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Review by Jack on June 30, 2001.
Many questions arose after Opeth’s second release “Morningrise”, commonly following the same thread of: “How in fuck’s name did they release a second completely spellbinding and epic adventure in progressive death/doom/black/goth metal?” There is of course no true answer, probably the best assumption to make is: “It’s Opeth, expect the best and you get the best.”
“Morningrise” 5 songs, 66 minutes of CD spinning fun. Equating to approximately 13 minutes a song. 'Black Rose Immortal', completely tips the scales in conventional song length, clocking in at 20 minutes and 14 seconds. Some may be frightened of this overly lengthy song structures that Opeth employees. Rest assured though, that not one song is in the least bit tiresome or boring. In drawing comparisons between “Orchid”, “Morningrise” features longer songs and fewer of them. Whereas “Orchid” was complete with 2 interludes, “Morningrise” did away with these short passages in favour of longer and perhaps (dare I say?) more epic compositions. Responsible for these tunes are the same team that was present on “Orchid”; Mikael Åkerfeldt, Peter Lindgren, Johan DeFarfalla and Anders Nordin.
Production values are once again high for Opeth, the album being engineered by Dan Swanö.
Opeth have gone for a noticeably more subdued and less heavy sound quality in “Morningrise”, indicative of this is the resplendent acoustic track in ‘To Bid You Farewell’, one of my highlights of the album. The album still retains the trademark Opethian sound, with staying a little more on the lighter side of metal, than what “Orchid” accomplished.
I’m going to try not to blow smoke up Opeth’s ass when describing the music of “Morningrise”, but this will remain an extremely difficult task, as I view this as one of metal’s finest releases, ever. Lyrically Opeth speak in a rather decadent, flowery poetic language that I haven’t been in contact with for a number of years. Fantasy and naturalistic elements are the norm throughout an Opeth track. “Lullaby of the crescent moon took you. Mesmerized, its kaleidoscopic face.” Courtesy of ‘Black Rose Immortal’. One of the major-drawing facets (of the many) is Opeth’s ability to complete encompass the listener within their world, to spellbind you and transport you to a different realm. This ability is sorely lacking in 99% of today’s music.
The music of “Morningrise” contains a far greater proportion of clean vocals and acoustic passages than what was present in their last outing. These more ‘accessible’ parts really help break up, what otherwise might be a stagnant, monotonous record. It is difficult to pick the best tracks from this disc (again with any of Opeth’s releases). ‘Black Rose Immortal’, however, probably gets my thumbs up, if just for the sheer diversity present throughout it’s 20 minutes. Harsh death vocals, thunderous guitar riffs one second. Transpiring a second later are melodious clean vocals entwined with lovely acoustic passages. Timeless and unbeatable.
Bottom Line: One of the best debuts ever in extreme metal circles has been easily followed up by Opeth. “Morningrise” is Opeth’s finest opus in their 5-album history. Brilliant and essential.
Rating: 10 out of 10