Blackwater Park was the fifth studio album by Swedish progressive metal legends Opeth.
Released on March 12th, 2001 in Europe – and a day later in North America – the album marked the first collaboration between Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson and the band and has gone down in history as not only Opeth’s commercial breakthrough but one of the most significant progressive metal albums ever released!
- Mikael Åkerfeldt – vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar
- Peter Lindgren – guitar
- Martín Méndez – bass
- Martin Lopez – drums
- Steven Wilson – clean and backing vocals on “Bleak”, “Harvest”, “The Funeral Portrait”, and “The Drapery Falls”, piano, additional guitar, record producer, engineering, mixing
Complex and intricate yet rewarding and endlessly listenable, Opeth‘s Blackwater Park is a diamond amongst a sea of jewels – with the entirety of Opeth’s extraordinary back catalogue proving virtually faultless – but Blackwater Park remains the quintessential Opeth album.
Championing a progressive death metal style with an emphasis still on the ‘death’ (at least on this release anyway), Opeth ran 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 showcased Opeth’s unique and highly progressive take on death metal. Complete with acoustic interludes and clean vocals, which provided a welcome break from the guttural growls and blast beats, these songs exhibited a melding of styles that may have sounded disparate on paper but, together, provided a contrast and a beauty to a genre that had always relied on all out assault.
On the flip side, “Harvest” and “Patterns In The Ivy” were warm and tranquil tributes to the 1970’s; beacons of maudlin light amidst the death metal darkness and they remain nuggets of acoustic, folk-rock-infused, gold.
Arguably the highlight of the album though is “The Drapery Falls”, the one song which perfectly balanced both sides of Opeth’s sound. From soothing vocals and expansive yet cascading riffs, the song exploded into a jazz-death metal frenzy at the halfway mark, culminating in 11 minutes of pure progressive perfection.
Opeth may have recorded albums to rival this remarkable release (Ghost Reveries and My Arms, Your Hearse come very, very close) but in 2001, Blackwater Park was the epitome of progressive metal and of the genre taking tentative yet tremendous steps to unparalleled new heights! 10/10