Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

2001 – Part 5.5: Opeth – Blackwater Park

“Blackwater Park” is the fifth studio album Opeth released on March 12, 2001 in Europe and a day later in North America through Music for Nations and Koch Records.

I never got too involved with the death metal elitists who seemed to label the band, not “death metal enough”. Their view points sound like an episode in “Dethklok” when the fictional cartoon death metal band was writing a song and it wasn’t brutal enough for the singer.

The album marks the first collaboration between Porcupine Tree front man Steven Wilson and the band, as Wilson had been brought in to produce the album. The influences of Porcupine Tree can be heard here and this contributed to a shift in Opeth’s musical style with more mellow passages, while Porcupine Tree would also get some heaviness out of it as well.

“Blackwater Park” did not chart in the United States or United Kingdom but it is seen as the commercial breakthrough for the band.

Opeth at this point in time was Mikael Åkerfeldt on vocals, guitar and acoustic guitar, Peter Lindgren on guitar, Martín Méndez on bass and Martin Lopez on drums.

Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree does clean and backing vocals on “Bleak”, “Harvest”, “The Funeral Portrait”, and “The Drapery Falls”, piano, additional guitar, record producer, engineering and mixing.

The Leper Affinity

Music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

First, I am not a huge fan of death metal vocals. I tolerate them because I want to hear good riffs. And there are a lot of good riffs and leads here. On occasions it feels like I am listening to a Megadeth album or a Dream Theater/Fates Warning album.

At 4.50, there is an acoustic section that comes in with clean tone vocals. It sounds ominous. And when they build it up, the ominous sound is still there.

Then at 6.10, this Tool like riff kicks in. Press play to hear it.

The last minute is a sombre piano lounge piece.

At 10.26 it’s a massive opening song for an album.

Bleak

Music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

I like the way this starts. Its progressive but groove orientated.

At 3.28, it’s got this alternative metal vibe with clean tone vocals from Wilson and I like it. And it moves in between acoustic rock and heavy metal. But. By the end of it, its chaotic dissonance.

At 9.15, the first two songs clock in over 20 minutes.

Harvest

Music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

The second shortest song at 6 minutes with strummed acoustic riffs.

The Drapery Falls

Another 10 plus minute track with music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

It’s got acoustic guitars, psychedelic fuzzed out leads and clean tone singing.

It’s got progressive riffs and death metal singing.

And more grooves than a vinyl record.

Dirge for November

Written by Mikael Akerfeldt and Peter Lindgren. The dirge comes out to 8 minutes.

The acoustic guitar is there again and it feels like a Led Zeppelin cut in the first two minutes, think “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You”.

That section at 4.30 to 4.40 is brief but I like its classical feel. The last two minutes is similar to the intro, but more jazzy.

The Funeral Portrait

Music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

At almost 9 minutes long, its full of riffs and acoustic guitars.

The dissonance of the tritone is all over this track.

The whole acoustic intro reminds me of Slayer and “Seasons In The Abyss” while the riff that crashes in afterwards is very Dream Theater like from the “Images And Words” album.

And I like it.

Patterns in the Ivy

A 2 minute instrumental written by Mikael Akerfeldt.

Think of the intro of “Diary Of A Madman” with some piano melodic leads.

Blackwater Park

The title track at 12 minutes long. Written by Mikael Akerfeldt and Peter Lindgren.

The intro that starts it of is hard rock.

There is this clean tone instrumental section which is a fusion of jazz and classical. The riff that crashes in after it is perfect and head banging.

If there is a complaint, there are too many long songs with not a lot of variation. But from a guitar players point of view, there are a lot of cool riffs to unpack and learn.

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