(The Following are quotes from the reviews of this album, and some of the other releases by this band on "The Metal Observer".)
"You may not like it right away, it may take you a long time to immerse yourself in the uniqueness of OPETH, but trust me, it'll be worth it when you finally do.."
"Quite frankly this is one of the most amazing albums ever created and one can only speculate how such contrasting styles are managed to be melded so effortlessly together. Pure beauty.."
"Listening to OPETH is like floating on a river of emotions, seeing the scenery drift by in a wide array of autumnal variegations, once enthralled one has no other choice than undergo the soundscape universe that OPETH etches in the ink of inspiration.
"To put this masterpiece into words is virtually impossible, because what OPETH have created with "Morningrise" just is not from this world! "
What? Is this the same album that I've just finished listening to? Obviously I don't have an open mind, or OPETH are just too unique for me.
...Or perhaps OPETH aren't anywhere near as good as people think they are. Perhaps, instead of this band being a landmark in Progressive Metal or whatever, OPETH are a somewhat amateur band, who make up for a lack in songwriting and arranging by writing songs that are really, really long, because everyone knows just how arty and poetic really long songs are.
Yeah, there really isn't anything that great here. It's undeniable that the guys in OPETH are solid at their instruments- most of the riffs are of the melodic Death variety, and they're somewhat melodic and enjoyable on their own. Mikael isn't a very bad vocalist- his clean vocals are decent and his screams somewhat powerful, although a bit contrived. Still, I must say I enjoyed his clean vocals. "To Bid You Farewell" has some good clean vocals, which accompanies some pretty nice Prog Rock balladry. It's a nice song, with some really tasteful leads. There's no doubt that OPETH can play some pretty tasteful stuff when they want too, and they are all pretty good on their instruments. This, combined with the powerful but clear production, means that many people who've never heard OPETH may well be impressed by the first few minutes of this album.
However, it's after the first few minutes that you start realizing that OPETH suffer from some more serious problems. It should be obvious to everyone that if you're going to write really long songs, you had better get your arranging and songwriting up to scratch. Most 'long-song' band realize this, whether it's a Post-Rock band always changing the dynamics, or a Funeral Doom band using subtle variations in the riffs. Unfortunately, OPETH haven't grasped the art of making long songs.
Perhaps that's because every OPETH riff is completely interchangeable. The clean parts are thrown in in a very haphazard manner. Not really making any sense, just being there- perhaps in an attempt to make things more arty, or poetic or what have you. The same could be said for many of the riffs. Indeed, most parts exist for the sole purpose of making the songs longer. Admittedly, when I just got into the more epic varieties of music, I loved the idea of both listening and writing 20 minute long songs. It just seemed so different, so unusual, so avant-garde, so arty and poetic. However, during my amateur attempts at song writing, I quickly learned that not only are 5 minute long songs more enjoyable to make, they're much harder to write then a poorly written 20 minute long song. Anyone with a guitar can write a boring 20 minute long song.
This point brings me along to the main travesty of this album, something which is a really good example of everything that's wrong with OPETH. It's the centrepiece of the album, the 20 minute long snooze-fest that's "Black Rose Immortal". Fan-boys love pointing out that this song is 20 MINUTES LONG!! Because that's a really unique thing, something that no one has ever done before, of course. Anyway, after about 4 minutes of competent Death Metal riffs, the song stops and a completely unrelated clean guitar part comes in. For most bands, this is where the next song would start. However, due to OPETH's obsession with being all progressive, the song continues, undaunted by the jarring, sudden change in mood and tempo. It's worth noting that this isn't the only time this happens. This album is full of terrible, pointless changes throughout, destroying any cohesion throughout the album and making the whole very forgettable.
As a conclusion, I would say that there's plenty of people going "Obviously you don't listen to any interesting music, you can't handle the brilliance.' Well, to put it simply, I listen to a lot of out there, interesting music. I listen to hour long drone albums, and they are more interesting then this. Which brings me to the point of this review: They are more interesting because they slowly build, the riffs follow a logical pattern and the songs actually go somewhere, instead of wandering around blankly then ending.
In short: Don't buy this album, unless if you like songs that are really long but go absolutely nowhere.
(Online May 11, 2008)