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Opeth - Still Life CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.30 | 1642 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars An excellent record that became the band's breakthrough.

'Still Life' lifted OPETH to the very top of the death metal genre and the modern progressive movement. It is sharper in every sense than its predecessors: the production is better, the instruments are played with more passion and precision, the vocals are clearer and easier to hear while retaining their menace, and most importantly much of the songwriting is truly stellar. This, the first album by the 'classic' OPETH lineup, is almost a complete triumph.

After a two and a half minute intro, 'The Moor' gets the album off to a brisk start. If you are a newcomer to OPETH and have chosen this album because it is (currently) the highest ranked OPETH album on ProgArchives, this opening track delivers you a blunt message. Yes, the band may be known for its subtlety and progressiveness, but at heart it's still a death metal beast, capable of savaging your ears and your brain.

But oh dear, there's the growling vocals. The first time I heard them I cringed with something akin to embarrassment, then checked that no-one else was home so they couldn't hear what I was listening to. But it's important to remember that all singing is an affectation. Death metal growls are no different to opera singing or pop singing or rap. It's all affectation, and each new style takes time to get used to. I find AKERFELDT's style of singing very powerful, and his technique is well enunciated. Further, he leavens his songs with 'clean' vocals of an increasingly high standard. Now I see them as a feature, not a flaw, of the music.

For me the album lifts a notch with the second track, 'Godhead's Lament', and the wonderful opening riff. The song features more syncopation than OPETH usually use, and it makes parts of the song almost funky. Apart from the relatively quiet 'Benighted' and the first half of 'Face of Melinda', the rest of the album is of a uniformly high standard. 'Melinda' is slow enough to have the flavour of a BLACK SABBATH track from their 'Sabotage' period.

But I must add this final paragraph. Not one of the tracks is outstanding, in my opinion. None of them have the glorious symmetry of 'The Drapery Falls' or the sheer brutish power of 'The Leper Infinity' or the beauty of 'Patterns in the Ivy' - all from 'Blackwater Park' - or the drama of 'The Grand Conjuration'. Many of the songs lose their intensity too quickly ('White Cluster' for example). Funny, this, liking an album without rating any of the tracks among my favourite OPETH moments.

An excellent record, but not my favourite OPETH album.

russellk | 4/5 |


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