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Review: Opeth – In Cauda Venenum

by Frane Odak
Opeth
Opeth

Opeth – In Cauda Venenum

CD 1

1. Livets trädgård
2. Svekets prins
3. Hjärtat vet vad handen gör
4. De närmast sörjande
5. Minnets yta
6. Charlatan
7. Ingen sanning är allas
8. Banemannen
9. Kontinuerlig drift
10. Allting tar slut

CD 2

1. Garden of Earthly Delights
2. Dignity
3. Heart in Hand
4. Next of Kin
5. Lovelorn Crime
6. Charlatan
7. Universal Truth
8. The Garroter
9. Continuum
10. All Things Will Pass

Label: Nuclear Blast
Date: September 27, 2019

Autumn is here and it is time for a new Opeth album. Not many bands can say that they had a career as versatile and as long as Opeth, so this is definitely a band that went a very long way from their beginnings. The band started out as a classic death metal outfit, but on their debut album they added a lot of progressive influences, thus creating a unique mixture of Progressive and Death.

They continued to develop that sound over the years until they suddenly got the idea to make an experiment in which they would release one album in their classic progressive death metal sound and the other one in softer, prog-rock style. Those albums eventually came to be known as “Deliverance” and “Damnation”. With “Damnation”, the band made their first step into the world of progressive rock. Some 8 years later and after 2 more albums in the band’s traditional style, they released “Heritage”, which was also notable for having little to no metal elements and no Mikael Åkerfeldt’s signature growls. However, after this album that band hasn’t reverted back to their roots, but continued to embrace the progressive rock sound instead.

Here before us, we have a thirteenth entry in Opeth’s discography called “In Cauda Venenum”. The album has a title in Latin, as the band decided to release the album in two versions. The first one is in their Swedish native tongue, while the other one is English made mostly for because a lot of their fans, well, don’t speak Swedish. It is nothing too innovative, as it has already done before. The examples include Sabaton’s “Carolus Rex”, Korpiklaani’s “Manala” and many others, but still it is a relatively fun approach to making an album.

Now onto the music we have here. As I’ve stated before, the band plays progressive rock nowadays and that hasn’t changed in this album for the most part. The first track is an instrumental intro, which is same on both versions of the album. When the first actual song “Svekets prins / Dignity” starts, it is very apparent that this was intended to be an album consisting only of Swedish language as spoken passages are recorded solely in Swedish. In context with those passages the album sounds way more natural in Swedish than it does in English.

It is not to say that English versions are bad, quite the contrary, they sound very good in their own right. It is just that Swedish versions have a way more natural feel and show the overall intention of this album. Regarding the songs structures, they have a classical progressive rock structure with a few exceptions. The obvious one would be the song called “Charlatan” as it features a more modern, progressive metal influence very alike to what Leprous and Caligula’s Horse have been doing. The other one is the closing track “Allting tar slut / All Things Will Past” as it dwells a bit into the band’s old sound very reminiscent of “Blackwater Park”. However, if you are expecting growling to return, I have to disappoint you because, sadly, they are not present in this songs as well as the rest of the album.

Orchestral background present throughout the album is well blended into the songs and it definitely builds up the album’s atmosphere. The songs that shines the most in regard to that is “Ingen sanning är allas / Universal Truth” and “De närmast sörjande / Next of Kin”, which also feature a falsetto passages sung by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

It seems that whatever Opeth does, they just can’t go wrong as they managed to release another more than satisfactory record. Whether some fans like it or not is debatable, but the quality presented here is unquestionable and it shows that after all these years Opeth is still going strong.

Without further ado, pick up this record if you still haven’t and enjoy the majestic progressive soundscapes which has to offer.

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