"Blackwater Park" is generally seen as the band's highlight, their grand masterpiece that they can never recreate, no matter how many times they try. Well, I am not one of those who think that, because to me, that effervescent masterpiece is "Ghost Reveries". The 2005 release has always had a special place in my metal heart, combining everything that makes Opeth so good into an atmospheric experience that few bands can match. When it comes to brilliant Opeth music, no other album can reach this level of quality.
It all starts with the opening track "Ghost of Perdition", probably my favourite Opeth song of all time, and I am not saying that only because it was extremely fun to play on Rock Band (that drum chart is simply marvelous). This 10 and a half minute track has an impeccable flow to it, sweeping through the heavy and the atmospheric, while also giving every instrument and band member enough room to shine, displaying every strength that this fantastic band possesses. And that ending, THAT ENDING, just damn.
So obviously, the album goes downhill from there, but not as much as you would think. Sure, there is no song after that has the same, gut wrenching punch to it, but the rest of the tracks on "Ghost Reveries" helps a lot in establishing the spooky character of the record. The album was first meant to be a concept record about the occult and evil in general, but that idea was scrapped when Mikael wrote some songs that did not really fit in lyrically, but he simply could not leave out of the record. This album still have a lot of these dark themes in it that does make the album cohesive, they just do not have a red line that goes through them all.
The biggest strength of the album is without a doubt the smooth flow that courses through your ears with the easiest ease that has ever eased. While the length of the record might seem kind of daunting (1 hour and 6 minutes), it certainly does not feel like it is that long. It is very easy to just lose yourself into the record, drowning in its never ending ocean of sweeping melodies, mixed vocal work, and sudden hits of crushing riffs. You almost reach some sort of metal nirvana, just enjoying the hell out of every second that has been put into this disc.
Song wise, Opeth certainly has had a stronger line up, but because they all fit together so god damn well, it really does not matter all that much how they are individually. Of course we have the juggernaut "Ghost of Perdition" as the front runner, but a good second can be found in "The Grand Conjuration", a song that is just playing with you, throwing some odd, simplistic riffs here and there, mixing in some strange and evil whispers to make you uncomfortable, but interested. The other two giants of the record ("The Baying of The Hounds" and "Reverie/Harlequin Forest") are also really cool songs, really showing that Opeth has truly mastered the art of making 10+ minute songs close to perfection, and while those tracks that are under 10 minutes are not bad in any way shape or form, they do take more of a side role in the album, still contributing good things though.
Yep, there is no question here as far as I see it, "Ghost Reveries" is Opeth's magnum opus (magnum Opeth?), an album that just feels complete in every sense of the word, while actually not being it. Sure, it would have been fun if they would have fulfilled the concept, and the individual quality is not the best, but the complete picture of this album is simply awe inspiring. It is 1+ hour of Opeth candy that will leave your ears with new holes, but it is totally worth it. So while I do understand why most people see "Blackwater Park" as the best by the band, I say to them that they have not listened to "Ghost Reveries" enough, the true Opeth masterpiece.
Songs worthy of recognition: Ghost of Perdition, The Baying of The Hounds, Reverie/Harlequin Forest, The Grand Conjuration
Rating: 10/10 Hours of Wealth
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