OPETH Frontman MIKAEL ÅKERFELDT Looks Back On Writing Blackwater Park Album - "Our Future Looked Bleak, Just Like The Song"
July 14, 2021, 2 weeks ago
Swedish legends Opeth are celebrating two decades of Blackwater Park. The 20th Anniversary Edition of the album launches on July 16 via Music For Nations.
Guitar World's Amit Sharma caught up with fromtman Mikael Åkerfeldt for a look back on composing the songs for the album. Following is an excerpt from the interview.
Mikael: "It’s weird talking about these songs now being 20 years old. I was living in a small one-bedroom flat and didn’t really have much going for me or the band. We’d done four records prior and there was little interest, I would say. I mean, the people who liked us really liked us but there were too few. We never had any feedback or any help. So to me our future looked bleak... just like the song! I didn’t have any high hopes, but I was proud of the material I’d written. I’d also kinda come to terms with the idea that 'it' might not happen for us. When we started, I was young and figured a record deal meant it was pretty much done… I wasn’t so much of a fuck-up or failure after all! But that didn’t turn out to be true. We’d done four albums and I was a complete loser (laughs)."
GW: "Bleak" has some similar moments, going from metallic thunder to chordal interludes like where you sing, "Help me cure you..."
Mikael: "It’s a good part. The main thing I remember is that the demo version had pretty shitty opening riff. It was bad. Listening back to it, I was thinking how our label could even agree to release it. But then (ex-drummer) Martin Lopez ended up playing me something by Kurdish singer called İbrahim Tatlıses. I guess it was Kurdish pop music, but to my ears it sounded evil. It had notes in their scales that you didn’t really find in Western scales, with bends that were in between notes. I immediately rewrote the beginning of 'Bleak'..."
GW: The solo for 'Harvest' is quite different in feel to other leads, with a gypsy-led bounce before it ends up somewhere more bluesy...
Mikael: "I wanted to surprise the listener with certain notes. Because the chords themselves are pretty standard – a lot of barre stuff, typical major and minor shapes. They weren’t hugely exciting in that sense. I wanted to write progressive weird crazy things and this song wasn’t that. But there was a nice melody and order to the chords. I knew I wanted a solo because one of my strengths as a guitarist, when I’m not shy, is to play slow and melodic. But I also wanted to play over something that wasn’t typical. I wrote it in the studio by fiddling around and seeing what fits – it was quite difficult. I couldn’t rely on my usual tricks. In the end, I think it came out pretty tasteful and exciting. It’s not your typical bluesy solo, and I love those too, but back then I was really trying to avoid moving in regular territory. It was my chance to dive into something weird. It worked... it didn’t fuck up the vibe of the song; it added something. It’s one of the solos I’m still happy with."
Read the entire Guitar World interview here.
Music For Nations: "The reissue comes lovingly pressed onto heavyweight, audiophile approved vinyl, with a variety of deluxe finishes, and housed in a gatefold artwork sleeve, with updated liner notes and acknowledgements. The deluxe variants, including a hardcase CD, come furnished with an updated artwork booklet complete with new liner notes, never seen before memories from the band, and exclusive content provided by the Opeth fanbase. It remains a must for Opeth enthusiasts, completists and casual listeners alike."
Blackwater Park is Opeth's fifth studio album , released on March 12th, 2001. The album marks the first collaboration between Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson and the band, as Wilson had been brought in to produce the album. This contributed to a shift in Opeth's musical style. The songs "The Drapery Falls" and "Still Day Beneath the Sun" were released as singles. Although Blackwater Park did not chart in North America or the UK, it was a commercial breakthrough for the band and is often considered their masterpiece.
"The Drapery Falls"
"Dirge for November"
"The Funeral Portrait"
"Patterns In The Ivy"