55. Opeth, 'Blackwater Park' (2001)
Through the 1990s Swedish band Opeth had steadily built a reputation for their unique hybrid of death metal, doom and progressive rock, but it wasn't until fifth album Blackwater Park that those elements truly coalesced. Much of the credit goes to the increasingly mature songwriting of guitarist-leader Mikael Åkerfeldt and the chemistry of the entire four-piece band, but the influence of producer Steven Wilson cannot be ignored. The mastermind behind popular prog-rock band Porcupine Tree, Wilson harnessed Åkerfeldt's myriad influences and shaped the record into an immaculate, spellbinding whole. While there are more than enough moments of power and fury, the album's melodic passages create a graceful ebb and flow throughout Blackwater Park's 67 minutes. It all makes for a haunting, labyrinthine journey, from the pastoral "Harvest" to the somber "Bleak" and the astonishing 11-minute opus "The Drapery Falls." "I believe that if you are confined to one type of music, then you are missing out on so many worlds and colors," Åkerfeldt told Metal Hammer in 2005. "You are depriving yourself of some great experiences, and if there is a message in Blackwater Park, then that's what it is." A.B.