Progress. A word that sprawls its meaning to the four corners of the horizon. A word that in modern music terminology is used to define the change of a band’s sound to another hype or level. A word that is synonymous to the nature of Opeth’s music. But the new leaves in the tree of opeth happen not to share the same roots. “Pale Communion” seems to have grown from seeds in the near field but not the same tree..
On their eleventh observation, Mikael Akerfeldt and Opeth, sound they’ve found a perfect balance within the music these five guys can reproduce better than anyone else. Rock in a progressive rock manner but quite more straight forward and a lot folkish- if I may use the term…
The album busts in with a 70s lick made by Deep Purple and it progresses in the same attitude and vibe. Hammonds for the world but I could say it doesn’t even get close to the “monster” of Jon Lord soundwise. Camel-ish enough though!Eternal rains will come?
Cusp of eternity, the first tune to come out earlier than the rest of the album, is a beautiful radio-friendly tune with some ah-ahs borrowed by Ritchie Blackmore’s Night first album.
Moon above, sun below is the only track exciding the 10 minutes of duration. Many acoustic passages similar to Damnation days and a few outbursts with some quite heavy metal guitar solos here make this track surface more than the rest of the album. Actually the track builds up to its ending theme from 6.22 till the end with a familiar Opeth cresendo (A Fair Judgement/ Porcelain Heart type).
Elysian Woes, sounds like a lost track of a Camel single b-side or an intermission track of a 70s Genesis album. Another nice acoustic but nothing extravagand.
Goblin, is a beautiful 4 minute instrumental with great 70s prog rock themes. Probably my favourite on this album even though not original at all.
River, starts off with some major 12stringed guitar melodies and as it moves on the music in it unveils into an upward tempo and into the most powerfull and metal-ish sound you’ll find in here with some double bass included as well (no growls though). Kind of in the ways of moon above sun below…
Voice of treason is a known formula of song with a basic melody circulating throughout the whole song until the end and several melodies emerging every now and then to acompany it.
Finally Faith in Others is a long outro melodic piece of music with all vocals procecced through phone-box effect with a quite melodic and touching imagery building. Probably the most Opeth sound-ing in terms of atmosphere here in Pale Communion…
To sum it up, every Opeth release really can’t be bad in any term…the music is here, the production that fits the music is here, the emotions are here…nothing is missing but the element surprise and uniqueness. Opeth have all these years managed to surface their music because of certain elements that other bands couldn’t mix together- or let say couldn’t do it that perfectly as Opeth did. Unfortunately these elements seem to missing from Opeth’s latest observations and stabornly refusing to get at least some of those in the play… Thus I’d rate Pale Communion as the second album that Opeth search their new identity. I’m not sure how many albums will it take till they find themselves but we’ll be here waiting for their comeback.