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Opeth – In Cauda Venenum (Album Review)

OpethIn Cauda Venenum
Released: September 27, 2019

Line-up:

Mikael Åkerfeldt // Vocals, Guitar
Martín Méndez // Bass
Martin Axenrot // Drums
Fredrik Åkesson // Guitar
Joakim Svalberg // Keyboard

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DEATH METAL FREE ZONE: The Opeth death metal experience no longer resides in this building. If you were expecting things to change after a decade of death metal free albums. Please kindly move towards the exit sign and may we never hear from you again. Sincerely everyone who doesn’t care about such things.

Take my advice. Watch Frozen and just… Let It Go.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way.

Strap yourselves in and let us review In Cauda Venenum the thirteenth release from Opeth and their first album in over three years.

The album opens with ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ which is more of an introduction/mood piece than anything else and it does quite a fine job of setting the scene, especially with the hauntingly atmospheric parts in the first half, which ultimately gives way to some moody keys and electronics.

This gives way to ‘Dignity’ and as Mikael Akerfeldt’s vocal cords rise from the ether it’s clear Opeth are well and truly back. The song showcases all the strengths of their post-death metal material. The carnival-inspired riffing interwoven with the acoustic sections is as fluid as this band has ever been with regards to transitions in their songs. Something I would say the band hasn’t exactly nailed 100% in the past, but we forgave them for it because the songs in question were still fucking awesome. But it’s the acoustic sections of this song that really make it shine as the band attains a level of grace and beauty they had barely touched upon in previous releases.

Heart in Hand’ has more of a classic heavy metal stomp and it goes straight for the jugular as it rides a wave of endless riffs. Definitely one of the most headbangable moments on the album – it also showcases the pervading sense of theatricality that shines through more and more as the record moves on.

Eventually, we hit my favourite song on this record. The beautiful and fragile ‘Lovelorn Crime’ is basically a ballad. But fuck it, Opeth doesn’t care and neither should you. Fragility permeates every aspect of this song, whether it’s in the way Akerfeldt sings or in the way the piano guides us through to the inevitable solo, you’re just forced to go along for the ride.

The album gets weird as fuck from here though with the proggy ‘Charlatan’ giving you a crash course in almost djent-like guitar moments interspersed with Akerfeldt’s vocals rising towards the gods and taking you along with him. Following this comes ‘Universal Truth’ which is about as epic as an Opeth song as you will ever get as it transitions from a heavy metal rager, achingly beautiful acoustic sections and even the occasional choir moment. This is the band firing all cylinders and it’s majestic to behold.

Nearing the end of the album.

The Garroter’ bombards you with a level of theatricality and experimentation the band have only ever played around with before. The piano section, in the beginning, is moody and ominous, coming off as a sinister descent into absolute madness. This song is just fucking weird and I love every single moment of it.

The album ends with the ‘All Things Will Pass’ and it’s everything this album has done in a single song. It just absolutely bangs as it goes from the quiet acoustic sections to the heavier more metal sections, all the while Akerfeldt sings his haunting melodies over the proceedings, giving it a sense of urgency and power that would just not exist without him. By the time the final notes ring out, if you didn’t feel anything, you’re missing a soul. Probably.

Ultimately, thirteen albums into their career, Opeth are still making exciting, thought-provoking music and pushing the very boundaries of who they are as musicians. In Cauda Venenum is a masterclass in musical composition and perhaps the best album the band has ever created in their prog era and may even the best thing they have created since the masterpiece that is Ghost Reveries.

Don’t miss it.

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Opeth In Cauda Venenum tracklisting:

1. “Livet’s Trädgård” / “Garden Of Earthly Delights” (Intro)
2. “Svekets Prins” / “Dignity”
3. “Hjärtat Vet Vad Handen Gör” / “Heart In Hand”
4. “De Närmast Sörjande” / “Next Of Kin”
5. “Minnets Yta” / “Lovelorn Crime”
6. “Charlatan”
7. “Ingen Sanning Är Allas” / “Universal Truth”
8. “Banemannen” / “The Garroter”
9. “Kontinuerlig Drift” / “Continuum”
10. “Allting Tar Slut” / “All Things Will Pass”

Rating: 10/10
In Cauda Venenum is out this Friday via Nuclear Blast Records. Pre-Order Here
Reviewed by: Kaydan Howison

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About KaydanHowison (164 Articles)
Final year university student in journalism, part time photographer and writer for Wall of Sound. Primarily here to make you cry and tell it how I see it.

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