Every once in a while an album comes along blows the top off the music world.  One of those rare occurrences would be Ghost Reveries by Opeth.  Not only does this album brutalize the listeners auditory sense with its harsh metal passages, it also haunts the listeners soul with its harrowing, elegant, and refined mellow and acoustic passages.  It’s not just an album that relies on the gimmick of changing pace up and down, softer and faster to show a contrast, every movement within this record has its place and every change, sound, word, growl, beat, and note feels perfectly placed, natural, and organic.  Every single sound fits perfectly into place and every sound works with its surrounding dins and tones faultlessly and in the end creates a listening experience like no other.

Ghost Reveries starts off with the song “Ghosts of Perdition” and after a very brief few haunting keyboard notes it wastes no time in attacking the listener with cacophonous metal and Mikael Åkerfeld’s guttural growls.  After a few minutes of being surrounded by glorious and technical metal the song makes a flawless shift into a harrowing acoustic passage accompanied by Mikael’s ethereal and soft singing voice creating a feeling of being in a haunted gothic forest.  The song continues to shift style and tempo throughout and leaves the listeners mind full with images of beauty and terror and never for a second doing anything that would detract his/her full attention away from the auditory experience.  And that’s just the first song.

“The Baying of the Hounds” incorporates Per Wiberg’s great keyboard skills into the rush of metal riffs.  The bluesy Hammond style keyboard sound works perfectly when interlaced with the traditional metal instruments and it creates a sense of running and being pursued.  “Beneath the Mire” kicks off with a groovy beat mixed with an organ that just makes the song pop and groove.  The song slowly transforms into a soulful bluesy accented by Mikael and Peter Lindgren’s guitars drenched with emotion and then slips back the metal realm with the music but maintaining Mikael’s soft vocal before going back into full on brutality.

The first full mellow song on the album comes in the form of “Atonement”.  It sports playful progressive guitar riffing and leads wrapped up with Per’s haunting keyboards.  The vocals are whispery and haunting and really build a thick atmosphere to the song and Martin Lopez’s drumming gives you something to keep you head bopping to.  Following that we are given the intro to the following song “Reverie/Harlequin Forest”.  “Reverie” is the pre-track to “Harlequin Forest”, so if you see your CD player counting backwards, don’t worry, it’s not possessed.  “Harlequin Forest” is one of Opeth‘s strongest songs boasting superb musicianship and songwriting skills by the entire band.  The song floats between many different layers, emotions, and moods throughout creating a multifaceted listening experience like no other.

“Hours of Wealth” shows Opeth‘s soft side again and conjures up a beautiful and chilling atmosphere with its mellotron and tender and affectionate guitar work.  It also gives the listener a bit to get ready for one of the most terrifying songs in metal history.  “The Grand Conjuration” instills fear, horror, and anxiety into the soul.  The punishing riffing, the roar of the bass, the vocals switching from soft to insane resembling the blathering of maddened serial killer, the drums keep your anxiety level to a max, and the keyboards add a level of unprecedented consternation.  This is one song not to be listened to alone in a darkened room on a dark and stormy night, it’s nightmare inducing.  The final song “Isolation Years” pulls us out of the nightmare conjured up by “The Grand Conjuration” and leads you out of this masterpiece on a somber note.

Ghost Reveries is a massive work of art and I hold it in the same regard as I do albums such as Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zepplin IV, and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.  If you are a fan of metal, this is a must own album with no ifs, ands, or buts.  If you consider yourself an open minded lover of music this album deserves your full attention.  This is a major accomplishment in the not only in the world of metal, but also in the realm of music.

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