One of the things that I have noticed over the years is that when I have interviewed bands that have been in the scene for such a long time about a new album they often say “The one thing we didn’t want to do was become stale.” I’ve always just nodded and smiled and gone along with it thinking I’ve may have heard some bad albums over the years but I’ve never really experienced a band going stale… that is until now.
When a band is thirteen albums into a career you would expect that they would be at the top of their game… not so for Opeth it would seem. There is no nice way to say it but their brand new album In Cauda Venunum is dull and bland. In fact I am so glad that I didn’t have to try and pick a stand out track from the album because there is nothing here that has made me want to take another listen.
Nothing here sounds new or exciting. The opening instrumental ‘Garden Of Earthly Delights’ sounds like something Cradle Of Filth has done previously and while ‘Dignity’ does contain some experimental moments with sound-grabs of children laughing etc it is largely saved by the band’s willingness to mix up the tempo from time to time and the sweet and then gruff vocals of Mikael Akerfeldt.
From then on the album seems to go downhill. ‘Heart In Hand’ offers up some resistance as each instrument appears to do their own thing throughout the track which at times very much calls upon the sound of The Tea Party. ‘Next Of Kin’ again sees the band mix up the tempo but again is far from a memorable track while ‘Lovelorn Crime’ is only bad interesting by the masterful guitar work of Frederik Akesson.
There are times throughout the album when you think that Opeth are about to produce something wonderful. The early rough guitar sound on ‘Charlatan’ grabs you for a brief second while again some terrific guitar work saves ‘Continuum’ while ‘All Things Will Pass’ shows enough promise to suggest that this is perhaps the sound that Opeth should have stuck with throughout the album.
Unfortunately there are too many bland tracks like ‘Universal Truth’ and too many experiments that just don’t work. Take ‘The Garroter’ for example… whoever suggested that the band try and almost jazz-rock sound should be.. well garrotted. The result is a terrible song that really over stays its welcome.
In Cauda Venenum shows one thing – it is time for Opeth to go back to the drawing board if they hope to be the once great band they were. With so many great prog bands around these days albums like this just won’t cut it anymore.