MetalBite Review by Jeremy on 8/1/2001
I'll start off by telling that I'm a huge Opeth
fan. This was my 4th Opeth
acquisition, and I had a summer of living alone to go over this. Since, it's fast become one of my favourites.
write epic, emotional songs. A lot of old fans were disappointed by their third release, "My Arms, Your Hearse"
, since its style was quite different from the two that came before. "Still Life"
encompasses elements of both, creating a fusion of styles, while incorporating the two newer members of the band more firmly and clearly than on "MAYH"
It begins on a long note, 'The Moor'
is 11 1/2 minutes long. Through the course of the song, we hear a variety of distorted and acoustic passages, and a clever blend of metal vox and clean singing. Frontman Mikael Akerfeldt is superb at both. His metal voice has gained a "raspiness" to it that gives the lyrics a sinister edge, and his clean voice is confident - something you can hear.
Musically, this album is crisp. The guitar sounds are distinct, yet with a meaty distortion that's become an Opeth
trademark. There's more of a rhythm-lead structure here, though some of the twin-guitar sound is still present. The bass is a bit of a non-event, that is, it doesn't stand out much - and that isn't to say that it's bad. The drumming is tight and varied, with excellent use of the cymbals - not too little, not too much.
The album is a concept album, which (as far as I can tell) follows the protagonist as he returns to his hometown, and finds the people hateful of him. He turns to a woman, Melinda, for sympathy. They leave together, but he finds her sympathy hollow. So he plots revenge, etc. It's a very effective concept to begin with, and the use of heavy and acoustic passages furthers the plot to a large degree. Not only is this album lyrically quite complex, but musically as well. The riffs aren't heavy for heavy's sake, they're heavy for an emotional cause. The passages blend smoothly together, forming a cohesive whole.
My gripe with this album, and it is a small one, is the ending of track 6, ‘Serenity Painted Death’
. I thought this was a mastering error at first, since the song cuts out abruptly in the middle of the acoustic outro! Later, I learned that this was intentional, as the band were tired of fading songs out. Intentional or not, I find this very distracting. Note, this is my ONLY gripe.
A very notable point on the album is the entirety of 'Moonlapse Vertigo'
, which is a fine cross-section of Opeth
's style. The ending of ‘The Face of Melinda’
, and the solo of ‘White Cluster’
, which has a fabulous build-up, are two more.
Bottom Line: Opeth
have crafted an exceptional album here. The musical flow matches the pace and mood of the lyrical concept perfectly. This is, in all respects, a very mature album created by musicians who've proven their worth and no longer feel the need to impress. They write music for music's sake, and they write it very, very well. This is the kind of music to sit and listen to intently. This isn't background fluff, it's intelligent and complex. And I love it.
out of 10
- even the ending of track 6 can't diminish how much I like this album.