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Review by Krys on May 30, 2003.
I don't think "Damnation" can surprise any longtime Opeth fans. If you paid any attention to the musical direction or band's style or for that matter lack of it, because Opeth never followed genre structures or conventions, this album was a long time coming. With "Damnation" Mikael Akerfeldt leaves behind intense and distorted sounds of the past and shows the second side of his composing nature, the subtle, romantic one.
If you wonder how does "Damnation" compare to "Deliverance" then means of musical expression are totally different but the final result is still haunting and dark. Everything that you consider 'metal' such as thundering drums, heavy guitars or intense vocals are replaced by torpid and lazy sounds and overall very sad and nostalgic atmosphere of the album. Big part of the final output can be credited to Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree who was responsible for production, mixing, mastering, some keyboard parts, vocals and even lyrics. His contributions were so influential that to some extent "Damnation" even sounds like Porcupine Tree. With soft sounding keyboards, classic guitars and warm, clean vocals Opeth paints multi-layered landscapes where colors blend into the dark and rainy, cloudy skies overshadow the sun leaving your face staring motionless through a window.
Is it metal? No, but if atmosphere and emotions are the main things you look for in a record then "Damnation" is everything you can ask for. This might sound a little strange, but even though "Damnation" is not your typical metal album, I consider it as one of the best records Opeth had offered us to date. Call it whatever you want but "Damnation" is a music art of the highest form that can't be left unnoticed.
Bottom Line: Sit back, close your eyes and enjoy the journey through the land of shadows with death whispering lullaby.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 9 out of 10