Posts Tagged ‘Mikael Akerfeldt’

Pale Communion was released August 25th, 2014 via Roadrunner Records.  Genre: Progressive Rock

Pale Communion was released August 25th, 2014 via Roadrunner Records.
Genre: Progressive Rock

It has been 3 years since Opeth’s departure from the death metal landscape broke the hearts of thousands of fans, but the preeminent prog professionals are back with their 11th ‘observation’, Pale Communion. The band’s 2011 effort Heritage signaled a “new” direction in the band’s musical focus and send shockwaves throughout their seemingly loyal fan base. Pale Communion is in no way their mea culpa; rather it is an expansion on the sound that has arguably been at the base of every Opeth album since the days of Orchid albeit masked by death metal chaos.

Almost by design, the band introduces newcomer Joakim Svalberg (keyboardist) accompanied by drummer Martin Axenrot in the groove-drenched intro of album opener ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’. This band knows how to create a rollercoaster of dynamics throughout the course of a song and, in large, an album. Eternal Rains, as does the album itself, possesses a short but effective build-drop-lull-build-sustain-evolved-drop formula that has been an integral part of tracks since Watershed. Most tracks on this album follow suite with the exception of the track number two, ‘Cusp of Eternity’. A foot stomping riff immediately establishes a groove and holds serve as Mikael Akerfeldt croons effortlessly above the rhythm guitars.

The album is a sonic treat for the ears. Mix engineer and Porcupine Tree main-man Steven Wilson has refined and improved on his aural vision from Heritage. The drums across the album bite and punch through the mix with pristine quality but retain a level of intimacy that helps bolster space creating effects such as reverb and delay. Wilson’s flashy use of those effects introduce an insane amount of dimension to the listening experience that came up flatter in this album’s predecessor. The heart of the album, led by the 10-minute mammoth ‘Moon Above, Sun Below’, bounces from quite and serene to spacious but melodically dense and culminates in an infectious band-jam instrumental, ‘Goblin’.

Before turn of the corner to the homestretch of the album, ‘River’ seemingly provides the furthest departure from the trademark Opeth song to date. Up until the halfway point, the song is by far the least complex of the bunch and seems to be tailor made for that “lighter in the air” moment at the venue. It is only at around the 4-minute mark that Opeth’s ear twisting returns and reminds listeners of just how talented this group is. The refrain of Voice of Treason boasts one of the best vocal performances only to be outdone by the tracks climax and close which leads directly to album closer Faith In Others.

From start to finish the album is a testament front man Mikael Akerfeldt’s growth and maturation as a songwriter as well as a straightforward hat tip to his influences. Beyond the singular contributions from Akerfeldt, Opeth as a whole steps their game up. Bassist Martin Mendez is active throughout the album while simultaneously remaining glued to the pocket created and maintained by the spot on drum patterns of Martin Axenrot. Every track clocks in at 8 minutes or less with the exception of one or two, making each of them a manageable listening experience lengthwise. One of the very few minuses of this album are some of the busy vocal lines and crowded rhythms in Akerfeldts vocal cadence from time to time, but that’s just nit picking at this point isn’t it?

Album Picks: Cusp of Eternity, Moon above Sun Below, Voice of Treason

Album Skips: None

Rating: 4.5 out of 5