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




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.94 | 759 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars From the opening prologue, leading into 'April Ethereal's gigantic riff, the listener knows something special is about to be served. The question is, what is it?

It's inevitable on an archive site that there are as many questions directed at classifying a sound as there are explaining and extolling it. So. To those wondering if this is progressive rock, I'll let you answer that question yourselves. If you are rooted in the 1970s I have no doubt the bludgeoning riffs will convince you there is little or no 'prog' here. However, I do think this album, while displaying fewer prog tendencies than later OPETH albums, still showcases progressive sensibilities.

We all know about the impressive polyrhythms and time signature changes. But there is far more to OPETH than technical ability. Foremost among the band's many impressive qualities is that of songwriting. This album demonstrates the fruits of two previous outings: the songs are tighter and much shorter (having learned from their inability to pull off 'Black Rose Immortal' on their previous album). From a compositional perspective this album could be seen as regrouping, perfecting the shorter form before launching themselves back into the epic with 'Still Life'.

Though the songs are shorter, there are still many tracks on 'My Arms, Your Hearse' with an epic feel. 'April Ethereal' is magnificent, a nearly ten minute track (with the prologue) that never loses intensity. 'When' opens with an ear-bludgeoning sledgehammer, and doesn't really work for me - though here's where we first learn to appreciate MARTIN LOPEZ's drum work. 'Madrigal' shows the band beginning to separate some of their quieter moments, allowing the listener respite from their assault. 'The Amen Corner' doesn't quite work for me: I find it a little too ponderous. Nice opening growl though! 'Demon of the Fall' is rightly a fan favourite. 'Credence' and 'Epilogue' showcase OPETH's melodic side, separated by another stormer in 'Karma'. Two excellent bonus tracks round out your money's worth.

There's a maturity and sophistication here not common in the genre. This is not music for spotty-skinned sixteen year olds. It is challenging enough to be enjoyed by a much wider diversity of listeners. And it sounds like prog to me. The music is complex, the lyrics are thematic (in fact 'My Arms, Your Hearse' is a loose concept album) and the arrangements give the album depth. All it lacks is a sense of playfulness, but I suspect that's a bit much to ask of a death metal band.

A definite four-star album, lacking only the super-hook riffs, improved vocals and the mid-range songs that OPETH were soon to bring to the table.

russellk | 4/5 |


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