Opeth for me always managed to combine heavy passages with more introspective, laid back sections. They've done that ever since they - IMO - started being really cool, with the release of "Still Life". "Deliverance" continued that trend, with the exception that the initial track was too simple and too much all-out loud to my taste. Their latest CD, entitled "Damnation", was supposed to be the more laid-back complement to "Deliverance". That, ladies and gentlemen, it is.

Instances when you'd normally want to listen to Opeth are not the same instances you'd want to pop "Damnation" in the player. In fact there is not a single heavy moment on the entire album. There are many instances on the album where you feel them building up to something...but it never happens. This is, um, "a thinking man's pop album"? The beat is not sufficient for massive radio airplay, but other than that I can't think why my even parents wouldn't like this.

However, "Damnation" is no crap. Akerfeldt and friends have taken what may have been some softer sections in new tracks and made them into complete songs. It's excellent for those moments in the day when you don't necessarily want to have your eardrums bludgeoned until they bleed. "Damnation" is, in fact, pretty suitable for midnight programming sessions (with your girl lying in the room next door trying to sleep), for a quiet evening with a good drink, or even as the sonic backdrop to some gentle love making (love making, people, not sex).

"Damnation" is pretty unusual for Opeth, and unfortunately at times unsatisfying when yet another expected crescendo peters out. It's a fine album with good music, though. Just, well...different.



Written April 2003


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