3. Opeth – Blackwater Park (2001)
Complex and intricate yet rewarding and endlessly listenable, Opeth’s Blackwater Park is a diamond amongst a sea of jewels; the entirety of their extraordinary back catalogue is virtually faultless but Blackwater Park is still the quintessential Opeth album.
Championing a Progressive Death Metal style (at least on this release anyway), Opeth run the gauntlet of colour and shade, emotion and aggression on a set of tracks which never fail to surprise.
“The Leper Affinity”, “Bleak”, “The Funeral Portrait” and the title track showcase Opeth’s unique Death Metal. Complete with acoustic interludes and clean vocals, which provide a welcome break from the guttural growls and blast beats, these songs showcase a melding of styles that may sound disparate on paper but together they provide a contrast and a beauty to a genre that relies far too much on all out assault.
“Harvest” and “Patterns In The Ivy” are warm and tranquil tributes to the 1970’s; beacons of light amidst the Death Metal darkness and they are nuggets of acoustic, folk-rock, gold.
Arguably the highlight of the album though is “The Drapery Falls”, the one song which perfectly balances both sides of Opeth’s sound. From soothing vocals and expansive yet cascading riffs, the song explodes into a Jazz-Death Metal frenzy at the half way mark culminating in 11 minutes of progressive perfection.
Opeth may have recorded albums to rival this remarkable release (Ghost Reveries and My Arms, Your Hearse come close) but in 2001, Blackwater Park was the epitome of Extreme Metal and of the genre taking tentative yet tremendous steps to new heights.