Opeth – ‘In Cauda Venenum’ album review

Band: Opeth
Album: In Cauda Venenum
Release Date: 27th September, 2019
Label: Moderbolaget / Napalm Records



Review by Sean

Hooooooooly wow. After what I’ve had to review lately, this is like the freshest breath of air you’ve ever known. It’s so good, it’s almost a religious experience.
But let’s discuss it in a bit more detail, unless I’m allowed to just copy and paste “Fuck me, this is mind blowing” for a page?
Boss says no, so let’s go.

It opens in a VERY Floyd-esque manner. ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ is very Dark Side. In fact, that’s sort of a recurring thought throughout, with the end of/between track bits you having voices mixed into some parts. The first song proper is upon us though, and while calling ‘Dignity’ a highlight is a bit obvious, the whole album is a highlight in truth, as you can’t really listen to it piecemeal. This is an album to be heard in full. In the dark. With headphones on.

As ‘Dignity’ blends into ‘Heart in Hand’, the prog meeting mend bending metal continues excellently, sounding both incredibly 70s yet so modern at the same time. A thought only furthered with ‘Next of Kin’, which sounds positively macabre and evil. There’s an acoustic break roughly a third through that’s calming but once the vocals start up again, very chilling.

‘Lovelorn Crime’, by comparison, couldn’t sound any more different if it tried. It’s sombre, depressing, and could actually be a Porcupine Tree track. However, that’s (sort of) short-lived, as ‘Charlatan’ comes along to kick off the cobwebs, wake us all up, and remind us just what Opeth can do, when the mood strikes. It’s heavy, aggressive, wonderfully proggy, and exactly why I started listening all those years ago.

‘Universal Truth’ is a track I thoroughly loved, but can’t help think it’d be so much better if I was stoned. In fact, I’ll give this entire album a listen next time I get a chance for that, just for the experience, and with tracks like ‘The Garroter’ following it, I can already tell it’ll be an experience I’ll be well into. It’s an odd one, sounding almost Pink Floyd again, but when it gets going properly has a weird jazz sound to it.

No bones about it, ‘Continuum’ was my overall favourite on the album, though they all deserve that title. This just stood out that little bit more. Maybe it’s how it has a Blue Oyster Cult sound to it in parts. Maybe it’s that also sounds quite psychedelic, or that it flows so well between minimalistic and softer parts to heavier, louder sections. It makes the song a roller coaster ride that you want to just go on again and again, and fuck the plan for the rest of the park.

Sadly, the album comes to its end, with the aptly titled ‘All Things Will Pass’. Still, it closes things out exceptionally well, methodically drawing us in before the music hits you from nowhere and jars you to life again. About a quarter of the way through, around two and a half minutes, the vocals start, and it’s clear we’re going out as proggy as we came in. There’s a Pink Floyd joke in there. If you get it, let me know.

In closing, This is a truly sublime album from start to finish, and will absolutely give me serious thoughts about what really is my album of the year when it’s all said and done.

10 out of 10


Track Listing:
01. Garden of Earthly Delights (Intro)
02. Dignity
03. Heart in Hand
04. Next of Kin
05. Lovelorn Crime
06. Charlatan
07. Universal Truth
08. The Garroter
09. Continuum
10. All Things Will Pass