Label: The End Records
While doing my research in preparation of this review, I noticed that this album seems to catch a lot of shit. And I don’t mean that like, the odd old school Opeth fanboy just blasts it for no good reason either. I’m talking about pages long arguments as to why Damnation is Opeth’s worst album. I mean, these things look like they were written by Ivy League professors. I have to ask, “why”? Why the extreme hatred? Why the surprised reaction? Wasn’t Opeth kind of building towards something like this?
Thing is, I can kind of see why so many felt betrayed. Even if you noticed that they were heading in this particular direction, even if momentarily, it’d still end up being a kind of shock to the system. It’s actually pretty crazy if you think about it; Not a single song on this album is trying to be anything except for progressive rock. Nothing even remotely extreme. Yeah, I can see how some felt alienated by this change. Lucky for me, I have little to no expectation for these albums since I’m fairly new to the whole Opeth deal. And in my opinion, Damnation is my favorite re-issue of the three.
Everything about this album is dead center on the Perfect Progressive Album bull’s eye! Mikael’s voice is right were it needs to be, when it needs to be there. He doesn’t have the best voice in the world, but it’s exactly what is called for here and now and in this album. His progressive structure throughout Damnation is occupying Floydian Genius territory! Yeah, there’s a HUGE Pink Floyd influence hanging around here too. You can really hear it in the misty and almost purely atmospheric tones and chillin’ out tempos that populate this album. It should also be said that the incorporation of a grand piano and the creative, ivory ticklin’ manstermind, Steven Wilson is a perfect addition to this line-up of already top-notch musicians in this delicious prog pie.
I also love how even though, not every musician gets a huge slice of said pie (time wise), nobody seems to be underplayed or underused. It’s like I said earlier, where they need to be and when they need to be there. It applies to everything about this album. Not a single note feels like it could of been longer or possibly cut short. None of the lyrics feel forced or even slightly hacked. There’s a perfect balance between vocals to instrumental ratio so that it won’t harsh your mellow (maybe that’s speculation…). There’s not a damn thing that I could say about this album that’s even remotely negative.
Overall: Hate it as an Opeth album or love it as a monumental step in creative direction, either way you have to give it up to Damnation for being a juggernaut of a progressive rock album. I’m even willing to go as far as to say that this album earns a spot towards the very peak of my Best Progressive Albums EVAH! List! And thank you The End for exposing me to this whole Opethian affair.