Yet again, I am moving through a band’s discography backwards. (In this case, starting in the middle and then moving backwards.) I don’t know whether it’s increased familiarity or the records themselves, but I find myself liking Opeth more the earlier I go in their history, which is definitely not the regular take.
I can’t say I liked Opeth the first time I heard them. (Or the second.) I think a huge part of that was expectations, I had been led to believe they were particularly “proggy” but I failed to understand that what is “proggy” for metal fans may not be particularly proggy for prog rock fans. (And it could have been the first album I tried. And it could have been my mood. Who knows?)
In my musical experience, familiarity breeds respect, if not out and out enjoyment, not contempt. And I find myself increasingly enjoying Opeth – and not worrying how they are described – with each “new” record. And I find myself outright enjoying this record and its crazy ambitions. And wondering where this was on later records or if I just missed it because its better integrated.
It’s possible their approach on later records is more streamlined, more integrated, more mature. Perhaps its too subtle for someone who had only recently started listening to various forms of ’90s extreme metal when I first listened to Opeth. I know a lot more of it now and I can better place this music into context.
But this record is also more obvious in its risks, I think, and that makes it easier for someone like me, who cannot give these albums more than three listens, to “get.” (Would I ever have become a massive prog rock fan if I only listened to prog rock albums three times? I doubt it.)
Anyway, I really like this record: it’s crazy ambitious, it’s all over the place stylistically and it still sounds good 25 years later. It makes me think I need to go back to the other Opeth records I’ve heard and liked less, but I don’t currently have time to do that.
Anyway, pretty great stuff.