Opeth release their first truly non-metal album

Opeth is not a death metal band anymore. That much is clear after their last release ‘Heritage’. Opeth is not a metal band anymore. If that statement hasn’t deterred you and you are still ready these line, then their new album ‘Pale Communion’ is for you. The new Opeth record is the next logical step in the development from death metal band to progressive death metal band to progressive rock band.

‘Pale Communion’ is an album that gets by without any harsh vocals or any overly distorted guitars. It is not a heavy metal album but a collection of songs with influences from jazz to blues and from rock to folk. The overriding concept is that of elaborate song structures, carefully crafted melodies, intricate riff developments and well thought-through solos.

It doesn’t need to be mentioned that the musicianship is on an absolute top-level and the production is clean and crisp. What can the songs actually deliver? Centrepiece of the album is the eleven-minute ‘Moon Above, Sun Below’. It is an epic song that surprises with numerous unexpected twists and turns. The track goes from slow passages to 70ies organ-rock to actually something that you might call hard rock.

The other songs are everything in between and anything else. No track is actually similar to the other. The sounds range from jazz rock in the instrumental ‘Goblin’ to the folk ballad ‘Elysian Woes’ and from the groovy ‘Cusp Of Eternity’ to the prog rock number ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’. All songs are complex and need their time to get into.

‘Pale Communion’ will divide Opeth’s fan base. There will be die-hard fans that will love whatever Opeth puts on a record. And there will be die-hard fans (of the earlier albums) that will be utterly disappointed. The album shows one thing for sure: Opeth are musicians of the highest quality. If you are after a metal album, don’t waste your time and money on ‘Pale Communion’. If you are open to other music genres give it a try.