Review: Opeth – Pale Communion

Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Genre: Progressive Rock
Released: August 26, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Upcoming Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

Opeth has done what many thought would be impossible: They somehow released an album that was even less metal than Heritage. So if you hated that album because it wasn’t “brutal” enough for you…well, you’re going to hate this, too, but this review is directed towards people who don’t have their heads stuck in Blackwater Park.

The instant “Eternal Rains Will Come” opens, the listener is greeted with synth and some proggy drums (which are among the best features of this album). It takes another three minutes for Mikael Akerfeldt’s gorgeous vocals (another sterling feature of Opeth, as always) to kick in. Essentially, Pale Communion is a progressive progeny of the bands that made the 1970’s not suck for those who weren’t into disco. 

A track-by-track review of this album is unnecessary as it would get redundant pretty quickly. I will say, however, that while the main riff to “Cusp Of Eternity” is nice to listen to, it essentially repeats itself for most of the track and doesn’t go anywhere. On the opposite end of the spectrum is “Moon Above, Sun Below,” a fantastic and varied track. The aforementioned “Eternal Rains” is another standout, as well as “River” and “Voice Of Treason,” both featuring some brief “metal” moments on top of all the proggy goodness.

This is among the better progressive rock albums of the year, but one gripe I have about both this and Heritage is the comparative lack of dynamic ranges that earlier Opeth albums, as well as Ayreon and Star One, possess. Say what you will about the cheesiness of Arjen Lucassen’s lyrics, but when it comes to putting together a variety of styles, moods, and timbre into a single album, I am hard-pressed to find anyone better. Hell, Akerfeldt even appeared on The Human Equation and only growled on two tracks, and on small sections of those tracks, at that. But the growls were extremely effective because they changed the entire feel of the track. Strong moments like those are by-and-large absent on Pale Communion.

Overall: Slightly better than Heritage, which I liked, thank you very much.

Rating: 3.5*


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