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Opeth - "Blackwater Park (Legacy Edition)" (CD)

Opeth - "Blackwater Park (Legacy Edition)" CD cover image

"Blackwater Park (Legacy Edition)" track listing:

1. The Leper Affinity (10:23)
2. Bleak (9:16)
3. Harvest (6:01)
4. The Drapery Falls (10:54)
5. Dirge for November (7:54)
6. The Funeral Portrait (8:44)
7. Patterns in the Ivy (1:53)
8. Blackwater Park (12:08)
9. The Leper Affinity (live version)

Reviewed by on June 29, 2012

"Nearly twelve years later the band has gone through many changes – both in style and in membership – but 'Blackwater Park' has stood the test of time and still holds up as a stellar blend of death metal with clean signing and a progressive attitude."

“Blackwater Park” is a key component of the prog metal machine that is Opeth, and is essentially the band’s flagship album. It is typical of everything that one thinks of when the name “Opeth” is uttered, and really rocketed the Swedish act into the stratosphere of extreme metal. Nearly twelve years later the band has gone through many changes – both in style and in membership – but “Blackwater Park” has stood the test of time and still holds up as a stellar blend of death metal with clean signing and a progressive attitude.

The album itself should already be familiar territory for death or prog metal fans, and it’s an album that’s worth listening to all the way through on a regular basis. There’s the haunting, ghostly sounds and smooth-as-silk transitions of “The Drapery Falls,” the demonic screams of “The Funeral Portrait,” and the iconic “Harvest,” which still remains one of the band’s best all-soft tracks over a decade later. In addition to the smooth/harsh dichotomy typical of Opeth, the “Blackwater Park” album in particular also makes incredibly effective use of acoustic guitar for heavy atmosphere and strong contrast with the full-on death metal parts.

While the album is likely already in the collection of any given Opeth fan, the “Legacy Edition” does tread some new ground, and is a release specifically designed for collectors and music fans who still love to have a physical product in their hands. The case is designed like a CD sized hardback book, filled with several pages of musings straight from front man Mikael Akerfeldt about the time surrounding the “Blackwater Park” album, along with the song lyrics.

If you’ve ever read Mikael’s band blogs before you already know what to expect, but otherwise get ready for a self-deprecating sense of humor mixed with just a touch or arrogance and smugness. It’s interesting to read and shows a fascinating insight into Opeth’s early years and how Mikael was affected by the loss of several key band members and longtime friends. The booklet, bound directly to the case, also features several new pieces of dark artwork as well as “Blackwater Park” era band photos. A bonus DVD, included in a sleeve on the back end of the case/book, includes a half hour video documentary on the making of “Blackwater Park,” as well as a 5.0 audio mix of the full album.

As with many deluxe re-issues, this version of “Blackwater Park” features a live song. Unfortunately it’s the one weak link in the chain, as the sound quality of “The Leper Affinity” live is atrocious, and only exists for completionists and extreme fans who want to hear Mikael working a crowd. Other than that unnecessary and tacked-on little tidbit, the legacy edition of the album is well worth a purchase from longtime fans who like a visual component to their music, or to new Opeth fanatics wanting to fill in the band’s back catalog.

Highs: The new version includes fantastic packaging and new artwork, along with all the music that made the original release so highly regarded.

Lows: The extra live track isn't really necessary and has very poor sound quality.

Bottom line: The legacy edition of this classic album exists for Opeth lovers who want a high quality physical product to show off.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)