Our Music Year No. 36: Opeth, ‘Watershed’

By From page B7 | February 05, 2013

Artist: Opeth
Title: “Watershed”
Year: 2008
Format: CD-R Spotify
Grade: B+

This ninth LP from these Swedish prog metal titans marries Opeth’s many eccentricities under one flag.

“Watershed” marked the introduction of a new drummer, Martin Axenrot, and guitarist, Fredrik Åkesson, but little of the band’s genre-hopping has changed.

In fact, its skills are sharpened and polished. Though the level of songwriting isn’t an equal for, say, Opeth’s “Blackwater Park,” it shows the complexity that’s a theme throughout Opeth’s records.

The record opens with “Coil,” a cold acoustic number that finds lead singer Mikael Åkerfeldt splitting vocal duties with singer Nathalie Lorichs. The second track is “Heir Apparent,” which sports a languid yet thunderous intro.

“The Lotus Eater” combines clean and dirty vocals, sometimes one within a few breaths of another, a jarring juxtaposition. Eleven-minute opus “Hessian Peel” is split down the middle, with half being a casual classic rock cut before veering into a death metal launching pad for Åkesson to show off his skills.

“Watershed” is marked by some of Åkerfeldt’s best songwriting characteristics – the music is proggy and tangential, but never for the mere sake of being so.

It may be no “Blackwater Park,” but “Watershed” is no slouch, either.

Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.

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