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Opeth - Still Life CD (album) cover

STILL LIFE

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.31 | 1514 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 85

"Still Life" is the fourth studio album of Opeth and was released in 1999. It was the first Opeth's album to be released through the Peaceville Records, following their departure from the Candlelight and Century Black Records after the release of their previous third studio album "My Arms, Your Hearse".

As with "My Arms, Your Hearse", "Still Life" is also a conceptual album. In short, it tells the story of a man who was expelled from his home town because he hasn't got the same faith as the rest of the inhabitants, the Christianity. He returns for his love Melinda and he finds out that she isn't now a free person. He does his best to reach her, and once he manages to do so, Melinda is killed and the man, now enraged, goes on a killing spree and only succumbs due to exhaustion. He is executed and finally he reaches serenity. Each song concentrates on the different parts of the story.

The line up on the album is Mikael Akerfeldt (vocals and guitars), Peter Lindgren (guitar), Martin Mendez (bass guitar) and Martin Lopez (drums).

"Still Life" has seven tracks. All songs were written and composed by Akerfeldt. The first track "The Moor" lyrically tells that the protagonist of the story has been banished from his own village and now he is coming back to take his love Melinda with him. Musically it begins with a mystical acoustic sound which leads to a great acoustic riff. After that, the song becomes fuller by aggressive metal, joined by Akerfeldt's nice growling vocals. This mini epic contains both acoustic and heavy parts with both cleaning and growling vocals, staying very progressive as well. The second track "Godheads Lament" lyrically describes how the protagonist of the story watches Melinda from afar, fearing that he will be detected, and doubting that he can make contact with her without attracting the religious authority of the town. Musically it continues as pretty much the same. It continues with high and strong power music which is very nice to hear but it has also an excellent melodic line. The third track "Benighted" lyrically perfectly conveys the man's longing for Melinda and how he desperately hopes that they might yet be together, despite her becoming a part of the controlling religious organisation since his banishment. Musically this track is the only completely acoustic in the album. It's a great ballad with a very good guitar solo. It has a great combination between great acoustic guitar work and a beautiful voice line. The fourth track "Moonlapse Vertigo" lyrically shows that the things become desperate and how much danger the man puts him in just by being there, and that he has very little time to try to convince Melinda to come away with him. Musically "Moonlapse Vertigo" is one of the most progressive songs of the album. It brings the music back to the high energy of the album. However, this time it's performed softer with great combination of electric and acoustic guitar workings. The fifth track "Face Of Melinda" lyrically shows that Melinda initially rejects the man and hides behind her religious beliefs. Disheartened yet not defeated, the man makes one more attempt to win her back and we learn that she still loves him now, as she always did. Musically is the only song of the album with no growling vocals, along with "Benighted". It's also one of the best singular songs of "Still Life", being of the lighter track here. The sixth track "Serenity Painted Death" lyrically shows that before the reacquainted couples can leave, the outcast wakes to find they have been found out. Melinda has been taken away and her throat slit for her association with him, which leave him consumed by fury and a longing for vengeance. He goes on a rampage, killing numerous soldiers before finally being captured by the Council of the Cross. Musically this is probably the most aggressive song of the album. It has a crashing metal riff and truly impressive natural growling vocal working by Akerfeldt, as only he is able to do. The seventh and the last track "While Cluster" lyrically completes the tragic story, with the man refusing to repent before being taken to the gallows to be hanged before a large gathering of townspeople. It closes with the man having a vision of Melinda right before he is executed, suggesting that he will soon be reunited with her in death. Musically it continues at the same musical line with the whole album and it has also a wonderful guitar solo.

Conclusion: "Still Life" is a very balanced album with a clear theme, both lyrically and musically, and its quality stays excellent from the beginning to the end. Compared to the other Opeth's albums, this is my favourite studio album from the band. Opeth made a commercial success with their next studio album "Blackwater Park", but I still prefer "Still Life" compared to it. "Still Life" stays clear and balanced throughout the album and has no weak points. However and in general, all the Opeth's discography seems to have no truly weak points at all. All of this made of "Still Life" as one of the best and truly classic progressive albums. So, I recommend strongly this album to all progressive rock fans.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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