Blackwater Park (Koch)
by Martin Popoff
Opeth just might be the only metal band with a better critical reputation than Seattle mid-metal crushers Nevermore, and that cozy relationship with the press is entirely warranted. Through five albums, this effusively and intensely discussed Swedish institution has progressed further down the gloomy cobblestone drive toward a sound that is a complex form of progressive rock on its own, or if dualities be ventured, a cross between the creepy, eccentric, depressive progressive rock of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator, with the doomy, Gothic post-Sabbath vibes of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. Band mastermind Mikael Akerfeldt (who pretty much writes all the music and lyrics) has a knack for creating metal riffs that are both classic rock and indicative of Sweden’s Gothenburg sound, as well as atmospheric acoustic passages, quiet piano interludes, and lifting, descending, drifting arrangements that bridge the recurring uneasy respites with alarming art rock creativity. If Akerfeldt doesn’t dumb down soon, panoramic, ten-minute labyrinths such as “Bleak” and exotic opener “The Leper Affinity” just might have mainstream musicologists calling this band the Led Zeppelin of extreme music, something folks in the underground have been saying for years.
(740 Broadway 7th Fl. New York, NY 10003)