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5 stars The BEST prog metal album of all-time. The album begins with the ominous creeping intro of "The Moor," which then segues into a beautiful acoustic melody and then madness. Brilliance and dynamics is what this album is. Opeth are the savious of metal. Mikael's clean vocals were constantly evolving and becoming greater. He also posseses the best growl, if you will, ever. You can coherently understand all the words even when he's not singing. A great concept album and very tragic story. Has a somber atmosphere of lost love. "The Moor" is everything that is Opeth. It's the entire package and my favorite song of theirs. "Godhead's Lament" is magnificent and has a really good folk part in the middle of the song. "Benighted" is one of their best all clean vocal songs, with great acoustic guitar work. "Moonlapse Vertigo" possesses one of the best Opeth riffs. Great song and really shows that each song the album really has an identity. "Face of Melinda" is their best all clean vocals song ever and is one of their best songs. The musicianship and songwriting skill in this song is highly intelligible. "Serenity Painted Death" is one of the strongest songs in their repertoire and is very aggressive, being the album's heaviest song. Martin Lopez's percussion is incredible in this song. "White Cluster" closes the story with incredible intensity and solo's. Some of the vocal parts in this song are very ominous and really suit the part of the story. This album is so incredilby unique and the way the guitars are doing things entirely differently simultaneously, but still making incredbile melodies is so impressive and so original in this kind of music. Opeth are mortal legends.
Report this review (#30968)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opeth has not only created an interesting sound for themselves but they perfected it here. Still Life is the greatest Opeth album. Amazingly executed. There is no dual moment on here. 'The Moor' Starts the album off with an eerie acoustic part that explodes into a crazy frenzy of metal guitar, crazy bass playing and heart pounding drumming. Followed by 'Godhead's Lament' which is also as good as 'The Moor' but without the light intro. 'Benighted' is an classical guitar song which holds no screaming vocals at all. 'Moonlapse Vertigo' is another interesting song. In the middle of the song there is a brief guitar part that sounds like nothing you would ever expect! 'Face of Melinda' is another great song. Starting with a quieter part and then leading to a 2 minutes climax at the end. 'Serenity Painted Death' is one of the harder songs on the album but there is nothing lacking in it at all. The album closes with 'White Cluster'. Intensely catchy heavy riff at the beginning, a great way to close the album. The story to the album is really good as well. I won't spoil it though. Definitly worth buying.
Report this review (#30969)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars OK....the FIRST time I heard Opeth was when blackwater park came out, my friend received it as a gift. He showed me Dirge for November, and after the acoustic part in the beggining, i as drawn away from the growling vocals. A few months later,my friend gave me STILL LIFE, and I immediately loved it.(In fact, the day i really started to love Opeth, was the day after they came to Atlanta....anger.) When I first heard THE MOOR, I almost died, literally. It has the perfect blend of death jazz metal and amazing acoustic parts. As for the rest of the album, you MUST listen to it to understand what im talking about. This album cannot be hailed enough. Since Opeth is one of the world's greatest prog metal bands, and STILL LIFE is their most brilliant and best album(in my opinion), this album is a progressive masterpiece. BUY NOW!!!!
Report this review (#30970)
Posted Wednesday, July 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#30972)
Posted Sunday, December 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The fourth album of Opeth came as the mellowest album, considering the previous releases. And the reason what could it be? A woman, Melinda. She's the inspiration. A man goes back, facing his suffering past with the hope to convert her to him "Melinda is the reason why I've come". Somehow, he knows that on that trip his destiny will decide: to "prosper or fall" (pronounce of a tragedy? We'll see).

Instrumentally, we can see the Opeth's mark on the album: long and complex songs structured with: parts containing heavy complex riffs and Mikael Akerfeldt's growls; intercalated with extreme soft and mellow acoustic parts as seen in PORCUPINE DREAM (but in my opinion, even deeper).

This album has two tracks with no growls, which are Benighted and one of the best of the album, Face of Melinda. But those tracks which have growls (and this is for those people who don't like growls at all, like me), these tracks have excellent melodious and calm passages between, emotionally intense (I never seen such beauty). And in the parts of growls, focus on the guitar riffs (which are great, so powerful and complex), try to abstract from Mike's growling and you'll see you'll get used to. But then I realized it is the best way to show the anger, the suffering, the emotional tension! The album starts with the 11 minute suite The Moore, where there are impressive heavy guitar riffs which leads to parts of such a calm, tender, melodious and epic guitar work (specially in 7:20 minute). This transition touches you in a way you can not imagine. It's like you're in the dark, in the shadows and slowly you are transported to heaven, relieving all the pain. Fantastic extreme sensations! Then it comes the angst at the end of the music. One word just to Akerfeldt's transitions on the voice, he is superb. For those who don't like growls this could be a good song to get used to. Be patient, listen 3, 4 or more times, do what I said before and you will see. Godhead's Lament is an image of the previous track, with excellent heavy riffs leading to melodious subtle parts. The peace song Benighted is exclusively acoustic. The album gets again into form with the great ambience of Moonlapse Vertigo. Face of Melinda is a two parts suite, the first with several epic beautiful acoustic arrangements as Mike describes Melinda; the second part is the climax, with exploding electric guitar riffs leading the tension. The album ends with Serenity Painted Death (which shows the most elaborated riffs of the album) and White Cluser, heavier tracks predicting the death of the main character, ending tragically this album. Melinda was from other man.

A superb album, presenting you fantastic extreme sensations!

My rate: 8,5/10

Report this review (#30974)
Posted Friday, December 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opeth's fourth studio album see's them expanding their sound, continuing in a prog trend. This album starts to show off some of Mikael's more emotional, mellow vocals. I think on the first albums he wasn't very confident with singing, he usually favoured death metal screams (which i also love). He has such a beautiful singing voice and it stands out well on this album. I think this one is a lot mellower than the others, especially their previous effort, "My Arms Your Hearse". This album has a lot more balance on it. The metal sections are still strong, powerful and blow the listener away. The death metal screams work really well when they are used. There are more acoustic breaks and classical guitar passages, as well as their trademark gloomy aura that sounds like a ghost in the fog (which would explain why all their album covers have ghostly presences on them).

Opeth's sound has very much matured on this album, their blend of metal and classic acoustic passages and breaks are a lot more consistent than before. This album shows off Mikael Akerfeldt to be (in my opinion) the best songwriter in the field of death metal. Opeth give us so much variability in their guitar sound that it can appeal to fans of heavy metal as well as those that like amazing acoustic work. Mikael can safely go down as one of the best acoustic players out there, combined with his incredible voice, he has a magic touch which puts him up there with the big players. He is very original and such a treat to listen to.

"Still Life" is Opeth's step into a brave new world (compared to the three albums before this). It is very confident and they have obviously settled into a comfortable sound and formula for making a great record that conquers both balance and fluidity. This album is very mature and an amazing listen in terms of metal as well as progressive rock.

Report this review (#30977)
Posted Saturday, March 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A very underrated Opeth album and, in my opinion, their finest job. Never before(or after) has the band mixed melody and brutality to create such a musically powerful masterpiece, although Morningrise and Blackwater Park come very close.

This also is the only Opeth record I listen without interrupting and thinking about anything else, even for a second: at the end of White Cluster, I am totally exhausted and tired. Amazing concept, instrumental and vocal work. This is Opeth at their best.

Report this review (#30978)
Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is one of the alltime metal classics which many of the greatest metal bands would be proud to call their own. This is where Opeth really took a full step to greatness. Songs like "The Moor","Godhead's Lament","Moonlapse Vertigo" and "White Cluster" are classics of the death metal and prog metal genre and most great metal bands would be proud to call them their own. Then there are gentler songs, the short but lovely "Benighted" and the magnum opus "Face of Melinda". They really display the diversity and depth of Ĺkerfeldt and co's music. Where else but here could you get death growls and acoustic ballads?

I personally rank this one above "Blackwater Park". The production is not as smooth here and that is another part of the special charm of "Still Life", it's raw, original and has a more vintage feel. Very few records alltogether can be compared to this one. I love the way it finishes, with guitar and bass alone, a great touch. All in all, this is an epic achievement by one of the last true original progressive metal bands. After this, I find Dream Theater shallow.

Report this review (#36432)
Posted Monday, June 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an excellent CD- OPeth in Still Life does a great job (again) of blending the heavy with the soft. The heavy songs drill you into the ground while the softer songs relax you and make you think- the lyrics of Opeth are always Dark and Gloomy- to a point where they are georgous. I highly reccomend this album along with Blackwater Park and Deliverance. OPETH IS AMAZING!!
Report this review (#36616)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Opeth's Still life ,is basically Death Metal for listeners who cannot bring themselves to listen to the real thing like bands such as Nile,Entomed and Morbid Angel who play real epic style Death Metal.Still Life is OK ,but this type of music doesnt work well with soft guitars, soft vocals and soft melodies mixed with heavy Death Metal ,really it sounds a little boring and dull,its trys to please everyone.The recording is nothing spectacular either its at times too limited ,and a bit rudimentary but its not awful either,the drums sounds very earthbound flat.So basically Opeth's Still Life is overatted and offers nothing of real interest and is neither here or there,its a little bit boring.
Report this review (#37179)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars May I suggest this excellent album as Psychedelic Progressive Metal? . A new sub-genre under progressive metal file?

First of all, why I listen to this album?

Last night I had a short message in my cellular (hey, we keep sending messages over cellular phone whenever we are listening to prog music down here. What about you guys?) from my prog mate Nirarta from Malang, East Java, Indonesia who complained (?) having listened to Octavarium and felt bad (?) about the similarity of some songs with MUSE. It's a good learning for me as I don't know Muse in details so I could not detect there is similarity in any Octavarium song. What's interesting though, at the end of his message he put ".. ah, I'd better listening to Opeth. Tuoobss!". Opeth? Yeah .. I have two albums where so far I listen to a lot on "Blackwater Park" but not with the other one "Still Life". His message served like an "instruction" for me to do so. So I had it another spin last night. Wow! It impressed me man.

As for my case, I knew the band quite late because I never considered the band was in progressive scene as I heard the band name at the very first time from metal community mailing list. When someone posted an email mentioning that Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree did contribute in Opeth's album, I started to ask who this band is. So it's clear that Steven Wilson was the linking pin that connected me to Opeth. I was actually quite hesitant to know the band as people telling me that the singing style was growling. Later, I found Opeth's live DVD Lamentations in one of famous record shops in my country. So I purchased it (because it's so cheap). As the DVD contained some mellow tracks at the first half of the gig, I was not interested about the music. What amazed me though was the second half that contained more heavy stuffs with growling style. I don't know why I was not bothered at all with growling style the band produced. It's probably because I assumed that vocal has the same role as other instruments - it produces sound as part of total music. Having this in mind, I could accept any sound produced by the band.

How the music is like?

"The Moor" opens with a nice work of acoustic guitar and after couple of minutes so the music blasts off in full metal vein but not in speed typically with power metal genre. The vocal growls combined with "normal" singing that serves as backing vocal. The song structure is hardly said as straight forward as it has some variations in style and some transition pieces in quieter passages, dominated usually by acoustic guitar work.

"Goldhead's Lament" continues with high power music which is very nice when I play it LOUD as I can hear all details of sounds produced. The electric guitar played at background in solo fashion is one of key attraction points of this song. The vocal part is done in the right balance between growl and normal singing where the latter occurs usually when the music is slowing down into quieter passages augmented with electric and acoustic guitar. It's truly a psychedelic song with heavy style (progressive metal). Oh, I forget to mention that the melody of this song is excellent. Approximately in the minutes 7 something there is a short bass guitar solo that really enriches the texture of this song. Wonderful song composition!

"Benighted" is probably a pure modern psychedelic exploration from Opeth. It has a great combination between great acoustic guitar work and voice line that open the song. The full music that follows is a kind of blues-based style with a bit of Floydian guitar augmented with acoustic guitar fills. It's a song with medium tempo and provides some sort of break after listening previous two hard driving tracks. Excellent composition - and you might not argue with me on this, I'm sure.

"Moonlapse" brings the music back to high energy fashion but this time is performed softer with great combination of electric and acoustic guitar work, solid basslines and drum beats. It turns quieter with domination of acoustic guitar when the vocal enters (this time no growling). But .. at the end of of first lyrical verse the vocal yells great growling and continues the singing in growling style. WOW! Man . this is wonderful! Fans, of prog met, this is for YOU! Really greaaaaatttt .. I really enjoy this track - forget about growling vocal. Indeed, it's so wonderful with growling style!

"Face of Melinda" is probably the band's ballad with excellent acoustic guitar work. "Serenity Painted Death" brings the music back to hard driving rhythm music with growling style. The concluding track "White Cluster" is a very entertaining track with high energy music, growling vocal and great lead guitar work.

How may I suggest YOU?

If you like Porcupine Tree's "In Absentia" album, I bet you love this album as well provided that you are OK with growling vocal style. Fans of death metal would love this album. But I don't guarantee those who only love Dream Theater, Symphony X, Ice Age, Iced Earth, Andromeda, Threshold, etc. will automatically like this album - because it's different. If you love classic prog only, like Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis, Jethro Tull, please stay away from this album. Unless, you have a progressive mind: willing to accept any kind of movement in music styles. I may consider those who love Pink Floyd to try this album; not from the heavy part but on the soft / psychedelic part of the music offered by this album. Have a good try and . keep on proggin' .!

Progressively yours,

GW - Review #333 (it's a great number, isn't it?)

Report this review (#37507)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars By far the best concept metal cd I have ever heard. The sickest metal solos ever created, with the most complex and intese song-writing possible. It simply has so much energy and is very skillful. Very explosive tracks like "The Moor" and "White Cluster" make it hard to turn off, and yet more complex and innovative songs like "Godhead's Lament" and "Moonlapse Vertigo" are simply great works of art. However, a few songs can be drawn out a bit much, but that is stretching the truth. All the riffs are ingenious and very fresh, something new for the listener. The fact that melodic singing is used quite a bit is a bonus for a non-metalhead such as myself. This album is worth every penny for any prog fans, any metal fans, or anyone with half an ear for music. Definatly an essential masterpice for everyone to hear.
Report this review (#37885)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
5 stars For me this is the first Opeth's masterpiece, and of course it's also one of their best albums

Dan Swäno's production is very proffesional, and the guitar's sound is killer! The riffs of Serenity Painted Death and White Cluster are amazing, for example. And here we can hear a clear improvement in the acoustic parts too, which sound in a more melodic and classic way, not as dark as in Orchid or My Arms Your Hearse, much more in the vein of the 70's influenced Morningrise.

For that reason, I think this album is the true follow-up of the excellent Morningrise but much better and mature. I consider that in My Arms, Your Hearse they lost the right direction a bit, despite being a very good album. Face of Melinda, for example, it's almost a sequel of the song To Bid You Farewell from Morningrise.

Conclusion: the best album for Opeth's beginners, and one of the best metal albums of all time. The band reached their next level with this record, taking all that they learned in the three previous efforts and achieving an incredible mastery in songwriting.

To be experienced many, many times. An immortal classic!

Best Tracks: Every song in Still Life is marvelous, and I can't really decide which are the best. Maybe The Moor, Godhead's Lament and Face Of Melinda are a little over the rest, but all the others are great too.

My rating: *****

Report this review (#43462)
Posted Friday, August 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
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 Ĺkerfeldt 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 Ĺkerfeldt 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).

Report this review (#43499)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars As much as i do try,i cannot understand what the world see's in this band,their song structure's are incoherent,and their guitar work is completly forgettable,most of the vocal work is great but so much is made up of misplaced growls.Still Life would have to be one of the most overrated albums in years,the one thing that really stands out with Still Life is the amazing amount of repetition,its totally incrediable,i have never heard anything like it.The opening track,"The Moor"starts with 2 minutes of nothing,the launches into a pendulum effect ,back and forth guitar riff (My God Its" Monotonous"),then we here these death growls,these guys are trying now to sound brutal but its so out of place it doesnt work,the vocal passages sound forced and weak .There is a huge amount of random acoustic work thrown in,the drum work is truely woeful and very lazy,the vocals are ok.One thing also about still life is the recording production its very flat and dull,and at one point one of the tracks completly cuts out at the end this is bad production.I dont know if this is seen as death metal from what i have heard but clean vocals never work when mixed in with death metal growls,its so out of place.Still life is basically dreadful,and very tediuos listening with some sub standard production,its very brooding icy music that goes nowhere and seems to go forever,Opeth seem to turn 3 minute tracks into 10 minutes,its all harmless and uneffecting music,Still Life is perfect background music.
Report this review (#43537)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars 2.5 stars.

I love Opeth- but this is not their greatest effort. I see this album as the start of something special.

This album is heavy- very. very heavy- so as a progressive album- I see it as pretty weak. Yes, "Face of Melinda" offers a slow down- but I find that song quite boring- its not as good as the slower songs off Damnation.

I just don't see much depth here- dont hear the musicallity that are apart of their other albums such as Blackwater Park and Ghost Revries.

This is a decent album- but that's all. Not their best.

Highlight of the album is "White Cluster"

Report this review (#53566)
Posted Thursday, October 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars To sum this album up into 5 words is hard, but i will try it: The best album ever, period. Okay, maybe it's not that difficult. But honestly this album has inspired me no ends. This made me change the way i view music and how i write songs. It has brilliant production, amazing songwriting (being a concept album of epic proportions) and is Opeth at their creative peak. If you are a progressive music fan who likes death metal you'd be stupid not to buy this album. I'd call it progressive metal, but many people refer to it as death metal due to some of its dissonance and the harsh vocals. It's got hints of jazz to it, beautiful melodic acoustic passages, blistering shred solos alongside perfectly played solos all about feel.. The list can go on but i'm not sad enough to write all of the points out.

In short - buy this album. It just might change your life. It certainly changed mine.

Report this review (#54830)
Posted Saturday, November 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars After releasing 'Ghost Reveries' Mike's crew certainly slipped into parlours meant for the ultimate progressive bands only. I'd like to take the opportunity and write something about their best longplay recorded so far- Still Life. The album which is underrated a bit, as Akerfeldt said during one of the recent gigs in Europe. SL stikes me with a perfect balance between mellow and intense parts of the album. The songwriting is stunning indeed, they managed to craft seven tracks , which musical quality just crushes me deep into ground, everytime I listen to them. These 62 minutes flow so gently and naturally, and one could press play a few times in a row , when Still Life comes to a close. Speaking of compositions, the album begins with great 'The Moor', utter classical track , as well as 'Godhead's Lament' that follows it. Both have something in common, a typical for Opeth long structure and complexity. Especially the second one comprises many haunting moments (but which Opeth's song does not???) . Mike's clean vocals are astonishing, growls not so developed as in case of GR, but still rewarding. Third song, 'Benighted' is a mellow one, where classical elements are so apparent, this track has some special medieval aura, just fits the album concept perfectly, as well as the rest of the pieces. 'Moonlapse Vertigo', one of the best ever, starts up with quazi doom/gothic (whatever) riff, these one is definitely very atmospheric with lots of marvellous melodies and undercurrents. The fifth "Face of Melinda' is a total cult one, rather calm at first, becoming more intense and vivid in the end- yes, it's a quintessence of their style. The next one, 'Serenity Painted Death' is a sudden volte-face, destructive guitars, death metal without a doubt. The closing track, 'White Cluster' is a perfect farewell of this outstanding musical journey. For those unfamilliar with Still Life content I have a advice- it's time to make it up for, now!!!
Report this review (#56724)
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars If one is looking for a proper introduction to Opeth, I think Still Life would be a good place to start. To begin with, the album has more varied influences going for it than the remainder of the bands back catalog, and it also remains firmly in touch with the bands extreme progressive metal roots. In addition, it also has the whole concept thing going for it, it's got "Benighted" which is an all acoustic gem that is just like those progressive rock songs that we find on Damnation, and it's got both the death growls and clean vocals going for it as well. It might very well be the most varied album they've ever released - the one that best reveals what Opeth is really all about - musically speaking.

Damnation was an all acoustic album, certainly more progressive rock than progressive metal. Every other Opeth album is more extreme in nature with a good mix between the soft and the more intense brutal moments of their music.

What most Opeth fans like about the band is not just the music or the poetic lyrics, it's the way the band puts everything together, the song-writing, the craftsmanship, all the intricate arrangements, the immense talent within the band and how everything is done so perfectly and so flawlessly well. And just as some bands will be remembered for their hits, some will be remembered and revered for all the contributions they made to a particular genre or musical style. Opeth will simply be one of those bands standing tall in the extreme progressive metal genre! And because of songs like "Benighted" and progressive rock albums like Damnation, they may also have an appearance in the Progressive Rock category!

The concept behind Still Life centers around the story of an exiled man who returns home only to find his beloved Melinda married to another. It's a tragic tale of love and death in a cruel and fatalistic world with a most cynical look at human society. The music of Still Life is sometimes heavy, melodic and violent, and at other times it is soft, calm and soothing.

Everybody has their own individual music preferences partially based on their life experiences, their mood and whatever or however the music moves them. So, if a lot of people are saying that this music and this album is great...though I agree with them, I must admit that this reality does not necessarily make it so for "everybody." I accept the fact that some individuals simply don't like extreme music and/or they may only enjoy the softer side of the progressive musical scale. There's nothing wrong with that, nor with the fact that some may simply not be open to other musical genres and styles. But, if you are like me and you are open minded and enjoy a little variation in your life, then quite possibly you will appreciate good progressive music no matter what the influences, genre or style it is...

Still Life!

Report this review (#57688)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the turning point in Opeth's career. Every album after "Still Life" will keep the musicality and vocal performance that can be found on this album. Songs will be divided in two parts: the 10+ minute epics with a mix of extreme metal/growling vocals and mellow parts, and the shorter songs (mostly ballads or ballad-like songs) with only clean vocals. This is the first album where Mikael Akerfeldt found his voice: the extreme voice has become his trademark, as it has a quality hardly found in other extreme metal bands; the clean voice is beautiful, and you always wonder why he doesn't use it a lot more. Everyone that wants to discover Opeth should start with this album.

The album starts softly as the intro to "The Moor" is acoustic, then it grows as the distorted guitars enter the scene. The growling vocals are bearable and the frequent mellow interludes really help to build a great song. "Godhead's Lament" is even more powerful, very nice heavy song (I really like the contrast between the main heavy verses and the mellow acoustic central part). The tranquil "Benighted" is really a beautiful acoustic ballad (very frail, emotional vocals on this song). "Moonlapse Vertigo" is awesome: the intro is really long, very much in the early Opeth style ("In the mist..."), and then clean vocals mixed with extreme vocals (but here the two styles complete each other perfectly) on a really catchy heavy melody. "Face Of Melinda" is a really jazzy ballad-like song, in the vein of "To bid you farewell", with a first acoustic part and some distorted guitar to finish (but still no growls). "Serenity Painted Death" is the most brutal song on this album, though it has a mellow acoustic center part too (very nice, much like on "Godhead's Lament"). "White Cluster" is heavy the first minute with some growling vocals but then it's nine minutes of great music and clean voice.

Rating: 89/100

Report this review (#65888)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The BEST prog metal album of the 21st century, Opeth are the darkest in prog metal. A great concept album that talks abouts a very tragic story, the musicianship is superb!!

The fourth album of Opeth is definetaly the mellowest album in their back catalouge.

Instrumental wish Opeth use long and complex songs structured parts that contain heavy complex riffs and vocal growls and mellow vocals . This album shows a bit more emotion and mellowness!! , I myself like the death metal screams (as I am a hardcore metalhead!!), The death metal screams work brilliantly if you know when to use them, in Opeth's case spot on!!!

Here are the tracks:

"The Moor" has a slow build up and begins with a melodic riff, then an acoustic guitar follows on, then comes in the drums and heavy guitars and the power hits in, the growl then comes in (death metal!! at it's best), and more growling, 7 minutes later the metalbanging slows down with an acoustic ballad, not a bad song, very interesting, 5/5!!!

"Godhead's Lament" No introduction here just gets to the headbanging point (yeah!!!) in which all instruments just go!!! into overdrive, the solo play a nice melodic line, a killer riff then kicks in and is awesome!! (headbanging heaven!!), the heavy riffs die down and a acoustic guitar plays with two guitars, the vocals appear and then the part 2 of the song starts, a cool track 5/5!!

"Benighted" a very mellow, acoustic song with element of jazz,. the combined arrangments of vocals and instrumentation combine very well, it's ok but not my style of music 2/5!!!.

"Moonlapse Vertigo" epic song, mixed acoustic and electrical guitars, acoustic guitars takes you into a different parts, a well recorded song 4/5!!!

"Face of Melinda" this is a sad and mellow song with jazz guitars However, in the third of part this tune there are sudden mood changes the heavy guitars and drums kicks in and turns out to be a cool track with clean vocals, 3/5!!!

"Serenity Painted Death"/"White Cluster" is a really heavy headbanging song with heavy growling that makes it a good listen,with many guitar solos throughout which sound awesome, this is closer of the album and is the best track!!!5/5!!

The album and the band is lush, outstanding and excellent, very extreme progressive metal and Opeth are an exception to this.

My verdict: 10/10 + 100%

(Recommended to all metalheads including the progmetalheads!!)

Report this review (#66700)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars You know i always thought that opeth was nothing more than a death metal because of growls boy did that change when i got Still Life. The music on this cd is INCREDIBLE with great guitar solos and actually really great drum work. the growls gah it took me a while to get used them because i hate them so much but ya know what MIKAEL has got a BEAUUUUUUUTIFUL voice really took me by surprise. But anyway they do have some cool stuff in this album like awesome acoustic sections that sound like latin stuff, Great instrumental passage that sound very progressive, some death metal section but they do it all the way through like most death metal bands do, and dude this surprised me THEY'VE GOT FREAKIN JAZZ SOLO SECTIONS what death metal does that NO ONE LOL. this album convinced me that they are more than death metal they have great melodic sections and some cool jazzy breaks and awesome acoustic playing. so if you like Death metal sure good album for ya BUT if you hate death metal and growls and like proggy stuff well these guys are worth the buy. def. 4 stars for me man
Report this review (#70517)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Still Life is an album that is much closer to the Death Metal than the Prog Metal. Since this is not the place to discuss the issue, let's talk about the album. But Progressive has to mean something and in this album, I do not find that much Progressive parts.

One thing is obvious : you will hear the extremes. Soft melodies and power metal music. But rating it 5 stars is over rated.

In The Moor, a very long build up, every part of the song is predictable. The basic melody is always the same for 11 minutes. Power parts switch with soft acoustic parts in a very basic scheme. The Death growls does not bring anything to the music, in a Progressive point of view. But I admit it has something to do with the hole experience.

Godhead's lament represent more the Progressive Metal genre with some good prog riffs and a kickin' Metal start. The drum is doing a great job in that one. But again, I would listen to the musicians instead of the growls. Some parts played by one guitar make me remember the first Anekdoten album.

Benighted is a very good musical song, altough the basic structure is redundent. Some good guitar exploration.

Moonlapse seems to be the same song as Godhead's lament. Nothing new or suprising, which is an important part of any Progressive material. Same guitars, same drums, same growls.

And so on.

Overall, there's a good blend of acoustic and electric. The guitars sound great and still soft to the ears (not over midhighs). The micking is good, but not exceptional. Techniques used are common, like doubling the electric guitars for a Metal effect, but are well done. Drums sounds always the same everywhere and the cavern reverb is too much in more acoustic dominant parts.

This album is given a three stars for his good contribution to that genre. But if you are coming from other progressive genres, consider the Metal takes over the Progressive.

Report this review (#70716)
Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Along with 'Blackwater Park', 'Still Life' is Opeth's towering achievement, as it finds the Swedish then-quartet at their creative peak. Having found their true sound on the previous record ('My Arms Your Hearse), Opeth expand on it with impressively sophisticated riffs and strong melodic hooks, courtesy of Mikael Akerfeldt, an ambitious and talented musician. Before I go into further praise, however, I'd first like to point out a few problems with the album, just to get them out of the way. One of them is a rather unnecessary amount of repetition, an issue that is unfortunately present on a lot of the band's output: with a bit of fat trimming, most tracks here would've probably fit comfortably within 8-9 minutes. I also find that 'Still Life' would've benefited from a slightly heavier production - it seems to me that during the more extreme moments, the guitars sound a bit thin and empty. Thus, I'm not quite sure why it's sometimes hailed as Opeth's heaviest. But given the majesty and strength of the compositions exhibited here, these problems lose their significance and shouldn't deter you from enjoying this masterpiece of "Progressive Metal".

'The Moor' is an excellent opener, melodic and sophisticated in equal parts. It would've been perfect if it weren't for the fact that the intro theme, no matter how magnificent and haunting, is repeated about ten times. As the song nears the two minute mark, you get a bit fidgety and expect a blast of brutal death metal any second, so it comes as a bit of a surprise when Opeth further delays it by introducing a lovely acoustic guitar interlude. But before long, the drums and heavy guitars (well, perhaps not that heavy, as I mentioned earlier) enter abruptly in the form of smart melodic riffage, before Akerfeldt's guttural roar signals the start of a sinister, threatening verse section. From there, the song is carried by more great ideas and memorable hooks, gradually receding in intensity for a pristine acoustic part before revisiting the death metal approach at the end.

The power of 'The Moor' provides an immediate effect on the listener, but it's quality is matched (and even surpassed) by two other tracks: 'Face of Melinda' and 'White Cluster'. For the first half of '.Melinda' the group opts for its' soft folky style, with smooth, yet intricate and dissonant acoustic guitar figures, before diving into another electrifying heavy section (although the growls are absent here). Yet it's 'White Cluster' that ultimately steals the show, being a treasure trove of complex guitar riffing that has become Opeth's trademark. Again, the band travels effortlessly switches effortlessly between ominous acoustic parts and almost symphonic metal explosions, with a great guitar soloing duel thrown in as well.

An honorable mention must go to 'Godhead's Lament', which sports a great chorus hook, among other highlights; its only significant weakness is the constantly sluggish tempo. 'Moonlapse Vertigo' I don't find an absolute Opeth classic (although a lot of fans may concur), as it relies on the aforementioned repetition a bit too much, but there's still enough strong melodic ideas (the notably the outro riff) to enjoy repeated listenings; it's the same case with 'Serenity Painted Death'.

The one disappointing number here is 'Benighted', a light, relatively short throwaway. The acoustic guitar intro brings to mind 'Never Let Go' by Camel, nut Opeth opts for a lazy, un-involving approach with a rather uninspired vocal delivery (no death growls here, of course).

But one weak song isn't enough to spoil an album of this strength. I still can't decide which one is better between this one and 'Blackwater Park', but it's surely among the finest achievements in progressive metal.

Report this review (#75708)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
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

Report this review (#76976)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Opeth's Still Life is my introduction to this Progressive Metal band from Sweden and its about time too. The main reason I held of is probably the same as anyone else's who waited a long time to discover them. Its the Death Metal vocals. I am not, generally, a fan of songs with the vocals in this style for any length of time, but here I finally decided to get past the fact that Mikael Akerfeldt sings in this style and just listen to it.

At first I paid no attention to the vocals and listened to the music. And impressive music it is. This is an album filled with feeling in the slower sections and beautifully performed acoustic passages but it also hits home with some killer riffs that grab the attention and hold it. The music is extremely diverse and the contrast between loud and soft, fast and slow, works very well here. Its this contrast that makes it such a good album, building the feeling of melancholy and despondency around the moments of sheer beauty and crushing power.

As I have listened to this album more and more then dislike I had for the death metal style of vocals has lessoned considerably, to the point were I can safely say that I actually like them, something that would have been an absolutely astonishment to me when I started getting into prog. His growls are melodic and deep, sounding almost natural and certainly lack the high and raspy quality I have found in several others that sing in this style and even that Akerfeldt himself used on the bands first two albums, a big improvement.

Still Life is in effect the culmination of the style that the band pursued on its predecessor; My Arms, Your Hearse. It no longer has the raw, visceral quality of Orchid and Morningrise whilst being a more polished and rounded form of the style on My Arms, Your Hearse. Its on here that you here the band becoming stable and adept at what they do and marking themselves out as being truly unique.

Overall I found this to be a very enjoyable album, and can honestly say that I had heard nothing like it before listening to Still Life. Its an excellent album that encapsulates beauty and raw power effortlessly, however its not the bands best as they will improve upon this with the follow up, Blackwater Park, which will be the high water point of their career. The difference between the two is mainly in the atmosphere, were Blackwater Park just encapsulates that feeling of melancholic doom and gloom like no other album. 4.5 stars for a very impressive album.

Report this review (#78887)
Posted Saturday, May 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Still Life

This is Opeth fourth studio album and was released in 1999, just after My Arms, Your Hearse. The style of the songs is pretty much the same with the previous album, a combination of progressive and death metal.

This album is rather different a bit of other Opeth's album, and for me, this is the most beautiful and melodic album from them. In my opinion, this was because the story of the album is rather sadder and ironic compared to other albums. The story is about a man who searches his beloved Melinda, but Melinda, at that time, has been engaged to someone else. However, then Melinda stayed with the man who searched for her although they have lost their love. After that Melinda was captured and killed for being a whore, resulting an ultimate rage from the man. This man was then killed many people in the town and was hanged because of that, but when he was hanged, he can still feel the rage inside his soul. Well, even though the story is about murders, still the story is kind of sad, its about, like, love, sacrifice and stuff.

For the songs, those really vary from black, dark, death metal with heavy rhythm and growling sound to calm, mellow and soft with cool rhythm guitar. This album really can prove anyone who questioned Opeth as a band with nothing but death metal sound.

The Moor - Starts of with slow and mellow guitar line, really nice and perfect for the introduction of the story. The mood is then changes to more death metal when the drum begins and vocal starts. The Moor is dominated with heavy rhythm so its more like death metal song rather than just 'slow' metal. The best thing is the song is the guitar lines, which are very dynamic and sometimes follow the vocal lines. Moreover, the guitar solo at the seventh minute is just awesome, very beautiful follows with another clean guitar passage.

Godhead's Lament - Amazing intro, really metal, heavy drum section as well as guitar and bass. After that, straight, death metal vocal, "marauder!!!" Overall, the song is really dynamic and full of energy, just amazing. And again, the guitar solo is very beautiful, at the same time, reflects sadness with Akerfeldt nice clean vocal.

Benighted - A five minutes clean, soft, calm and beautiful song. Well for me, this is my first Opeth acoustic and mellow song. This song really showcases Akerfeldt's clean vocal style, which I think is really great. The song is rather a jazzy song, also when the drum section begins and the guitar solo is just very jazzy. Read my lips, this song is just beautiful : )

Moonlapse Vertigo - Alright, after a short break with Benighted, the energy increases again, a very cool intro, simple drum and guitar riffs but great melodic. The vocal starts with clean vocal style, but then, just like usual, changes to death metal vocal, still amazing and melodic. And again, WHOA!! The guitar solo is very AMAZING, more like Benighted, jazzy and clean solo with distorted background sound.

Face Of Melinda - A somewhat mellow song, just like Benighted and Moolapse Vertigo. The drum part is really cool and soft creating a jazzy ambience along with fretless bass. The mood is then changes heavier with distorted rhythm guitar, but the vocal sound still clean. The song ends with a great ending solo guitar, just beautiful. It such amazing that death metal band like Opeth can create such amazing beautiful slow song like this. Well I didn't say they cant create a great slow song, its just very different with death metal style, and I always admire a band that can go to different style but with the same main genre.

Serenity Painted Death - The song is considered a heavy song, with more death metal sound than cleaner sound. The music and rhythm are also very dynamic and energetic. However, this "death metal" style doesn't make the song like, bad or not good, it still amazing and the song composition is just great. The song ends strangely, the clean guitar passage is just end when the track hasn't end yet.

White Cluster - My favorite song in the album, this is a song that you can really called ultimate-progressive-death-metal. Amazing drum sections, very energetic and dynamic, kicks ass guitar rhythm and solos, great bass lines, really dominate the song at some parts and superb vocal performance.

Well what more can I say, five giant stars. I would recommend you to buy it, and if you are a progmet head, this is essential. If you are not intro progressive metal or death metal or whatever, this is really still a great album, considering jazz elements are pretty dominant in the album. Also, this is a great album to start if you want to get more into Opeth.

Keep on proggin' in the free world!!

Report this review (#80392)
Posted Monday, June 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I discovered Opeth through this album whent it came out... and have been hooked ever since. As a fan of prog AND metal (all types of metal), I think Opeth are what prog-metal should be. Not overly technical and pompous as Dream Theater are, Opeth instead rely on mood shifts and interesting structures and transitions.

On with the album...

From the beginning, you sense right away things will be interesting. The eerie, intriguing introduction to The Moor starts with a jazz undertone, evolving to a classical folk mood on acoustic guitars, to a metal mood which in turn builds into an explosive climax until singer Mikael Akerfeldt opens the hostilities with an enraged death metal growl. Wow !!! The classical guitar parts in the middle section along with Akerfeldt's sumptuous melodic voice are of pure beauty, which is a breather after the relentless mid-tempo brutality displayed earlier in the song.

Godhead's Lament is the masterpiece of this album, in my humble opinion, and truly represents the direction taken by the band on later efforts such as Blackwater Park and Deliverance (both excellent albums by the way). The band goes again from brutal metal to melodic acoustic with a singalong vibe, then goes on with a nice instrumental passage... and the ease with which they go from one mood to another is disconcerting.

Benighted is a wonderful mellow track, in the line of what was done on Damnation. A wonderful semi-ballad, with no distorted guitar in it whatsoever. A pure delight.

Moonlapse Vertigo is another track not unlike the first two. A brilliant number.

Face of Melinda is a surprise, even after Benighted. It has a jazzy feel to it, drummer Martin Lopez playing half the song with brushes and bassist Martin Mendez playing on a fretless. The vocals here are wonderful, and the song is heartwrenching (yes, I am not ashamed to say it actually brought tears to my eyes...).

The last two songs, Serenity Painted Death and White Cluster are typical Opeth progressive death-metal, as good as all their other songs.

Probably my favorite Opeth album (though I love all of them from this one to Ghost Reveries) and it deserves to be discovered by fans of prog and/or metal alike. If you can't go beyond the death metal growls, you'll be the one losing in the end. No other band in the world sound like Opeth, and they deserve the success they are achieving if only for the fact that they are TRULY unique.

A masterpiece, essential and mandatory purchase.

Report this review (#81426)
Posted Sunday, June 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This one's an odd beast at best. Opeth, at that time, were pretty firmly ensconced in death metal territory; bearing some of the hallmarks of that genre (the double-bass drums, growling vocals, and heavy guitars) while shying away from the OTHER hallmarks of the genre (the irritating blast beats, the downtuned guitars, the posturing and Satanic imagery). These songs, while well-done (in terms of production, writing, arrangement and playing), seem to have one foot in the death metal of "My Arms, Your Hearse" while bearing the stylistic trademarks of "Deliverance" (a record that wouldn't be written and released for another 3 years!) Call me crazy, but I distinctly hear riffs and melodic passages from "Deliverance" in songs like "The Moor", "Godhead's Lament" and the all-acoustic, clean- vocalled "Benighted". It's weird, but I really do. Makes me wonder what they wrote first...did they write music for "Deliverance" and then decide that they needed to make it another record, or what? Weird. I'm gonna go ahead and give this a high 3/low 4 for my rating. It's great for what it is, but the soup hadn't been spiced up enough for my taste. "Blackwater Park", "Deliverance" and "Damnation" are better by far.
Report this review (#81766)
Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my prized jewel here, my album of all albums, the greatest piece of music for me. That being said, this album, and certainly this band, will not be for everybody. For me, this gets my nod as greatest album of all time. I think this basically blows away anything the band has ever done, and while their other work is interesting and great, this is just above everything else.

What exactly is all of it anyway? Well, It's a concept album, an album with a broad range of musical styles, one that takes you on a journey, one that makes your body hair stick up in sheer amazement. It's the culmination of every brilliant moment the band ever had compacted into an album with no weak songs. Whereas on previous and future albums there was perhaps a weak spot here or there, it is almost universally agreed by fans who grew up around the band that this album and MAYH were the finest of Opeth's for their overall quality and lack of throw away songs. From the gripping quality of The Moor to the fade out of White Cluster, we become enveloped in a story and a sound that I have yet to find anything to compare it to.

For those who may be more familiar with the artists of the 70's, Opeth uses a section of a song from Camel in their track Benighted. It is well known among the Opeth fans out there of Mikael's love for prog bands. There's photos you can find of his LP collection, and it's quite daunting. This album draws a lot from Mike musical background and his attention to songwriting and composition.

The concept itself is one with moods that almost any person has felt at some point or another, as it's essentially a love story, but as with any complicated love story, things get in the way, in this case a town. I won't spoil the end for you, but it's important to know that the lyrics have purpose and meaning (although lyrics are typically not something I look for in music).

Anyways, the songs have a variety of different styles, with The Moor getting maybe a bit too much credit from Opeth fans. I'd say Moonlapse Vertigo is the most stimulating track. Though I can certainly understand why The Moor is regarded so highly. The spacey opening, the uplifting build up and the crashing and powerful crescendo's are quite magical.

Next up is Godhead's Lament, which is heavy at first, however the break in the middle is very calming and relaxing, quite an unexpected turn, but a welcome one. Some very nice acoustic work here. This song really does kick you in the face at first.

Benighted, as has already been mentioned, is an acknowledgment towards Mikael's favorite band Camel and Camel's Never Let Go off its first album. It's a beautiful rendition that I'm sure Latimer would be proud of.

Moonlapse Vertigo and Face of Melinda have two of the most stunning chord progressions you are likely to hear. Track times for these progressions are around 0:48 into Moonlapse and 4:38 of Face of Melinda. Just genius compositional work. The acoustic and electric overlap work wonderfully. From then Moonlapse goes into a dark acoustic section, followed by another genius riff progression. The 3 sets of primary riffs in this song (:48, 2:37, 7:15) are some of the best of the band's career.

Classic proggers will love the feel of Face of Melinda, which has become a concert staple. No death vocals here. Mike plays acoustic lines and harmonious vocal melodies as more of the story is unraveled. Mike once again shows his prowess as a songwriter and guitar player through his intricate riffs and structures. As mentioned, the 4:38 riff break is one of my favorite to play.

Don't let the title of Serenity Painted Death scare you, while heavy, Opeth are able to keep it progressive and have a purpose for it. Theres a psychedelic vibe to it, and some beautiful verses hidden amongst the brutality of it all. The doom riffs towards the end will probably be quite scary to some, but the song recovers itself with a wonderful set of solos, the last 2 songs having the only real soloing for the whole album. The song has an acoustic "running" outro as I would call it, as if we are fleeting away.

White Cluster is a bit of a question mark upon first listen. Its certainly not a normal track. The build up at 4 minutes is one of those parts you want to repeat over and over again. Spine tingling, easily. Another masterful chord progression and choice that would make most songwriters completely envious.

I'd hope that those who do not like death vocals won't just write this one off. This album more than any other shows Opeth and Mike's ability to compose more than anything else. I'd say this is the most flawless compositional album, and everything else that's good is just icing on the cake.

This is a masterpiece in every aspect of the word. We won't hear an album like this ever again.

Report this review (#82269)
Posted Friday, June 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.7 Stars. Their first peak and my favourite album from them ... but why did they have to title the album "Still Life" ... How many albums have that name?

Opeth has perfected their sound in this record and have reached a peak in their career. This album is flawless in its execution and has absolutely no problems in the whole hour. The growls are at their best. IT flows perfectly well which is important for a concept album, and never manages to bore me throughout the 7 songs. Also, this is the first album where I've noticed that Mikael knows how to write poetry, even if the content is dark, menacing, depressing, brutal, and violent. The lyrics (as well as the vocal style and music) follow the story like a narrative about this tragedy and the protagonist's shameful reaction of it. Another reason to love this album is the accessibility of it. It is probably their easiest album to get into, and it keeps growing on you.

The album begins with a song that introduces the story and it acts like an overture. The first two minutes is a crescendo of the same sustain-guitar theme but while it drags, I don't feel it overstays it's welcome. After that introduction, the song starts: a gorgeous acoustic introduction to the heaviness that will follow. The riffs are some of the best they have done so far, especially the one before the first grunt starts. In both growling and singing modes, the protagonist speaks that he has come back to the society in which he was outcasted and exiled from. I love the lines of the chorus "All shudder at the call of my name/ If you'll bear with me / You'll fear of me", their melodies, the riffs, and the way they are sung. That chorus might be the best chorus the band has ever written in their whole career and what comes afterwards doesn't drop in quality: an extended acoustic passage and the protagonist stating the reason why he came back: Melinda, a woman he loves. The acoustic parts change a lot in an unpredictable way. IT's a shame that their next albums lack the surprises. The song ends with some heaviness that leads to the awesome chorus.

Godheads Lament shows the protagonist entering the town and trying to be cautious so that no one would see him. He sounds very bitter and the heavy music compliments his mood. But when he sees her, the music calms quite a bit and he says he doesn't care if others see him. You know that he is clearly in love with her. The moderately fast acoustic playing in these parts are very well done. Afterwards, some trademark mid-tempo riffery typical of the band follow as well as the grunts. The song continues with the calm-heavy changes while it keeps having great melodies. However,I don't understand why the song ends in a heavy fashion after she sees him.

Benighted is an acoustic track that does not feel out of place with themusic nor the story. Here, the protagonist meets with Melinda and tells her that he wants her to escape with him, even if he seems disappointed that the society has affected her (or even brainwashed her). He forgives her. This song has some jazz elements, in the way the guitar is played in the solo.

Moonlapse Vertigo speaks a bit about the society. The leader being "The council of the Cross" hints that it is a religious society. They seem to hate the poor "With despise for squalor / Lashing out at the poor". Musically, this song is one of hte best in the album. The double guitars are fiery, epic, and gothic while the acoustic parts explore a bit of jazz as well as atmospheric music and are much more memorable and adventurous than their average soft part. The transitions also make them work, as well as the heavy parts. for example, isn't it amazing when the acoustic part suddently changes into a mindblowing guitar solo?

Face of Melinda is another soft song and is overall much more effective and developed than "Benighted". The protagonist finds out that she was seeing another person while he was away, but he still forgives her and wants her to come with him. Melinda agrees and tells him "my heart is thine [yours]" Double acoustic guitars create a beautifully depressing mood that sinks even lower in a happiness scale when the electric guitars come. The mood just sounds epic and desperate. You can't imagine how much I love this part.

Apparently, they must have gone to sleep (maybe they made love in the final instrumental bit of Face of Melinda) and the fanatics found them and killed Melinda while he was sleeping. This is a bit surprising as the protagonist was left there, who was hated in the place.

Anyways, Serenity Painted Death already starts heavy and desperate and full of Anguish: "They killed Melinda!!" The mood gets more intense in the awesome choruses. The grunts are extremely catchy and I always singalong. The guitar riff is extremely cool too, it just sounds chaotic and those harmonics double the chaos. "Saw here fading, blank stare into me Clenched fist from the beautiful pain" is sung with clean vocals. The guy is suffering and the acoustic section sounds a bit frenzied. Afterwards, he loses his mind and the music goes very fast-paced. He basically goes into a killing spree until he is captured. The chorus is played before the ending.

White Cluster is the conclusion of the song: he repents for his actions (though he still hates them all), and is later hung and dead. The acoustic section where he repents is phenomenal. Acoustic and electric guitars combine perfectly to create a haunting image of imminent death, I love it! The song is as strong as all the others and ends with death: a soft acoustic outro.

All in all, this is one of the greatest metal album I've heard in my life. IT is very accessible, so if you are interested in Opeth, I would suggest to start here: you won't be disappointed.

Highlights: The Moor

Let Downs: Benighted

My Grade : A-

Report this review (#85419)
Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Attempting to find the words to describe the utter genius of Opeth's fourth masterpiece, Still Life, is a near impossible task. No matter what words I choose, it does not even come close to describing how powerful this album is. It's one of those albums that everyone just simply needs to hear. No matter what genre you tend to gravitate towards, Still Life deserves at least three listens by everyone. And not passive listens, but deeply involved, concentrated listens. For one hour, close the door to the outside world and to everyone else around you, forget everything that's going on in your life at the moment, and allow yourself to be completely swept away by the divine brilliance of Opeth's Still Life.

While this album most definitely possesses moments of crushing heaviness, it seems there are more concentrated moments of acoustic sections and Mikael Akerfeldt's clean singing than on the previous My Arms, Your Hearse album. Two songs are representative of this : "Benighted" and "Face Of Melinda", both of which feature Mikael's soothing clean vocals exclusively, as well as acoustic guitar being the foundation of the constructions. "Benighted" remains this way throughout its five minute duration, while "Face Of Melinda" breaks into a powerful, storming, yet melodic outro. These two compositions are beautifully tranquil pieces that allow the listener to lie back and drift away into serenity. The most aggressive moments can be found in "Godhead's Lament" and "Serenity Painted Death" which feature Mikael nearly destroying his vocal chords as he screams in conjunction with scathing, yet melodic guitarwork and the pounding rhythm section (Martin Mendez makes his recording debut with the band on bass). "Moonlapse Vertigo" is absolutely one of this band's best moments, and it's probably the track I would pick as my favorite from the album...great dynamics, from the furious to the serene.

Unlike most bands who choose a complex and technical path in which to express themselves, Opeth never forsake feeling and emotion for mere technicality. Every note in every song possesses pure emotion and stirs up feelings of rage, sadness, hope and despair. Four albums into their career, Opeth have solidified a place in the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame by creating some of the most beautiful, innovative, original and downright mind- blowing music ever to be heard in any genre of music. Truly amazing.

Report this review (#86103)
Posted Monday, August 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars OK, let me first say that this is my first death metal album, and after first listen I thrown away the disc. But I listened to it again and again, and it became more and more melodic in my mind, and I liked it more. Concept of album is interesting, production excellent, guitars brilliantly composed, and acoustic guitar sounds beautiful, and there is no lack of atmosphere here. Lyrics are really good for cryptographers, poetic actually. Clean vocals are nice, but what I dislike here are grunts. After this album, I listened to some more grunters, and some of them sing it good, but these of Opeth's front man are not for me. These grunts sound too much noisy (disoriented) and scratchy, not much compact. Those grunts on Ghost Reveries album are much better to me. I think that this album is very good example of progressive approach in making death metal album. The next thought comes from my very personal angle of view: I wish to hear some band like Opeth, but without grunts and not that much dark. which does not mean that work of Opeth is poor. Even as a fan of dark music, I missed some chili moments here. This is progressive work, no doubt, but in my picture of progressive music, there is no death metal. Many of prog fans are more free minded than I am, and many will appreciate this album more, especially fans of complex approach in braking genres boundaries.
Report this review (#93871)
Posted Monday, October 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the very few albums that felt life-changing to me upon first hearing it. It was like nothing I had ever heard before, and I loved it. Some of the only other albums that were like that for me were Zep I, Ride The Lightning, and Selling England. Rather than dissect this song by song, let me just say that IF metal (or prog-metal) is something you enjoy generally and IF you can stomach the growl-vocals (which I actually like, and think are fitting, but many people hate) then what you will find is some extraordinarily well-written music within this album. There is an unbelievably well-done blend of intense growl/distortion parts mixed with clean-vocal/acoustic-guitar parts. Finally, I'm not sure if I'll get around to reviewing the other Opeth albums, so I just wanted to mention that if you like one of them, you really should get them all. Orchid (and Morningrise to a lesser extent) are a little raw and rough around the edges, but everything that follows is pure gold. Particularly this one, MAYH, and Ghost Reveries.
Report this review (#94186)
Posted Thursday, October 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Let's go with a review of, perhaps, my favourite band (actually). When this albums was released, it was the best effort to pursue Opeth into progressive metal, with those growlings only Akerfeldt is capable of. From beginning to end, the disc is an all-emotional and intense piece of art, with harsh chords, putting together the both extremes of music.

Combining raw Death Metal with great clean-sounding atmospheres in awesome change, reaching all audible range you can imagine. Mikael it's a very good compositor. He compose all lyrics and harmonies, nothing serious since he's a very talented musician.

At the beginning of the album we found an increasing tune, fitting perfectly with the work of art that is the rest of the album. The progressing of the music is awesome, leaving you in a mystery aura, until first distorted riff starts. The style here listened is purely Opeth, with some riff repetitions before new riffs began to flow, creating great rhythm dynamics. For being an starting song, 11:26 minutes are an invitation to taste an unique and real prog album. Here we find growls, clean and classical guitar parts, rough sounds, and all putted together with great taste for music. Really nice start.

"Godhead's Lament" begins with lots of fury, which grips you to wait the next musical landscape. At 1st minute we found great riffing full of grief. The 2:56 solo can only be described as a passional lament, full of musical virtuosity. From now to end we have melodies loaded of feeling. I'm really pleased hearing an unique combination I've waited long time ago to hear.

Now, at 3rd track, we hear a sudden registry change, finding slow melodies flowing with a perfectly and minimalist arranged acoustic guitar. Quietly introduces you into a melancholic array of landscapes. It's focused on being a link and an intro to Moonlapse Vertigo, our next song.

4th track: At that point all have reported the musical dimension of the band. Again, a great song combining clean arrangements and the harshly punishment of perhaps the best voice Death Metal can bring us (in my opinion). The music flows so good we desire not to end, so much the song doesn't look like 9 minutes long.

"Face of Melinda" is another soft and lovely song. Not in vain Akerfeldt uses the name Melinda for his daughter, a great newborn present. All the album felts in an intimate shape.

6th track, "Serenity Painted Death", warn us the nearly of the end. Again we found grandiose melodies. Perhaps together with the 2nd track, it's the most brute sounding (at times).

The last track, the second in lenght after "The Moor", acts well at the closer.

The album leaves you wanting more of the same, not a problem since they have more albums to please us with the always-in-depelopement style of these awesome musicians.

For me, this album is more progressive (in the literally meaning of the word) than gratuitous virtuosity we found in soloists of other bands also called Prog-Metal I think, listening to this album, it's more important to focus on entire composition than in displayin an individual technique effort (which I like too). I can only give it 5 stars. Recommended for all Prog listener (who want to expand to other styles), especially the heavyness lovers.

Report this review (#95576)
Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hair Raising huh? yes, very very very very x100 the most non cheesy thought provoking and plaing and simply "scary" album out there. The creativity on this album goes through the roof! Some may disagree but its really the album where opeth really started plunging into the un-conventional modes and 19th Century Scales (dim. ,double dim. ,whole tone, Harmonic min.). Not that they didnt do that before but they really got it going at this point in '99. Not a better melody from akerfeldt could go over the very sinister and diabolic riffs. Ok enough on rambling around the evilness. This album also incorpates alot more jazz compostion (much like morning rise), and its all aranged just perfectly. Some of the songs lead into a ... hum wouldnt want to say classical but more romanesque style. An occational a very medievil feel.(kinda). And the many vocal tones that are incredible. So... What does all this mean??? yes ! you guessed a wonderful prog masterpiece.
Report this review (#99303)
Posted Friday, November 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars If you are a fan of OPETH, then, I "guess" this is a good album.

I'm open to different kinds fo music, but gosh, OPETH just doesn't do it for me at all.

It's death metal. I fail too see much prog here. Certainly more prog than your average death metal band, which probably helps market the band. But, overall, it's just death metal, and, not very good death metal at that.

The vocals are insanely annoying and skilless. The guitar work is very repetitive. It seems the guitars have one sound only. The drums and bass are "basic". Nothing interesting or memorable in the slightest.

I found it difficult to listen to this album.

So, I'm not giving a 1, because OPETH fans seem to like it a lot. If you are not a fan of death metal though, then don't waste your time and money on this.

Report this review (#106483)
Posted Sunday, January 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars For anyone who was introduced to this great band by the mellow Damnation album, Still Life would be the best step to go after that. But I guess to people who already knew Opeth from day one, this album is a really pleasant surprise as both musically and in creativity this album is far better than its predecessors.

Our introduction to the album is The Moor and this track has everything in it. It is like the "Ghost of Perdition" track of the Ghost Reveries album. The intro is very soft and eerie followed by some great acoustic guitar part. At the 2:30 time mark the track gains a lot of weight and when Mikael's growling kicks in the heaviness is complete. Around 5:30 we are treated by some of Mikael's clean vocals and around 6:00 there is a mellow intermission after which all hell brakes loose again. We get some more growls and the music is almost about to explode in your face. Around 07:20 again a nice mellow part which seems to be faded out, but here the acoustic guitar continues and once more we are treated by Mikael's clean vocals. This part is truly beautiful!

There is no forgiveness in these eyes

For any of you but one

Dispel the mist for now

Melinda is the reason why I've come

The second track Godhead's Lament also contains a very catchy part similar to the wonderful Devious movement in your eyes part in Bleak

Searching my way to perplexion ah hah hah The gleam of her eyes In that moment she knew

I won't continue discussing Still Life track by track as some really good reviews on PA have already been written about this album.

So in the song the Moor we were introduced to the beautiful Melinda already. Later on on this album we get two mellow tracks sung by merely clean vocals; Benighted and Face Of Melinda. Those songs are my personal favourites of the album, probably because I still prefer Mikaels clean vocals rather than his grunts and growls, but on "Still Life" I can certainly stand the pain. :-)

4.5 stars overall

Report this review (#111407)
Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
el böthy
4 stars Opeth´s fourth album marked the end of their "underground" status, after this Opeth would become one of the most known non-mainstream metal bands in the world, and the absolut kings in their death melodic style. This album also gives us the classic Opeth line up for the fist time, with Martin Mendez in the bass...the "uruguayan-Martin-rythm section" was born.

The music in Still Life is classic Opeth, all songs are long, with the exception of Benighted, all songs have that light/dark feel and a certain sence of melancholy is always present. There is no weak song, they are all good, with some of them being among their best... but, something is just not quite right. This is a concept album, yet the songs don´t seem to have a flow between themself, every track seems to be too individual. This is very clear in Godhead's Lament, which opens at full blown (classic Opeth), but just seems to lack a certain connection with the previous song, the amazing The Moor (probably Opeth´s best song ever), which for me is nothing but a weak point in the album. And this happens in more than one song... definitly not good, even more if it´s a concept album. Apart from that, the album is excellent. One of their softest also, with Mickael singing with clear voice quite a lot, not only in the soft parts. The result is ohh so good, with some of his best melodic work, definitly a high point of the album. Also the acoustic work in this album is beautiful and maybe the best they have achieved yet. The "uruguayan-Martin-rythm section" is tight with Mendez playing some excellent bass lines, like the one in the seventh minute of Godhead's Lament and Lopez as always delivers his personal drumming style where he combines rythm and melody with great results (such a pitty he left the band ).

The stand out song from this album, at least from my point of view, are the amazing The Moor, the beautiful acoustic piece Benighted, Face of Melinda and Moonlapse Vertigo, yet the rest of the songs are also excellent. A great album from Opeth, not my favorite, but objectivly I may consider it to be their best (along with Blackwater park), but still amazing and very important for any prog metal fan... better yet, make it for any prog fan.

Report this review (#112514)
Posted Saturday, February 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Epic.

This one word describes this album perfectly, but you'll need an explanation as to why that is.

The album opens with The Moor. This song contains elements that show Opeth's progressiveness. It is not just a death metal band but also a progressive metal band. It starts off with a soft guitar riff. Then it goes into some great acoustic guitar playing. It creates the dark mood that follows perfectly. After the quick phase of acoustic, the metal begins. Heavy riffs combined and hard drumming. Growling starts. Your soul darkens as Mikael Akerfeldt sings in his brilliant death metal growls. These are much appreciated by me as I see an artistic value in arranging the voice to fit the music. Akerfeldt does this in two ways. First he uses his "cookie monster" vocals (what some people describe growling as) and then he switches to his singing voice (well I think both styles are singing -but to keep this review clear singing = clean sounding vocals and growling = deep death metal vocals) for a very good affect of making his voice sound so brilliant after it sounded so harsh with the growls. The lyrics for this song are spectacular. It is talking of an outcast returning to his home to find his love. The feelings of darkness are further enhanced, not by the growls, but how he sings such depressing poetry with his good, clean voice. It is sort of reverse psychology but with vocals, using nice vocals to sing something so utterly hopeless that the effect is staggeringly dark.

The follow up to this brilliant opener is Godhead's Lament heavy guitar riffs follow with death metal growls. This continues for a few minutes before the acoustic guitar is brought out for its effect on the emotion pouring out of this song. The vocals almost bring me to the point of tears form the delight I get from listening to his voice in this way. The depressing bleakness brought to life. The outcast contemplates what would happen to him if the villagers found out that he was here. But the sight of Melinda makes his decision for him, he stays. It is almost romantic in a death metal utterly depressing way. Such is the way of Opeth. There is also a little bass solo/fill that adds some diversity to the song.

Now for my favourite song of this album, Benighted. I get chills down my spine when listening to this, it is just brilliant. It is also an acoustic track (unlike other ones which have acoustic guitar dabbling). Mikael blatantly shows his Camel influences with a guitar intro that sounds almost identical to the song Never Let Go off of Camel's debut album. It continues like this until Mikael makes it his own and changes the key and picking pattern. This song also has a jazz inspired solo. Then the point when the goose bumps come in. Mikael's voice is unearthly here. It fits the guitar perfectly and invokes emotions not previously stirred. The lyrics suggest the outcast is persuading Melinda to come with him and he tries to convince her that she has been controlled by her fright.

Moonlapse Vertigo comes back to typical Opeth form - heavy riffs interspersed with acoustical sections. The vocals are growling half the time. The lyrics are a reminder that the outcast is not wanted in the village and if found there would be disastrous consequences. It is harsh and dark.

Face of Melinda is a softer track with singing and acoustic guitar right from the start. Halfway through the song is when the metal riffs and hard drumming come in. It goes back to the acoustic sound with a great solo. The vocals do not change. The lyrics set the stage for what is to happen. Melinda is shown to have become a nun and the nameless outcast comes up to her to convince her to come back with him. She responds with the line 'My promise is made but my heart is thine," showing that she still loves him.

All seems so surreal and happy when this song, Serenity Painted Death comes in showing true death metal form. Speedy riffs start off and growls. The lyrics are dark and utterly breath taking. The outcast wakes up to find Melinda has been taken and killed. He replies to this unleashing the rage within his soul as he kills all that cross his path. Rage and anger pour from this song and music like no other. The outcast collapses from exhaustion and the rulers of the city come to collect him when he regains his senses. The song ends with brilliantly placed acoustic guitar.

The final song White Cluster comes in straight off the bat with heavy riffs and Akerfeldt's growls. It is a desolate end to the outcast as he is made to repent for his sins and as he is hanged he sees Melinda waiting for him.

This is such a great concept for a band such as Opeth. An outcast returning finding his love and having it torn apart and ends in death. Very dark and disturbing and yet it makes me so filled with joy to hear such music and singing. At first I did no notice the concept of this album until I listened intently. That is when the feeling of pure joy came in. This album does not just contain great music; it also has descriptive, imaginative, bleak, depressing lyrics that add to the emotions invoked by this album.

As I said earlier, I give this album 5/5 for sheer brilliance.

Report this review (#114350)
Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Still Life marks a monumental step forward in Opeth's sound. While Morningrise and MAYH had taken the early combiantion of death metal and acoustic jazziness and expanded upon it, here Mikael and co. hit their stride with a near perfect album. Mikael is the best vocalist in death metal. His growls are lower than the vast majority of the death metal community, then hsi clean vocals add a haunting atmospehere into the equation. Still Life is Opeth's second concept album after MAYH, and it too deals with death. In the story, the protagonist returns to his hometown after being ostracized by the community. He returns for his love Melinda, but the two are constantly pursued by the council of the Cross, the village's theological authority.

The album opens with "The Moor," a supremely heavy track that establishes the setting and background of the album. Mikael alternates between growls and he uses his clean vocals to stress a particularly eerie line, a trait he uses throughout the album. From there, "Godhead's Lament." As progismylife stated, it's romantic death metal as the protagonist decides to endure the townspeople's wrath just to be with Melinda. Mikael deserves a lot of praise for his vocals here, as they are some of the most emotional sounds in extreme metal. "Benighted" brings the acoustic instruments to the fore instead of the sporadic use in the first two songs. The band reminds everyone of their love of jazz. Mikael's solo is beautiful and this song sounds like the basis for the Damnation album.

"Moonlapse Vertigo" brings back some of the motifs of The Moor and it obliterates the haunting softness of the previous track. It reinforces the protagonist's sear of being discovered. "Face of Melinda" shows the two lovers finally meeting. The song lures the listener into feeling this might turn out hapy, but "Serenity Painted Death" ends that prety quickly. It's the heaviest song on the album and one of the heaviest in the opeth catalogue, which is saying something. I won't spoil the p[lot here, but sufice to say the song is bathed in blood (the vengeful plot of the Mel Gibson film Braveheart shares a lot with this song). "White Cluster" nails the coffin shut on this album with incredible bleakness and sorrow.

Still Life is the most emotive death metal recording I've ever heard; the only thing that comes close is other Opeth albums. I cannot recommend this album enough and it is an excellent launch pad into death metal, IMO an underrated genre. Mikael is one of the most important modern musicians and this album is a testament to his abilities. Blackwater Park is usually hailed as Opeth's magnum opus, but it's predecessor is Opeth's true masterpiece.

Grade: A

Report this review (#114378)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars Where to begin...


Possibly the most overrated band in the history of music. This is their highest rated album, making it the most overrated album in the history of music. Their songs lack any kind of cohesion, and they put out of place death metal growls beside (occasionally) very nice music. Now, normally this wouldn't bother me, but these guys obviously have some serious musical talent! Unfortunately though, it's wasted. Pissed away. Especially the singer Akerfeldt. During the softer parts of their songs (and their entire album Damnation) his voice is perfectly placed, the music is a blend of Camel and Porcupine tree, and the atmosphere the music creates is very powerful. But then it all goes downhill. The music gets laughably "aggressive" (read: louder and distorted with more cymbals), and Akerfeldt begins a tirade of over the top growls. This does nothing to create a climax (as I'm sure was the intention of these "aggressive" sections) and only ruins the mood of the song. The difference between the moody, interesting "soft" parts and the attempted climax of the song makes me laugh it's so over done.

Please, members of Opeth, if you are reading this: STOP the growls. Make another album like Damnation. Please. Stop wasting your talents.

So, if you're going to buy an Opeth album buy Damnation. Don't waste your time on this garbage.

Report this review (#117684)
Posted Monday, April 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterpiece

Starting of from The Moor and ending with White Cluster, this album is amazing. The mood and atmosphere of the album ranges from dark with Akerfeldt's growls to absolutely beautiful with his amazing clear voice. Akerfeldt is definitely one of my favorite vocalists of all time, having so much emotion in it, it really makes the music. Their heavier parts in this album become very intense and the acoustic parts are breathtakingly beautiful. Highly recommended to anyone who likes Death Metal and/or Prog Metal.

Report this review (#124527)
Posted Sunday, June 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Still Life is expressive, heavy, mellow, and beautiful. This album starts off with "The Moor", this song shows dynamics that again show a heavy, mellow, and beautiful side of Opeth. Akerfeldt stated that you can hear a ghost cough on "The Moor", I think I heard it right before the climax starting at the 10 minute mark of the song. Actually, it sounds like more of a breath. "Godhead's Lament" is a pretty cool song that is heavy and mellow at times. "Benighted" is pure beauty and skill from Akerfeldt. "Moonlapse Vertigo" is a cool song that offers heaviness and transitions to's also beautiful and is a great effort. "Face of Melinda" is another beautiful mellow song that is very dynamic. "Serenity Painted Death" is an awesome Mosh pit song that as you've figured out: DYNAMIC. WHite ClusTer is a great way to end the story of a man's lost love? Melinda I'm assuming. He went off to reclaim his love Melinda through the Moor, through the night, and I assume "Benighted" is a song longing for Melinda...then on "Face of Melinda" he finds out that she is somebody else's love and the character dies a "Serenity Painted Death". "WHite cluster is a conclusion of anger felt by the character and forgiveness. What better way to show anger than growling, EHH?

4 or 5 stars that is the question.....Seeing that this is a great story with dynamics, music skill, etc....5 stars even though Blackwater Park is a little better.

Report this review (#128935)
Posted Monday, July 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a concept album set in the Middle Ages about a man who having been kicked out of his village returns years later to get Melinda, the woman he loves. I read somewhere that Mikael Akeffeldt named his daughter (who was born a few years after this record was released) Melinda.There is a real balancing act going on throughout this album between the heavy and the acoustic. Let me just say the balance is just right.

"The Moor" opens so quietly for 2 minutes until we get some normal volume acoustic guitar that sounds great. 30 seconds later it is slammed by some crushing heaviness and growly vocals. 5 minutes in the vocals sound really good as does the instrumental work. The sound calms right down 8 minutes in then acoustic the guitar is played as some soaring guitar can be heard in the background. Reseved vocals 9 1/2 minutes in remind me of "Damnation". The last minute of the song is crushingly heavy. "Godhead's Lament" opens with an all out assault before settling down 4 minutes in. Normal vocals 5 minutes in and the soundscape sounds amazing. "Benighted" is simply a beautiful acoustic song. "Moonlapse Vertigo" opens with 2 minutes of incredible music. The vocals arrive with a beautiful melody in tow. Rough vocals 3 minutes in and the song gets a little heavier before 6 minutes. Nice. The vocals are normal for the last 2 minutes of the song.

"Face Of Melinda" is slower paced to begin with as acoustic guitar melodies and reserved vocals lead the way. 4 1/2 minutes in the song gets shredded by some ripping guitar. The guitar melodies that follow sound amazing. "Serenity Painted Death" has some nice head banging riffs before 2 minutes. The guitar is great a minute later. I love the twists and turns in this song. There is a beautiful acoustic passage 4 1/2 minutes in that is blown away a minute later. The song ends quietly. "White Cluster" opens with growly vocals that last a couple of minutes. The next 3 minutes are heavenly. The heaviness is back 6 minutes in as the contrast continues.

I think my favourite track is "Face Of Melinda" although there is not an average song on this album they all are good. I can't rate it as high as "Damnation" because there is something magical about that album that moves me so much. I can't really explain why. I want to thank "evenless" for talking me into getting into OPETH's other albums. Growls and all. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#129864)
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The unanimous pinacle of Opeth music, and progressive music in death metal period, well, I think I will leave that with Ghost reveries. This album is absolutely astonishing though, the musicianship is superb, I had trouble beliving a metal band could make a four bar riff, I was wrong. Just about everyone is at a musical peak, but if I had to choose a weak point in the album, it would be... the music. Sometimes I feel the music is so technical and overbearing that I cant even pay attention to the concept or any of the lyrics. Another minor flaw is the lack of bass, I can barely hear it, which is disapointing, considering how all the other instruments are very well recorded. Any ways hear is my review.

The moor- Very nice opener, with a haunting opening riff and killer acoustic second opening part, then the electrics come in and just saw right through the harmony the acoustics have created. Then our favirote growler shrieks his way to the front of the song and gives us the concept, a man, who is returning to his hometown, which he was exiled from for being an atheist, but returns for his maiden fair Melinda. As for the rest of the song musically, a typical ten minuete Opeth opener, with acoustic passages, spacey little brakes, and absolute hell in your ears. 4.5/5

Godheads lament- A very angry song, most of it is a very upset Ackerfeldt singing about how bad his past was, and how bad his future is gonna be. Musically, everything else is very mad as well, the guitar riffs are supringly short and very non OPeth, but the solo after the first couple of versus is amazing. Afterwords we go into a false build down into an acoustic passage, just to be destroyed by more anger. 4/5

Benighted- A nice cool down from the previous two songs, but the lyrics dont really fit the concept. Acoustic for the first three versus, then a smooth jazzy fourth verse. The song is about some guy who is benighted by his fright, and is coming into some night... weird. 4/5

Moonlapse vertigo- Awesome song, kinda like the moor, but with a lot more skillful guitar licks and a lot less growling, the inro kinda drags on though. But that just goes into a smooth acoustic passage, just to be, yep you guessed it, destroyed by growling and electricity, the riff on this part is one of my favirote opeth licks of all time by the way. The rest of the song kinda bounces soft heavy through out the song. The lyrics are kinda dodgy, but are about him leaving the village many years ago. 4/5

Face of Melinda- Despite its reputation as one of the major Opeth songs, I dont really find it very interesting. It's acoustic for the first five minuetes with some lame lyrics, "fair maiden neath beckoned hair" c'mon, I can read some mid evil fantasy book if I want to hear that. The songs picks up quite nicely when the electrics come in with a killer riff though. 3.5/5

Serenity painted death- My favirote song on the album, I dont exactly know why, but one thing I do know is that the chorus is absolutely awesome, and when he Mickael screams about everyone dying at his hand, it makes me want to pick up a sword and slice up some people. The song is about our hero being caught by some towns people with his lady fair, so he fight them off for a while, but is eventually taken down and is sentenced to death. 4.5/5

White cluster- I'm not sure why this song is called white cluster, but it's a very cool song. With some cool riffing and drumming. The lyrics are very sad and suspensful that lead you wondering what happens after he is dead. Well, I kind of explained it for you, but it's about our hero and melinda being hung, and right before he dies he sees melinda's face in the crowd, of course being an atheist means he's going to hell in my book, but thats just me. Super cool song that ends in a typical Opeth dark, gothic acoustic passage.

Overall, this album is quite good, but it 's very hard to get into, and the music is very challenging. After you get over the mental hump though it turns out to be a very superb album. I'm not sure if I agree with the masses here on this site, believing this album is one of the best, but maybe after listeneing to it for a couple more months I will be convinced otherwise. Until then...


Report this review (#133689)
Posted Saturday, August 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars An outstanding show of Opeth's unique sound, with memorable songs, instrumental passages, and melodies throughout. From the haunting opening of "The Moor" to the delicate acoustic sounds of "Face of Melinda" (oh yeah, and all the roaring in between), this album oozes emotion and moodiness despite its often heavy and savage metal stylings. Mikael's voice is in top form, as is the band's playing; on "Still Life" they progress as song writers as well, crafting tunes which have a much more dynamic impact than on previous releases.

Much has been said about Opeth's appeal to those coming from outside the Death Metal arena, to which I can absolutely attest to, myself disliking the harsh guttural sounds of death metal as a general rule. Opeth defies expectations, and-- if you enjoy ANY genre of heavy music-- then you owe it to yourself to take a listen!

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#142542)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars An excellent record that became the band's breakthrough.

'Still Life' lifted OPETH to the very top of the death metal genre and the modern progressive movement. It is sharper in every sense than its predecessors: the production is better, the instruments are played with more passion and precision, the vocals are clearer and easier to hear while retaining their menace, and most importantly much of the songwriting is truly stellar. This, the first album by the 'classic' OPETH lineup, is almost a complete triumph.

After a two and a half minute intro, 'The Moor' gets the album off to a brisk start. If you are a newcomer to OPETH and have chosen this album because it is (currently) the highest ranked OPETH album on ProgArchives, this opening track delivers you a blunt message. Yes, the band may be known for its subtlety and progressiveness, but at heart it's still a death metal beast, capable of savaging your ears and your brain.

But oh dear, there's the growling vocals. The first time I heard them I cringed with something akin to embarrassment, then checked that no-one else was home so they couldn't hear what I was listening to. But it's important to remember that all singing is an affectation. Death metal growls are no different to opera singing or pop singing or rap. It's all affectation, and each new style takes time to get used to. I find AKERFELDT's style of singing very powerful, and his technique is well enunciated. Further, he leavens his songs with 'clean' vocals of an increasingly high standard. Now I see them as a feature, not a flaw, of the music.

For me the album lifts a notch with the second track, 'Godhead's Lament', and the wonderful opening riff. The song features more syncopation than OPETH usually use, and it makes parts of the song almost funky. Apart from the relatively quiet 'Benighted' and the first half of 'Face of Melinda', the rest of the album is of a uniformly high standard. 'Melinda' is slow enough to have the flavour of a BLACK SABBATH track from their 'Sabotage' period.

But I must add this final paragraph. Not one of the tracks is outstanding, in my opinion. None of them have the glorious symmetry of 'The Drapery Falls' or the sheer brutish power of 'The Leper Infinity' or the beauty of 'Patterns in the Ivy' - all from 'Blackwater Park' - or the drama of 'The Grand Conjuration'. Many of the songs lose their intensity too quickly ('White Cluster' for example). Funny, this, liking an album without rating any of the tracks among my favourite OPETH moments.

An excellent record, but not my favourite OPETH album.

Report this review (#147868)
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Just when you think you've heard enough progressive growl-metal to satisfy any primal urges and twisted desires, a band like Opeth finally crashes onto your shores with their fourth studio effort. Mikael Akerfeldt's gutter rumble is so severe that it seduces as much as it repels, swallowing you like some hellish beast. The beauty is in the group's layered compositional approach, often founding the songs with an acoustic backbone, inspired rhythms, rich harmonies on top, and smaller counter-riffs swirled throughout. A real band effort here with all four pulling their share, no one member demanding the spotlight but rather playing toward a big, almost symphonic sound. 11-minute opener 'The Moor' is a kicker with plenty to please most bangers, and 'Godhead's Lament' is melodic and even echoes early-period Rush though Exodus, Metallica and Voivod are much closer relatives. Things really start to get involved on 'Moonlapse Vertigo' with a decked-out introduction and a swing section that alternates between soft, jazzy passages and dramatic assaults. This quality expands for 'Face of Melinda' featuring Spanish strings and a soft vocal from Akerfeldt. And guitar armada 'Serenity Painted Death' is a highlight with one mean riff after another, rhythmists Mendez and Lopez rocking solid on bass and drums. Good stuff for those who like their progmetal with just the right blend of aggression, sensitivity and musicianship.

Report this review (#156195)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars When you're reviewing an album, there are two things to take into consideration. The individual songs themselves, and the overall tone and continuity of the album.

Still Life aces both categories. Each song is distinct, yet has a sense of purpose in this album.

As far as their actual style on the album goes, impeccable. They have contrast if no one else does. Ĺkerfeldt does an outstanding job making it happen. On Benighted (track three), he sings beautifully over the nice acoustic work, one of only two tracks that escape having growls.

On a side note, Ĺkerfeldt is the only growler I can stand. I'm not usually much of a metalhead.

This album has quite a passion to it. With everything that they do, you can feel the intensity just billowing. They progress, and that doesn't change one bit. They progress again, no difference. So despite any prejudices that you might have that metal is just metal, you're wrong. They take metal and make it music.

To start off, lets look at the kicker track, The Moor. It starts off barely audible, then grows, then grows, then turns heavy. They sit there for a little bit, and then Ĺkerfeldt starts to strut his stuff, opening up with a growl to chill anyone. It really shows what's up about Opeth, and makes sure that you know that there's no turning back anymore. The contrast is beautiful. Later, he drops right into clean lyrics, still over the heavy guitar and bass, and that works extremely well, too. He then goes on to alternate back and forth for the remaining 6 minutes or so. What is amazing, though, is that at times his growls seem to overlap his clean vocals. Odd part of all this is that the growls are actually him, no computer. The affect is quite stunning, matter of fact.

The overall timbre of the song is mysterious, when you get down to it. You never really know what's coming up in a few measures, or even in the next measure. They are a patient band. They wait to progress until the time is right, then they hit it hard. And although the pattern of heavy-acoustic-heavy-acoustic might not strike you as exciting at first thought, it really is. Every time they hit acoustic it sounds similar enough to be the same song, but different enough that it's captivating to listen to. Ditto for the heavy. It leaves you in a limbo of conscious listening that is uncommon to find.

At the end it ends very open-ended, and sets up just right to lead into another track.

Track 2: Godhead's lament.

This one is more heavy then clean. But it uses their elements of changing it up, still. It's not as epic as The Moor, but it definitely can stand on it's own if need be. There's not a ton to be said more then that though.

Track 3: Benighted.

This track is very much encased in acoustic guitar and clean vocals. Shorter than all the others, and not as diverse. But yet it still manages to draw me in, because the acoustic part is written very well, quite well in fact, and the vocal lines are so sweet and lyrical. But, if nothing else, it provides a contrast to the album itself that really makes an impact. It proves that they aren't just some grungy death metal band that can write a few softer licks. It shows their might of being versatile.

Track 4: Moonlapse Vertigo.

This one has an almost.... alternative(?) quality to it. It's much smoother then their other pieces altogether. It does go into the heavy side of it all, though. That really makes it all the more perplexing, then. It combines that interesting contrast into itself without even really trying. That's not to say that it doesn't progress in their normal style of changing it up when you don't know what's happening, it just means that there's a residual contrast in the tone of the song.

Some people don't like this track, the only one that really has a person turnoff factor (besides the growling). But I don't mind it at all, I find it to be soothing and complementary to all that goes on in the album. I'm no prog-writing god, so I can't tell you why, I can only note when it does.

Track 5: Face of Melinda.

This is the second (of two) tracks that is completely clean lyrics. But unlike Benighted, it doesn't feature the acoustic guitar the whole time, it lets the more heavy guitar come out. This one has a real sense of guitar progression, but leaves the vocals to themselves the whole time. It's in reverse from what you'd normally expect.

This one also has a soothing quality to it, but you know that it's setting up for the album to change to a more heavy, or not as smooth, rather, tone. It already starts off the transformation with some of the riffs, but doesn't totally go through because it keeps the clean lyrics, its last refuge.

Track 6: Serenity painted death.

This one reminds me most of Th Moor. It has great contrast all over the place. Only this time the jumps are less long-winded and patient seeming, and it starts off moving. This one has Ĺkerfeldt's full contrast between clean and growls going the whole time, and then also instrumental interludes (both soft/acoustic and heavy).

This one has a weird catch though, the ending seems... wrong. It just cuts off, mid note even!

Track 7: White Cluster.

This one ends the album with an interesting ring. It starts more heavy, but towards the end seems to grow more and more soft. The transitions stop being so smooth, it's like they're all falling apart (which makes total sense when put into contrast with the lyrics at this point). The end is nothing more then a self-contained little acoustic diddly that just starts, then ends. That's it. The end is nothing but just a fading thought of all the possibilities that it could've been.

One thing, to add, that this album has that is quite spectacular, is the lyrics. The entire album is one story, each song adding a new idea and thought into the mix, until the end, where it all just ends. The more you read them, the deeper they seem to grow. And considering that the band is from Sweden, and English not being their first language, they're nothing less then spectacular. They may even be the best part of the whole album.


An epic masterpiece if you can stomach the growls. Hands-down. Even if you don't think you can, I didn't at first, you can still enjoy what they do, and all of the intricate subtleties that make it an overall great listening experience.

Report this review (#159477)
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is really the first "extreme" sort of metal for me to ever listen to, much less indulge in for intellectual purposes. I honestly didn't like the band much at all until I trained my ears to tolerate guttural vocals, and after I heard the Moor, and I easily grew accustom the rest of the album, and even the band itself. I still find this album somewhat overrated, but excellent regardless. Overall, Still Life is a very well written and produced album, each song follows a similar formula of repetition, contrast, and transitions - jumbled up slightly for each individual track. Some of the tracks are likable, and some downright enthralling. The music is organized, well thought out and the lyrics are great and unique, as only Akerfeldt can produce. It seems likely that the lyrics were written before the vocal melody, as artists often do, but it is somewhat of a flaw on this album that rears its head from time to time. When I read the lyrics while listening to the album, there are times that it didn't seem quite rhythmically sound, but this is a relatively minor. Or maybe all death metal is like that, I wouldn't know.

The main reason for me giving this album only a 4/5 is the blockish-ness of the album of many of the tracks, meaning even though many of the songs have contrast within the song itself, the sections of contrast have little momentum, thus the songs are blockish. They also have an inherent similarity to one another in overall sound, and each one I felt could have been given more of an edge, or something to it to distinguish it from the others. Mostly, the album only really had two types of style: harsh vocals with heavy riffs, or clean vocals with acoustic guitar, usually arpeggios, and sometimes an intermediate between the two. As well, some of the riffs and chord structures seemed like they could have been used more creatively. There are definitely times in the album that I feel more could have been musically done with this part or that, especially considering it's a progressive metal album. To my understanding this is the case with their later album Ghost Reveries, but I have yet to study that album more.

The most enjoyable and best produced part of the album is the story, narrated by an atheist who faces relentless, often violent persecution for his beliefs in the Christian fundamentalist town that he was born in, and is in love with a woman in the village named Melinda. This tragic story is quite reminiscent of many on Puritan societies where religion is intertwined with government (hence the Council of the Cross). The lyrics almost seem cryptic at times, and require deep literary analysis for a more thorough understanding. Some seem to imply something that is far beyond what is being described in the story, and almost seem purposefully vague or ambiguous. The story and the developed lyrical content depicting it is definitely the best part of this album, and itself makes up for the flaws I mentioned earlier.

A very good album, and especially excellent if you are trying out more harsh progressive metal and are at all interested in Opeth. I'd say it's about a 4.25 or around there.

Report this review (#159546)
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Still Life is the third Opeth album I have listened to seriuosly, after Ghost Reveries and Damnation. Before then, I had been ghastly afraid of growling vocals and death metal overall, but Ghost Reveries really turned me on to this band. I had high expectations for Still Life, but I was somewhat disappointed. Nevertheless, this is still one of the greatest progressive metal albums ever produced, and I would think it essential for a good understanding of the genre as a whole.

One of the first things I noticed about Still Life is the production quality. Damnation and GR especially had excellent sound quality, but SL seems sub-par in comparison. I'm no expert in studio engineering or anything, but I can pick up on those things. Mikael Akerfeldt has the best voice in the entire prog metal universe. His death growls could frighten a bear, which somehow makes it more bearable than less powerful voices, and his clean vocals kick ass up and down the board as well. Even so, Akerfeldt has gotten better over the last few years, and coming from damnation and GR I was expecting better.

My friend Scott explained something I had been feeling about this album, that it sounds blockish. Still Life is heavily riff-oriented; they take a riff, repeat ot for 24 measures or so, then go on to a new one. The sound of the music lacks diversity; they present the music in basically two formats, one in heavy guitar riffs and growling vocals, intermixed with lamenting acoustic sections and clean vocals, with some mix of the two. I liken it to stairs in a musical progression, as opposed to a ramp or a slide in more flowing music like Yes or Genesis. Another thing pointed out by Scott is a lack of emotional contrast: Still Life is either somber or angry or both.

The song that really hooked me is The Moor. On this track the band really takes its time to build, and the musical ideas expressed seem more concrete to me. Behind Ghost of Perdition it is my favorite Opeth song out there.

Of course in this style of music there is not a lot of room for the drummer to shine, but coming from a fusion or Rush standpoint, I feel the drums in SL are particularly lacking in ingenuity. This probably would not bother if I did not play drumset, but as I do I have an ear for it.

A great redeeming factor is the lyrics. In my ideal world all albums are concept albums, and this one is even more lyrically intriguing/cryptic than most, which is surprising seeing as Akerfeldt speaks English as a second language. The lyrics stand out on the ir own as great poetry even outside the music, and every time I listen to them I feel more of the meaning is revealed to me.

I'm not big on Progressive Metal overall, but this album is really a gem in the ruff. The riffs are ingenuous, exciting, and have the potential of great listening over and over again. I'm sure Still Life will grow on me over time, but the aforementioned flaws bring my rating down to four stars. I enjoy Damnation and Ghost Reveries more, which means that Opeth is growing better over time and I'm really looking forward to the one in the works.

Report this review (#159594)
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars perhaps one of the greatest concept albums of all time. came on randomly the other day while i was at work and i was as blown away as i was the first time i heard it. simply stunning. Perfect blend of death metal with 70's style progressive rock timbre and vocal range. perfect.
Report this review (#161952)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've really grown to love this album. I used to prefer 'Blackwater Park' but now this one seems the better of the two (the only two I own). BWP, while being more refined, does not share the same emotional power and raw creativity found on this record.

'The Moor' kicks things off with quite a ferocious song that sets the feel for this album. Dark, sad, beautiful. 'Godhead's Lament' is also a good song, but not quite up to standard with the rest of the album. 'Benighted' is a very soft song with some very jazzy bass playing, and acoustic guitars that make it really beautiful. 'Moonlapse Vertigo' is another typical Opeth song, and a very good one. 'Face of Melinda' is another beutiful piece with perfectly crafted lyrics and brilliant melodies. No harsh vocals here, but includes distorted guitar riffs. 'Serenity Painted Death' is a favourite of mine. It is the emotional climax of this album and is very agressive and heavy. 'White Cluster' brings things to a close with a mixture of beauty and anger.

This is a very emotional concept album. If you like or don't mind the harsh vocals this is definitely an album for you. It is well deserving of four stars, but isn't quite the 5 star masterpiece that it could be.

Report this review (#164124)
Posted Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album demands a bit of a hasrd work to listen to, for many different reasons. one of them is the rawness of the bandl, the feelings are cmpletely exposed as you can´t find in almost no other opeth album. The clean guitar work, reaches pits of perfecion, right before a brilliant passage to an almost 100% pure death metal agressitivity - but don´t be frightened to the metal scene in opeth if you´re not much of a metal fan - beeing from Sweden, its hard not to notice the melodic influences inherent to almost all of swedish music, even the agresive parts. The instrumental is almost perfect, even thought you can notice more perfection in posterior albums like Black Water Park and after. Its hard not to notice the evolution in Opeth Previous and after Still LIfe. specially when it comes to drumming, where Martin Lopez proves to work to improve himself Still life is definitely the best opeth album, It sets has a very important and distinctive interface from the the other albums. I spent some time till it got to me, but I have to admit, this is brilliant. The only problem about it is the production, it makes this cd hard to listen to, but besides that its definitely a masterpiece of prog!!
Report this review (#165012)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you even remotely like metal, this is the record for you. If you are even an open-minded music lover who likes just about anything but isn't familiar with metal, this is the record for you.

In fact, if you like music, this is the record for you, regardless of whether you absolutely hate any other type of metal or not. This isn't just metal. This is Opeth.

Now, I'm not the world's biggest metal fan, but I do like some metal. However, I've had these guys for a few months now and their work finally clicked on me. It probably sounds weird, doesn't it? I'm advocating you to get an album that took me a few months after my acquisition of it to fully love it. Well, I wasn't listening to it that entire time, and it took me a while mainly for one reason:

Death metal vocals.

I was one of those type people that ABSOLUTELY HATED any type of growling vocals, or vocals that seemed to scream too much for me. So, when I first heard Opeth, I immediately dismissed them because of the vocals. However, at the insistence of one person in particular and the very positive reviews of others that I had read, I had to give them another try. So, I kept trying, and finally it worked.

Now, to those of you who read death metal and probably thought they should stop reading this note, don't be alarmed. Opeth is NOT a typical metal or death metal band. They are extremely well-known for incorporating heavily contrasting acoustic passages and very heavy metallish passages (in the vein of death/doom metal). It sounds like a bizarre idea, but only this band can pull it off with extraordinary results.

Opeth's sound is primarily heavy/death metal, but there is also quite the reliance on guitarist/vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt's clean vocals as well, which are equally mind-blowing. Other influences come from jazz, progressive rock, melodic elements, and to a lesser extent blues and folk.

In conclusion: If you are a fan of any kind of music, GET THIS ALBUM. However, just be warned that if you are not a metalhead, you'll need to have quite an open mind, and don't tell me I didn't warn you if you are expecting happy pop music.

If you're going to make one adventurous purchase in your life, particularly in the heavy metal department, it has to be Opeth's Still Life. A complete masterpiece of hybrid metallic awesomeness that you simply have to hear in order to understand how it sounds.

Report this review (#169914)
Posted Monday, May 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars How much more can be said about Still Life that hasn't already been said? Here in Still Life, we get 7 tracks, 5 of which are 9 minutes or longer, and every single one of them is essential for a prog fan who has any tolerance of metal. In this case, the metal is probably best categorized as melodic death metal, but it's really far beyond and more progressive than any other band in the genre. By that I mean they combine the brutality and aggression of death metal with the emotion and beauty of melody with the complexity and originality of prog, in the perfect balance too. I don't think you will ever hear another album like this, even the also essential Blackwater Park. Even Blackwater Park though is not quite as good because it lacks some of the intensity, atmosphere, and variance of Still Life.

Seriously, if you claim to be a prog fan who has any bit of an open mind, just get this album. Even if it just sits in your collection, its just as deserving of a place for collection's sake as most of the classics of the 70s. And yes it does have mostly harsh vocals, but surely open minded prog fans can tolerate different vocal styles, right?

Report this review (#169944)
Posted Monday, May 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Still Life is Opeth´s fourth album and it´s the album where Opeth show that they are influenced by seventies prog rock. My Arms, Your Hearse which was the predecessor to Still Life also contained elements of prog rock but the influence is more pronounced on Still Life. The sound on Still Life means that this might be the most interesting album for fans of traditional prog if they wish to hear how Opeth sounds like.

The music is very heavy with complex slow to midtempo riffing. It´s not tech metal by any means but the riffs are definitely worth investigating anyway. The songs are generally very long and Opeth´s music is not easily accessible as there are lots of different sections and moods in every song. I find their music easy to appreciate though as it is very melodic. Benighted and Face Of Melinda are the only songs that differ from the usual formula of growling vocals and clean vocals that the other songs consist of as those two songs are mainly acoustic guitar led and with only clean vocals from Mikael Ĺkerfeldt. Both songs have great longing moods and lots of beautiful guitar riffs and playing.

The rest of the songs follow the formula that most Opeth songs from that day forth would follow which means clean and growling vocal parts in most songs, and both heavy riffing and acoustic parts in almost all songs. I really do feel that Opeth made something unique with Still Life and I have a couple of favorite tracks here. The Moor being the most impressive one IMO but both the brutal Serenity Painted Death and the progressive and melodic White Cluster are also favorites of mine.

Sure Opeth is influenced by doom metal bands like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Anathema and Katatonia. And sure they are also influenced by especially seventies prog rock, but mixing the two genres is a brilliant move IMO. It´s a thing I have always tried to do myself when making music, but never really succeeded with. In that respect Opeth is unique as many other bands have tried this formula, but no one has ever succeeded like Opeth ( Well I really love both Isa and Ruun by Enslaved who are also in this genre but they are an exception IMO).

The musicianship is outstanding and I have always admired Martin Lopez drumming. He makes this music stick together and the changes are very smooth and intelligent. Mikael Ĺkerfeldt of course has to be mentioned too for his great compositional skill and his skills as both a singer and a guitarist. He is an outstanding musician even though I think his clean singing has gotten better on later releases than they are here. They are really good here too though.

The production is the most prog rock like production Opeth has had so far ( except maybe for Damnation). Later albums would have a more edgy metal sound especially on the guitars.

This is not my favorite Opeth album but it´s still a masterpiece and deserves all 5 stars. Opeth is a unique band and this is the first album where they really prove it. The sound on Still Life is very grand and created only with guitars, drums, bass and vocals. If there are any keyboards here I can´t hear them. I think that´s a very enjoyable feature in Opeth´s music. On Ghost Reveries Opeth added a keyboard player and I was sceptical but it worked out fine and it works even better on Watershed, but it´s still unique with this grand sound without the use of keyboards on Still Life. If you have ANY interest in extreme prog metal you´d better get this album as it is highly recommendable and a landmark album in that genre.

Report this review (#170322)
Posted Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Finally! I feel like I've waited five lifetimes to hear something this good and this heavy. Godhead's Lament is one of those songs that I could play over and over again, and I'm not much for the repetition. Listening to music like this is what makes me want to be a musician - pure, raw emotion with plenty of range, symphonic textures built into a serious metal sound. This music never gets boring. Each track will leave you amazed.
Report this review (#170348)
Posted Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is not my favorite album by OPETH. "Ghost Reveries" occupies that place in my preferences. But I can't disagree with what has been said about this historical monument of progressive-death-metal. The album is a masterpiece which needs to be in every collection.

What is the most amazing about OPETH is how difficult they are to get into, unlike most death metal bands. Yes, someone would say it's actually very difficult to get to like such a noisy, violent genre with growling vocals. The point is, once you learn to like the genre and its elements, it's fairly easy to understand what you're hearing from most every band. As with any other genre, there will be music you won't like and music you will like. But once you get through the "extreme metal barrier", a whole new ocean of sounds awaits for you. That is, until you find Akerfeldt's creation.

OPETH makes you think, makes you listen to it more and more. It's not music you will diggest in one session, it's not music you will completely get in a few listens. The songs they create are not easy to recognize if you haven't heard them enough times. It takes time, patience, to appreciate what lies beneath the wall of sound: complex structures, complex concepts, and some of the best metal you will ever find. As death metal goes, there may be a couple bands I like more; as progressive metal goes, there may be a few bands I prefer; but as a mixture of progressive death metal, OPETH can't be touched. What they achieve with their music is unique, and no band comes even close.

"Still life" has, as always, just a few songs (7) most of them lasting longer than 8 minutes. The usual elements are here, the atmospheric darkness, the smell of dead roses, the idea that the music is really taking you in a voyage through both hell and a hellish heaven. The experience with OPETH can be hallucinating and also scary. But nevertheless, is always inspiring. Music that forces you to pay attention for longer than your usual 3 minute span, and music that forces you to actually use your brain and try to decode the message is and will always be inspiring. No, you won't find hit singles in here, not even for extreme-metal standards. But if you want to get something else, something beyond of what you always get from your metal, then this is what you want.

The songs have been analyzed thoroughly so there's no need for me to add descriptions. Just let me say how amazed I was after listening to "The Moor", which in my view is the predecessor to OPETH's greatest song, "Ghost of Perdition". As always, the structure is demanding for lazy brains, but it's rewarding when you finally unlock the mystery. It's better when you don't receive everything already read and explained sometimes. OPETH announces in "Benighted" what they would do years later in "Damnation", with an acoustic song that gives me the idea of a lonely guy dressed in dark purple sitting on a cemetery singing about how grey the fog makes everything look.

The band members, as musicians, shine through the album. Akerfeldt's guitar with his unique and fantastic style of riffing and combining chords, riffs and different strumming with acoustic passages and unique chord progressions of slightly dissonant harmony makes the OPETH sound an experience that can't be repeated. The rest of the band members share his skills, especially Martin Lopez who plays drums that sound like the final call from Valhalla. Finally, Akerfeldt's voice in "Still Life" had not yet reached its peak in terms of cleanliness. His clean voice is still not up to the magnificent standard set in "Damnation" or "Ghost Reveries", as it still sounds a little young and un-developed. But his growling, the best in all death metal with AMORPHIS' Kouvassari, has all the effect this kind of voice should have: growling should make the music darker, more evil, more like if it was coming straight from the dark corners of your mind and your heart, more like hell, more like death.

A crowning achievement in metal music, "Still Life" reigns supreme in the minds of most OPETH fans as the band's highest point. I think "Ghost Reveries" is the actual peak of their maturation. "Damnation", an interesting and beautiful album, has a different objective and can't be compared with the others; "Deliverance" and "Blackwater Park" tend to be too long;"Still Life" never drags, never gets repetitive, and can fairly take its place among the upper echelon of progressive-metal albums of all time.

Report this review (#170425)
Posted Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Still Life. I can safely this album is mindblowing and one of Opeth's best releases.

The Moor, starts off with one of the most epic intros. Very spacey and paves way for an epic song. The song, however, begins to repeat itself halfway through and gets sort of dull. It's not as epic as I first thought it would be. But it's still a very solid track. (8/10)

Godhead's Lament, kicks you right in the teeth the second it starts. The song itself has some very interesting guitar lines, which honestly held me from stopping the song. The beginning is very deceiving, as this is one of the best tracks off the album. (9.5/10)

Benighted, sounds curiously like a Camel song. But it's still a decent ballad, not too interesting, just a ballad. (7/10)

Moonlapse Vertigo! WOW! The start of the song really hooked me in and made not want to stop listening! Some very progressive chord changes and amazing singing! This is a great track! I love the contrast betwee the metal and the slower stuff. It really makes this song great. (9/10)

Face Of Melinda, unlike Benighted, is a very good ballad. Starts off with the jazziest Opeth stuff I've ever heard. The lyrics are wonderful, as is the singing. Perfect song. Then, when the heavy riffs kick in, still no growling! I love it! (8.5/10)

Serenity Painted Death, starts off very classic metal like. Sounds like a sound from Orchid at first, but then that stops to let in this heavy riff and one of the best growling lines I've heard from Opeth. Then, the instrumental. The instrumentals in this song are very catchy, I can't stop listening to them! The song then ends with an acoustic section. (9/10)

White Cluster starts off a little like something I would hear from Atheist, but better. This line goes on and ends, to let in this calmer section, which then goes on until the halfway mark. Then, all is quiet...until one the best Opeth solos recorded attack you. This section from 5:00 to 7:00 IS MIND BENDING. This is the most technical it gets. This song is GREAT. The song itself ends with this slow jazz riff that fits the mood perfectly. Opeth really came in guns blazing with this one. Great ender for a great record. (10/10)

Overall, I can say that this is a great record that doesn't let up at all. However, it was lacking a song that managed to wow me in the beginning. Godhead's Lament was good, but there was something missing.

Report this review (#174128)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
5 stars Well, I have a very strong opinion on this album. My opinion is of the very highest as well. This is easily the best prog metal of all time. It may well be the greatest prog rock album of all time also. And the greatest ALBUM of all time? I even think that is debatable, as this is coming from the greatest band of the 21st century and maybe even the best band ever. I honestly mean this, I am this album's biggest fan, and here is why:

First off, there isn't a single weak track on here. Naturally, it has it's weaker moments, but even those stand out as some of the best prog I have ever heard. The strongest tracks however, are the outstanding The Moor, Godhead's Lament, Face Of Melinda and Serenity Painted Death. These for me have many listens still ahead of them, despite being already listened to a few hundred times. I find something new every time, and that is what matters most in any song.

Secondly, Opeth's unique style of brutal death metal and beautiful mellow sections combined is magnified here and taken to its full potential. I know this style has been done before, but this album does it with a certain quality and class that no other album has until now. Next off, the musicianship is flawless. Martin Lopez is at his creative peak, the guitar solos are astounding, the bass playing is tight and Mikael Akefeldt really sings/growls with a tortured passion that truly grips the concept, which is the final factor of this amazing album. It is fantastic, dark and very well written. It competes with even the greatest of storylines in prog, making it even more of an enthralling experience. The main character, played by Mikael and is not named, is on the run from his home, a renegade, because of his love Melinda. A lot of terrible things happen, a lot of twists until the juggular twist at the very end which leaves you astounded and slightly upset. I would even go as far as saying it is Shakespearian. That is how good it really is, and many people will agree with me.

Now onto the tracks:

The Moor - A mystical opening of dissonance drags you into the story gently and subtly, with two guitars playing a repetitive, yet effective duet. It's quite frightening also, very brooding, especially when you know what is coming next. It then leads into an acoustic passage, and you can hear the band's folk influence very clearly. This is then broken with a brutal, complex arrangement involving some of Mikael's clearest growling, most catchy melody lines, Martin Lopez's very beat and one short mellow passage. There isn't a single bad point about this song; even if i try to pick holes, i can't.

Godhead's Lament - My favourite Opeth song of all time, and probably the catchiest. The song opens in the My Arms, Your Hearse vein, a duple-compound timed musical adventure that, once again, has no flaws. This is also the very first piece of Opeth i ever heard, and i haven't looked back since then. The brutal section has the greatest riff Akefeldt has ever played on his guitar, and finally cuts and eases down into the best melody he has ever written, after one of the greatest and simplest guitar solos he's ever played. You can see what i'm getting at here ;) Moving onwards into the song, it has an instrumental break with guitar arpeggiating over a lead melody. That then birdges into another melody, on parr with the first on: world class. Then into another riff, then the outro section that delves on the main themes of the song. Utter genius. I cannot put it any other way. Listen to it a few times and you'll see where i'm coming from.

Benighted - As with every Opeth album, there is a mellow/acoustic track with no growling or distorted guitar. This is my personal favourite. The jazzy guitar solo around the middle is lush, Mikael is at his emotional pinnacle and everything else merging into a perfect background. This gives us a breath of fresh air from the previous two head-f***s. Marvellous head****s if i may say so.

Moonlapse Vertigo - Probably the proggiest of the selection, this is another masterpiece and somehow the most accessible. They balance the growling to singing on a balanced ratio, thus proving my point. This is a brilliant example of what Opeth stand for: pushing boundries, whilst keeping to the existing ones at the same same. How on earth they managed to compose a death metal song with a small band jazz guitar section bewilders me! This is almost Wes Montgomery stuff here: it's bliss, I assure you. For those who say that Progressive Death Metal isn't actually prog at all, should take a good listen to this track. They will swallow their words!

Face Of Melinda - This is a romantic song, where I picture the part in the film where two lovers start having a real emotional chemistry. Need i say it, this is what Akefeldt wanted. He captures the mood perfectly, whilst still keeping the brooding air around. Not many composers can do that with ease, yet this song seems so easily written. The lyrics are the main feature of this song. Poetic at worst, one of the main reasons it is an album highlight. There are two parts to the song. The first part is mellow, where the guitars are the clean/acoustic combo used in Benighted, a fretless bass is present and some jazzy brush work is also, giving once again that small group feel. The second part is my personal favourite. This is where the protagonist unleashes his pain for Melinda upon the world, and celebrates it by picking up his electric guitar and dishes out a rondo form of awesome riffs. I cannot put it better than that, still no growling, but they employ their rage in a different form: clean vocals. This has only been done before on the classic Opeth song, To Bid You Farewell. Great preparation for the next and most savage song on the album...

Serenity Painted Death - A crisp drum solo brings us into this masterpiece, and Mikael growls down the microphone as if he has just lost a precious loved one (no clues there people). He then enters a straight rap-like chorus that is repeat worthy. The way he screams White face, haggard grin, this serenity painted death is just so menacing, he only tops the savageness of it later on in the song. We then enter a 5,5,5,6 rhythm which was also used on Drapery Falls a few years later, where Martin Lopez shows off some impressive beats. Then the first melodic section begins, and is split into a vocal line, then a guitar solo and a avante-garde section with good use of the wah towards the end. We are then plunged into Akefeldt's murky growling once again, and this time he's even more menacing. If you look into the story, you will understand why, and whoever said that growling holds no emotion... We are then blessed with an infamous Opeth solo that is my very favourite. The climax of the song. Finally, a catchy melody kicks in and the song finishes on a bombshell outro that repeats the main theme and gives us a short guitar passage at the very end. Purely a genius arrangement, nothing less.

White Cluster - This lets us know the climatic ending to this journey. It is phenomenal to say the least. We are attacked by metal riffs, death growls and some insane drumlines. This goes through a lot of complex stages, including and main theme, panning acoustic guitar, some of Lopez's finest work, fast guitar solos, one off time section (similar to Metropolis by Dream Theater, but we won't go too deep into that) and a fantastic finale. This is the perfect ending to any album, and leaves us hanging with a short clean guitar accapella as a closer.

I cannot truly wrap up in words how much of an impact this album has on me, but i tried my best. To be truly honest, however, you have to listen to this yourself. The greatest prog album of all time. Period. A, utterly flawless album and an exstatic, emotional rollercoaster, this is a must have for any prog fan that is willing to delve into the darkness of the Tech/Extreme Metal genre. Those that won't... are missing out.

Report this review (#183142)
Posted Sunday, September 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Still life is, as regards the story, Opeth's more lyrically complex album. The story of this Rock Opera is about a man who has not the same faith as the rest of his village, so he is beaten up and cast away from his village. When he returns, after several years, he wants to get his babe back. He finds out that she's become a nun in Godhead's Lament. But he still wants her back. Knowing that if he is seen he will be killed, he meets Melinda, his love. The other day he sees that Melinda was murdered, all because of him. Then he is captured and then hung. Just before he is hung he sees Melinda waiting for him to join her in death. This album contains a very jazzy influence in songs such as Benighted and face of Melinda, and the most heavy death metal parts in songs such as The moor and Godhead's Lament. In my opinion Moonlapse vertigo is the best song in the album, with it's crashing riffs and complex structure. This is an Opeth must have. A prog masterpiece. Proggers, I salute you. Blackwater Floyd.
Report this review (#183839)
Posted Saturday, September 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars A few days ago one of my supposedly best friends gave me as a present a copy of OPETH'S album "Still Life", and I say supposedly because anybody who knows me a bit, wouldn't had bought a copy of this of this record, probably he received it and got rid if it as soon as he could, incredibly I enjoyed the music very much but sadly not the final product.

My main problem is in the vocals..Who told this guy that that guttural growl is singing? Never heard something so terrible, I believe I like Steve Howe's voice more, because despite he can't keep a tune even if his life is in risk, at least he tries, this guy just shouts without any sense, something strange for a vocalist who has a nice voice when singing normally.

When I listened "The Moor" mysterious intro, I really got exited, it was promising, despite being a bit too long, then came the wonderful acoustic section and thought it was even better, still when the band starts with the repetitive shredding I liked the track but then Akerfeldt started to growl and simply was disgusting, a good start but an horrendous development.

Godhead's Lament is even worst, because doesn't even has a good intro, they start with the noise from the first instant, even though extremely repetitive and unimaginative, I believe the band could do a lot better with a good vocalist, because the guys have talent, some excellent changes but sadly they go back to the same thing.

"Benighted" again starts very promising with another excellent acoustic guitar solo, that leads to a nice power ballad where Akerfeldt proves he can sing if he tries, not spectacular or something too imaginative, but at least you can listen it. The guitar solo in the instrumental break is excellent.

"Moonlapse Vertigo" is a good change, starts aggressive and frantic and radically turns into melodic and acoustic, excellent change and even the vocals sound well, but it was too good to be real, the growls come again..Please, somebody tell him to sing as a human.

"Face of Melinda" is a good relief, again the privilege the melody over the senseless cacophony, and even when around the middle there's a radical change into a frantic section, it's a very decent track with good vocals.

"Serenity Painted Death" has a spectacular intro again ruined by the noise Michael Akerfeldt calls singing. The music is outstanding, the changes are perfect, but simply that guy sis capable of ruining anything.

"White Cluster" is a very imaginative track, again with excellent instrumental performance, even when a bit cacophonic by moments, but you all can guess what turns me off.

It's really a shame, musically "Still Life" is a three, maybe four stars album, but Akerfeldt destroys any possibility of enjoyment for me, with another vocalist or even without vocals I would give the album a much higher rating, but I can't stand that noise he makes, so two stars.

Report this review (#184658)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opeth at its best

Still Life is a major turning point in Opeth's career and that is because it symbolizes that Opeth finally became completely a extreme progressive metal band. I say completely because so far, in their previous albums, Opeth had progressive influences but was still a goth / death / black metal act, though with prog influences. But here their music finally evolves into something more complex and with more depth and that becomes evident when you compare the orchestration, harmonization and melodic lines of this album with their previous albums: the guitars outgrow that simple riff structure and both the drums and the bass become independent instruments instead of simply supporting the guitars (or should i say the guitar, since the another guitar is the rhythmic guitar).

Still Life is a very important album for me because it was the third Opeth album i ever listened (right after Deliverance and Blackwater Park) and, along with Blackwater Park, it was responsible for my love towards Opeth's music. To be frank, at first i did not liked it very much but the album slowly grew into me and now i absolutely love it.

Also, this album also outgrows the other Opeth albums in content. The lyrics finally don't talk about (directly) goth / black metal themes, but a love story that eventually ends in tragedy, much like a Shakespearian tale (Romeo and Juliet comes to my mind, but whatever). Also, this is a concept album, something that, in my opinion, acts favorably for the album, since this concept is a good one.

The Concept

This concept is not very complicated and does not have many details like other album concepts, what makes it easier to understands it, though all concepts are not very easy to fully understand. At the first song, the main character tells that e was banished from his homeland and, after being 15 years banished, he returns to it for his love, Melinda.

In Godhead's Lament he thinks about the consequences of his return and finds out that Melinda had become a nun, but he still tries to get her back.

In the third song, called Benighted, he tries to convince Melinda to leave her religious duties and because he loves her.

At the next song, Moonlapse Vertigo, the main character remembers again that the townsfolk would probably kill him if they knew he was back. the Council of the Cross, who openly show scorn for the disgraced and the poor, is mentioned and the main character shows that he hates the Council immensely. He also tries to convince Melinda to flee the country with him.

The song Face of Melinda describes Melinda and a black haired and quiet woman. She tells him that she would still honor her vows and will still remain a nun, but as he tries to convince her to flee, telling her that he still loves her, she says that she still loves him.

In Serenity Painted Death, the main character wakes up to find out that Melinda is not by his side anymore (probably they got laid, but who knows) and that she was killed for being unfaithful to the church, which she married. Enraged, the main character kills the ones who killed Melinda and everyone he could before collapsing from exhaustion. Right before blacking out he sees that the Council is there to capture him.

The last song, entitled White Crusher, begins with the character still half conscient (probably he is still awaking), but he soon realizes that he is going to be hanged. He refuses the Council's redemption and, when the townspeople gather to see the execution they all wear white because they believe his soul is lost. He also curses the townsfolk and the Council. When he is finally hanged, he he feels a hand on his shoulder and when he looks behind him he sees Melinda standing right behind him, ready for him to join her in death.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

Though changed, Opeth still bears the extreme metal characteristics in their music, such as distorted guitars, songs are in minor scales, the music is aggressive (though beautiful) and has guttural vocals. I must say at this point that i really love Ĺkerfeldt's vocals, both guttural and normal. His guttural vocals are deep, down pitched, powerful and very well worked. He is one of the few guttural vocalists i really enjoy.

As i said before, here the bass and the drum work are really good and independent from the guitars: though the guitar work still have some influence over them they are (or they seem to be) independent. The guitar work is also great, specially the solo guitar, whose solos are filled with feeling and fit very well in every song.

Grade and Final Thoughts

What a great album. Great music, great lyrics, great concept. . . It's just an incredibly good final result what Opeth presents to us here and because of that this album deserves the masterpiece grade. 5 stars for sure.

Report this review (#184836)
Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Every once in awhile there comes an album that rushes by you, knocks you flat on your feet, and leaves you gaping at the majestic, breathtaking beauty that it leaves. It's one of those albums that you know is going to be a masterpiece before the first song is even finished. It's one of the 10 albums you'd save if your house caught on fire or take if you were stranded on a desert island. For me, Still Life is that type of album. It displays a wide variety of emotions, it is music that's intelligent, powerful, and beautiful and offers something new and exciting at every corner. At the same time, it's very dark and foreboding and reaches into the deepest corners of our psyche, sometimes into places that we may not want to travel, in fact even feel uncomfortable in. This album is almost like a religious experience every time I listen to it, however cheesy that may sound. Opeth, while obviously not the most technical metal band on the planet, are truly unique in regards to what they do. A band that rose from the underground extreme metal scene, with its origins in that type of music, death metal in particular, and has become known for writing 10+ minute songs with proggy and jazz influences in the mix is definitely going to stand out in such an environment where too often these days the motto seems to be "more of the same". I believe that Mikael Akerfeldt's vision of what Opeth was to become started to become fully realized on this album. This marks a major beacon for extreme metal, a beacon that shines quite brightly as an example of how more bands in that genre could go about creating truly hauntingly stunning music. Many Opeth fans often refer to this as the beginning of the "golden years" of Opeth with the classic lineup of Akerfeldt, Lindgren, Mendez, and Lopez, and for good reason: this lineup made some damn good music. Now onto the music itself. The album kicks off with The Moor, which starts off with a nice acoustic instrumental section. After the first 2 1/2 minutes that Opeth sound kicks in with a crushing riff that lets you know what's coming next. Akerfeldt's clean vocals are good, but I think they still have yet to reach their full potential which won't come until Blackwater Park. However, I think it still works very well on this album. At a bit after 7 1/2 minutes it goes back to another clean acoustic passage, before leading to another heavy section at 10:20. While some may find it formulaic, I still think it works as an excellent opener for this album, as well as a classic Opeth song and fan favorite. 10/10. Godhead's Lament, unlike The Moor, starts off very heavy, probably heavier than The Moor ever gets. This is one of my favorite songs on the album because, well, there's absolutely nothing formulaic about it. Mikael of course switches between his clean and harsh vocals, but the heaviness of the music doesn't really ever disappear except for one noticeable part starting at about 3:45. A song that took me time to appreciate fully since it's very multi-layered despite the heaviness, but on that was a worthwhile discovery. 10/10. Benighted is the one track on the album that is entirely acoustic and features only clean vocals. It's certainly a beautiful track in its own respects, but I think it's the weakest track off an album that doesn't really have any weak tracks. A good song for Mikael to show off his clean vocals though. 9/10. Moonlapse Vertigo, like Godhead's Lament, starts off with a fairly heavy riff. However, unlike Godhead's, this song is not quite as heavy, as evidenced by the brief acoustic passage that last from 1:50 until about 2:40. This type of clean acoustic passage is again repeated from 3:20 until 3:45. This song, while certainly as heavy as Godhead's at times, is still chock full of nice acoustic passages for people who can't handle the heaviness all the time. The melodic solo comes in a bit after 4:30 and goes a little over a minute. Quite a stunning track overall. 10/10. Face of Melinda starts off melodic and calm, while still dark of course, and makes you think that you're going to be hearing another fully melodic song like Benighted, but after the 4:30 mark, a powerful riff comes in accompanied by Mikael's clean vocals for awhile, followed by his growling. Another truly stunning song. 10/10. Serenity Painted Death, THIS is one of those Opeth songs that will make your blood boil and take you on a wild roller coaster ride. One of the heaviest songs on the album, but it also happens to be one of my favorites. I absolutely love the section that comes in at 1:27. It might be my favorites section of the entire album to be honest. I love hearing Mikael growling "SERENITY PAINTED DEATH" every time I listen to it. This is a song I can never get enough of, and it's one of my favorite Opeth songs of all time. 11/10. White Cluster is another song that has a good mix of melodic, acoustic, and heavy passages. A great closer to an already fantastic album, and even though you would think that the song is just a melodic/heavy/melodic formula, you find it's quite multi-layered amidst all those different sections. 10/10. This is, in my opinion, the best progressive metal album of all time, and while I've heard many others come close, I haven't found another prog metal band that has been able to pull off an album like this. Even if you don't like harsh vocals or even metal, I would still at least recommend you try this album out. It has a little bit of something for every type of musical tastes. This is a type of work that I honestly believe is a member of the top tier of prog albums. If you like music at all, you'll probably eventually like this album. Truly a masterpiece that is a one of a kind deal and can stand the test of time. 6+/5 stars.
Report this review (#188579)
Posted Sunday, November 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well , this is my first review as regards this subgenre: Tech Extreme ProgMetal. Until hearing Still Life , I have never heard a death or black metal album in my life , the most extreme album I knew was Metallica's Kill em all. That fact alone may make some metal experts on this site to laugh.

In this review I won't try to focus in the progresiveness of the music I am hearing since I just don't know what Yes and Opeth do have in common. This band sure is technical , both guitars and the drummer are very capable on their instruments and the music can get complex sometimes. But don't expect multi part suites or the use of mellotron on this record , this is metal fast loud and agressive but with a twist.

The Moor is one of the highlights on this album , the track starts with a beutiful acustic melody ( there are plenty more on the record) and then... The growling vocals. What do I have to say about them? They certainly are an adquired taste , the point is Mikael Akerfeldt can sing really good when he is not growling , his voice is calm and it suites the pastoral interludes present on the record. Most of the music on Still life with the exeption of the other highlights Face of Melinda and Benighted is based on a wall of sound created by the guitars and fast drumming. The point is , Still life is much less heavier than lets say Metallica's first four albums or even Pantera. This fact made me appreciate the record much more.

Suming up , I think that enjoying this record was quite a surprise for me since I do not like metal , much less the extreme genres. This record does not count as a masterpiece to me because it's a bit monotonous and still I prefer Akerfelt when he sings normal but I guess I ve accustomed to his extreme style.

For a Prog Metal collection: It's an exellent addition

For a general prog collection : It's good but not essential.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#199971)
Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#200984)
Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Still Life' - Opeth (9/10)

This is the first Opeth album (their fourth chronological release) that can widely be considered to be a near-perfect masterpiece. While albums such as 'Morningrise' did show signs of brilliance, the overall execution was imperfect, and there was still room for improvement. 'Still Life' is a fine representation of what a dose of intelligence can do for the metal industry. The end result is a cohesive, beautiful and technical album that seamlessly blends metal, progressive, and jazz leanings into a rich musical tapestry. However, possibly more so than any other album in my collection; this album took a long time to truly sink in, but it was certainly worth it.

At first few listens, I found the album to be technically 'good' but lacking in structure, and void of the mind blowing quality I felt while first listening to 'Ghost Reveries' or 'Watershed.' It was only after my fifteenth or so listen of 'Still Life' that it suddenly clicked in... The truly profound enjoyment of the album first sprouted in listening to the album's closer 'White Cluster.' The jazz contrast with the metal riffage was interesting and beautiful all at the same time. This newfound appreciation quickly spread to the other songs, and before too long I was listening to the album start to finish and loving every immersive second of it.

Paired with the haunting music is an equally haunting storyline. I won't go into detail about the plot in fear of spoilers, but the album revolves around a man banished from his village, returning to find his lost love. As you might imagine, there are some unfortunate consequences and the lyrics (beautifully written, especially for a death metal record) help to heighten the sense of drama until the heartbreaking, tragic end.

It has been said that the only way to truly test the quality of an album is how well it ages over time. This album is only getting better with time, and although it was a bit hard to truly appreciate and get into, it was certainly worth it, and since then, 'Still Life' has since risen to become one of my favourite records of all time.

A must-have for fans of metal music.

Report this review (#204913)
Posted Monday, March 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fourth opeth's studio work based on a love and tragedy medieval history, one of the best progressive death metal albums ever. Its a transition album between My Arms, Your Hearse and Blackwaterpark but for me the best in the opeth's discography. The album start with The Moor that it's hard and beautiful the combination of Mikael voices with the guitar by a complex but amazing way. Godhead's Lament it's a classical opeth song what I saw live and it's maybe the hardest song of this album Benighted it's and acustical song what sounds like a day obscured by clouds with the melancoly what Mikael insert in he's vocals. Moon Lapse Vertigo it's another good song and it's a transition between Benighted and Face Of Melinda but no for that its not amazing. Face Of Melinda it's called by Mikael like he's balad, and it's rigth in one way but in another it's a song what it's growning up until the point that the song going heavy and the end its magistral. Serenity Painted Death an anger song what experiments with the limits of the growls of Mikael and the heavy that could be to go a way to White Cluster. White Cluster starts whit the classical death metal music but in a moment the voice changes and its beautiful the guitars are amazings with the combination of Mikael and Peter what made me think what the leave of Peter of the band are to desintegrate opeth. And to end a recomendation if you could listen the complete album no only 1 song because the songs are in this order to made an a history and the changes ase very nice.
Report this review (#215258)
Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the second album I bought from progressive death metal band Opeth after "Damnation". This album shows you Opeth's true sound at its best. They combine heavy sections (with growled vocals) and beautiful acoustic sections perfectly.

If you think you're afraid of growled vocals, give this a shot anyway. I couldn't stand growls, and then I heard Opeth's Still Life. I've determined that I actually never had anything against the growling itself. I had a problem with the music that (usually) comes along with growling. Opeth is an exception. The music is incredible, and I love the clean and growled vocals of mastermind Mikael Akerfeldt. I thought that I would hate growls as a symphonic prog fan, but here I am giving it a 5 star review. A prog fan with an open mind to music can't turn down the entire tech/extreme prog metal genre without listening to Still Life.

The story of this incredible concept album is one of the greatest I've ever heard (though it is very dark and proves every story doesn't need to end with a happy ending). If you don't want me to spoil this incredible story for you, skip the next paragraph and go to the next.

The story begins with a man who is an atheist, and his entire community hates him because of this. He was tortured in horrible ways, and left the town for years. He returned to see his love, Melinda, to find out she has become a nun or "godhead" as used in the title of the song. He realizes he would be killed if he stayed in the town. The man tries to bring Melinda out of the town, and successfully does so. He finds out that she still does love him though she is a nun, and he is an atheist. Once he awakens he finds she has been taken away and she got killed for being unfaithful to the Council of the Cross. He goes on a rampage and kills as many soldiers as he can before he collapses. When he awakens and gains beck his sanity, the church is there to take him and kill him. As he is being hanged he sees the ghost of Melinda at his side, ready for him to be dead with her. In case you can't tell, this isn't a very uplifting story, but still an excellent one nonetheless. The music and singing lives up to the high expectations of the story. Now I'll do the usual track-by-track review.

"The Moor"- This song begins with a haunting guitar melody, and it only gets better from there. A beautiful acoustic guitar section begins, and then the awesome metal riffs come into play. Mikael's growls sound particularly good on this track.

"Godhead's Lament"- It starts with some heavy metal riffs and growled vocals, but later on has a great guitar solo with acoustic guitars in the background. Clean vocals are very present on this song, and it really shows what a great singing voice Mikael Akerfeldt has.

"Benighted"- This is easily the softest song on the album, and features no growled vocals. It is mostly acoustic, but it has a great jazz electric guitar solo.

"Moonlapse Vertigo"- This song has possibly the best opening on the album. The proggy guitar solo opening has many tempo changes and has dark and light themes. This has great singing, along with growling. I also like the drumming on this track a lot. "Face of Melinda"- This song, like "Benighted", has no growled vocals. Opeth considers it a ballad. It has some metal riffs near the end, but it ends up being used as a build to some more beautiful vocals.

"Serenity Painted Death"- This is possibly the heaviest song on the album, but features a nice acoustic break and has a very emotional guitar solo. I still can't get over how much I love the riff at the beginning of this song. This is quite possibly my favorite track off of this album.

"White Cluster"- This has an intense opening that is simply amazing. I love the double bass pedals on this song. As a result, the drumming really stands out, and the guitar riffs are awesome as well. This features many cool tempo changes. The guitar solo at the very end is very dark. After a fadeout, it has some nice guitar chords, and there you have it, the album is over. This is an excellent way to end a great album.

There's not much more to be said about this album except for "go buy it". You can't say you don't like growled vocals until you listen to Opeth's Still Life. This album opened new possibilities for me and changed my life. This has to be in my top 10 albums that have changed my life forever, because it introduced me to a new genre of music. An incredible album, fully deserving of the highest honors; 5/5 stars.

Report this review (#223254)
Posted Friday, June 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Melodic Progressive Death Metal Concept Album ? Yes!!!

After immersing myself in Opeth over a year ago, I'd taken a break for awhile. Recently, however, I've been dabbling in harder death and extreme metal, and felt a need to return to some of my old favorites and see what my impression was now. I was completely and totally blown away. Opeth is more harmonically complex, melodically sophisticated, and emotionally expressive than any other metal band of its kind and perhaps ever. STILL LIFE represents the band just reaching full maturity and taking a risk by making a cohesive story / concept album. Though previous albums had consistent themes, STILL LIFE is a death metal tragedy about an exiled man returning home to retrieve his love with typical terrible Greek styled consequences.

In a genre that loves altered minor keys and dissonance, Opeth bandleader Mikael Akerfeldt utilizes harsh harmony like no other. One of Opeth's trademarks is riffing on complex chord shapes rather than power chords and from the brilliant opener "The Moor" on through to the closer "White Cluster" the thick texture of this style puts Opeth's stamp all over the music. Of course the other signature element is the transition from the crushing prog death metal to an acoustic prog with Akerfeldt's ethereal vocals. On this album, the Mikael is really just starting to ramp up the latter part of the Opeth sound. This freshness gives the ballad-y "Benighted" and "Faces of Melinda" a legitimacy that some of the later purely clean Opeth songs lack. In fact, from a songwriting point of view, I don't think any Opeth album is as strong top to bottom as STILL LIFE. I do a lot of mix and match of Opeth tracks on every other album. Not this one.

Of all the labels attached to Opeth, there will arguments against almost all of them except one. This band is clearly prog. Where many Death metal bands use time changes jarringly, few (especially before Opeth's rise in popularity) used seamless changes into complex time with such musical purpose. Opeth also employs epics to great effect, moving the listener through multiple stages of development with completely new musical ideas often appearing seven or eight minutes into a song, as in "Godhead's Lament," "Serenity Painted Death," and most strikingly in "the Moor."

The only criticism I have for this album is that the record is still young. The production has some issues (vocal echoes, etc.) and in fact I like the live version of "Faces of Melinda" a little better. Even more striking is how much Mikael's vocals have improved in the 10 years since this record was released. The Ghost Reveries version of the band would have made the record nearly perfect. Still, this is a minor quibble.

Like it or not, if you want to listen to the cutting edge in metal these days, you have to get used to some harsh vocals. Mikael's are among the best so Opeth is an easy entry point. I still can't say I enjoy them, but after seeing Opeth live, there is no denying their power. Neil Young and Bob Dylan's vocals aren't exactly pleasant either but also have an emotive power once one gets used to them. (Mikael will never be the poet either of these men are, but neither man has produced music 1/10th as complex as Opeth either).

So if you can imagine beautiful death metal alternating multiple time signatures, riffs both crushing and grooving, complex harmony, and medieval balladry all combined into a story- album, you get an idea of the prog-feast that is STILL LIFE. Within metal, this is the definition of 5/5 star album.

Report this review (#244937)
Posted Friday, October 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opeth's most outstanding album

I'm sitting in my room, a whisky glas by my side and outside there you can see the colourful leafes of the autumn. And the most important thing, I'm listening to this monolith of modern music.

Still Life might be the album you are looking for an evening like this. It transports the feelings of the autumn like melancholy, depression, hate and satisfaction.

According to the artwork it shows a sad woman, standing in front of a cross and a quite bleak countryside. It is painted in red colours and it fits totally in the whole context. But an artwort can be as good as anything, if the music is bad. I can advise to you that the music is stunning and overwhelming. The album starts with "The Moor", a typical song of Opeth. We have the parts in which Mikael Akerfeld growls like a beast and the parts, which are the most beautiful acoustic experiences I have ever made. By the way, "The Moor" ist the best song by Opeth for me because Opeth perfected their style here. Godhead's Lament is a similar song but not as good as The Moor. The next song is another highlight. "Benighted" is an acoustic ballad, which Opeth quite often does, but it was never so good again. The riffs are stunning, especial the Intro-Riff. Face of Melinda is a similar song but it gets heavy after a few minutes. Not so heavy with growls like the long songs but it has a few heavy distortioned riffs. The last two songs are again some really great songs, which come almost close to "The Moor"

The album ends, my whisky glas is empty, my soul is satisfied with great music. If you are a bit open minded towards Death Metal, you definately should check this album out and make the same experience like me.

Report this review (#250334)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Sleepwalker
5 stars Still Life shows a more mature Opeth than ever before. This can be heard through the music, which is arguably Opeth's most solid work ever, but also through the production. Still Life also is a concept album, and though the story isn't very complicated it is definitely good and gives the album a dark and gloomy mood. This mood really is very present on the album. Some moments in songs sound like they are supposed give some hope, but most of the times the music is dark and haunting. This, in my opinion, is a very good thing, as I really like the dark mood.

The music on Still Life is simply said amazing. The album takes the listener from striking death metal riffs to beautiful clean, psychedelic sounding parts. The album opens with the soft, haunting intro of "The Moor", which will soon into a heavy masterpiece. The second song, "Godhead's Lament" is even better, and probably is my favorite Opeth song ever. It starts of very striking, with a brilliant intro riff. The song knows many different riffs though, of which some are soft and acoustic, and others are rough and heavy. "Benighted", the third song, is the shortest on the album. It's abeautiful acoustic track, and one of the few moments on the album that doesn't have a gloomy mood. The following track is "Moonlapse Vertigo". This song has a brilliant melodic intro, and after about two minutes it turns into a haunting masterpiece. This song really is among Opeth's best ever.

Next is "Face Of Melinda", which opens in the vein of "Benighted". The song features excellent fretless bass playing by Martin Mendez and jazzy drumming by Martin Lopez. The second half of the song is not soft and acoustic anymore, but features lots of distorted guitar playing. It doesn't become as heavy as for example "Godhead's Lament" though. "Serenity Painted Death" is the next song and is, though probably the weakest song on the album, very good too. The song features lots of striking guitars and vocals, but knows some softer parts too. The song ends very strange though, as a beautiful clean part suddenly stops. "White Cluster" is the album's epic final track. This song really features some of the best riffs and musicianship I've ever heard. Many solo guitar playing can be heard in the song and there are many changes between soft and heavy.

This definitely is my favorite Opeth album. It features some excellent musicianship and music, and also some of Opeth's most memorable moments. The music is pretty variated, though most of it is dark and gloomy and connected by the concept. This album definitely deserves a five star rating in my opinion as I think this album definitely is a masterpiece.

Report this review (#252487)
Posted Tuesday, November 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Even though Opeth didn't change their song writing approach much compared to the previous album, Still Life is quite a departure from My Arms, Your Hearse. It's lighter, melodic and more melancholic compared to the oppressive blackness of My Arms, Your Hearse. Also, the influences of Camel and early King Crimson became more noticeable.

Many Opeth enthusiasts will point to Still Life as Opeth's crowning achievement. While it is sure one of their best albums, there are a number of flaws that made me rate it below Blackwater Park and Ghost Reveries. The rating must be seen in that context. This album is a 4.5 star creation but I knocked it down to create some perspective within the entire Opeth discography. In other words, add one star to all my Opeth ratings and you get an idea of how I rate them in comparison to other bands!

Now, instead of citing words of praise at every possible marvel here I thought it would be more fun to just criticize the flaws on this album.

The first one is about balance. There is no other Opeth album that is so crammed with ideas, melodies, riffs, changes and layers of guitars and vocals as this one. All of it gives ample proof of the high creative flow that raced through Akerfeldt while writing music. But on the other hand it also shows that he needed a tutor to help him weed out the chaff and guide his creative profusion into a more focused and superior result. Steven Wilson would prove to be that person on the ensuing Blackwater Park. Still Life has the most ideas on any Opeth album but not the best.

A second point might seem more trivial but nevertheless it's important. Akerfeldt has never denied being hugely influenced by Camel, but literally stealing melodies from them without openly admitting it goes a bridge too far. The opening bars from Benighted are entirely nicked from the opening bars of Never Let Go from Camel's debut. It's just the opening bars but still, the plagiarism might have been less obvious.

The third criticism concerns the vocals. The clean vocals are very prominent here and prove that they were the way forward for Opeth but some of vocals lack the harmonic wealth of later works. Especially during the metal sections, the clean vocals don't have the depth nor the range or dynamism of later albums. For an album that relies so heavily on the clean singing that is a real flaw. The 2008 re-issue of Still Life indicates that Akerfeldt must have similar quibbles as he stripped some background vocals from the remix. Especially the harmonies on Serenity Painted Death have been revised drastically. Not really to good effect either. The clean vocals during the more laidback passages are very strong however, by consequence songs like Benighted, Face of Melinda and White Cluster are the most accomplished compositions here. They also have a better balance and suffer less from the musical over-abundance that decreases the effectiveness of most other songs. Akerfeldt's clean voice still needed some excercise.

Still Life is a more then excellent album and it's the first Opeth album that will please progressive rock fans. However, as a heavy album I find it less accomplished then MAYH, while as a progressive album it doesn't compare to the more mature BWP and Ghost Reveries.

Report this review (#256018)
Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Matthew T
5 stars Recorded and released in 1999 this is an essential album for anyone into Metal or for someone like me who truly likes good music whatever the genre.This album is simply stunning from woo to go and contains some of the best hard driving songs with some absolutely beautiful accoustic arrangements as well on tracks.The band must have fantastic roots with a Black Sabbath and a Led Zeppelin influence eg.( especially with the accoustic moments through out which are recorded with an absolute clarity in sound) but Opeth have their own distinct approach as you will discover when listening to this recording

The vocalist Mikael Akeredlt who provides us with some simply stunning death vocals with a sound as though it is coming straight from hell,wonderful stuff. Also the album was mainly written by him as well but is creditted to the band on the album.

The particular songs that I will mention are Serenity Painted Death which is extremely high octane with fantastic riff under the whole driving tune with a great lower section and back to it and for me is one of the standouts on the album. The Moor which is the first track is simply outstanding and true progressive music as is the whole album.There is not one poor track on this album.

I would recommend this album to people around my age bracket :50 and it is well worth giving this a go and not to think of this as just another metal release for the youngies.

Simply stunning music and an absolute masterpiece in modern music.

Report this review (#256338)
Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is in my opinion, one of the best Opeth albums, one of the best metal albums, one of the best prog albums and one of the best albums ever. Just saying.

With the slightly disappointing My Arms, Your Hearse, this album saw Opeth at their finest ever. The songs are catchy, even the growls are catchy, the concept is brillian, the guitar work is some of the best I have ever heard, the lyrics are poetic and amazing, amazing hooks, amazing vocals, and amazing dramaticism.

If you haven't heard this album yet, listen to it now. The day I heard this album it changed my life. I remember listening to this album when I first bought it, on Good Friday 2006. I had never been a fan of death metal, but I was slowly becoming a massive prog fan. I was listening to this album while The Greatest Story Every Told was on the tv. The day that Jesus died was the day that Opeth entered my soul. I was blown away. I never knew that death metal could ever have acoustic passages and guitar work that would blow any noob out of his technical haze. It sparked creativity within me and is the reason why I am composing today.

This album is also a concept album which deals with an outcast, who cast away due to the fact he is not a certain religion (very reformation like). He finds his old love Melinda who he wants to take away with him. He plans to stay in the village without the clergy knowing. The clergy find out and plan to kill or capture him. He finds Melinda and asks her to run away with him. She denies him due to the fact her life would be on the line and that she has a fiance. The clergy find out about their meeting and they slit Melinda's throat. With vengance, he kills those who killed Melinda. He then falls asleep and wakes up in prison. He is then led to the gallows where is to be hung. Before he dies, he sees Melinda, waiting for him on the other side. Kind of like Romeo & Julliet.

1. The Moor - Amazing intro. The dark ambient prepares you for the amazing acoustic passage. The main riff is so complicated, without being fast. The riff takes you on amazing journey. The clean vocals are very cathcy and incredibly beautiful. The acoustic section is some of the best finger picking I have ever heard. The end is incredibly amazing as well. An epic.

2. Godhead's Lament - Absoulte brilliance. This song is so dramatic and takes you on such a journey. Like the Moor, cathcy vocals, amazing performances and great acoustic work. One of my all time favourtie Opeth songs.

3. Benighted - A ballad. Amazing, catchy and some great guitar work.

4. Moonlapse Vertigo - An amazing jazz sounding riff. Great sounding riffs. Very memorable.

5. Face Of Melinda - This is one of the most poetic songs on the album, with each verse having a ryhming pattern of AABB. I love how the song which was a very sombre ballad becomes very dark at the end.

6. Serenity Painted Death - Very cathcy and very dramatic. The verses have great lyrics and the chorus is amazing. I love the ending where the word "sin" trails off into a chromatic scale. Amazing

7. White Cluster - An amazing song, filled with both clean vocals and growls. The end of the album. Very rememerable and the story ends with a haunting ending.

CONCLUSION: This album changed my life. I hope it changes yours.

Report this review (#263044)
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I know I'm in the minority here but I rate both the albums that bookend Still Life higher than Still Life itself. It is allegedly their masterpiece, and while certainly very good, I simply do not enjoy it as much as some other Opeth records. it is a great transitional record, more mature than My Arms Your Hearse, and moving towards the more prog and rich sound that would reach greater heights on Blackwater Park, Ghost Reveries and Watershed, but it pales in their company simply due to being a bit dull. Take The Moor. Though highly thought of, I find that two minute droning opening is a terrible mistake and I find the song hardest to remember clearly of all Still Life tracks despite having listened many times. it's accomplished but it just doesn't hook into me. Godhead's Lament does and it's a lot better. The thundering metal moments rock out more and you can feel the drums and chords bouncing off the back of your skull- the shift into the beautiful "Searching my way to perplexion... Thought I could not leave this place on this imminent day" sections which are like a cool, refreshing drink of water amidst the violence and rage. But it's not all cookie monster gone bad as for the first time, there are TWO laidback tracks and they're both very good. Benighted is folky and secretive, darting in and out of the trees shyly but in a very beguiling way. Face Of Melinda is a more typical ballad with a big finish but shows Akerfeldt's "proper singing" confidence continue to grow and also has some real emotion in it which excuses the cheese. Elsewhere though the band loses its way a bit. It's as though after the brilliant My Arms Your Hearse they didn't have much left to say about metal and just trundle through the motions. Moonlapse Vertigo is alright but Serenity Painted Death's corny nu-metal chorus always makes me roll my eyes. White Cluster works a little better but doesn't excite or enthrall me the way I wanted the finale to. Still Life is a fine album and above average, but in my eyes it is far from flawless or from being Opeth's finest work.
Report this review (#267665)
Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

"Still Life" is the album that defines Death Metal, it's fierce style and it's aggressive sound.

Opeth is now regarded as the best and most loved Death Metal band of all time. When it comes to pick their best album, fans are in conflict; Some give the highest praise to the 2001 masterpiece "Blackwater Park", while others prefer "Still Life". The truth is that these two albums are magically equal and very different sounding.

If "Blackwater Park" has a cleaner sound and more accessible melodies, "Still Life" has a rougher production and the music is even more complex and less melodic. "Still Life" still belongs to the first Opeth era, where like I said the sound of their albums isn't at all clean, sounding a lot dirtier, and giving the impression of being more aggressive. The guitars are a little muddy, Akerfeldt's vocals are dirtier sounding as well. Even the drums aren't as precise as they will be in following albums. But "Still Life" wouldn't be the LP it is without these characteristics.They actually accentuate the Death Metal, while the progressiveness is really just context, highlighting more the structure of the songs, the buildings, the hooks, more than the music itself. It is in fact Progressive Death Metal only because all these seven songs are pretty long and have a complex and almost hard to follow structure, but its typical of an Opeth album: a quiet, melancholic, acoustic moment can follow immediately a bunch of different aggressive metal hooks, enriched by Akerfeldt's growling. But the singer also gives us great. great clean singing, in the softer moments that are here abundantly present.

"Still Life" is a concept album, about a man that had been banished from his theocratic town because of his misbelieves. He goes back after fifteen years to look and hook up once again to the one he loved, Melinda. I'll only say the end is quite sad, but it's still a great story. The album is solid as a rock, these seven songs are all immense monoliths; from the opener "The Moor", the eleven minute epic, features slow passages, as well as fast, heavy ones. "Godhead's Lament" works pretty much the same way, in nine minutes, another fantastic song. "Moonlapse Vertigo" is another classic, thanks to it's more memorable melodies. "Serenity Painted Death" is probably the fiercest and heaviest song here, while "Benighted" is the softest acoustic piece. "Face Of Melinda" is another acoustic piece with more than a few jazz influences. "White Cluster" ends the albums marvelously, with its epic ten minutes of death metal heaven.

"Still Life" is the album that defines Death Metal, it's fierce style and it's aggressive sound, the album that made the genre widely more popular and appreciated. Whether you like the music or not, it's historical importance precedes it. Essential for whoever is into metal music, and for who wants to find a good place to start listening to Opeth and Death Metal in general.

Report this review (#280589)
Posted Wednesday, May 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Opeth twist Death Metal into new shapes, resulting in a triumphant album.

Opeth are a band I have steered clear of as I am not into death metal, having a distaste for death vocals growling like someone possessed; it was the type of puerile juvenile nonsense I used to listen to as a young metal head, I used to enjoy thrashing to Slayer, Believer and Mortification, but I have no time for it now. However, Opeth are an exception to the rule. I adored their "Damnation" album, the vocals by Ĺkerfeldt are stunning, warm and lovely to listen to, yes even uplifting despite the dark lyrics that are centred on death and spirits wandering about haunting the living. But I loved that album so much I listened to "Deliverance". Unfortunately it was all death metal growelling and nauseating metal at that. I gave up. But the reviews of "Still Life" are glowing and respected prog reviewers here are giving it the masterpeice status, so here we are, reviewing an album from a genre I am just not into.

What I discovered was the influences of Porcupine Tree meets Morbid Angel. What a combination. You get blasts of death metal at its most brutal mixed with passages of melancholy ambience. It works! Just when I think I cannot stand another second of those growls, the music takes over and really so well executed that it is impossible not to like. The guitars scream and soar, the bass pounds. The double kick drum embellishments and triplets are incredible. They are not kidding around.

The album begins with 'The Moor' with a beautiful acoustic guitar, a storm brewing, a brief moment before the distorted riffs blast in without remorse. Ĺkerfeldt's growls are brutal and soul chilling and unwelcome as far as I am concerned. I put up with it. I had no idea what the lyrics were and did not bother to check. There is a clean vocal chorus and it is so refreshing. I longed for more of this. The growling reminded me of the black metal I used to listen to with the likes of Bathory or Morbid Angel. At 6 minutes in the riffing stops and we have an acoustic interlude, a moment of respite. The "Damnation" style clean vocals chime in and they are so good, like a different band. I was drawn into the music at this point. Suddenly the caustic roars return scaring the hell out of me. Perhaps I am too timid to take this type of music. Let's move on.

'Godhead's Lament' has a fantastic riff but the brutal Napalm Death vocals infect the track again. The vocals are deep and angry reminiscent of Napalm Death's 'Suffer The Children', or Bolt Thrower's 'Cenotaph'. I told you I used to be a death metal addict. Now into prog I have discarded this type of metal so I am biased, I have no appreciation for this death stuff anymore. But if you do, Opeth are for you. The clean vocals return after 3 and a half minutes. It settles into a gentler mood, and lunches into a wonderful lead guitar solo with acoustic guitars. There are more warm vocals and I love this part of the album. The growls of course return but it is not as overbearing with all the softer sections. This would have to be among the best tracks of Opeth, a definitive highlight of the album.

'Benighted' is my favourite song on this as there are no growls and it has a beautiful melody; it is like "Damnation" again. The acoustic and jazz fusion electric guitars are fantastic. I love the lyrics; "Come into this night, Here we'll be gone, So far away, From our weak and crumbling lives, Come into this night, When days are done, Lost and astray In what's vanished from your eyes, What came and distorted your sight, Saw you benighted by your fright..." A great song that is as mellow as Opeth get. Atmospheric, melancholy and sinister.

'Moonlapse Vertigo' opens with a strange layered guitar riff. It is a moderate tempo and melodic chord structure. The lengthy intro is terrific, and it lapses to an acoustic treatment and clean vocals again. I began to really enjoy the album more at this stage. The growls are even more intense when they begin. They are deeper and evil sounding, ruining it for me. Then the clean vocals return again. This is weird. I half love, half loathe it. It's like an angel conversing with a demon. There are a myriad of time signature changes with soft and hard textures painted on the canvas. At 5:20 there is some delightful violining on the guitar, a crunching riff locks in and an emotive lead break. Moments of brilliance once again.

'Face of Melinda' is a lilting acoustic gentle ballad with some beautiful vocals from Ĺkerfeldt. He is so lovely to listen to, it is astounding how brutal he can sound when he is growling. I love this track, one of my favourite Opeth songs. The lyrics are quite disturbing though, "And conceded pain in crumbling mirth, A harlot of God upon the earth, Found where she sacrificed her ways, That hollow love in her face, Still I plotted to have her back, The contentment that would fill the crack, My soul released a fluttering sigh, This day fell, the darkness nigh..." The heavier sound returns towards the end but it is a nice break from all the serenity. The clean vocals remain and I was so pleased as I would rate this track highly.

'Serenity Painted Death' is an ultra heavy song with some respite of acoustic flourishes. The killer riff is incredible and yes, the vocals are grimly caustic. I could actually make out the lyrics, "Voices fell like marble, No longer by my side, Gone all that would linger..." It settles down again and a new time sig kicks in, a very good riff. The death metal vocals are so turgid in comparison to the sweet vocals or previous tracks it is a shock to the system. There are passages of dark and light, tension and release that make up for the brutal vocals. Opeth are musicians of virtuoso standard.

'White Cluster' is very powerful featuring an awesome intro and very fast double kick drumming. The intense riffing is angular with a plethora of time sig shifts and metrical patterns that are complicated and dark. It has a false ending and some structural guitar breaks. It is played effortlessly and with complex arrangements: Opeth on a grand scale. At 1:46 the track changes direction in another time shift with soft vocals and gentle guitar. At 4:13 there is another time shift, a half time feel. At 5:10 a minimalist guitar is plucked gently. It builds again and at 6:30 a cool riff and blistering lead solo take over. The lengthy instrumental break continues with a new time sig, and violining guitar and gentle vocals again with a strong melody. It fades at 9:10 then an acousotc guitar plays away quietly and it is all over.

In conclusion, one of the best Opeth albums that rang a chord with me apart from the death metal vocals. The music ranges from very melodic, symphonic sections counterbalanced by breakneck power chord progressions and soaring lead solos. The ominous atmosphere of pervading doom is punctuated by the broken drum patterns and shattered metrical shifts. The slower sections allow breathing space. The musical inventiveness is unsurpassed for the extreme tech metal genre. "Still Life" is not quite a masterpiece, but its growing on me with each listen. I love it, then I loathe it, but I can't ignore it's complex structure and innovative approach, reinventing extreme heavy metal.

Report this review (#280820)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars I've felt underwhelmed by Still Life ever since my first encounter with this release and I'm afraid that I will continue feeling this way about it. The material is just not as likable to my ears as Opeth's later work and I lack the great hooks that the band is so good at delivering both instrumentally and through Mikael's vocal intonations. What surprises me about the band's pre-Blackwater Park material is that everything I like about Opeth is already in place like the long song format, unique style, skillful playing. Still the combination of these particles isn't yet perfected and the songs easily loose a sense of direction every time we get a new transition section. This last part could be explained by the fact that the band was eager to show off their skills while loosing the general composition flow in the process.

Even though I seem to be displeased with only a few of these compositions the problem is actually more in the general tone that this album offers. Therefore there are only marginal differences between the good and excellent material for me here. Still, it would be a lie if I claimed that there weren't a few magnificent moments featured on Still Life. One of my all-time favorite Opeth tracks titled White Cluster is definitely as great as this band can ever be. This composition gives us an awesome riff that kicks things off and the vocal hooks easily carve this song's title among the band's greatest masterpieces!

This review made me realize to my own amusement that I seem to only really be a fan of Opeth's short-lived period Steve Wilson-era that began with the release of Blackwater Park. Still Life was definitely a step in the right direction but I feel like the lyrical content overshadows the instrumental moments. I don't consider myself a big fan of Mikael's lyrics to begin with since they seem very ambitions on paper but ultimately come off sounding very pretentious. Even Mikael himself admitted a few times that in his later interviews and even during the Progressive Nation 2009 concert here in Stockholm that he himself wonders what he meant by some of his early scribblings.

Still Life is an interesting album for everyone who is already familiar with the band and wants to go on and explore the origin of Opeth and their sound. This is definitely a great time to do this since the album was re-released in 2008, with reworked album artwork by original artist Travis Smith and, besides the remastered stereo mix of the original album, has a second CD added in a form of an Audio DVD containing a 5.1 surround sound mix of the album.

***** star songs: White Cluster (10:02)

**** star songs: The Moor (11:28) Godhead's Lament (9:47) Face Of Melinda (7:59) Serenity Painted Death (9:14)

*** star songs: Benighted (5:01) Moonlapse Vertigo (9:00)

Report this review (#282537)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars First off the cover of this album really grabbed my attention, the intense crimson red of the sky, the teary eyed woman on the front (I guess it's supposed to be Melinda) and the looming cross in the background. It's about a man returning home after being exiled from not believing the same as the others, to return to his beloved, Melinda.

THE MOOR, it starts very atmospherically with acoustic rythmn, then goes into the heavy riff and the great drumming skills of Lopez and near the end of the song I really enjoy the nice humming part. (the protagonist returns to his home, remembering what happened) 5 stars

GODHEAD'S LAMENT, starts off heavy and fast with the growling vocals of Mikael, slows down after a time though after the solo and in comes his clean vocals. Before going back into the earlier heavyiness. (wonders if its best to leave instead decides to stay for Melinda) 5 stars

BENIGHTED, its almost acoustic has a really nice soothing rythmn to it (reads a love letter he had previously wrote to her, and tries to convice Melinda to leave with him) 5 stars

MOONLAPSE VERTIGO, carries with in some heavy riffs and happy part near the end (realizes he doesn't have much time to convince her, as he would be killed if he was found) 4 stars

FACE OF MELINDA, the acoustic riff that starts off this song is really tasty, it gets heavier near the end with nice guitars and drums. (remember's his past failure of trying to woo her, as she tells him that she still loves him) 4 stars

SERENITY PAINTED DEATH, this is a quite varied song it has the heavyiness as per usual and continues with the nice subtle vocals of Mickael with his interchangable vocal skills. (Melinda is dead, killed by council members. He vows revenge and slaughters the ones who killed her but falls in exhaustion as the council captures him) 4 stars

WHITE CLUSTER, finishes the album with a heavy explosive riff song, the intese drumming and the guitars as well as the vocals prove that this song is one of my favorites in the Opeth backcatalogue (the council tries to make him repent but he doesn't and gets hanged, though just prior he feels the hand of Melinda welcoming him to her) 5 stars

Overall this is one of my favorite Opeth albums if not my favorite, that saying I must give it a 5 star rating. As i'd highly recommend it to anyone wanting to explore this band (the second being Blackwater Park naturally)

Report this review (#284795)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favorite Opeth album, (I really enjoy all their stuff). This is a work of pure brilliance. Now, this is Opeth so if you are not a fan of heavy guitar and especially may want to turn away. I would personally say go for it, because the music is superb and isn't prog about experimenting? But just be warned, there will be growls here, alot of it so yeah...

The Moor. Begins with a haunting yet calming keyboard launched into, a dual acoustic guitar melody. With a surprise though, the heavy kicks in. As does the growling. On a side note, while the vocals are understandable...musically, Opeth does not bear too much with death metal. It is rare, and short, to hear tremolo picking or really fast riffing. The heavy parts are really slower and more crushing. As Allmusic described the riffs, "jagged". Anyway, the ending is beautiful.

Godhead's Lament. Kick's off strong. Has that classic dual guitar harmony and quickly gives way to a cool and unusual sounding lead guitar. The Opeth wall of sound continues on, though the pace slows somewhat. Also, take notice of Martin Lopez's drumming. One of my all time favorites and I think a very underrated metal drummer. Perhaps tough to hear in the wall of sound, listen for it in the clean sections of the song. Great stuff. The middle part of the song is great, and the second half is more "metal" but the complex work is bar none. Lots of great solos in this song, courtesy of one of Mr. Ĺkerfeldt's influences, Allan Holdsworth.

Benighted. Need a break? You're in luck. An entirely acoustic song, just sit back and let the melodies, and Mikael's vocals take you away. I mentioned Holdsworth for a reason, just listen to this song and enjoy!

Moonlapse Vertigo. The opening guitar work is amazing. Akerfeldt and Lindgren are terrific players, and can lay down some wonderful harmonies. The acoustic melodies come in and oscillates with growling for a while. In the second half is a great solo and more dual guitar work. Martin's drumming in the outro I really enjoy.

Face of Melinda. Starts off beautifully. Continues for a nice long time. Though heaviness does come in over the second half clean vocals continue, over heavy chords being played. Such a great heavy atmosphere. Lots of Opeth's twisted guitar work as well.

Serenity Painted Death. Perhaps the most intense song on the album. Real heavy. The intro riff is amazing though. LOTS of growling on this song, and some of it is intense! Even for me. A nice short acoustic hold is ended by a great crunching and Opeth-esque riff. The next part, where Mikael says "Serenity Painted Death" a few times has some excellent guitar and drum work, and his vocals are almost terrifying. Great solo follows.

White Cluster. Amazingly composed song. Some of the best guitar work on the album. Complex and again, well structured. Lopez's drumming also is some of the most intense with a lot of fairly blistering double bass. Classic Opeth song, and really strong way to end the album.

An amazing piece of music, this is Opeth at it's finest. Death Metal, Prog Rock, throw in some Latin Jazz. Some compelx, dual guitar work, technical breaks, beautiful acoustic melodies, and of course Mikael's seemingly inhuman shifting between bellowing, death growls and chilling clean singing. As with most of Opeth's stuff, not for the casual progger due to excessive growling, but try to look past. Great for any prog-metal and metal fan! As well as you proggers with tolerable palettes.

Five Stars

Report this review (#284975)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Out of sheer curiosity because of the praise, and out of awe at the beautiful, gloomy cover art, I blindly bought Still Life at a local record store. This was one of the best decisions I made 2 years ago.

From first listen, I loved the music, and I'd already been able to tolerate growling vocals, so they weren't a hampering my experience in the band. However, on further exploration, I found so much more in the music, and in the background that created such a violent, majestic, beautiful atmosphere that corresponds so perfectly the concept of the album. With each new listening, I found nuances that made me love the songs even more.

I almost cannot listen to simply one song from this album without listening to the entire thing because I love every single one of them. They all flow perfectly and create such an unexplainable atmosphere of emotional intensity and clever musicianship.

While this album can be difficult to digest because of the growling vocals, it is brilliant by all means and is my favorite by Opeth. Recommended for all who can at least tolerate harsh vocals

Report this review (#294801)
Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Universally praised Still Life really deserves all its glory. Obviously, for me majority of Opeth albums is fantastic and unique, but well... I'm a fan. I love this band like a family member. Even when they release a bad album (Watershed) I still love them. But why so many people here on ProgArchives claim that this is the best album of this swedish band.

This site is about prog and Still Life is, without a doubt, the most classically progressive Opeth' album. There are diversity of influences, complex composition and a good production. Moreover, this one is less heavy than previous albums, thus more accesible. There are more clean vocals, often multi-layered, and melodic passages of acoustic guitars. Mikael Akerfeldt finally shows his fantastic singing skills. Soft smooth jazz vocals in turns with diabolic growls; powerful parts of distortion guitar in turns with acoustic guitars; pure soft beauty in turns with powerful rage with gothic feel about it - that's what is the essence of this record.

Flaws? There is not any! This is absolutely flawless release, no matter how absurdly it sounds. The fourth Opeth' album, along with My Arms, You Hearse, is one of the best metal and prog metal releases of all time.


Report this review (#306956)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ok,this is my favorite album!It's a masterpiece!The concept is splendid!That's a story about a banned love in middle ages.The music has beautiful and right changes((I mean that they exist in the appropriate moments),(It's melancholic,very aggressive,violent,jazzy e.t.c))!The vocals are perfect(as always)!

I don't have favourite tracks for this album because I like all the album.Of course I separate The moor,godhead's lament,moonlapse vertigo,serenity painted death(the best track of the album and generally my favorite track from Opeth)and white cluster.

The artwork is so fantastic!The mourning woman with the cross behind her and the red fondo fit perfectly!!

I challenge everyone to listen to this album.I believe that is a must-have for every music admirer and appreciator.Because it isn't death metal with splatter.It's progressive death metal with meaning.

My grade:10/10(it can be excessive but I love this album)

Report this review (#310881)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's high time to separate the facts from the hyperbole regarding this album.

When reviewers claim that something is the best ever in the history of the genre--and then often with the gall to bolster this with phrases such as "unquestionably" or "hands-down"--they do the actual review a disservice, undermining the legitimate critiques that are usually included as well.

Unfortunately, I expect to find some of this for any set of album reviews, but for some reason there seem to be a lot more for Still Life. I can't figure out what drives this passion. Can I enjoy the album without believing that I'm listening to the work of gods handed down from above?

But, I digress.

Still Life has much going for it, such as the compelling storyline, the nicely-done album art and sleeve, and a very distinctive sound, complete with plenty of delicate passages and both guitar and vocal harmonies. Here Opeth show creativity, musicality, and restraint...that is when they are not howling, growling, double-bassing, and generally piercing eardrums and crushing skulls.

On the downside, I don't find much of the music terribly compelling beyond the guitar harmonies and delicate parts. Transitions also aren't very good--that is, unless you enjoy listening to music by putting the volume on low and instantaneously cranking it up to eleven. Much of the album sounds to me like relatively simple hammering away in 4/4 time. They are good at it--and have a good sound for it--but it's not enough to keep me interested for long.

Highlights: The Moor, Face of Melinda. Unlike much of the rest of the album (i.e., play loud and fast, then play slow and quiet), these songs use dynamics much better to build tension and create a flow to the piece. The Moor is particularly distinctive, with its creepy, brooding buildup to the bone crushing middle section, followed by a beautiful delicate section.

Overall a solid album with a great story and a compelling sound, but certainly no masterpiece in my book. If even the great Clapton is indeed mortal, then I'm going to remain skeptical about the godliness of the Opeth boys until further notice.

Report this review (#314145)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars One day a friend told me about this group, was really very good, so I dove into it. When I heard the album I was surprised at both the sound quality than sound very powerful, unfortunately to my ears that are struggling to get this power and strength. The album did not trigger for me all the passions that some may have, probably has the violence of his or certain passages. The passages of sweetness with mixt widely passages in force, yelling and calm can hurt the ears at the variations too great. The result, however, a certain originality, but I did not hit as many have been fascinated by this album. The technique is very good musicians. The compositions suffer a bit in favor of contrasts and sequences, both variations are not quite worked.

Report this review (#314285)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A lot of 4 and 5 star reviews for this album. Yikes. I was aware of these guys in the '90s but never listened to them. When this came out I no longer listened to current metal. I never liked growling. I thought it was silly. I thought it was a fad and wouldn't last long. Consider me as ignorant as people who said "that rap stuff will be gone in a few years" back in 1990. Obviously, my favourite parts of this album is where there is no growling. This is the first full Opeth album I have heard. To me this about 75% metal and 25% prog.

The best part on the whole album is the first 2 minutes of "The Moor". Absolutely great guitar sounds. The rest of the album is a let down after that. The song then goes into acoustic guitar territory. Then gets heavy with the awful growling. Nice riff halfway through with harmony vocals. Acoustic guitar again and then harmonized guitars. Some great tremolo/vibrato guitar before everything gets ruined with more growling and heavyness.

The best part of "Godhead's Lament" is when the acoustic guitar and 'normal' vocals come in. The harmony vocals near the end are good and remind me of Alice In Chains. "Moonlapse Vertigo" has a bit of Hendrix-style guitar playing in the middle. "Face Of Melinda" has more Alice In Chains style harmony vocals. First half mostly acoustic and slightly jazzy. Jazzy snare drum with brushes in the middle. Gets heavier later.

"Serenity Painted Death" has yet more Alice In Chains harmony vocals. In the middle there is some great guitar sounds before the growling comes in. Nice jazzy guitar at the end. This is not a horrible album nor is it great. I've heard better non-prog and prog metal. This would appeal to prog fans who enjoy non-prog metal. Basically this is death metal with some folky and slightly jazzy strains. I think this deserves 2.5 but I'll round it up to 3 stars.

Report this review (#325370)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opeth have managed to break the cycle of repeating itself at "My Arms, Your Hearse". However, that was a relatively immature album; The brutality in tone was a result of musical instability rather than a compliance with dark nature of its story.

In Still Life, The band has blended diverse musical tastes in a balance by breaking away its past overdosed folky tone and it has succeeded to set the integrity between the riffs in a more perceptive way. Consistency of reflecting the tension of the storyline to melodies is also stimulating in this musically prolific work of art. Considering that, in the following albums, a slight distortion of this harmony can be seen due to ongoing bravely experimental pursuit, Opeth have reached to its climax in this album.

Report this review (#333427)
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars Well, Opeth, always divided me!

I mean, I like their progressive side, really like it, but I don't like the gutural vocals, even known that is part of their sound, their 'personality', it's always bothers me a little.

The album, is their best till that specific moment (1999) and here we have a variety of sounds, lot of acoustic guitars, some keyboards, and background vocals here, there and everywhere, which makes a nice contrast with the gutural vocals and the heaviness of the band.

I guess it's the favorite of a lot of people because of this, variety in sounds, combining two very diferent worlds: the heavy and the melodic!

Report this review (#345061)
Posted Monday, December 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ah.... Still Life. This is where Opeth truly began to shine.

There previous release, My Arms, Your Hearse, while it bended towards Opeth style today that we know and love today. If one has listened to any of their previous albums, one can tell that Mikael Akerfeldt's death vocals deepened considerably on this album. The album also has a highly psychedelic feel to it, much different from the more folky, black metal of the first two albums and the rough death metal sound of their previous album.

The album is a concept album dealing with a man who has rejected his faith and fled the town in fear of death. However, he returns for the love of his life Melinda. Things soon turn tragic after that.

The album features seven tracks but does not disappoint with any of them. The Moor and White Cluster are both songs that last over ten minutes. They both showcase how well Opeth is able to play their music. Godhead's Lament and Moonlapse Vertigo are shorter version of the opening and closing song but are just as well played and performed. Serenity Painted Death is one of Opeth's finest song's, truly showing their ability to merge death metal with progressive rock.

However, the two shining gems on this album are the two "ballads": Benighted and Face of Melinda. Calling them ballads is using the term loosely. The former is an acoustic piece which closes with a jazzy like guitar solo while the other is a song that resembles in form a rock ballad, but does not relish in fancy guitar solos. Both of these songs showed that Opeth was capable of writing beautiful songs that were not filler (Credence) or forced (To Bid You Farewell).

Overall, I would recommend this album to anyone who is looking to get into Opeth. One of their finest, right behind Ghost Reveries and Blackwater Park.

Report this review (#371739)
Posted Monday, January 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Beautifully Brutal! Can such a band juxtapose beauty and brutality? Can two contrasts be blended into making a masterpiece? Opeth responds with a resounding roar! Yes Opeth have molded a masterpiece of two contrasting styles. Imagery of bleakness and beauty pervade throughout Still Life. Mikael is one of the most talented vocalists in metal. It is a mystery that he can sing with such a beautiful, soothing voice and in seconds switch to beastly, inhuman growls. (Which are insanely amazing on this album- his growls are by far the most raw and twisted sounding in this album). It is said that he has the voice of heaven and hell. Listen to the Serenity Painted Death vocal, "White Face, hagrid grin. It's a serenity painted death", as you will see how sweet his growls are.

From bluesy guitar solos, melodic riffs, to pulverizing death metal grunge, Still Life has it all. The Moor opens up the album perfectly and takes listeners on a beautiful brutal journey (ha ha). There are some absolutely gorgeous moments as Mikael sings, and haunting moments when he growls (The Moor opening growl is so pleasing). Memorable riffs and melodies are ever present. Wonderful acoustic breaks, a typical Opeth trademark, show up too! Lyrically it tells a love story poetically, but has a bleak ending. It deals with some religious hypocrisy as well. Mikael is a gifted writer and musician (As well as one of the best vocalists!)

This is my favorite Opeth album by far. It is a masterpiece proving that brutal elements can be blended into softer melodies. Five out of five. Thanks Opeth!!!!

Report this review (#402983)
Posted Friday, February 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Still Life ? 1999 (3.4/5) Almost 4 stars 11 ? Best Song: Benighted? According to Progarchives, and the whole of the progressive community, this, and not Blackwater Park, is the band's creative zenith. Well, that's all and good, they are entitled to their opinions, even if said opinions are waterlogged with idiocy. I'm a nice guy in person, I swear it. If anything, this is the first installment in band's golden period of creativity. Immediately upon listening to 'The Moor' I was overcome with the feeling that this album was going to be a little different from their past releases. Other words that came to mind were 'artistic growth' and 'learning from your roots'. The guitars have a more exciting tone, and definitely rock more convincingly, without the band relying on the obnoxious double-bucket chuckaka-thwomp of normal death metal. The lines are twisted and convoluted, definitely appealing to my interest in unpredictability. The solos that ride BEHIND the riff and vocals (which is an interesting, very atmospheric move, and certainly not wasted) are meaningful. When the lead singer finally breaks from his monstrous roar to sing cleanly, I will bet you you'll be as shocked as I am. The guy actually has an ear for melody! What a shocker. Oh, did I mention I'm only talking about the first song? They like to get [&*!#] done, and do so with some verve and at least an ounce of nerve. The last couple minutes of the song have to be heard to be believed. One thing Opeth doesn't have, though, is modesty. Only one song is under 7 minutes in length, 'Benighted', which happens to be the most engaging tun to my ears. Maybe it's how every song surrounding it is a meteor of fury and repose, the this quiet little number sneaks in and acts like a miniature centerpiece ? a storehouse for releasing the built up tension so you aren't swamped by the repetitious side 2; and yes, this album is highly repetitive. It's formulaic. The song will have a few minutes of neat ? I say neat because these guys ain't gods of melody ? soft playing, then the crashing guitars rip in. The stark opposition is half of why this type of record is so exciting. I can't say Still Life is Opeth's masterpiece ? the melodies aren't that memorable ? but it sure is interesting.
Report this review (#441756)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opeth has a lot of great music, but Still Life is the one album where it all came together the most. It combines their mellow and beautiful passages with their bone-crushing metal stylings in a tremendous way, and their songwriting, song by song, from start to finish, has never been better. Every song on here is absolutely aces, and the sound and production is off the charts good: it's not as raw as their earlier material, but not too refined as to restrict their heaviness. Not that the newer stuff does that per se, but the material on this record is still a little raw and rough, and it needed that bit of edginess in sound for the full effect to be gotten, and it just works.

Opeth has many albums I would call essential - pretty much every album from this one through Watershed - but this is their overall best. Albums like Blackwater Park, Ghost Reveries and Deliverance arguably have slightly higher highs, but the least best songs on those records, while still good, really stand out. With Still Life, trying to rank the songs from best to worst would be next to impossible; every song is that good, and the quality is that consistent throughout.

Report this review (#478803)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Still Life is one of the greatest progressive metal records of all time and one of the best albums Opeth has done. It combines flawless technique, beautiful singing, brutal growls, creepy atmospheres and all of the elements that turned Opeth into the monster they are today.

This record has some of the best riffs in Akerfeldt career (Godhead's Lament for example) and some very nice acoustic work (The Moor's intro). Mikael's vocals are outstanding, he gives a melancholic, sad, desperate feeling, great for songs like Face of Melinda and Benighted.

Opeth seems like a mature band at this point of their career (1999), and is demonstrated by the complex song structures, the balanced use of the gutural voice and the way they create tension by using the more mellow sections of the songs.

The highlights of the album: every single song... it's just an awesome album. If you make me choose I would probably have to go with The Moor (may be Opeth's best song) or Face of Melinda.

To me, this is vintage Opeth; if you really want to know what they're all about you should get this album. You won't be disappointed.

Report this review (#493193)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars OPETH: The leaders of progressive metal. "Still Life" is regarded by most as the best progressive metal albums ever. And i would have to agree with this statement 100%. Unmatched acoustic guitar work; "widdly" as Mikael says. Amazing and original guitar riffs, complex drumming, and most importantly, Mikaels vocals; both clean and soft, are a gift from another planet. "Still Life" was my introduction to Opeth and I believe this is their magnum opus, and that's saying a lot considering were speaking of Opeth who outdo themselves on every single one of their albums. Listening to this album in 5.1 surround sound further increases the joy that comes from hearing this album. You feel as if you're engulfed by the drumming, and the acoustic guitars flow through your head while the insanely heavy guitars are slamming into your face.

Mikael states that this is his most complex songwriting he has ever done, and that he is very proud of it. The concept of the album centers around a man who has been banished from his society because he started to question his faith. He then returns for his love, Melinda who is being pressured into marriage because of family tradition. Things start to get a bit hectic as a result.

"The Moor" starts off the album with a slowly progressing, creepy guitar piece with some bass elements. The 'widdly' guitar comes into play at around the 2 minute mark, until your face is smashed in by a wall of crushing guitars.Complex drumming, and an amazing original guitar riff get this song rolling. All the intricate, beautiful and haunting breakdowns in this song really show off basically every Opeth element. Truly a masterpiece of a song and a wicked album opener.10/10

"Godhead's Lament" is one of my personal favorites on this album. It begins with crushing guitars and speedy double bass pedals that make your legs hurt thinking about it. Mikaels growls are spot on in this song; you can understand every word if you pay enough attention. Once again some great guitar work; very original riffs and complex time signatures: all Opeth-esque elements. About halfway through the song, they break down into a foresty acoustic breakdown with beautiful clean vocals. This part makes this track completely standout from the rest. The poetic lyrics are just melancholy and Mikaels voice just brings out the emotions that reside within them perfectly. The way they transition from that acoustic melody back to the, once again amazing, crushing guitar riffs is just pure bliss. Ending the song they combine all the elements of the song with perfect precision with the distorted guitar and clean vocals mixed. Ah, I must sound like a hopeless fan-boy by now. 10/10

"Benighted" is another amazing display of Mikaels acoustic skills. Coincidentally, the intro riff was "borrowed" from CAMELS "Never Let Go", who I also love very much(CAMEL is actually one of Mikaels main influences). When I first heard this song, I knew I found one of the most amazing bands on the planet. It has a very bluesy acoustic solo about halfway through it which is just perfect. 10/10

"Moon-lapse Vertigo" begins with a blast of low end distorted guitars with lead guitars wailing over them harmoniously. Following this, a very dramatic riff accompanied by an acoustic guitar of all things! Very interesting and unique mixture of instruments if I must say. This gives a metal/folk feeling. It then breaks down into an acoustic arpeggio combined with Mikaels beautiful vocals once again. Once again you are slammed with devastating growling and heavy guitar riffs. This pattern continues, and that's a good thing because you just don't want it to end. To make matters more interesting, they include an extremely bluesy solo section; you can actually hear the bass player! The ending is perfection; complex guitar riffing coupled with Mikaels clean vocals.. 10/10

"Face of Melinda" Another quiet song; featuring stunning fret less bass by Mr. Martin Mendez. Mikael once again shows off his unmatched acoustic work. This song really shows off Mikaels clean vocals, as well. The ending distorted guitar riff really makes this song come together. 10/10

"Serenity Painted Death" I'd say this is up there with Godhead's Lament and The Moor in terms of complete brilliance. An outstanding Prog-Metal song. The chorus is just amazing: "White faced, haggard grin, this serenity painted death; with a halo of bitter disease, black paragon in lingering breath." The song is telling the part of the story where Melinda is killed, and he basically goes into a murderous rampage and begins killing ever guard or "council" person he sees. A breathtaking acoustic interlude precedes a melodic guitar riff, with clean vocals; then ending the song with the chorus,(ah, those pinch harmonics) and an acoustic bit that ends at just the right(or wrong?) time. 10/10

"White Cluster" begins with a crushing blast beat, and continues with metal brilliance. Odd time signatures flourish in this song, as do Mikaels intense metal vocals. This song tells the part where he is being imprisoned, on 'death row' if you will, later to be hung. He is accepting the fact that he is going to die and justifies it with the knowledge of being able to see his beloved Melinda once again. Once again, the band goes into an bluesy-acoustic interlude with meaningful lyrics. The guitar solo in the end is breathtaking; as are the amazing and mind-melting time signatures, speed, and complexity of the drumming.10/10

Overall, 5/5

If you love progressive metal, this is THE album to get. It has so many different elements in it that never get old. I've probably listened to this album in the upwards of 50 times, and still hear something new every time. I highly recommend the 5.1 edition if you have the correct DVD player. It just makes this disk THAT much better.

I only have ONE gripe about this album, and it really isn't that big of a deal, but you can barely hear the bassist at all. You can hear him a lot in "face of Melinda" but that's about it. And, me being a bassist, I would love to be able to hear what he's playing.

Report this review (#566431)
Posted Friday, November 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Opeth's Still Life opens with one of the band's best tracks - the progressive death metal epic The Moor - but it soon loses its way as the band find themselves unable to focus their musical experiments into a cohesive and rich sound. Whilst Mikael Ĺkerfeldt is indeed mighty, his clean vocals are much less interesting, and the clean backing vocals that turn up at points verge on the cheesy. The flow of the album is disrupted horribly by the overlong and overproduced acoustic ballad Benighted - which might have been a decent enough interlude if its running time had been trimmed back and the simple acoustic guitar of it first stages hadn't been drowned under studio effects.

After that, the album's momentum is lost, and to be honest a lot of the death metal segments in its second half seem rather average for the genre. It's an OK listen, but I feel it's rather overrated.

Report this review (#636076)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is it. Opeth's grand opus. Despite common fan opinions, I believe this is a greater achievement than the much fabled Blackwater Park.

The entire album revolves around a style that is both brutal and beautiful, with stunning moments of melodic goodness, with some truly headbanging riffs in there too. The 11 and a half minute opener "The Moor" begins with some lovely acoustic guitar, showing one side of the band, before blasting into pure chaos, the other side. This track boasts some of the best riffs Opeth have, and yet has one of the best melodic vocal lines as well. A true opener.

"Godhead's Lament" begins in the same style as the Moor, but without as many great riffs. Sometimes the guitar feels a bit muddled, but that all fades as it goes into possibly the best melodic section on the record (save Benighted)

"Benighted" is Opeth's best 'acoustic' song. Like Harvest and Hours of Wealth from later albums, it is all clean, and has some very nice acoustic guitar layering. One of the better songs of the record, possibly even the best, despite its length.

"Moonlapse Vertigo" (what a [%*!#]ing song title) is probably the heaviest on the album, with a nice grinding riff moving through the middle section, and another very good clean section at the end.

As of now I have realised I have almost nothing to add to each song, since they all follow the same formula (except Benighted) of cool riff, brootal growling, awesome acoustic, Mikael Akerfeldt's stunning clean vocals, except in a different order each time. But that's what makes this album fantastic. Opeth have perfected their style, and I'm not surprised they got bored of it after a while.

Overall, a masterpiece, and if you want a taste of the 'Opeth formula", then this is your best bet.

Report this review (#744340)
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Still Life" by Opeth is the most widely aclaimed extreme prog metal album on this site. Released in 1999, Still Life tells the story of a man in the dark ages who was kicked out of his village due to religious reasons, and comes back to find his "babe" and ends up causing alot of trouble. Ive noticed that on this album, there are harsh and often jagged guitar riffs, joined by graceful melodies. "Still Life" is definitely Opeth's signature masterpiece!

"The Moor" opens the album with an acoustic guitar riff which then blasts into a fast and powerful death metal track. "Godheads Lament" starts abruptly with a jagged guitar riff and then gos into a much more gentle rock melody. "Benighted" is a soft acoustic guitar riff with beautiful vocals from Mikeal Akerfeldt. "Moonlapse Vertigo" is possibly one of my favorite songs off of this album, with both elements of death metal and soft acoustic moments. "Face of Melinda" is a ballad, definitely for the dislikers of death metal grunts. "Serenity Painted Death" has technical riffs and harsh death metal vocals. "White Cluster" is much more of a prog metal song than the majority of this album. This song has fast double-pedalling, plus dark and metrical patterns.

Overall, if you're a prog fan, you will regret having this in your collection. all the information i have left is please, buy this album!

Report this review (#842921)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sometimes, having a bad first taste with a band can have unexpectedly delightful consequences. Take the highly revered progressive metal band Opeth. I tried to get into them through the debut ORCHID, and haven't been exactly excited about them until try number 2, STILL LIFE. I actually did set my expectations higher due to the album's reputation, but didn't quite go full-blown excited seeing how ORCHID bombed for me.

The two major differences between point A and now are that first, the production is much better. I have said that ORCHID's production was ''decent'', but this album is better to the point where I notice. This is crystal clear progressive metal production that doesn't overbear on anything (especially since there are no keyboards anywhere). Second, Mikael Akerfeldt has vastly improved his songwriting and compositional skills. There's no plodding from death riff to death riff here.

The whole album feels seamless. Transitioning among the many different themes feels so natural that any change in direction doesn't feel forced or abrupt. The dynamic levels sound just right; the first few minutes of a song might be very metal, but halfway through the song, the pacing will breathe and allow gentle acoustic passages. Many of the heavier, meatier riffs actually have sort of a bright tone to them despite the dark content. The listener, in a sense, gets the most upliftingly morose album they've ever heard in their life.

As far as band comparisons go, the big one that comes to mind for me is Camel, believe it or not. Okay, Akerfeldt did irritatingly swipe the opening of "Never Let Go" for the opening of "Benighted", but that track eventually morphs into its own serene track (still, the swipe will always bother me). Even after the fact, listen to the opening of the album again and tell me that doesn't remind you of THE SNOW GOOSE if you've heard it.

As long as the tracks are, there's rarely this sense of checking the run time to figure out how much longer the song has to go. The transitions and dynamic levels really do help the flow. It helps "The Moor" and "White Cluster" become progressive metal classics in their own regard. "The Face of Melinda" might be my choice pick due to the constant inside progression of the piece and the fact that it's (nearly) absent of death growls. Akerfeldt is better of a singer than I had initially realised, and the softer, serene moments where the instrumentation is not much more than an acoustic guitar and Akerfeldt's voice are some of the album's better moments.

Other than a lack of instantaneously memorable quotes, STILL LIFE is indeed a classic of progressive metal.

Report this review (#851691)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Before beginning, I should preface this by saying that before stumbling upon this album in the top 100 list last year when I discovered this website, I had never heard of Opeth and was not a fan of death metal. I had a preconceived notion that screaming and growling scuttled musicality and would result in an inferior work. I was dead wrong. That was blind prejudice and I openly admit to my iniquity by making that assumption. What the growls do here is they punctuate and add high emotion and energy to each moment in which they are presented. The alternation between these passages and those with clean vocals also serves a double purpose of delineating the form and providing a wonderful sense of contrast that showcases the group's emotional depth and variety.

This album in particular is a strong narrative. I tend to favor albums like these because a strong story is a wonderful source of unification. It also can result in more emotional musical gestures as the instruments depict and recreate the action described by the vocals. This album is a wonderful example of music matching text, track for track. Each section of the album indicates a different scene, guiding the listener through each moment of determination, sorrow, and squalor while preserving, even augmenting the emotion within each moment with the music itself. The story is dark, multi-faceted, and brutal. The intense nature of the music mirrors these qualities perfectly. In order for this story to be told correctly, the growls are arguably indispensable for this reason. No other musical vehicle would do it justice.

This is in my top 5 albums of all time, no question. It sits most deservedly on this pedestal alongside releases by Genesis, King Crimson, and VDGG. Why? Because musically, conceptually, and emotionally, it's gripping and satisfying in a powerful and unique way. It is an irreplaceable part of my collection and only becomes more firmly cemented in my mind as a critical musical achievement with each listen. Do not judge an album harshly for its subgenre and brutality, I implore you. You will only be denying yourself an opportunity to hear a truly accomplished album and treat yourself to a positively enriching listening experience, as long as you're open to it of course.

Report this review (#946314)
Posted Friday, April 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is clearly my favourite album by Opeth. Altough I started with Damnation, as many people do, and not being very familiar with death metal gutural voices, the music, the concept, the production... well, everything that concerns this album is just amazing. This album, also, is very important in Opeth career, as it started another way of making music for them (at least, I see the differences with the other albums of the pre-Still Life era), and shows without any doubt their maturity. The Moor is just outstanding, and so Serenity Painted Death, and, well, so on. Even the softer (in terms of music, not in quality) parts, as Benighted or Face of Melinda are perfect and will please the ears of those who enjoy sofisticated pieces. After that song, the whole album continues, without any stop, in a very hard way, but ends in piano, the same way the album started. For me, a life-changing album.
Report this review (#987805)
Posted Friday, June 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9.5/10

There is a reason that this album is rated the highest of any Tech/ Extreme Prog Metal album. It's because it is the best one.

Pros The musicianship. This is the album that really got me into Opeth, and really the only album by the band that I continue to listen to on a regular basis. And that is because the instrumentation of the album is incredible. The unique sounds of this album was really what got me. This is one of the only instances where an acoustic guitar is used in black metal, and that intrigued me. I was pretty much hooked on the album ever since I heard The Moor for the first time. Not only is the diversity in the music great in this album, the lyrics are something that backs it up very well. The lyrics go well with the tone that the music brings, and they have some great depth as well. Mikael Akerfeldt is one of my favorite vocalists, and that is solely because of his work on this album. The growls in music like this may be something that drives away most people, however Mikael's clean voice is one of the most unique voices I have ever heard. Not to mention that it goes perfectly with the music.

Cons The only complaint that I would have with the album is that some of the songs sound similar. For example, Moonlapse Vertigo sounds similar to Godhead's Lament. However that's not exactly a bad thing. If two great songs sound similar, does it really matter if they sound similar?

Report this review (#1008957)
Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have not been a fan of music where the singers growl, I feel kind of offended. When I knew Opeth, I had the same impression. Then, I listened to DAMNATION and my perspective towards this band changed completely. I could learn and admire the intelligent musical arrangements in every song and of course Mikael Akerfeldt's voice. So, little by little my interest in Opeth grew more with WATERSHED, an impressive album. So, I decided to go and see them live, and believe me, it has been one of the best concerts I have been. I sweated a lot jumping and headbanging and screaming and singing aloud. Then, I decided to give it try to all the albums and STILL LIFE was one of them. Supposedly, the one that marked the change in their music, and indeed it is different... yes, it is aggressive, yes, it has growling voice in most of the songs but the complexity in their music is worthy of progressive rock, with excellent mixtures of acoustic guitars and electric guitars, a bass player (Martin Mendez) who is remarkable at the way he plays, and the drumming of Martin Lopez, remarkable as well. Akerfeldt also combines his voice from growling to melodic, from melodic to growling, and believe, never had I heard a neat and perfect growling as Akerfeldt has, the best by far. The album contains a couple of quiet songs, which are really covered with acoustic nuances. This album is incredible! Yet, if you want to hear it, you must be open and ready for whatever it comes!
Report this review (#1024531)
Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars What else can be said about this album that hasn't been said? This album is an absolute masterpiece of the genre. I am the first to admit that growling vocals rub me the wrong way, but Akerfeldt's performance is such a nice juxtaposition between dark and light, that I appreciate the growling in Opeth's music. This album much like Mikael's singing represents the duality of man incredibly well. The compositions, musicianship and production on this release are all truly worthy of the hype associated with the record. It is likely my favorite Opeth album (narrowly topping Blackwater Park, Ghost Reveries and the excellent Live at the Royal Albert Hall). Folks that want to hear some incredible prog that might be different or "rougher" than the Camel, Gentle Giant or Yes in their collection should give this album a chance... For my money Opeth, Dream Theater, Umphrey's McGee and Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree are the modern bands that are the standard bearers of the "prog spirt" of the 70's... This is one of the albums that defines what "modern" prog is for me. A great record that warrants multiple listens and worth pushing through if at first the growls are off putting to you...
Report this review (#1089967)
Posted Saturday, December 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars While sticking to My Arms Your Hearse formula of long songs with alternating death metal and acoustic sections and some more traditional metal riffs and solos, Still Life improves in major areas. Songs are longer, extreme parts are better integrated, creating for some interesting textures, as opposed to just juxtaposing the two extremes. Some of the riffs and solos are actually catchy to nod your head to in a thrashy sort of way, as opposed to just skull crushing and dissonant. But I still think this is overrated. Almost every song from the My Arms-Still Life period repeats the same formula heavy-less heavy-acoustic etc. and you'd be pretty much content with one of them, say, The Moor, or Godheads Lament. Fortunately, the album redeems itself with Face of Melinda, which is a classicist tune that has nothing to do with modern metal, foreshadowing things to come in Heritage and Pale Communion, proving that talented people would be talented in all the styles they try.
Report this review (#1285959)
Posted Monday, September 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Searching my way to perplexion..."

Well, I guess it was time for me to start reviewing my personal favorite genre of music, as I previously had steered away from reviewing Tech/Extreme Prog Metal bands because I felt that the metalhead in me would explode at the mere thought. I think I'm fine now. Let's begin at the very peak of the genre: Opeth's Still Life

There's probably not much more to say than what has already been said about Still Life. A masterpiece of progressive death metal? Sure. Flawed? Certainly, but sometimes flaws are like the dust and cracks of great work of art that has been left sitting the attic. Since the overblown digital productions of the modern age, Metal as a genre has gone out of its way to fix those minor cracks and the end result has been an overlypolished caricature and mirage. Still Life is one of those rare albums that is only about the music within, and the story to fit the music. It takes you to a haunting Moor in the Medieval ages, bathes you in memorable melodies and destroys your head in a way only Opeth can. All the tracks have their places, although the weakest one is clearly White Cluster. Most people overlook the gems that are Godhead's Lament and Moonlapse Vertigo, but I digress.

With this album Opeth created an atmosphere that is almost unrivalled in terms of Death Metal, and it can be seen as their peak, and although many of the following albums are brilliant as well, they never captured that diamond in the rough sound which already was hinted at in My arms, Your Hearse. This is an album that will not be surpassed in quite sometime. 5/5

Report this review (#1370395)
Posted Thursday, February 19, 2015 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars Prayer for our still life. Regardless of my first OPETH, I could not help feeling as if this album should be one of my musical roots. Based upon melodic core metal, they keep sending out fresh troops of sensitive sound shower. Their musical box is full of sound essence of Swedish metal scene ... heavy riffs with grindcore vibes, sensitive melodic Fantasia, refined chorus along with strict rhythm section plays, extreme sharp-edged guitar solos ... all of OPETHeoretical energetic progressive strategies would be accumulated and integrated like a powerful pyramid.

On the other hand, I guess they might play fully with artistic delight for letting the audience listen to their complex melody lines in such a complicated manner, of course their playing skill, instrumental technique,or composition faculty should be awesome though. We can get immersed in their world just as if we would fall into catastrophic illusion via this massive production.

Cynically mentioning aside, their theatrical schemes and movements can be felt pretty innovative. Assume that such a death-metallic style could be heard via North European progressive metal originated with the giant vanguards in North Euro melodic (non-progressive) metal scene ... basical metal sound visions with explosive loudness and deathcore voices would be shifted to mystic gorgeous rock phrases tinged with classical flavour somehow. The first repetitive confusive conductive phrases, beautiful acoustic storytelling, aloud hardcore voices plus deep explosive phases, and polished chorus or verse ... they all hold their hands and merge themselves into others completely. There is no useless tone nor unnecessary sound. On a natural course.

We cannot frequently come across such a colourful creation filled with nonpartisan sound variations, let me say. Afraid there might be pros and cons for / against this album but this innovative cornerstone was / is another multi-flavourful gem.

Report this review (#1556982)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nş 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*)

Report this review (#1612518)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Opeth's fourth album, 'Still Life' is for many where the band finally established their classic sound in all its glory. 'My Arms, Your Hearse' brought in two new musicians and a serious alteration in the band's music writing style: heavier, more brutal, and with a more natural inclusion of lighter parts into their now heavier songs. But Mikael Akerfeldt was deeply influenced by progressive music by this point and claims that 'Still Life' was their most progressive album up to that time.

What is interesting to note on this album is how the heavier guitar chords are very well balanced with higher tone riffs, allowing for complex riffing to coexist with the more thunderous side of the band's heavy sound. As if intentionally in complement, Mikael's death vocals also show two sides: a deep guttural bellow and a wet, back-of- the-throat, blasting roar. These two vocal styles are best heard in the chorus to 'Serenity Painted Death', where the first part is sung (or vocalized?) in the deeper voice and the second part in the higher, shredding voice. In fact, it is this song that finally made me appreciate the skill and talent behind death vocals. Previously I had likened this style of vocalizing to a demon with severe stomach troubles the night after an ungodly pasta binge and heavy drinking. Perhaps somewhat unfortunately now, all death vocalists I hear will be compared to Mikael Akerfeldt.

I'll admit that in the beginning this album was a slow grower for me when I brought it home four years ago. At first, only 'Serenity Painted Death' and 'White Cluster' stood out as memorable. But earlier this year, I this album on frequently and my brain become awakened to its overall charm. Mikael's clean vocals are stronger than they were on the previous three albums and can now create an atmosphere. The acoustic part in 'Godhead's Lament' makes me think of Jethro Tull a bit, and the use of acoustic and clean electric guitar passages in the heavier songs has really become a natural development within the song frameworks. Daring to go further than before, Opeth give us 'Benighted', an all-acoustic track plus some clean electric guitar with a smooth jazzy feel and all clean vocals. 'Face of Melinda' also spends the first four minutes delivering an easy-swaying acoustic number with light jazz-influenced percussion. The inclusion of these tracks shows that the band is not driven towards an album of brutal auditory assault like many or most of their death metal contemporaries but is instead striving for texture, mood, and melody alongside the expected aggressive music.

Looking at 11 lists ranking Opeth's albums, 'Still Life' has an average rank of 3.1, second only to 'Blackwater Park' with a 1.9 average rank. It is, in my opinion, one of the four essential Opeth albums from their progressive death metal period, along with 'Blackwater Park', 'Ghost Reveries' and "Watershed". And 'Serenity Painted Death' is one of my top 3 favourite classic Opeth period songs! I'd love to give this 4 1/2 stars but I'll settle with 4.

Report this review (#1739388)
Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Progressive Death Metal? Really? Ok!

Frankly, compared to Genesis, this album is absolutely horrible but, from a more Metal perspective this album takes it's time and when it hits, it hits hard. This album has extremely technical playing mixed with its extreme rhythmic patterns. It makes Dream Theater look weak and a little bit hard to play but, this album sure has its moments where it looks impossible to play on anything. To keep this review from getting to long, I want to close this review off with a few simple words... great and really interesting. Awesome. Although this album is great, their latest material is better. The song writing on this album is just unbelievably good, dynamic with lots of soft melodic moments and plenty of just well played out Death metal moments. Anyways this album is just... amazing, nothing on this album is just great.

Report this review (#2266745)
Posted Sunday, October 6, 2019 | Review Permalink

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