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

MY ARMS, YOUR HEARSE

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.94 | 773 ratings

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sgtpepper
4 stars With each album until My Arms, Your Hearse, Opeth made a giant progress taking contemporary influences and own dose of originality into the mixture of brutal death metal and clean acoustic driven music.

My Arms, Your Hearse is a departure from the black metal-influenced "Morningrise" and classic death-metal first record. The triumph of progressive rock/metal is starting to manifest itself by unusual song compositions, challenging instrumentation, concept themes and startling ideas. At the same time, MAYH is one of the darkest Opeth albums (well, there has not been an optimistic one until now ;-)), very heavy and ominous textures including lyrics. For me, listening to MYAH and realising its potential paved the way to further death metal and black metal explorations on my side - it opened my eyes.

Drums and bass guitar are very present on this release - the change of the drummer was a clever move resulting in sophisticated and varied patterns while paying a nod to current progressive metal trends. Keyboards are almost non- existing except organ in the beginning and the end and occassional piano shy playing. Guitars are well present, especially heavy and bleak original riffs that only Opeth can craft. Guitar solos are solid, too. However, it is the vocals, guitar riffs and drums that draw the most of my attention I listened to this album in winter while walking on the snowy roads with my big headphones. This album has simply one of the top notch death metal vocals, which positions the record even darker. Deep growling, typical for death metal is sometimes echoed, sometimes multiplied and Akerfeldt explores diverse possibilities with his growls. Listen to the ominous deep growls in the beginning of "Demon of the fall" - that is pure and timeless darkness.

The easy intro leads to energetic and aggressive "April Ethereal" featuring propulsive drumming where the new drummer positions himself in a positive light. Bleak growls chords don't give an optimistic twist either. A delicate acoustic passage followed by progressive metal intermezzo still results into a familiar death-metal territory with incredible vocal performance. "When" starts mellow but turns into a wild beast - any unfamiliar listener might be shocked by the sudden turn of the mood. "When" is a prime example of a typical chord structure of an Opeth song oscillating between Major and Minor. Similar to "April Ethereal", short soft sections are quickly flooded by heavy death-metal driven parts. Remarkable are last 4 minutes recorded in a more relaxed way with clean vocals. "Madrigal" is a forgettable interlude to one of the best tracks on the album, "Amen Corner", which I consider superior to "Demon of the fall".

The slow and repetitive dark riff is replaced by dark echoed growl. Finally at 1:40, the track starts its constant development without having a traditional verse-chorus structure. A delicate acoustic guitar duet can be heard before a doom/death metal part, followed again by a suprising accessible metal clean vocal music. When you think that the evil times are over and enjoy the guitar soloing, at 6:37 the storm rages on again - brutal death metal growls multiplied by intensive drumming. Especially the scream at 7:00 is chilling; it leaves frost enter your body. The intensity and heaviness carries on until 30 seconds before the end, then it leaves space for a relaxing outro.

"Demon of the fall" might be the best known track out of this album and for a good reason - performed often at concerts in acoustic or original format; featuring trademark growls, heavy riffs and indeed also a memorable melody with a hint of optimism. The multiplied death metal vocal in the beginning is extremely powerful and sinister; this song is first and foremost a death metal vocal showcase and an inspiration to other death metal vocalists. The ethereal soft acoustic guitar part is a balsam for the soul. Clean vocals that can be heard until the end do not surpass the death metal vocals - at this point of career, Akerfeld was a better growler and clean vocalist - which would change in the future.

"Credence" is the only longer acoustic track on the album, not very memorable, though. Drum fills and rhythm changes are the most interesting for me here. The track could have been shorter for what it offers; indeed, it does not fit great to the remaining tracks.

"Karma" rushes listener to come back to the sinister dark mood. Death metal starts off until an Akerfeld ingenious harmony vocal at 1:00 divides it into a slower but still equally dark part. Worth mentioning is a mellow part of the song roughly between 3:00-5:00 before reaching the climax. Sinister riffs intensify the tension until 6:30 when the band return to classic death metal with extremely effective and extended and multitrack growling that takes the listener to a bleak dark forest.

"Epilogue" is a pleasant instrumental and introspective track to bring the listener away from the dark tunnel into a more harmonic world.

My Arms Your Hears is Opeth's contribution to the testament of progressive dark death metal - they led the wave at the time.

sgtpepper | 4/5 |

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