Thursday, September 14, 2017

Opeth - Orchid (1995)

Putting a flower on your cover and title might not seem like the best move for an up and coming metal band ready to release their debut record, but then again, Opeth is not your every day band, and they were not so back in the days either. The talent was still there though, and even without releasing a single demo prior, Mikael Åkefeldt and the rest of his crew managed to get a buzz going, ending up signing with Candlelight records, and record an album together with the one and only Dan Swanö. Not bad for a band that had tons of line up changes and very little experience in its first four years.

The album has a total of 7 songs, which initially sounds okay, but then you look deeper into it, and realize that two of the songs are short instrumentals, and the remaining five have a minimum length of 9 minutes. It is an incredibly meaty album that is pretty tough to get through, and it does not really help that most of them have a similar tone to them. Opeth do blend several different influences here, from black metal to jazz, but it is pretty obvious that Mikael had not perfected his craft just yet here.

With that said, "Orchid" still has a lot to offer, bringing us some very cool and imaginative progressive metal that the world had not seen before. The band never lose themselves in these mastodon songs, keeping a straight vision towards the goal. It is a skill to create such long songs while still making them entertaining, keeping a cohesion all throughout its runtime, and it is a skill that is pretty hard to master. Opeth shows instantly that they have the knowledge to make these songs interesting, without giving the listener a severe headache or nosebleed.

All of the songs have pretty distinct personalities as well, which certainly makes them stand out. The opener "In The Mist She Was Standing" is very playful in the beginning, with guitars that are borrowed from the folk metal scene, but it turns more serious the further in we go, getting darker and darker. The following song, "Under The Weeping Moon", is probably the most memorable of them all, because it sets a heavy tone instantly and continues on in sort of a satanic way, which ultimately leads to a very moody middle part that transforms into a fast frenetic mayhem, where Peter Lindgren delivers extremely simple, but super effective riffing. Absolutely love that part, my favourite bit of the album.

After the piano instrumental, known as "Silhouette", we get "Forest of October" and "The Twilight Is My Robe", both fine songs too, even if they make up what could be considered as the slowest part of the record. Not that these are slow songs or anything, but the momentum is grounded to a halt here, which is not fun. "The Twilight..." have at least some really nice instrumental work that is easy to admire, but "Forest of October" is very forgettable. The closer "The Apostle In Triumph" is a great ending to the record, with even more great instrumentation, and even some clean vocals thrown in to soften things up a bit, and show the range that Mikael has in his vocals.

Unfortunately, I do not think that any of the songs in here are any super strong outputs. All of them have some brilliance here and there, but those moments are spotty, which just ultimately shows that this band still had some way to go before fulfilling their true potential. Even if "Orchid" has some blind spots here and there, it is still an interesting record that has some creative ideas, all performed by a band that is trying their hardest to get that big breakthrough, and they sure got it after this effort, eventually blooming out to a very professional group of musicians. A nice start, but still lots of room of improvement.

Songs worthy of recognition: Under The Weeping Moon, In The Mist She Was Standing, The Apostle In Triumph

Rating: 7/10 Silhouettes

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

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