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Opeth - Still Life CD (album) cover

STILL LIFE

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.32 | 1140 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Marc Baum
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Opeth's 4th full length album completely blew away any expectations I had after beginning with the impressive Blackwater Park. This is without a doubt my favorite album of them because this is when I felt the band began clicking on all cylinders. Beginning with "Still Life" and aided by some of the best production I have ever heard, they have created an album beyond epic proportions. This album contains the perfect mix of acoustic, electric guitars and distorted fury which the previous albums didn't have. Technically speaking maybe not their best album but it is certainly up there. Simply put, the cleaner, better produced guitars either give the sound a more atmospheric, ethereal feel. This either makes the epic guitar harmonies feel much better than previous efforts or that they are just that amazing.

The slight change of heavy vocals has Mikael going to a cleaner, more epic low death growl which seemed to alienate but I consider his most controlled, well rounded guttural vocals. His clean vocals have also noticably improved (possibly production aided) and without a doubt the best part is there is a much more varied alternation between the harsh and clean vocal styles. Lyrically speaking, I couldnt think of a better concept and the lyrics are some of the best I have ever had the privilege of hearing.

Still Life is a concept album about a man who is outcast from his village for his religious beliefs. However he returns for his lover Melinda, only to see she has become a nun. Still, Melinda decides to run off with her lover, abandoning her faith. But, just when everything seems to be going perfectly, the story takes a dramatic turn, and ends in a very Shakespearian fashion.

As for the music, it is nothing short of brilliant. Containing beautiful acoustic segments followed by powerful metal riffs as well as some good prog rock, blues and jazz moments the album shows the bands wide array of taste in music. However the album comes together perfectly with none of the music sounding the least bit out of place or far out of style. The album is also filled with a powerful atmosphere of small medieval villages and dark, foggy forests capturing the essence of the lyrics and bringing the story even more to life.

Starting out with the masterful "The Moor" the album gets going with a bang. After a long haunting intro, there’s a short Spanish guitar piece, which feeds into a brutal metal movement. Finally the vocals come in red with fury. After switching between clean and death segments for a while there is a beautiful acoustic part where Mikeal sings alone with his guitar, putting the listener into a lull, before the they are blown away by one more burst of fury. The brilliant composition plus the extreme amount of emotion placed into this song make this one of my favorite pieces of music ever. "Godheads Lament" is similar to the first song, containing an equal amount of death and clean vocals. However the highlight of the song is the renascence part in the middle where Mikeal beautifully sings, "what would they care if I would stay, no one would know-know-know" conveying a masterfully painful want for Melinda to be with him always. Still the songs conclusion is nothing short of awesome as Mikael crushes the listener with some fearsome growls. "Benighted" is a change being all clean vocals and all acoustic (other than the solo). The song contains some beautiful melancholic plucking and a very nice jazzy solo. "Moonlapse Vertigo" is basically a typical Opeth song other than the jazzy middle segment, which leads up to a very cool guitar solo. Then there’s another all clean vocal song "Face of Melinda". Most of the song is bitter sweet and jazzy, but near the end the song explodes into a dramatic metallic climax, although the vocals remain clean. Then comes the heaviest song on the album, "Serenity Painted Death". In this song Mikeal does some pseudo-rapping in the groovy chorus. There are also some good clean vocal lines in this song. The only problem I have with the song (and basically my only problem with the whole album) is the ending cuts off right in the middle of the song. No conclusion, no fade out, just STOP! Apparently Opeth did not want the final four songs to all fade out, so they opted for this random and frustrating ending. The final song is "White Cluster". After a massive metal start, the song slows down to a single guitar. From there it explodes into a final vicious growl and then some excellent soloing. The song then ends with some solid clean segments, and then a reflective acoustic movement, which is more of an afterthought. The song ends this masterful album perfectly.

This album may alienate many old-school Opeth fans and still not be accessible enough to people who cannot tolerate any guttural style vocals but Opeth have created an album worth ranting and raving over. Highest possible recommendation of this undoubtable masterpiece.

album rating: 9.5/10 points = 97 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Marc Baum | 5/5 |

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