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Review: Opeth - Damnation

Label: Music For Nations
Year released: 2003
Duration: 43:23
Tracks: 8
Genre: Progressive Metal


Review online: May 8, 2003
Reviewed by: Scott Murray
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.71/5 (74.29%) (28 Votes)

Obligatory Damnation review mentions:

#1. This is the mellow one
#2. It was produced by Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the real heart of Opeth’s enigmatic experimental departure. Well, maybe that’s not necessary since the album was leaked over the net some time ago so I’m sure most already have their own thoughts on this one. I chose to wait, opening the promotional copy with a hopeful grin on my face, still not really sure what to expect. In a way, these full-length songs could easily have been inserted into some of the band’s heavier material to act as those trademark (and popular) transitional bridges highlighted by the soft clean vocals of Akerfeldt that compliment his beastly roars so well. What makes Damnation different to me is it’s almost reliance on the keyboard originated atmospheres in combination with the vocals to hit the listener when it’s time to raise some hairs and spark the emotions. The guitar twangs and jazzy rhythms could have less to do with the doom and gloom of the lyrics, album artwork and dark ambience. It is an interesting contrast, as the instruments could be seen as replicating the silver lining on the daunting storm clouds. Several solos are littered throughout the album, one popping up unexpectedly within the first minute and a half of the opener Windowpane. These bursts are inspiring in their epic tone and once again stand out against the dreary pastures. Still, the drive of the album’s memorable harmonies comes courtesy of the vocals and keyboards, leaving me a bit disappointed in the lack of notable guitar parts. They do their job nicely though, carrying the verses while building towards the soulful pleas of the chorus’.

That basically sums up what Damnation is all about. I find that the more times I listen to it the more I like it. This is an album best taken in stretched out in front of a window on a rainy Sunday with headphones firmly in place. A mysterious and seductive offering in which the poetic lyrics are allowed (thanks to the clear singing of course) to take flight and paint their vivid images onto the focused listener’s imagination. Just keep in mind that one listen just isn’t enough with this one.

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