(All Album Reviews by Hippy Pants)
This is my first Opeth CD, and I'll state up front it's a pretty good album. I'd previously downloaded a few sound bytes off Amazon from their previous albums, but was turned off completely by their lead singer who reminded me of Linda Blair during The Exorcist. I couldn't handle it, just too weird and gruff sounding. But when a friend, who is an Opeth fan, suggested I give Damnation a try, and told me that it is waaaay different from their other stuff: particularly in the vocal department, I thought, ok, I'll give it a spin.
If you are a fan of Porcupine Tree, you might also enjoy this release, as Steve Wilson wrote track three, "Death Whispered a Lullaby", but also produced the recording.
Now I have not fully heard any of Opeth's previous music, but Damnation is pretty toned down, and easily digested. It opens with "Windowpane", and, to make a comparison, reminds me of a mixture of some early Frisco bands and also reminiscent of Crimson during their Islands period with the way they used the mellotron to flourish their sound. Needless-to-say, that was a nice way to begin things. And, from there, the album sort of reaches and sustains that plateau.
Unlike the previous Porcupine Tree effort, In Absentia, this album doesn't explode or sledgehammer you into bombastic levels of sound. But I appreciate Opeth's restraint here, and in fact, find Damnation all the more satisfying for it. So rather than there being huge crescendos, Damnation is more a fibrous knot of sounds: filigreed with a bit of synth here, some mellotron there, some nice guitar work overall, plus some added trippy bits. I think Opeth made a pretty nice departure from their previous works. In fact, I hope they continue on or expand upon this format a bit longer. Either way, Damnation, is an exceptional release, one that should give you pause and reflection.
Like my fellow reviewer, Iíve heard other Opeth albums but was really turned off by the growling and heavy approach music. But this album is quite another story. Itís a laid back, soothing, quietsort of musical endeavour had me roaring in sheer awe. I think that the involvement of Steven Wilson (yes, he of Porcupine tree fame) had something to do with it. Not only is he a master of producing..he is also a mastercomposer and i think he had more than a finger involved in the songwriting.
Anyhow, itís clear to me (and any Porcupine freak) that his presence is very much in evidence here as it is a brilliant album!! And as much as I "hate" growling and heavy trimmed albums (sorry guys!) this album just shows how fine musicians Opeth really are. Iím am really surprised (and glad) that these guys, knowing their previous catalogue, dared to go this way. Hats off to you guys!!!!
So progfriend...listen to " Windowpane" or "Death whispered a lullaby" and you WILL know what I mean. Brilliant stuff and an excellent prog album!!! But, hey go easy on their other albums, unless you are a sucker for very heavy music with growling!!