OPETH - Orchid (CANDLELIGHT - CD 1995)
Honestly I am not a greatest fan of Opeth; I do tolerate this band for the uniqueness of their music and their own style, which they have developed through the years of playing, but for me personally some of their albums are just too progressive (he). But saying that I must also mention that the early Opeth materials are just excellent and I really do like them a lot. And that especially includes “Orchid”, which is my favourite album of this Swedish band at all. “Orchid” may also sound too complicated and too progressive for some death metal fans, who rather seek for aggression and violence, rather than for the atmosphere and complicated song structures, so for them such lengthy songs, with many layers within each and so many different parts can be a little bit too much. But once you actually get to know “Orchid”, when you’ll let its atmosphere seize you, then I can assure you that “Orchid” will sound utterly exciting and fantastic.
Yeah, at the first listen you’ll know that “Orchid” is not an easy album. There are seven songs on it, with 65 minutes of music in total – and two songs are just a short instrumental interludes, so it gives well over 10 minutes per song. Opeth is well known for their love for progressive, classic rock and even if “Orchid” belongs to their most aggressive and death metal albums, it still holds a strong influence from the classic rock genres. If you listen to some more atmospheric parts, look at their song structures, which are like a maelstrom of riffs, with different moods, even different vocal styles, then this influence is very obvious. And so, this complexity means that “Orchid” is not an easy material, at least in the beginning. But give it few listens and you’ll realize that this CD (or LP) doesn’t want to leave your stereo and you keep playing it for days and days, as the music is just possessing and catchy, with awesome feeling and musicianship. It is also truly amazing how unique such band as Opeth was already on their debut album! They never had any demos recorded, but years of rehearsing gave such an effect that when listening to “Orchid” you’re left speechless, as it is near perfect in this sort of music. I guess that the only but quite minor fault of the album is that it is quite long and so it may be difficult to listen to the entire CD in one go and focus on it entirely. And so much is going on here that some of these arrangements or riffs can disappear and you can lose attention. So this album needs time and concentration.
The albums starts with a pure masterpiece, “In Mist She Was Standing”. This song has everything what I like about early Opeth: many great, more or less melodic riffs, great arrangements, including more progressive ideas, but not derived of the aggression… More so, there are many hooks, aggressive, but almost calm moments, which include also a use of acoustic guitar passages, a lot of variety… Yeah, it definitely is the best song from “Orchid”. Some people compare it to the early In Flames or Dark Tranquillity, but for me Opeth is way more interesting and fascinating. I can also even use a small comparison to Dissection’s “The Somberlain” LP… Sure, both are different musically, but somehow similar for the long and more complex song structures, use of melodies, so there are some similar patterns. Other band, which I somehow have in my mind is Edge of Sanity (for some obvious reasons). Yeah, “In Mist She Was Standing” is truly fascinating and amazing song. Listen to it on headphones, so you’ll be able to catch the guitar parts better, as well as the bass and other instruments, each playing truly awesome parts. Here the band shows their genius and this one particular song is almost kind of journey for the listener. I love it, personally; these melodies, acoustics, how everything evolves, these vocals of Mikael Akerfeldt. But I guess I could mention every song here and each would have something significant and memorable about it; even these interludes like “Silhouette”, which us a nice piano played interruption. I am not saying that everything about “Orchid” is perfect, as there are some more monotonous moments like in “Under the Weeping Moon” for instance, but it is nothing what would really disrupt me in listening and enjoying of the album, and besides, I really do like this acoustic fragment with clean vocals of Akerfeldt in this song… it definitely is one of the best motifs from the entire CD. Also “Forest of October” contains some of the most beautiful and sorrowful melodies of the whole album and it really is yet another truly memorable and also perfectly composed songs. Again it is also damn long, with 13 minutes of music, but just like in case of “In Mist She Was Standing” here you’ll also witness many different emotions and varied parts; from very aggressive to most melancholic, even enchanting and also acoustic fragments. Yeah, definitely it is my second favourite song on “Orchid”!
OK, I don’t think there’s a point in continuing writing this review. First, because no words can really describe this album fully and give it a full justice, no words can explain how fantastic is this music… It is all better to just listen to “Orchid” and let these sounds possess you. So, take this musical journey. In my opinion it for sure is one of the most significant Swedish records of the 90’s and maybe people not so often mention it among their Swedish favourites, some will probably consider “Morningrise” or “My Arms, Your Hears” to be better, but that is everyone’s own opinion. For me “Orchid” is Opeth’s number one album. Absolutely recommended perfect masterpiece.
Standout tracks: “Under the Weeping Moon”, “Forest of October”, “The Twilight Is My Robe”
Final rate: 90/100