Click here to listen to "Coil."
Click here to listen to "Porcelain Heart."
After waiting for three years, with only the live double-album The Roundhouse Tapes to tide us over last year, fans will be eager to finally have their appetite for Opeth's mixture of '70s prog rock and Swedish death metal satisfied (if only temporarily).
Those unfamiliar with Opeth will do well not to let "progressive death metal" fool them into missing this album. Its three-minute opener might be the band's most beautifully gentle acoustic song yet, and Åkerfeldt employs his powerful growling voice for less than half of the vocals on Watershed. But make no mistake — the band's reputation for complex arrangements, stunning musicianship and thundering heaviness is skillfully reinforced.
Death metal at its best can be epically brilliant, as made clear on tracks like "Heir Apparent" and "The Lotus Eater." And at 11-plus minutes, "Hessian Peel" is like a negative photograph of Opeth's continual journey into new territory: Long and gorgeous progressive melodies are only sparsely interrupted by brutal genius for a minute or so, reminding us that music can still be exciting.