A HailMetal first, the review of ONE SONG. The fact that the band taking part in this, is Opeth, should come as no surprise, after all, they are the biggest underground band in metal (or should I say were). No, not because they signed with RoadRunner, and no it has nothing to do with what we have heard of “Ghost Reveries” so far. The fact is, Opeth hasn’t really been an underground band since My Arms, Your Hearse. If you are thinking I’m an elitist, fuck you. It’s a fact. They’ve been huge for years and have become huge simply by word of mouth and credibility, and duly so. They released some fantastic music. Songs like “In Mist She Was Standing” and “The Night and the Silent Water” transcend melody fused with intensity. Songs like “Demon of the Fall” and “Bleak” are crowd favourites at concerts and rightly so, Opeth play really fucking well live. It’s on the back of this reputation Opeth have become more than a small melodic death metal act with progressive influences, from Sweden.
So, ever since the release of Deliverance in 2002, Opeth fans worldwide have been waiting to hear the next “real” Opeth album (let’s face it, Damnation was a touch dull and wasn’t really a full Opeth release, more an idea Mikael wanted to get out of his system). Well, this morning, they got it. “The Grand Conjuration” was aired for the first time (somewhere) and leaked to the world moments after it ended. Everyone with internet access has been on the bandwagon to get the first taste of it, including myself and oh, what a disappointment.
This song is as feeble as a matchstick balancing a grand piano.
Concessions go to Opeth for production and overall sound, as the rip is from the radio and as such we can’t really get the full effect of the song. It’s very tinny and thin – hopefully solely a result of the rip. However, the other aspects of the song are also noticeably weak. Mikael’s growls sound flat and toneless. There is no texture, especially in the newly introduced whispered clean vox, which sound awful. “Ghost Reveries” also sees the introduction of keyboardist Per Wiberg, whose aim seems to be drowning out riffs such that each note is not discernable from the next and that you end up with a once again texture-less chug. Also, the keyboards have an overly electronic washy noise, which is really irritating the hell out of me as it furthers the lifeless sound.
Opeth songs have always been under attack by critics for the lack of writing cohesion and poor or inadequate song structure, what I would describe as predictable unpredictability. That is, the sudden breakdowns in direction going from heavy riffing and growls to clean vocals and acoustic guitars. Well, this song is a critics dream; it recycles the same dull riff right throughout, mixed with mediocre non-metal drumming (sounds like a crappy drum machine and at points like a bongo haha!) and a seemingly complete lack in direction for the entire song.
The only positives I can think of are, that the song is inadequately ripped and that there is a decent sounding solo.
So what am I expecting of the rest of the album? Not a lot. My thoughts would be that if they were going to release a song early, it would be either
a) the safest song (i.e. most like previous releases)
b) the best song or
c) both of the above.
So, that’s disappointing, because the rest of the album is probably going to fade further into oblivion and go down as the end of my anticipation of Opeth releases. But I guess there is always hope for when the full album is released.
So in summary, this song does feel like a descendent from Deliverance, but only particular aspects – mainly the repetitive (and what I assume will be thick when we get the proper production) riffs. But otherwise, it has a different feel, which I suspect is the result of the full time introduction of Per Wiberg and what many cynics would suggest, the cheque book of RoadRunner (which I would disagree with).
We will just have to wait and see.