Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
Moderbolaget / Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 27/09/2019
Running Time: 67:44
Review by Cliff Scowen
First of all, I’m not going get drawn into the which Opeth is better the old or new, guttural growls or clean vocals, as Opeth fans are intelligent enough to figure it out themselves.
Secondly, having been a massive fan since the “Orchid” album people may think I am a bit biased in my review. Well I’m not. I don’t have to be when an album is this good. In nearly 30 years, I’ve seen Opeth evolve from a full-on death metal band to the prog metal legends they are today.
So, to album number four of clean vocals. The title means ‘Poison In The Tail’, frontman Mikael Akerfeldt recorded two versions one in English and another in Swedish and we get 10 tracks covering 70 minutes of majestic music.
Opener ‘Garden of Earthly Delight’ is a delightful, atmospheric piece with its choral chanting and voice overs, setting the tone of what’s about to follow. With the opening track seamlessly slotting into ‘Dignity’ with some seriously cool percussion and heavy riffs, it’s good finding Akerfeldt in great voice early into the album.
The first single from the album ‘Heart In Hand’ sees us in refreshingly classic Opeth territory, Axenrot’s drum fills alongside Akesson’s riff made it nigh on impossible for me not to nod my head.
’Next of Kin’ has a much darker feel, haunting choirs set around a crystal clear acoustic guitar and I guess you could call ‘Lovelorn Crime’ the albums ballad, hearing those piano chords entwining with Axenrot’s drums and Martin’s bass and a deeply felt solo is a joyous thing to hear, a true masterpiece.
The surreal sound of ‘Charlatan’ seamless musical interludes is backed by operatic monks and ‘Universal Truth’, a huge melody with faultless piano work is so full of angst and emotion. We see ‘The Garrotter’ next with its alluring intro and it’s almost jazzy feel certainly keeps Svalberg busy on keyboards.
We, then, hit more familiar ground with ‘Continuum’, Akerfeldt pushing his band and musical boundaries as only Opeth can. Akessons use of the wah-wah pedal is outstanding and so to closer ‘All Things Will Pass’ which has an almost anthemic feel to it, has enough musical hooks to catch the ear of the listener. I have heard that Akerfeldt’s voice sounds rawer on the Swedish version but I’m putting that down to him singing in his native tongue, just as “Ghost Reveries” was back in 2005.
“In Cauda Venenum” is another watershed moment in their distinguished career, an album combining all the mesmerising qualities of its predecessors “Heritage”, “Pale Communion” and “Sorceress “and taking it to another level.
A very easy……10/10
Standout Tracks: ‘Continuum’, ‘Universal Truth’, ‘Lovelorn Crime’
In Cauda Venenum Track listing (English/Swedish):
1. Garden Of Earthly Delights / Livet’s Trädgård
2. Dignity / Svekets Prins
3. Heart In Hand / Hjärtat Vet Vad Handen Gör
4. Next Of Kin / De Närmast Sörjande
5. Lovelorn Crime / Minnets Yta
7. Universal Truth / Ingen Sanning Är Allas
8. The Garroter / Banemannen
9. Continuum / Kontinuerlig Drift
10.All Things Will Pass / Allting Tar Slut
Mikael Akerfeldt – Guitar/vocals,
Fredrick Akesson – Guitars,
Carlos Martin – Bass,
Martin Axenrot – Drums,
Joakim Svalberg – Keyboards.
Review reproduced here with kind permission of Cliff Scowen and MDR
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