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Watershed (Special Edition)

Opeth

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Album Review

After album (or "observation," as the band likes to call them) number eight — Ghost Reveries — Opeth could have very easily coasted, merely rehashing their sound. Instead, they opted to challenge themselves and their listeners, creating an album that can — at times — expose its true nature and scope slowly and — at other times — be jarring, as if it were turning itself inside out. Opeth take chances that many bands in the same situation would be too scared to have a go at. It's hard to say if the recent membership changes affected bandleader Mikael Åkerfeldt's writing and production, or if he was enjoying his trip down classic rock (see: Deep Purple) lane. For whatever reason, Watershed is a new benchmark for Opeth. The tricky part is pointing out that while Watershed is a fantastic record, one that takes chances while remaining totally metal (dude), it feels less like a complete statement than a preview for something even greater. After the pastoral introduction of "Coil," Opeth move into pummeling mode with "Heir Apparent." It's one of the few tracks here to feature growling death metal vocals. But it is track three where Opeth really take the listener by the ear and twist. There's a gently humming prologue, then "The Lotus Eater" becomes a slab of blastbeats iced with clean vocals that — as with many Opeth tunes — takes a "break" two-thirds of the way through, only to take one hell of a left turn out of nowhere. The tune doesn't just go back to heavy riffage, but explores a prog metal, psychedelic organ quasi-freakout that touches on pure jazz. "Burden," arguably the strongest of the classicist tunes on Watershed (closely followed by "Hessian Peel"), is lush and grandiose. It's the moment on this collection where the listener realizes how incredibly talented this band is. And if the songs themselves aren't enough, the structures and fade-outs on some of them are. An example: "Burden"'s gentle guitar outro is deconstructed by someone manually detuning Åkerfeldt's guitar as he plays. Another: "Lotus Eater"'s Dark Side of the Moon-esque "voices in your head" send-off. These add more depth to an album that surprises continually, even after repeated listens. Sure, there are some (sort of) weak moments — "Porcelain Heart" seems a bit mainstream, and "Hex Omega," while a stunning closer, has insanely tough competition as a standout from the other six tracks. Essentially, Opeth's perceived weaknesses would be pivotal moments for any other band. This is a band that has managed to get exponentially better with each release, taking amazing chances and managing to not only win new fans, but not alienate older ones. A perfect blend of the death metal of Still Life, Blackwater Park, and My Arms, Your Hearse, the monolithic riffage of Deliverance and Ghost Reveries, and the prog/classicism of Damnation combined with classic Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and Scorpions, Watershed marks a new chapter for Opeth, one that promises infinitely more than its predecessors. [A CD/DVD edition was issued in 2008.] ~ Christopher M. True, Rovi

Customer Reviews

A Very Impressive Release by Opeth

I'll preface this by saying I dislike reviewers that give top ratings to everything, and i'm not one of those people. I think this may be the most mature and deepest release by Opeth to date. It's really really good. The songwriting, the ideas, the sounds, the production, its all there. It's one of thos epic sounding albums, where you say, wow, this is better than I thought it would be. This may be the record that really propels Opeth into the spotlight. First off, its quite progressive. But not always heavy progressive, and not always progressive like Damnation. Its a mix of sounds, some old some new. I can say that there are elements to this album that aren't in the last. The keyboard takes on a new roll in the band, and it fits great. If you're new to Opeth, this is a great starting point, because you'll get hooked, if you've been listening to Opeth, you'll probably think this is the best release to date. Enjoy!

THIS IS AMAZING!!!

For a long time Blackwater Park has been my favorite Opeth album, followed by Ghost Reveries recently. But this... this is the new, definitive opus of the greatest band on Earth. While at first, after hearing the single Porcelain Heart, it didn't shock me that Opeth had successfully merged styles of progressive death metal and blues styles once again, a full listen of Watershed revealed to me a transecendental mix of masterful musicianship unachieved by any other band I have ever heard. Coil is an interesting opener that features female vocals... the pleasant calm before the storm that is Heir Apparent. Track 2 is the heaviest song of Watershed, packed throughout with tight, crushing riffs and death growls as good as Opeth have ever done, with a cool outro. The Lotus Eater is unconventional to the say the least, but enthralling nonetheless--a unique song in the catalog of Opeth and very reccommended. I don't want to spoil its surprises for anyone who has yet to hear it so I won't say why. If you're a fan of epic ballads than Burden may just be your favorite song on this album, as it is mine. Again, any attempt to describe it would be a disservice to virgin ears. As previously mentioned, Porcelain Heart is an incredible mix of progressive, death metal, and blues. Just like Bleak on Blackwater Park, it succeeds in defining Opeth's latest sound in one song--probably my second favorite of Watershed. The second-to-last song on this album, Hessian Peel, is a contemplative, 11-and-a-half minutes long turning point that gets you ready for the final track. As you listen to Hex Omega, you become sad that the album is finally coming to a close, and the music doesn't help by being so tragically good. You just appreciate it while it lasts and savor every second. That an album could make you feel so empty after closing is a testament to Opeth's genius. Now, the value that comes with buying the special edition is that you get to add 16.5 extra minutes to your experience of this album, which already justifies the price. In my humble opinion neither of the three songs compare to what is in the core package, but are fantastic in their own right. Derelict Herds is the best, followed by Bridge of Sighs and then Den Standiga Resan, which both sound like they would come from a badass-ified Damnation 2.

This album is amazing

What a great album. My only problem is that Derelict Herds shouldn't be album only. I bought the actual Special Edition with the DVD and everything, but it doesn't come with a version of that song on CD, only on the DVD. I don't want to buy the whole album again just so I can listen to that song on my iPod. Please fix this, iTunes :-( Other than that, this album is definitely one of Opeth's best, if not the best. Per's solo in Burden is incredible.

Biography

Formed: 1990 in Stockholm, Sweden

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Brought together in Stockholm by guitarists Peter Lindgren and Mikael Åkerfeldt in 1990, Opeth added progressive influences and acoustic instrumentation to their brand of Swedish death metal. As the group progressed, it was very common for an Opeth live set to fly in several different musical directions — and an average song lasted no less than ten minutes. Impressed by their originality, Candlelight Records released their debut full-length in 1995, which was titled Orchid, and featured a rhythm...
Full Bio
Watershed (Special Edition), Opeth
View In iTunes
  • $12.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Metal, Death Metal/Black Metal
  • Released: May 24, 2008

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