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Opeth - Still Life CD (album) cover

STILL LIFE

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.29 | 1703 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Wallium
5 stars When you're reviewing an album, there are two things to take into consideration. The individual songs themselves, and the overall tone and continuity of the album.

Still Life aces both categories. Each song is distinct, yet has a sense of purpose in this album.

As far as their actual style on the album goes, impeccable. They have contrast if no one else does. Åkerfeldt does an outstanding job making it happen. On Benighted (track three), he sings beautifully over the nice acoustic work, one of only two tracks that escape having growls.

On a side note, Åkerfeldt is the only growler I can stand. I'm not usually much of a metalhead.

This album has quite a passion to it. With everything that they do, you can feel the intensity just billowing. They progress, and that doesn't change one bit. They progress again, no difference. So despite any prejudices that you might have that metal is just metal, you're wrong. They take metal and make it music.

To start off, lets look at the kicker track, The Moor. It starts off barely audible, then grows, then grows, then turns heavy. They sit there for a little bit, and then Åkerfeldt starts to strut his stuff, opening up with a growl to chill anyone. It really shows what's up about Opeth, and makes sure that you know that there's no turning back anymore. The contrast is beautiful. Later, he drops right into clean lyrics, still over the heavy guitar and bass, and that works extremely well, too. He then goes on to alternate back and forth for the remaining 6 minutes or so. What is amazing, though, is that at times his growls seem to overlap his clean vocals. Odd part of all this is that the growls are actually him, no computer. The affect is quite stunning, matter of fact.

The overall timbre of the song is mysterious, when you get down to it. You never really know what's coming up in a few measures, or even in the next measure. They are a patient band. They wait to progress until the time is right, then they hit it hard. And although the pattern of heavy-acoustic-heavy-acoustic might not strike you as exciting at first thought, it really is. Every time they hit acoustic it sounds similar enough to be the same song, but different enough that it's captivating to listen to. Ditto for the heavy. It leaves you in a limbo of conscious listening that is uncommon to find.

At the end it ends very open-ended, and sets up just right to lead into another track.

Track 2: Godhead's lament.

This one is more heavy then clean. But it uses their elements of changing it up, still. It's not as epic as The Moor, but it definitely can stand on it's own if need be. There's not a ton to be said more then that though.

Track 3: Benighted.

This track is very much encased in acoustic guitar and clean vocals. Shorter than all the others, and not as diverse. But yet it still manages to draw me in, because the acoustic part is written very well, quite well in fact, and the vocal lines are so sweet and lyrical. But, if nothing else, it provides a contrast to the album itself that really makes an impact. It proves that they aren't just some grungy death metal band that can write a few softer licks. It shows their might of being versatile.

Track 4: Moonlapse Vertigo.

This one has an almost.... alternative(?) quality to it. It's much smoother then their other pieces altogether. It does go into the heavy side of it all, though. That really makes it all the more perplexing, then. It combines that interesting contrast into itself without even really trying. That's not to say that it doesn't progress in their normal style of changing it up when you don't know what's happening, it just means that there's a residual contrast in the tone of the song.

Some people don't like this track, the only one that really has a person turnoff factor (besides the growling). But I don't mind it at all, I find it to be soothing and complementary to all that goes on in the album. I'm no prog-writing god, so I can't tell you why, I can only note when it does.

Track 5: Face of Melinda.

This is the second (of two) tracks that is completely clean lyrics. But unlike Benighted, it doesn't feature the acoustic guitar the whole time, it lets the more heavy guitar come out. This one has a real sense of guitar progression, but leaves the vocals to themselves the whole time. It's in reverse from what you'd normally expect.

This one also has a soothing quality to it, but you know that it's setting up for the album to change to a more heavy, or not as smooth, rather, tone. It already starts off the transformation with some of the riffs, but doesn't totally go through because it keeps the clean lyrics, its last refuge.

Track 6: Serenity painted death.

This one reminds me most of Th Moor. It has great contrast all over the place. Only this time the jumps are less long-winded and patient seeming, and it starts off moving. This one has Åkerfeldt's full contrast between clean and growls going the whole time, and then also instrumental interludes (both soft/acoustic and heavy).

This one has a weird catch though, the ending seems... wrong. It just cuts off, mid note even!

Track 7: White Cluster.

This one ends the album with an interesting ring. It starts more heavy, but towards the end seems to grow more and more soft. The transitions stop being so smooth, it's like they're all falling apart (which makes total sense when put into contrast with the lyrics at this point). The end is nothing more then a self-contained little acoustic diddly that just starts, then ends. That's it. The end is nothing but just a fading thought of all the possibilities that it could've been.

One thing, to add, that this album has that is quite spectacular, is the lyrics. The entire album is one story, each song adding a new idea and thought into the mix, until the end, where it all just ends. The more you read them, the deeper they seem to grow. And considering that the band is from Sweden, and English not being their first language, they're nothing less then spectacular. They may even be the best part of the whole album.

Conclusion:

An epic masterpiece if you can stomach the growls. Hands-down. Even if you don't think you can, I didn't at first, you can still enjoy what they do, and all of the intricate subtleties that make it an overall great listening experience.

Wallium | 5/5 |

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