Opeth – Damnation Review

Originally written by Ty Brookman

Opeth return with the second installment of the Nacksving/Fredman recordings. Of the two, Damnation was the album that had my interest peaked and expectations basically off the scale. Yeah, Deliverance embodied everything that is the Opeth sound that has crushed many before and many to come, but the prospect of a purely emotional offering by way of the clean could have been monumental. Over the years Opeth have given us several tastes of acoustic intervals/sections that have basically left us all longing for more. So when the word came through the pipeline that Damnation would be exclusively the mellow side of Åkerfeldt, I patiently waited for the goods. In the past, and I am sure it will happen again in the future as well, my expectations have almost ruined albums for me. It’s the albums that come along without preconceived notions of design that move me the most and end up being some of the best albums in my collection. So in my opinion maybe I had already set up Damnation to fail, and I am not lying to you when I say I wanted this album to be so much more. We all can agree that Åkerfeldt has one of the finest clean voices in metal except for you fucking blow-hards that profess your hatred for the band because you obviously think Opeth are beneath you because they have such a diverse fan base and have seen some success within the metal scene. Your ludicrous comments pertaining to Opeth’s lack of technical proficiency and Åkerfeldt’s voice being shit are so fucking out of line and blatantly untrue that you do nothing more than make yourselves look like idiots time and time again. I read your fucking posts throughout the forums of the universe and I am in shock that you basically find it cliché to drone on about your misconceived opinions of this band in a fashion that you think makes you look more brutal, so in the end you can high five your even more dumbfuck friend that you have been trying so hard to impress in the first place. Any real musician can quickly attest that you are out of your fucking minds and there is solid talent throughout Opeth (Please “get dead” as soon as possible by the way). I am off topic and my apologies go out, but until I sit in the big golden throne with the biggest chalice of blood and can silence morons with an army of competent minions all too eager to cut down troglodytes with sharpened swords, I will continue to publicly loathe such ignorance. Here are the facts, Damnation is precisely what I am sure you have already heard about it, but please allow me to repeat it for you. It combines a vintage 70’s sound with a definite millennium production, not at all sounding rehashed or reused. All of the songs travel at a mid-paced tempo with acoustic/clean guitar tones throughout. Åkerfeldt’s voice is exactly what you would expect by way of a smooth and precise delivery, although there is a sadness that does spill forth here and there which I assume is a bi-product of losing his Grandmother right before this recording. The addition of Steven Wilson working the mellotrons and electric piano fits all too well and was definitely a wise choice on Åkerfeldt’s behalf. They move the album along from song to song and actually weave the overall somber sound of the album. Martin Mendez’s bass performance is definitely above par and recorded with a more up front presence as it drives the album with a low toned roar, which I think is one of the reasons the actual recording sounds a bit fresher than any 70’s style high on the treble endeavor. Martin Lopez delivers a “less is more” drumming style, and in all actuality there isn’t a lot of room for flashiness behind the kit on this one anyway, so in essence it’s nothing more than a solid offering. Peter Lindgren rounds the offering out with a comprehensive routine of backing up the man and enjoying the sights as he rolls on. Looking back to when I finally got my hands on Damnation I felt somewhat like a school boy with a giddiness of finally popping his cherry. I soon found out that distinguishing song to song and the actual staying power of Damnation was definitely at an all time low. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the songs are interchangeable, but their overall affect is less than moving. I found track 7 which is an almost Spanish sounding instrumental, Ending Credits (Why is the song not the last song?) to have the most personality because it stood out from the rest of the songs themselves. Personally I found track 3, Death Whispered A Lullaby, to be the most moving but I think this was from an actual lyrical standpoint versus a musical one. Damnation is far from a bad album but it doesn’t move me anywhere to the degree I assumed it would, I expected to be taken on an emotional journey tossed from wave to wave. What I found was a solid album that makes for good background music or for a long drive on a Saturday afternoon. It doesn’t hit the player when I need a good mellow fix that will offer more by way of emotive performance. Bottom Line: I think Opeth’s clean side of the universe should be left where it originally came from, smack dab in the middle of a heavy ass tune. It hits harder amongst them and the payload is ten fold. Presented as an album by itself the impact is no where near as fulfilling. I do however believe Opeth could pull off an album that does embody the music that delivers chills by way of the clean, but maybe next time more time itself should be spent on writing and less on the overall idea of having a ying/yang release. Should you buy this album? Of course you should, but keep your expectations at a minimum and I truly believe the songs will leave more of a lasting impression.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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