Sonicbond and On Track are back on our bookshelves with the mighty Opeth.
ON TRACK: Opeth – every album, every song – Jordan Blum
Jordan Bloom is a well established On Track author; his analysis of the albums and songs of Jethro Tull and Dream Theater, two bands close to our hearts, have been read, learned and inwardly digested, doing their jobs in stirring up a renewed interest in the catalogues and providing plenty of fuel for debate.
His latest work on Opeth is quite a challenge. A band who have proved ever divide particularly among their own fans, with their shape and sound shifting presence never guaranteeing what is around the next musical corner. That fanbase might be broadly split between two camps with all points in between. Those who are fans of the growling Death/Black/Dark Metal period and those who veer towards the post growling, Prog balanced albums. You could always sit on the fence, or bravely dangle a foot (or toe) tentatively into both ponds.
Jordan himself pulls no punches in nailing his colours to the mast, identifying the 2000’s as his personal favourite Opeth period. And having said that he finds much to admire in the releases from all periods of the band. In fact, we might even venture to say reading between the lines and without putting words into his mouth, that there’s not a duff album – even the early albums justifying their presence as “important stepping stones” on the journey.
Interestingly, 2014’s Pale Communion (the middle one of the initial trilogy from the ‘prog’ era) particularly impresses him, while Heritage (“chiefly empty, aimless and underwhelming” might sound harsh but he’s more tolerant and of the glass half full opinion when it comes to dissecting the actual tracks) and Sorceress of the period fare less well yet are acknowledged in their part on the path to Pale Communion. For some, the progressive balance which has always been there in some form or other – worth noting the number of references to ‘progressive’ – is maybe tipped too far? Maybe a bout of growling might have helped but I guess those days are long gone.
Liberal quotes from several sources offer insight, particularly The Book Of Opeth and the selection of features in the bibliography show he’s delved deep into a subject on which he’s well qualified to pass judgment. Decent, detailed intros to the albums preface each chapter
The rankings may offer debate, but even a below halfway showing for a personal fave (Watershed) and particularly low rankings for heritage and Sorceress from the ‘new’ era (I enjoy both…) doesn’t set any alarm bells ringing. That’s the fun though and to be fair, there can’t be too much between several of the placings which on another day…. Especially when Steven (‘my friend Mikael from Opeth’) Wilson is quoted in his enjoyment of Watershed. That’s two of us who particularly favour this album – I’m clearly in good company – although a personal fave track, Hex Omega, gets short shrift.
PS – The photo gallery is pretty good too (…cue shameless self-promotion…).
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