazz-funky wah-guitar/synth riff in the middle leading into one of Watersheds more interesting melodic riffs. Powerful ending too. I find myself rewinding to the jazz-funk riff now and then. It just have to be heard! 04. Burden - "Oh, hello '70s-Opeth, I really love your solo on Burden!" Yeah, I do. A haunting solo which can contest Dream Theater and Joe Satriani. Not on techinque, but on the feel. It is one haunting song, with an ending even more haunting. No fear, you will get your sleep tonight, because Burden also includes one synth-solo which bring Opeth even closer to Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree. And about that ending: I'll let someone else spoil it for you, because it is actually very strange and obscure. 05. Porcelain Heart - I really hope you did not watch the music video with a consumer-friendly cut of the song. Get the CD and listen to the real shit. Porcelain Heart is another very haunting piece from my Swedish neightbours. Very strange composition in the beginning with alternating heavy and calm (another haunting one) acoustic some times before it develops into a repetition which does not feel boring at all. Porcelain Heart comes packed with both a sudden ending and a nice acoustic bridge! (Also another haunting one, just the way I like Opeth) Porcelain Heart may or may not be boring, but non-proggers are most likely to skip it, and watch the music video with MTV-friendly women. 06. Hessian Peel - several minutes of acoustic goosebumps are just what I needed when I arrived at track 6. Very nice buildup: Calm acoustic, drums and bass coming in, the vocals hovering above and the keyboards float like waterlilies, and suddenly, some classical piano "kicks" in. The following is a weird rythm of bass-pulses which happen to be followed by Opeth's most extreme riff to date. Marduk anyone? Anyways, from that point, Hessian Peel is a ride of joy and energy which I have never heard Opeth kick before. A great solo and a nice outro leading into the epilogue. 07. Hex Omega - I could as well have listened to Dream Theater instead of Hex Omega, but apparently this song attracts me. It has a nice middle-eastern flavour to it. It is a very interestic song, but loses a little of the calm and serenity which usually comes from an Opeth song. But I am not one to blame someone for making their own music. A good song anyways. A well deserved 7 because of a very climatic ending. Bonuses from the Special Edition: 08. Derelict Herd - not a very interesting song. Cool hook but not much else. 09. Bridge Of Sighs - cover of Robin Trower. Never heard the original, but at least from what Opeth has showed me, it is a psychedelic 70's song with good vocals and guitar work. 10. Den Standiga Resan - Opeth cover of a Marie Fredriksson song. Very beautiful folk-track with some interesting guitarwork. So, despite a few flaws, Watershed is an album which is intersting from start to finish and has a lot of musical ideas which Opeth must work more on. They are really up to something big. Except for that, there is not much bad things to say about it. Though, I still believe a few non-proggers out there would want their money back for being too impatient to let art grow on them. Opeth is not just about the metal. Opeth is art.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I was amazed when I first listened to the album, Axe's drumming style is so much more agressive. I miss the Lopez beats but at the same time I love the new ones. The blast beats are interesting, I don't think Opeth has ever used them before, and they use them quite tastefully (not to excess). I find there isn't much difference in the guitar work, just a little bit more technical, I assume thanks to Fredrik. I particularly like the way the keyboards have been used, and the session musicians (especially the oboes/cor anglais in Porcelain Heart - beautiful). They really help make each song so great. I did find a couple of the songs to change very abruptly between sections, it sounded a bit weird. Not so much structure, but the trade-off is that they aren't repeating the same riff forever, which is my main criticism of older Opeth albums. And IMHO there is no "best" Opeth album. They're all brilliant in their own way. Each album has something in common with it's predecessor but also explores completely new territory. Same with this album. Overall I think it's yet another incredible album from Opeth, and of course I'm wondering what on earth they're gonna do next - no doubt it will be yet again completely different.