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Opeth - Still Life CD (album) cover

STILL LIFE

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.33 | 1193 ratings

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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Although I'm not sure which is my favorite OPETH album of those I've heard thus far ( My Arms, Your Hearse and Damnation are also way up there), Still Life is probably the best in terms of overall production, concept, coherence, and even packaging. The production is close to flawless, aside form a few glitches with the drums (less noticeable here than on MAYH). What really distinguishes this one from the others, musically, is Martín Méndez' excellent bass, mixed more prominently than anywhere else, and really given a chance to shine. "Godhead's Lament" and "Face of Melinda", but most especially "White Cluster" stand out as examples of his impressive work.

The concept of Still Life is apparently a prequel to Orchid, in which a person, cast out by his society, wanders out into the forest, and there, for unknown reasons, the life slowly ebbs out of him until he dies. On Still Life, we get to see the events leading up to his final wanderings. Banished already by a mostly hateful society over what seems to be a difference in beliefs (he knows that they are behaving immorally), he returns for one reason only: his beloved Melinda, the one virtuous woman left in the place. When he finds her, however, he discovers one of the men of that corrupt society having his way with her. Still, he continues to love her and remains determined to get her out of that place. However, they are both captured and sentenced to death--we see Melinda's execution by hanging. His turn would have been next, but for (I am told by a friend) the mercy of a young man we see in life on Morningrise and also as the spirit on MAYH. From there, the outcast goes alone on his final voyage.

Musically, it seems to me that this album makes the most use of recurring musical themes of any of the others I've heard, without becoming at all tiresome. Commonalities appear between "The Moor", "Moonlapse Vertigo", and "Serenity Painted Death", for instance. There isn't a single weak track on here. Furthermore, this one seems to be balanced almost half and half between metal and softer acoustic sections. This is also the first album to feature all four of the current members. Perhaps one of the most strikingly unusual moments in the OPETH catalogue occurs on "White Cluster", with a rapid, haunting bass riff and intentionally dissonant, eerie vocals from Mikael Akerfelt. There is also a strange section of "Serenity Painted Death" that captures something almost 1970s in the guitar tone.

Overall, this is certainly a must-have album, and while I can't make a choice myself, it's easy to see why so many consider this album to be OPETH's best.

FloydWright | 5/5 |

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