Hardly a shocker, is it? Other bands and albums came and went while planning this list, and some were moved around right up the last second, but there was a never a doubt about the #1 position.
Released in 2001 (and named these guys), this was Opeth's fifth album and their first collaboration with producer Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. Opeth's trademark has always been the combination of heavy-as-a-bastard death metal and beautiful, mellow segments - a result of ringleader Mikael Åkerfeldt's strange brain.
That's just about all I can tell you about this album. Without sounding too pathetic or getting too personal, it's kinda hard for me to talk about Blackwater Park simply because I can't think of words that would explain how much it means to me, how much I love it, and why I love it. It's an album that just transcends everything.
Before I bought it I'd been hearing a lot about Opeth, had read many a glowing review, and I didn't really know much about them or what they sounded like except for one or two tracks that I had stumbled upon. It didn't sound bad or anything, it just didn't speak to me. I thought I'd give the band another shot, so I went and bought Blackwater Park, Deliverance and Damnation. Gave it another listen and... Well, it sounded a little better than before, but still nothing earthshattering. Perhaps the three albums didn't do much for me because it was in the middle of summer. Opeth's music is many things, but "summery" isn't one of them. Certain music only works during certain times of the year. For example, I can really only listen to Kyuss in the summer and Neurosis in the fall/winter. Any other time of year and I keep wondering what the big deal is.
Months later I went out for a long walk by myself on a lovely, crisp autumn day (I even remember the date: October 15th, around two in the afternoon). It wasn't too cold, not too warm - it was just right. The sun was shining, birds were tweeting and all trees and bushes had turned burning red, orange, yellow and pink. Blackwater Park was rumbling in the old headphones and finally I got it. I got it. The penny dropped and at last I understood just what Opeth was about.
The opening track, The Leper Affinity, certainly made me pay attention but by the time Bleak, Harvest and, most importantly, The Drapery Falls came along there was no longer any doubt: this is a fucking masterpiece, and that's final. An impeccable piece of work that's so much more than just music on a piece of plastic. I'm a fan of many bands and many types of music, but I don't recall ever being moved fundamentally, right to the core, the way I was on that day.
To get full-on pathetic, Blackwater Park is the closest this heathen has ever come to a spiritual experience. Sure, many things played a major role, such as the place I was at in my life at the time, the mood I was in on that particular day, and of course the perfect autumn setting. But at the heart of it all was the haunted, gorgeous sounds blaring into my impressionable little ears.
I chose to share The Leper Affinity and The Drapery Falls with you, but I could have picked any of the album's eight tracks. It wouldn't have mattered, they're all equally essential. If you download them and have a listen your reaction may very well be: "What's that idiot talking about? Is he having a laugh, it isn't that good. Nothing I haven't heard before, some death metal with the occasional mellow shit. Big fucking deal. And spiritual? You on crack, nigga."
And that's perfectly fine. I don't expect anyone to feel as strongly as I do about anything, certainly not about something as subjective as music. But give it a try: Blackwater Park may be an eyeopener for you too. If not, maybe you'll appreciate it just for what it is on a more basic, down to earth level: The best album ever made by anyone.
If you disagree you're wrong and I shall pound my penis on your forehead like an African drum.
Buy Blackwater Park @ Amazon.com.