Opeth - Pale Communion review
|Release date:||August 2014|
01. Eternal Rains Will Come
02. Cusp Of Eternity
03. Moon Above, Sun Below
04. Elysian Woes
07. Voice Of Treason
08. Faith In Others
09. Solitude [Black Sabbath cover] [live] [special edition bonus]
10. Var Kommer Barnen In [Hansson De Wolfe United cover] [live] [special edition bonus]
11. Atonement [live] [Japanese bonus]
12. Demon Of The Fall [live] [Japanese bonus]
Opeth have softened their sound. This is old news, and this is also an old sound. Pale Communion is their sophomore in a retrograde and vintage style of progressive rock, yet it remains poised with their distinctive craftsmanship. The question arises as to whether this record builds upon the band's efforts in Heritage. It does.
Pale Communion has direction and frame. Less a collation of Opethian filtered prog homage, more a record with a sense of purpose and stylistic decision making of its own accord and character. In this respect the Swedes have found their comfort zone in their newly adopted style, something which focuses purely on the progressive rock, an element which has always permeated their sound within prior metal albums.
This effort is driven by percussion and acoustic, two aspects of the instrumentation which stand out clearly across the record in ways unprecedented for Opeth. Axe at the drums is noticeably busy for much of the album's duration, clearly steering its course in a style of progression that is typical for the band. Softer segments of keys intersperse the sound defined by rhythmic precision and progressive guitar noodling, also adding that golden glow to the atmospheric backdrop that is as much a part of their artistry as ever.
This is not to overlook Åkerfeldt, his vocal work receiving its usual pride of place at the fore of delivery in his purely clean style, offering an identifiable and comforting croon to the arrangements. Though emphasised, his delivery is never overstated, but finds a natural accommodating factor into providing much of the record's character. Otherwise, the new and assured direction in this album comes at a price; its vintage feel becomes hardened and less exciting as what was presented in Heritage in such an eager and somewhat heavy handed construction of a track list. This made the preceding sound more varied but largely aimless, whereas Pale Communion turns this notion on its head.
One can hear that this record has a place to be. It proceeds in progressions more neatly and astutely defined, yet the initially impacting waft of sounds from prog of yore that Heritage had seems to be lost. No heady projections of early era Deep Purple, for instance. What we're offered this time is a rather more bare bones approach, yet the bones solidify the direction the band has taken into their own renditions of progressive rock.
The production adds modern veneer to the old style of sound, and is especially suited to the enhancing of the percussive strengths, granting it a weight that is best afforded to recent progressive rock records that aim for stylistic heaviness where appropriate, such as The Void by Beardfish. Pale Communion is produced in such a way that easily acclimatises Opeth's sound into the modern progressive rock scene.
While Opeth have found their reason in rock, Pale Communion is progressive in two ways especially. One, it calls upon stylistic similarities to and compositional borrowings from the genre's founding fathers, and two, it marks a move further down the band's own path into their demetallized direction.
||Written on 20.08.2014 by R'Vannith enjoys music, he's hoping you do too.|
|My favorite band is Opeth; I was on the bandwagon around the days of My Arms, Your Hearse and have never jumped off. When it comes to an album like Pale Communion there is an important question I've had to ask myself: do I like Opeth because they're a metal band or do I like Opeth because of the way they play their music? Is it the heavy death metal growls that make them so great or the overall vibe they create with their experimentation? In the end, I find it is the latter that is true for me in both cases.
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