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Opeth - Still Life CD (album) cover

STILL LIFE

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.33 | 1180 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Heavy and beautiful but far from masterpiece

"Still Life" is considered by many to be the finest Opeth album and by a few others to be one of the greatest albums ever made. I'll leave the first part of that sentence for the Opeth faithful to debate but the second part of the sentence strikes me as a stretch to put it mildly. The two-disc Peaceful Records deluxe edition release is one of the most beautiful presentations of a concept album you will ever find. It's a gorgeous hardcover little book featuring color prints to go along with each track's lyrics printed in full. The digipaks are glued to the inside and rear covers and hold the regular CD and the 5.1 surround DVD. The DVD comes with a bonus video of a live performance of "Face of Melinda" from 2006 which was a really nice touch. They should have included more live material from that show, why stop at just one? On top of that they give you the personal recollections of Akerfeldt concerning the writing of the album as well as the insatiable smoking habits of the band members. While working on the drums tracks, where Opeth begins their recording process, he notes they would practice for 25 minutes followed by a 30 minute smoke break.

I was impressed from the outset by the drama of the album and the care taken in its creation. They obviously worked very hard on this album and it shows. I have played this disc to death trying to find the passion that so many have for it, but unlike so many of the cool prog-metal albums I have heard it kindles little enthusiasm. There are numerous gorgeous melodic interludes throughout the tracks that were very enjoyable and the band possesses a power and presence that is undeniable. But it's an album that suffocates itself in too much repetitive activity (Akerfeldt admits as much right in the notes: "There's no space whatsoever on this record, every gap is filled with..stuff." ) This has the effect (to me) of making the album into one long track, which I don't object to generally, but here there is not enough compelling variation to hold my interest. One long sheet of grey which may work fine in the poetic rain of Agalloch's musical approach but it doesn't have the same effect here. This album, with the story being conveyed, could have used more variety in the sound, more thoughtfulness in the storytelling. They are good at what they do here but where is the change-up? Someone else mentioned the very contrived feel of the light/heavy sections here and how it almost feels like the band is flipping a light switch on and off arbitrarily and I agree with that. It gets so predictable after a while when they go from their ferocious growl mode back to their pretty acoustic mode, both modes always the same as the previous time, with seemingly equal time allotted to each (did they use a stop-watch or what?). That said I can justify the 3rd star here by pointing to some of those darkly beautiful passages that are around the corners of each track, always alluring but never ultimately paying off. There is the pure tenacity of the growls and the cloudy mood of the acoustic guitars that can be enjoyed. "Still Life" is almost more appealing to me as background music than active listening music and that is rarely a good sign for progressive music. Compared to works like "Strange in Stereo," "Remedy Lane," "Deggial," or many others, this album is just not near the top of the curve. A special nod to Travis Smith and Opeth for the art design of this special edition booklet.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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