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Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse CD (album) cover

MY ARMS, YOUR HEARSE

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.94 | 722 ratings

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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Now, this is painful to do because I would LOVE to say that this album was perfect. Even though it's not, I think it deserves your attention anyway. While it lacks the same sound quality of the albums that follow it, My Arms, Your Hearse is without doubt an excellent work. This is probably, along with Deliverance, one of OPETH's heaviest albums; however, I consider MAYH the better of the two, by a wide margin. Even though there are audible glitches in the way the drums were recorded, Mikael Akerfeldt's bass (yes, you read that correctly) comes through much more clearly than on Blackwater Park and the albums after it. He really shines in particular on "Credence", but can be heard throughout.

Even if you aren't a metal fan and have doubts about the screaming vocals, they are very much in context here. MAYH is a concept album; this is the anguish of a soul that lives on after his death, but cannot find peace because he sees his beloved being consumed from the inside out by her grief for him. In fact, I think it's because of this unremitting grief that for most of the album he cannot reach her, and their one contact while she still lives (through her dreams in "April Ethereal") is disastrous. It comes far too soon and only deepens the pain, an outcome that grieves this spirit far more even than the mere fact of his death.

He watches as she buries herself more and more, turning to religion--but not as the comfort it can be; instead she practically becomes cloistered in the "Amen Corner", unable to embrace and celebrate their lives and the memories. (I don't believe this is anti-religious--only addressing a potential misuse. I think the spirit despises it because of how it further separates them in their case, not because religion itself is somehow inherently bad.) In "Demon of the Fall", she eventually comes near the point of suicide and even begins to hate him after a fashion--though it is most likely her own life she hates. She no longer even believes in him--with that, the last connection he has to her is severed ("Credence"). By the end, he realizes that the only thing left to him is to let go: she has become nearly as dead, if not more so than he is ("Karma"). It does seem, though, that they are reunited after her death, in a glorious "Epilogue".

The story is told in strange, convoluted lyrics (some never even sung, just printed in the booklet) which are hauntingly beautiful nonetheless. Particularly heartwrenching are the spirit's words in "Madrigal" when his separation from her really hits home: "I would comfort you if only I could, but as we all know...I am just thin air. Unaware as you are of my presence, you are losing yourself. Hiding in the amen corner." The standout tracks, for me, are "April Ethereal", "Demon of the Fall", "Karma", and the stunning "Epilogue", which may be one of OPETH's most moving songs ever. With its gorgeous Hammond organ and electric guitar work, it seems almost to resemble songs like "Mudmen" from PINK FLOYD's album Obscured by Clouds.

The only weaker points on MAYH are the two cover songs which, while not bad, do not quite come up to the same standard as the rest of the album, perhaps owing to their age. "Circle of the Tyrant" especially suffers in comparison to MAYH, and probably should have been released with an earlier OPETH album. "Remember Tomorrow" works well, however, especially after the classic rock vibe of "Epilogue". In my opinion, this should have been the only bonus track to follow MAYH proper. And, of course there were the recording issues with the drums (in no way a matter of Mr. López' playing ability, of course!). I can't give My Arms, Your Hearse a perfect score. Still, this is definitely a must-have album for fans of OPETH, metal, and of quality music in general.

FloydWright | 4/5 |

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