I've spent a healthy helping of time getting to know this record and the indulgence won't stop anytime soon. The gravitas of Opeth has not sucked me in quite like this in a long time! I wanted to get deep into this album and the time invested suggests this may just belong alongside the best of their works like Damnation and Deliverance. A bold statement but in this post Death Metal era for the band they seemed to of finally channeled the vigor and sheer power of brutality into swells of luscious Progressive Rock successfully. It swoons in its own glory, the style and voice of the band feeling rooted as their heaviness arrives in its powerful layers of instrumentation that may be a bit much to those unfamiliar with Metals bombast. This has both might and delicacy.
With surges of strings, synths, empowered basslines and the soaring of Akerfeldt's clean voice, the percussion batters out the groove and momentum once propelled by distortion guitars and guttural screams. Its a beautifully executed pivot where the swoon of songs yield over and over as the music gushes from its gentle acoustic build ups into these upheavals of beautiful emotional out pour that reign supreme. It carries what made this band wonderful forward while also opening up new avenues with strings and pianos playing an enthusiastic role. The song Lovelorn Crime is a keen example of King Crimson alike influences taking hold the soft expressive side emerges, shimmering in the truly delicate and sublime, a moving presence.
The songwriting is wonderful, the themes are explored in true progressive nature as the bleeding cries of Pink Floyd alike guitar solos climax the lengthy epics. With most the songs being six to seven minutes there is never a dull moment, things don't get drawn out and the melodies speak to the soul, lingering in the mind. Beyond the music, its aesthetics hold up well too. The strings are especially gorgeous and there mixing with the vocals are just awe inspiring. It feels like a lot of craft and care went into getting their chemistry right as one can revel in even the simplest of moments given the utter luxurious tone they muster together. On both fronts it excels, bridging the new and old alike, Opeth have finally landed their ambitions.