Thursday, September 21, 2017

Opeth - Morningrise (1996)

During the beginning of their career, it was obvious that Opeth did not want to get forgotten all too easily, because before normal mortal beings had the chance to comprehend the dense debut effort "Orchid", the band was already done recording their sophomore album. Sure, it is an album that is only contains 5 songs, but man, if you thought "Orchid" was a tough blob to get through in one sitting, then you are obviously not ready for "Morningrise".

Each and every song in this record definitely have the progressive seal of approval, continuing what the band did in the debut with blending black metal, progressive rock, and jazz influences. Not a single song on this record goes below the 10 minute mark, with one song, "Black Rose Immortal", lasting for a whopping 20 minutes and 15 seconds, which is Opeth's longest song still to this day, over 20 years later. This ultimately makes the album just over an hour long, so it is not something you just whip out and listen too in a hurry.

Surprisingly enough though, "Morningrise" is a lot easier to listen to than "Orchid". Not only is the production a lot lighter, but the music is too, using more acoustic guitars and Michael is utilizing more of his clean vocals. If the last album was more classic black metal, then "Morningrise" is more of an atmospheric black metal album, setting more moods and tones. This definitely will be a personal preference whether you think it is a good or bad change, but I embrace it because it lets the music do more of the talking.

All of the tracks in "Morningrise" are great, displaying a good range of moods and technical skills of the band's repertoire, all keeping a fairly low profile that makes the album very solid and strong. The only real problem I have is "Black Rose Immortal", and yes, it is because of the length. It is a nice song and all, but it definitely over stays its welcome, dragging things out longer than it should. Actually, it sorta ends just before the 15 minute mark, but it goes on for another 5 and a half minutes. I can deal with 20 minute songs, but they have to have a reason to be this long, and "Black Rose Immortal" simply does not have a reason that is good enough.

The rest are really nice songs, even if I wished that one or two of them would stand out a little more, by being way heavier or something like that, but as said, it gives a unified impression of the entire album. It is the little things that makes each track stand out from the rest, like the dark vocals in "Advent", the playful opening and general speed in "Nectar", the epic ending in "The Night And The Silent Water", and the overall calm emotions on the ending track "To Bid You Farewell". Yes, all of the songs do contribute something to make "Morningrise" an incredibly enjoyable experience, making that hour go by really quickly.

"Morningrise" is ultimately a very fitting title to this record, because you can just put this on in the morning, take a stroll to your local black and white park with a bridge and pond, and just relax. It does have some heavy moments, but it is the tranquility that dominates the record, which it should. It is most certainly related to "Orchid", but both are completely different records, and they do attract different crowds that hopefully also can enjoy the other one too. It is an early showing that Opeth is one of those bands that can do close to anything without missing a beat, still being their own product and deliver some great progressive music. Wake up, and face the wonderful music that is playing.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Night And The Silent Water, Advent, Nectar

Rating: 8/10 Black Roses

More reviews of Opeth
My Arms, Your Hearse
Still Life
Blackwater Park
Ghost Reveries
Pale Communion

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