Saturday, December 15, 2007

Burn The Spirits Of Cold, That Travel Through My Soul

Opeth – Orchid

And at long last we have finally come to the end of my traversal of Opeth's back catalogue. Orchid is their first album, and my disappointment with their second release Morningrise meant that my expectations were low. Fortunately it turns out that, while Orchid is nowhere near as accomplished as their mid and late period masterpieces, it's still ranks favourably in their oeuvre.

Most of the songs fit into the standard Opeth style. Long compositions formed of baroque death metal riffs alternating with moody acoustic passages. This album differs because there's still some clear roughness to the performances, production and songwriting when compared to later albums, but the passion shines through and delivers a collection of solid, enjoyable metal songs.

Two tracks stand out for special mention. 'Silhouette' is a short piece for solo piano, featuring some very impressive playing by original drummer Anders Nordin, a type of song that they've never done since and which caused me to remark sadly that there's not enough real piano in metal (a wish that was fulfilled in a most satisfying manner recently by the new Dillinger Escape Plan album, but more on that later). Secondly 'Under The Weeping Moon' stands out as one of the best songs they've ever done, most notably for it's moody ambient breakdown in the middle.

Opeth's artful compositional wizardry has always been the first thing that comes to mind when I justify my love for them, but even back in 92 when those skills were still being developed they excel all the same because of their excellent sense of mood. Despite all Akerfeldt's talk of 'evilness' the music as a whole, even the heaviest parts, is laden with a romantic melancholy for which the brutal death metal image is just a façade. The fusion of the genre with such an antithetical feeling is something that no other band I've heard has pulled off. And when you combine that with the writing genius that Akerfeldt later developed, why you have a series of albums made of pure win and metal!

No comments: