A while ago, Opeth released "Still Life". I was quite taken away with it. They coupled dreamy passages of quietude with heavy riffing, good clean vocals with a dark grunt. Apart from there being sufficient aural variety, the music was also plain good. "Still Life" was one hell of a fine album.

"Blackwater Park" pretty much continues where "Still Life" stopped, however increasing the quality level another notch or two. What you get is 8 tracks, most of which are somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, offering plenty of space for rhythm and melody changes, as well as clean versus grunted vocals. In fact, the album exudes an atmosphere not unlike the cover art: foggy, with unexpected shapes looming up occasionally in the form of cool riffs, unexpectedly sensitive passages, and many more little metal gems.

The album kick off and ends with long, excellent tracks ("The Leper Affinity" and "Blackwater Park"). In between you find a dreamier but no less praiseworthy track ("Bleak"), the beautiful "Harvest", the beautiful yet heavy "The Drapery Falls" and the superb "The Funeral Portrait". There's one short (under 2 minutes) instrumental and one track that just doesn't seem to do it for me (whatever it is), "Dirge for November".

I can't image anyone who loved "Still Life" not liking this album. It is not much different, but different enough to be just that little bit better. "Still Life" has plenty of climaxes but I personally found there to be a tad too many meandering tracks that didn't captivate sufficiently. On "Blackwater Park", there's only that one track.

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Written April 2001


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