Opeth release a strong contender for Metal Album of the year

Opeth have always been a bit of an esoteric little secret for those in the know about their curious, yet quite frankly stunning, mix of death metal and progressive styles. However, they have never really had the mainstream success they quite frankly deserve. The release of 'Ghost Reveries' through Roadrunner records should change this shortly, without being too praising, this is simply the best release of Opeth's career to date and is vying for the position of the best metal album released this year amid fierce competition.

Whilst the band's earlier work can confidently be called death metal with progressive touches, 'Ghost Reveries' almost seems reversed into a progressive album referencing such artists as Pink Floyd whilst having the death metal leanings that still make it a damn heavy album. The perfect balancing of heavy, shredding guitars and Mikael Åkerfeldt's demonic howled vocals slipping seamlessly into smooth melodic tones with eerie organ sounds, and a curious throbbing instrument I have never heard before called the 'Mellotron', make all the songs on this album consistently enjoyable and intriguing. Therefore it's particularly hard to pick out real highlights of the album amid the great tunes, but if forced to I would say the blistering opener 'Ghost of Perdition' and the climactic 'The Grand Conjuration' were particularly memorable for all the qualities described above.

Of course as well as blistering metal tones, Opeth are also equally well regarded for their more subtle - almost folk influenced - quiet songs. The good news is that 'Ghost Reveries' continues to add this part of the band's reputation with the melancholic 'Hours of Wealth' and epic, yet subdued sounding, album closer 'Isolation Years' with its sliding guitars and haunting vocals providing excellent spots of more introspective and gloomy styles to break up the furious death metal stylings. Even more impressive than simply being great songs, these tracks never feel like filler material either and stand up as great songs on their own right without the appeal of them balancing out the flow of the album.

Normally I would feel obliged to countermeasure all this heaped praise I have given the record with some time spent pointing out the flaws in the album, but when you realise you've listened to the album many, many times and there is still not a single moment that bores you or fails to innovate and impress in some way, then any sort of damning would feel false and would essentially be incorrect.

This is a great album by a band that can only be on the rise now with such a strong new release behind them. It is of course premature to say such things but 'Ghost Reveries' is a strong contender for many metal fan's, including myself, album of the year and deservedly so. 'Ghost Reveries' simply sent me into a reverie of music and I would recommend it strongly, not only to any fan of metal, but anyone who calls themselves a genuine fan of music.