Please post your comments on Opeth - Watershed (DTS/DD):thumbsdow
Please post your comments on Opeth - Watershed (DTS/DD):thumbsdow
Last edited by Bob Romano; 02-28-2009 at 04:14 AM.
I already posted my review in another thread, but I'll do it again here.
First, I should remark that this is a 5.0 mix, as there is no LFE channel present.
So far, I have been disappointed with all of Opeth's surround mixes. Ghost Reveries actually sounded worse in surround than it did in stereo, Still Life was okay but wasn't nearly as aggressively mixed as it should have been.
Sadly, the trend continues on Watershed, though the mixing is ever so slowly moving in the right direction. The rear channels are again used mostly to add a few audio effects and to extend the guitars to the rear to envelop the listener, though this is done in a much more noticeable way than on Ghost Reveries or Still Life. Where this mix improves most on the previous Opeth mixes is in the fact that they finally dared to integrally shift some instruments to the rear. Not all the time, but frequently enough to make me grin. The vocals are located in the center channel, as are some guitar solos, and they sound great.
I'd like more and better still, though. This album is incredibly varied, imagine how awesome it would have sounded with a "Night at the Opera"-class surround treatment?
But we're slowly getting there. Keep trying, Opeth!
7/10 for the surround mix.
Here's the sad part: the file formats present on the disc. The DTS tracks only have half the bitrate of what we're used to (i.e. ~750kbps instead of ~1500kbps). Not that it sounds bad, but this still bugs me.
The worst part, though, is the fact that the bonus tracks are in stereo AC3 only. What were they thinking? They could at the very least have included LPCM... They definitely lose a few marks here.
This is the tricky part. I've been a fan of Opeth for quite some time now, and this album is definitely different from what they've done so far. Ghost Reveries already added a bit of a "modern" touch to the old Opeth sound, and they've taken it even further on this album. Much, much further, actually.
Die-hard hardcore high-testosterone death metal fans will cringe and cry out in disbelief at the very start of the album as they hear female vocals on an Opeth album. *gasp* If they live through the intro, though, they'll be consoled by two kick-ass in-your-face heavy Opeth tracks. Still, even these tracks are different from the Opeth we know. More varied instrumentation, slightly more eccentric song structure... "Burden" is another soft song (no female vocals, though), which end in a (to me) cringeworthy detuning guitar gimmick. I've heard other people praise this specific part, though, so it's probably a matter of taste.
The next song, "Porcelain Heart", is in my opinion a reflection of the disc in its entirety. Alternating soft and heavy parts, alternating catchy and odd melodies... It's a pretty awesome song, deliciously heavy and melodic, but there is one thing bothering me: the song lacks coherence. It sometimes feels as if the soft and hard parts are glued together without much of a motivation as to why they belong together. And this is also my main gripe with the album overall: where's the thread that keeps the album from unraveling?
So overall, I really don't know what to think of this album. It's certainly (very) good, as expected from a great band like Opeth, but does it have that undefinable quality that elevates it to the Metal Nirvana of Epic Greatness? I doubt it.
Epic greatness reveals itself over time, and Opeth albums have always taken some time to sink in, so maybe I'll change my mind eventually.
For now, though, I give this album an 8/10.
Overall score: 7-/10
Technically, if you add up my subscores you only get 6.33/10, but I feel that this album is worth a 7 anyway. Surround albums are rare, metal surround albums are even rarer, and Opeth really are one of the better bands out there and this album is by no means bad. Even though it has its flaws, this limited edition is definitely worth your 18€.
I loved it. Not sure why it gets low marks for the mix. I thought it was well done. Fidelity wise it could be better, but that's lossy for ya. A much better mix than something like Snakes And Arrows. Musically I just discovered these guys and while I don't really care for the Cookie Monster vocals, the music is fantastic.
I give it an 8.
Getting it done in 5.1 !!!
This is a fantastic album, and the band is certainly moving in more interesting directions. One can only get much from the "as fast and hard as you can all the time" mentality of some Swedish Metal, including earlier Opeth albums. They are certainly becoming more progressive, some of it eerily reminiscent of Pink Floyd (though nothing comes immediately to mind). The highlight of the album is "The Lotus Eater" which ranges across their dynamic range and swings from very hard to psychedelic and everything in between.
Though there are some interesting parts, the surround mix seems more to fill out the sound than anything else. There are certainly parts where the surrounds are used extremely well, but much of the album is unspectacular in that regard. Perhaps by design, the album seems to incorporate more surround effects as the album progresses, which is actually a nice thing artistically. After all, one can only ascertain good surround sound effects if one has something which is "less interesting" with which to compare.
It's not a bad mix, and it certainly adds much to the already very good stereo presentation, but it could have been more as well. Perhaps the band may get SW to mix something of theirs in the future (he did produce them after all).
One things which seemed very annoying was that there was seemingly an audible "skip" in between every track, even when one should not be there (I.e., songs that run into one another). For whatever reason this was done, it is an unacceptable reason. It simply does nothing but take the listener out of the action of the title. More than once I grimaced when that happened. The quality of the audio seemed very good, though I'm sure that DVDA would have been a more lush experience. I never got the feeling that compression was an issue, and I didn't hear any overt artifacts.
I'm listening to this for the first time in surround for a good few years (3-4)...
I'm actually surprised at how similar this sounds compared to Heritage...lots of Mellotron and more "proggy" than I remember. If it didn't have "cookie monster" vocals I'd probably like this even more than Heritage. Even though it isn't a Steven Wilson mix.