Opeth: Pale Communion review – strange, intricate prog-metal genius

(Roadrunner)

It almost seems a shame that Opeth are routinely saddled with the divisive "progressive" tag, as the Swedes' music is so consistently refined, vivid and sincere that it's hard to fathom anyone rejecting it wholesale. In contrast to 2011's Heritage, which veered off in a number of esoteric directions, this is an admirably coherent collection of songs that are as uncompromisingly intricate and strange as they are incisively melodic. Mikael Åkerfeldt's voice has become a thing of wonder; his ability to tug at heartstrings while singing the most wilfully hazy of lyrics is matched only by these songs' beautiful arrangements and pin-sharp ensemble playing. But Opeth's leader is an awkward sod, and can't resist indulging his CSNY harmony fantasies on the country-tinged first half of River, getting his Italian-horror groove on for the self-explanatorily titled Goblin and peppering the air with perverse folk-rock curveballs during the languorous Moon Above, Sun Below. It ends with Faith in Others, which is at once the most profoundly moving song Åkerfeldt has ever written, and a tantalising glimpse into one possible future for this peerless band.

Contributor

Dom Lawson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Between The Buried & Me: Coma Ecliptic review – ingenious, sprawling prog-metal
Prog-metal heroes Between the Buried and Me reach new heights on their jaw-dropping new album

Dom Lawson

02, Jul, 2015 @8:00 PM

Article image
Anathema: Distant Satellites review – soaring, supercharged prog masterpiece
Anathema have been making extraordinarily bold, powerful rock music for years, and their tenth album is as good as anything they've done, writes Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson

05, Jun, 2014 @8:15 PM

Newsted: Heavy Metal Music – review
The power of Jason Newsted's new album suggests his departure is the reason Metallica lost their edge, writes Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson

01, Aug, 2013 @8:00 PM

Article image
Conan: Blood Eagle review – macabre, Lovecraftian metal from Liverpool
This Liverpool doom trio's new album is an uncompromising onslaught of slow-motion riffs and hellish bellowing, writes Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson

27, Feb, 2014 @9:00 PM

Article image
Obituary: Obituary review – death metal revival with sharp, insidious hooks

Dom Lawson

16, Mar, 2017 @10:00 PM

Article image
Sunn O))): Kannon review – daunting but oddly relaxing drone-metal
The titans of abstract metal return with a new exercise in heavy meditation

Lanre Bakare

03, Dec, 2015 @9:30 PM

Article image
Mastodon: Emperor of Sand review – metal progressives serve up melodic mischief

Dom Lawson

30, Mar, 2017 @8:00 PM

Article image
Behemoth: I Loved You at Your Darkest review – Wagnerian satanic metal
Polish band’s 11th album is a romp that could appeal to more than hardcore metalheads

Dave Simpson

05, Oct, 2018 @8:30 AM

Article image
Trivium: Silence in the Snow review – metal contenders take a step forward
The sense of indecision that hung over Trivium’s previous albums is replaced by focused, refined, heavy-metal power on their latest

Dom Lawson

01, Oct, 2015 @8:45 PM

Article image
Judas Priest: Redeemer of Souls review – Metal Gods back on track
After some worryingly erratic musical behaviour in recent years, Priest sound more in love with metal than ever here, writes Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson

10, Jul, 2014 @9:15 PM