Opeth – Pale Communion.

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On 3 September 2014
Last modified:3 September 2014


A breathtaking hour of music proving that Opeth are the masters of their craft.

opethEven from their humble beginnings in Stockholm  in 1990, Opeth have always pushed the boundaries in metal and none more so with their last studio album Heritage, released in 2011. The word prog rock was bandied around here, there and everywhere but those who cry out for their death metal material have to understand that prog is short for progressive and that progression is what Opeth frontman  Mikael Akerfeldt is constantly trying to achieve. Pale Communion is Opeth’s 11th studio album and in my opinion, their finest hour. There are no death metal growls from Mikael here and it highlights just how underestimated his clean vocal style is. The album is currently available  via Roadrunner Records.

The album is made up of 8 tracks with a running time of 55 minutes opening with ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’, throwing an immediate curve ball to what most expect  Opeth to sound like. Almost the first half of it is a kind of instrumental jazz rock fusion as Mikael’s rich, melodic vocal comes in with the only heavy riffs featuring in the outro . Continuing with the laid back mood, ‘Cusp Of Eternity’ has a groove similar to ‘Follow You, Follow Me’ by Genesis. An intense almost pleading vocal is broken by a majestic guitar solo as the song fades out with a soaring backing vocal. At almost 11 minutes long, ‘Moon Above, Sun Below’ is a roller coaster of emotions. The initial vocals drift over minimal musical backing leading into a lilting Jethro Tull like piece increasing powerfully into a drum heavy mid section to an almost silent break as keyboards take on the main riff. An almost spoken word segment over keyboard stabs precede a symphonic rock type end. This song took about 3 plays to get my head around it’s complexity.

Another almost lone vocal runs through the haunting ‘Elysian Woes’ over gentile guitars and keys with an ethereal instrumental as it’s centre piece. The quirky instrumental ‘Goblin’ with it’s ‘Tubular Bells’ like keyboard intro is backed with off the wall guitar lines is a slice of uptempo jazz rock. ‘River’ is the nearest I’ve heard Opeth get to a commercial song due to it’s catchy chorus betwixt  mainly upbeat acoustic tempos brought down to Earth by a melancholic middle segment. ‘Voice Of Treason’ is my personal highlight of Pale Communion. Almost tribal drums bolster a keyboard dominated ‘Kashmir’ like 8 minute epic. The tempos quicken as the guitars come in  following the keyboard lines as a soulful lead vocal leads out the song’s finish over fragile key passages.

‘Faith In Others’ ends the album as eloqently as ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’ began it. An almost funeral dirge like intro including slight refrains of ‘Forever Autumn’ as a single piano and vocal is joined by sparse synths. Just as your settling into this smoothness a brief riff heavy section follows as sweeping strings and sublime vocals bring Pale Communion to a stunning finish. Already a contender for my album 2014, as soon as it had finished I had to immediately hear it again.

Album track listing :-

  1. Eternal Rains Will Come.
  2. Cusp Of Eternity.
  3. Moon Above, Sun Below.
  4. Elysian Woes.
  5. Goblin.
  6. River.
  7. Voice Of Treason.
  8. Faith In Others.

Opeth band line up :-

Mikael Akerfeldt – Lead vocals/guitars.

Fredrik Akesson – Guitars.

Martin Mendez – Bass guitar.

Joakim Svalberg – Keyboards.

Martin Axenrot – Drums.


A breathtaking hour of music proving that Opeth are the masters of their craft.

About Dennis Jarman

Full time downtrodden album/gig reviewer and part time rock God!