The opening inset of the liner notes reads:“Ghost Reveries: an observation by Opeth.” I promptly fell over from the sheer pretentiousness— I want to see what Opeth are looking at. And woe that there is no greater title a weekly paper can provide than “Disc of the Week.”This record was in the running for best metal release of the year before it even came out and now that it has, it may very well have decimated any competition.
Their debut release on Roadrunner shows a new Opeth, armed with Spiritual Beggars keyboardist Per Winberg and working for the first time in three records without guide and producer Steven Wilson. They’ve maintained several key elements of their sound, of course; extended song structures, contrast between fierce and soothing sections, tasteful technical prowess, etc.
But the song structures and approach have changed significantly. In the past, frontman Mikael Akerfeldt and crew tended towards a more straightforward, ABA style of heavy-light-heavy or vice versa. Now, their arrangements seem more fluid and natural than ever due to structures unique to each piece. This, with the advent of Akerfeldt singing clean over heavy sections and more layered, intricate production aided by Winberg, creates a whole new dynamic to the band.
I could fill up this page with a detailed review of one song, but suffice it to say there are songs on here that are utterly unlike anything Opeth have done before, such as a soulful blues number and a trippy, psychedelic yarn that rivals any current pop group in construction and taste. The full experience of the album is energizing, mystifying and heart-wrenching. It is manna for the tired metal soul.
Ghost Reveries is certainly among the band’s finest work to date, perhaps even their best. Everything this band is has changed, again. The bar has been raised.
In A Word: Brilliant