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Opeth - Still Life CD (album) cover

STILL LIFE

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.31 | 1494 ratings

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Pseud0
5 stars In my eyes, this is one of, if not THE, greatest album ever released. This album contains everything that I look for. from the brilliant and touching concept and masterfully written lyrics to the strange riffs, unheard of chords, and impeccable solos, everything just seems to be there for a reason.

Let us start with the concept. A man is banished from his hometown for having different religious beliefs than the "council of the cross". After 15 years ("fifteen alike since i was here"), he decides to return home to regain his lost love Melinda. While there he has to travel by night and make sure that none of the townspeople see him for fear of assassination. One night, he finds his lost love. She is sad, lonely, and there is an obvious void in her life (benighted). Finally, in the track Face of Melinda, he meets up with her. They chat and our protagonist finds out that Melinda has married another man (a harlot of god upon the earth). By the end of the song Melinda reveals that even though she is married, her love still lies with the protagonist. The next morning, the main character wakes up and finds Melinda missing. He steps outside and see's all of the townspeople gathering. The protagonist arives at the scene to find Melinda's neck slit (red line round her neck - met the earth in silence). He goes on a rampage, killing many of the councilmen. Eventually, they arrest him and prepare for his hanging. The next morning, with numerous onlookers watching, they hang him. The last thing he sees before he plummets through the floor is his love, Melinda beckoning him into the afterlife. This is easily the most emotive concept I have ever read, and i enjoy reading along while listening.

Mikael Åkerfeldt is the central songwriter, guitar player, and vocalist. His vocalwork on this album is absolutely outstanding. Beutiful clean vocals juxstapose masterfully with brutal death-metal growls to create a very unique and identifiable vocal sound. He is easily the greatest death metal growler in the world and they fit perfectly with the rest of the music. The clean vocals are very "frail" sounding, but still extremely powerful and emotive.

Onto the guitar work (Mikael Åkerfeldt and Peter Lindgren). The riffs on this album are absolutely otherworldy. They are so complex and different that they may seem pretentious and out of place in the beginning, but once you listen to the album several times the listener realizes how truly brilliant they are. For instance, the outro of Moonlapse Vertigo contains many strange chords including minoradd9 and maj7/tritone (sorry, I don't know the actual name) and is one of my favorite parts of the album. These specific chords are part of Opeth's signature and aid in their instantly recognizable sound. The solos here are also very good, although less memorable than most of the guitar licks. The greatest solo on this album has to be the one in "white cluster". Also, there are plenty of acoustic guitar sections. These usually link two heavier parts, but there are also two lighter tracks with mainly acoustic arrangements (Benighted and Face of Melinda).

Martin Mendez is a very accomplished bass player, and his style fits perfectly in the overall sonic landscape that Opeth create. He doesn't have very many "shining" moments though. He is in the background for most of the time. The drumming is also very well done. Martin Lopez has an instantly recognizable latin flair. He is flawless on face of melinda.

I could badger you with pointless song breakdowns that many other reviewers seem to find necessary, but I feel that it would be quite meaningless dissecting such an incredibly subtle and engaging album. I must add that this album will not hit you on the first listen. It took me quite a while before i figured out how incredible this album actually is, and it was obviously a rewarding journey. Recommended to all people who can handle the long tracks with very little repetition and the fact that half of the vocals are sung in an extremely deep growl (although those who restrict themselves to symphonic prog from the seventies will not even find this review necessary). additionally, if you are just getting into Opeth, do yourself a favor and don't pick this album up first (Blackwater Park is a good start).

Pseud0 | 5/5 |

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