OPETH have been exceptionally busy the last two years; first there was the release of the bands fifth album "Blackwater Park" followed by touring, then one year later "Deliverance" emerges with a gruesome Death Metal approach not heard since "My Arms, Your Hearse" was released, followed by touring again, mostly mini touring to be accurate and now, this spring, an acoustic/experimental album simply entitled "Damnation" is brought upon us. It seems like it's mandatory that OPETH release one album per year with quality and quantity in one bag, it really makes me wonder if these guys are doing anything else than writing some of the most unique music ever to surface from the Metal realm.
"Damnation" is an acoustic/clean guitar dominated album with slick Jazz drumming aplenty, heavy use of haunting keyboards and Åkerfeldt's brilliant clean vocals. Do not expect a wimpy mainstream album with simple arrangements, (although some songs have straightforward structures, OPETH standards mind you), but an unplugged version of the band, sweet and gentle as the softest of caresses. "Windowpane", the albums first and longest song paints a fair picture of the atmosphere flowing throughout the eight compositions, a very good track to begin with. With the second track "In My Time Of Need" OPETH even manage to outshine ANATHEMA at their own game and Mikåel really does sound as isolated and torn as a certain Cavanagh. Solos are much more Blues oriented which of course fits better with this style than the usual Metal solos.
The band delivers yet another flawless performance, not much of a surprise there, however on this album they really do show that they're musical craftsmen with no limits in sight. The sound is very clean and organic, the drums have a laid back sound that goes well with the clean guitar tone. "Damnation" will hopefully make the band reach a wider audience; there's no doubt about the albums potential, long-time fans will have to buy this one as well, OPETH have never disappointed and "Damnation" succeeds in maintaining it that way. (Online January 26, 2004)