Maybe there’s somthing in the Northern character that grasps the grandeur in metal (no longer “heavy,” thereby losing some of its sense of humour) — an example being Finland’s Apocalyptica surprising listeners with cello renditions of Metallica and Faith No More. Remarkably, Sweden’s Opeth have followed up last year’s fairly (sonically) dense Deliverance with an album that can be legitimately called “sublime.”
Damnation is in some ways a nerd-metal release; there are complex rhythms and melodies à la late-’80s Metallica, as well as Black Sabbath-esque supernatural overtones in the lyrics. But Opeth isn’t about to re-open the Satan-in-rock debate; they seem morbidly concerned with transitions into death, either literally or emotionally.
But what lifts it above the level of posturing is the eloquence with which they pursue damnation, in its various guises.
And if brevity is the soul of wit, they’ve got that licked, too; at just under 45 mintues, Damnation is enough to generate a contemplative mood without leaving you lost in it.
- KOCH Records
- Four and half stars out of five
Originally published in Uptown Magazine, April 14, 2003