Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 16th, 2013 - A Watershed Of Sound And Taste

Opeth's 2008 album, "Watershed" is an exercise in perfection: a perfectly complete and complex balance of haunting prog melancholia and intense death metal brutality.  Likewise the Blanche de Chambly Belgian Witbier (white ale) by Unibroue is a perfectly complete and complex balance of sweet and tart ester and spiced malts... thus a great pairing! 

"Watershed" is the 9th studio album by Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth (and probably my favorite).  Incorporating progressive rock, folk, blues, classical, and jazz along with death metal and a sprinkling of black metal, Opeth creates a thing of mesmerizing wonder with "Watershed."  The music is imaginative, honest, and dynamic with sweeping tempo and signature shifts.  There are passages of acoustic beauty and explosive passages of brutal death metal aggression.  In all, this album demands your attention.  Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt carefully crafted a masterpiece with "Watershed."  The guitar work of Fredrik Åkesson, the keyboard/synthesizer work of Per Wiberg, the bass work of Martin Mendez, the drum work of Martin Axenrot... all flawless. The beautiful guest vocals of Nathalie Lorichs on "Coil" adds a nice feminine, yet haunting touch.  Åkerfeldt also employs the use of English horn, oboe, flute, violin, and cello to add to the richness of sound.  There is precision, passion, and depth in every note, every nuance, and every directional change.  With each listen I make new discoveries and my mind is once again blown!  After the haunting beauty of "Coil," "Heir Apparent" is song of brutal power and amazing composition.  Åkerfeldt's growl is sublime.  "Heir Apparent" is followed by a song of utter depth, despair, and beauty, "The Lotus Eater," which seems to marry progressive rock and death metal succinctly and completely into one momentous composition.   "Burden" comes next with its chilling lament, grooving organ, soaring guitar work, and wonderful "clean" vocals.  "Burden" transitions into "Porcelain Heart" with an odd, off-key acoustic interlude.  "Porcelain Heart" is a powerful, evolving masterpiece.  "Hessian Peel" is richly textured and progressive as hell that transitions into a killer death/black metal monster.  And "Hex Omega" finishes the album off with engrossing and profound power.

The first beer Unibroue brewed, the Blanche de Chambly pours a wonderful, very pale, very cloudy, straw-gold color with a bright white, frothy head in a frosted glass.  The fact that it is unfiltered with high wheat content adds to the rich color.  Not as pungent as most Unibroue ales, the nose has subtle notes of white grape juice, orange peel, lemon, banana, and a hint of zesty spice.  The mouthfeel is light and refreshing with sharp carbonation like champagne with "fine and abundant" bubbles, which is perfectly accurate for this style and a good .  The flavors are somewhat mellow, but complex.  There are muted notes of tart citrus and sour Belgian yeast on the front end.  The mid-range finds notes of malt, soft banana, and bubblegum.  And then the Blanche de Chambly finishes with some really, really nice pepperiness from the spices: coriander and clove.  Although it is the dead of winter, I could see this as a wonderful beer for the dog-days of summer.  The various flavors make the Blanche de Chambly a great ale to truly accompany the fantastic songwriting and musicianship of Opeth's "Watershed."  The sharpness of the carbonation, the mellowness of the fruit ester, and the spicy finish really bring out and compliment the emotional complexities of "Watershed."

Learn more about all the wonderful Belgian-style ales (and their accompanying legends) of Unibroue at and discover the genius that is Opeth at

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