Pale Communion

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Generally favorable reviews - based on 12 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

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  • Summary: The 11th full-length release for the Swedish progressive rock/metal band was produced by bandleader Mikael Åkerfeldt and mixed by Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. Aug 21, 2014
    This is an admirably coherent collection of songs that are as uncompromisingly intricate and strange as they are incisively melodic.
  2. Aug 21, 2014
    Opeth's Pale Communion is confirmation of artistic success borne from purity of vision--it is a sublime album of impeccable scope and execution, created by an extremely important band who have finally reached the pinnacle of self-actualisation through music.
  3. Aug 25, 2014
    This set is a massive leap forward, not only in terms of style but also in its instrumental and performance acumen; it is nearly unlimited in its creativity.
  4. Aug 21, 2014
    At times some reining in might have been desirable, but 11 albums in, it’s hard to argue Opeth have earned the right to do whatever the hell they want.
  5. Aug 25, 2014
    At this stage, it’s almost impossible to grasp that Opeth were once a bona fide death metal band, though more aggressive songs such as Voice Of Treason remind you that they’ve never lost their edge.
  6. Aug 22, 2014
    The tracks run long (nothing below four-and-a-half minutes), and the highlights come for those with patience (the album peaks, like Heritage did, in the latter half); Pale Communion is a grower.
  7. Aug 21, 2014
    A prog-intensive album that often sounds closer to soggy Jethro Tull outtakes than anything in his band’s mighty back catalog.

See all 12 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Aug 26, 2014
    Where would the band go after 2011’s Heritage? Well, if you have been listening to any recent discussions with frontman Mikael Akerfeldt, itWhere would the band go after 2011’s Heritage? Well, if you have been listening to any recent discussions with frontman Mikael Akerfeldt, it was clearly not back to Blackwater Park. While this has the fan base split some, it is a shame for anyone who is on the side that dismisses the band. Pale Communion is a triumph, and almost leaves Heritage in its wake with its bold and fearless movement forward into pure progressive majesty. Akerfeldt and gang have laid down one of their best pieces of work in sometime, and it lurks just outside of being their best period, and who knows, given some more time I may even claim it their magnum opus up to this point. Musically, this is their crowning achievement. Pale Communion sees Akerfedlt as a song writing and composing machine, as he has a grip on these eight tracks death tight, and compliments them wonderfully with his best vocal performance ever. Martin Axenrot delivers possibly his best drumming ever, as he at one moment stays repetitive to lay the path for the others, but on a dime will create jazz tinged rhythms that fill in empty spaces with a puzzle fit, or use creative and moody fills to transition the band from grey skies to rain, and back to a drizzle while never loosing focus. Also in need of mentioning is Martin Mendez who is at the top of his game as well with his fat bass lines and even quiet set pieces for Akerfedlt and Fredrik Akesson to run wild through, all frosted over with Joakim Svalberg’s soft spoken piano and thundering organ.

    While Heritage is the album that introduced “new Opeth” it is Pale Communion that introduces the band that should be, yet again, turning our heads and, yet again, pioneering something great. It is without doubt that Akerfedlt finds influences in his LP collection of early progressive rock acts but do not be fooled into thinking that this is not an original Opeth piece that sounds like no one other than Opeth. While there is no sign of death metal on the horizon, it can hardly be considered a loss, as these eight tracks present an ensemble with rich ideas and musical depth that is solely lacking in much of today’s heavier material. Now, there is plenty of room for Opeth to bring us more of the menacing aggression found on Ghost Reveries and Deliverance, but that was not the goal of Pale Communion, and therefore it would be closed minded not to take it for what it is, and what it is, is a fantastic album deserving of your attention. This is not an experiment in Opeth’s sound; this “is” Opeth’s sound. There is a somberness to be found in even the albums most energetic of grooves, and then yet there is also heart thudding adrenaline to be found in even acoustic and piano duet passages. This album has been carefully crafted, and it shows constantly. From its opening “Eternal Rains Will Come” which welcomes us with three minutes of mood shifts and autumn forest atmospheres before Akerfeldt’s voice comes in and guides us through the rest of this wonderful piece. From there it is a journey of transitions and well timed ideas, thought provoking arrangements and daring musical escapades. “Cusp of Eternity” gives us thick groove based around Hungarian minor scales as well as one of Opeths most melancholy metal guitar solos ever, followed by “Moon Above, Sun Below” which quite literally haunts us with its 11 minute run time and five spooky movements of ever changing styles. You will find surprises around many corners, including the groovy and playful instrumental Goblin, the completely unexpected first half of River which has us believing we are listening to a dusted off forgotten 70s classic rock song until its second half throws its fist into our faces making us feel foolish having briefly forgotten this was still an Opeth song, and when it does, hold on for some of the bands finest prog delivery. The final two tracks contain strings and at once are used to thicken the sound but eventually bloom into full color as Opeth reaches for the Heavens on closing track “Faith in Others” just before closing on a calmer note and leaving us breathing room to reflect on all of Pale Communion.

    Opeth are far from short of steam, and if you are writing this band off of anything post Watershed, you need to do yourself a favor and take on Pale Communion. The bands spirit exists in this album, and with it so does the beating heart that makes Opeth who they are. This is an Opeth album through and through, and as a huge fan of past albums and a lover of their signature inner death metal beast, after the 55 minutes and 40 seconds that make up Pale Communion; I am currently not missing the past. What the band is doing right now is just too good, and I cannot wait for the future.

    - Matt M.

  2. Aug 26, 2014
    This is one of the best albums of the year. The only negative thing I can say about this album is that you have to be in a particular mood toThis is one of the best albums of the year. The only negative thing I can say about this album is that you have to be in a particular mood to listen to it freely. Other than that - it's pure genious.
    Opeth have done many a great things in the past, and this album is no exception. It is, in fact, an album a lot of people have been waiting for - an album with no heavy sound, but none the less - the album never becomes boring. This time around it borrows from eastern motives for it's sound, and this does not in any way bother the melancholy sound the band is known for.
    Some of the tracks are like reading a book - images and stories unfold infront of your eyes as you listen to them, displaying the high quality of the music contained in this CD.
    This album is certainly not for everyone. But if you are interested in any way in it - you should give it a try, but do so when you are relaxed, alone - give it your all, and you will probably like this album.
    Indeed, some of the best music we've heard this year - an amazing album for anyone who can appreciate it, but even if it is not your thing, you would be a fool to decline the power of Opeth's work.
  3. Aug 30, 2014
    The fact that this demands repeated listening to "get it" means it's going to be a tough sell. Heritage was a surprise but it was immediatelyThe fact that this demands repeated listening to "get it" means it's going to be a tough sell. Heritage was a surprise but it was immediately accessible. This is a totally different kettle of fish, weirdly labyrinth like and I do think a bit too meandering. Moon Above, Sun Below is a prime example, the first couple of minutes are fantastic but then it starts shifting gear constantly. Anything these guys come out with I always approach with interest. But as of yet this release hasn't really gelled with me. Expand