Opeth
Still Life


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew Barr (MM8) USER (65 Reviews)
July 16th, 2007 | 41 replies | 6,163 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Next time you come to a fork in the road and you're not sure whre to go, think of this album.

I took the road less travelled by and that has made all the difference

For me, the above quote is an essential element of music. It seems in this present day too many bands are taking the road more travelled by rather than taking a chance and embarking on a path with not so many footprints. You see, the compulsion to explore new things and invent is a wonderful thing, but it seems most bands would rather try and recreate what has already been created. Repaving a road is one thing, but forging your own path, well that’s something else entirely.

Opeth are well known for their tendency to experiment and combine different genres, crafting their own hybrid of sound. When being interviewed vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt had this to say about their sound. “I don’t see the point of playing in a band and going just one way when you can do everything. It would be impossible for us to play just death metal; that is our roots, but we are now a mishmash of everything, and not purists to any form of music. It’s impossible for us to do that, and quite frankly I would think of it as boring to be in a band that plays just metal music. We’re not afraid to experiment, or to be caught with our pants down, so to speak. That’s what keeps us going”

Still Life is a perfect exemplification of the philosophy you’ve just read. Aside from being unique in the sense of instrumentals, vocals and atmosphere it’s also quite unique in the lyrical department. Still Life tells the story of a man who returns to his hometown after being exiled from his former home for being a heretic. Upon returning to his hometown the man seeks out his childhood sweetheart, Melinda, in the hopes that she’ll elope with him. The man sneaks to Melinda’s house under the cloak of night to discover she has already married. Consumed by his lust, this does not deter him as he urges Melinda to run away with him. Still in love with him, Melinda agrees, but as they flee Melinda is killed for crimes against her husband. Utterly devastated, the man swears revenge, but never gets to make good on his vow as he is soon after lynched. I’ve always been somewhat partial to concept albums because apart from being albums they are also stories, which makes the album more of a musical experience rather than just music.

The album’s instrumentals suite the lyrical concept perfectly. At time they’re tremendously grave, much like the death of the man, but they’re always beautiful despite their mood, much like the presumably benevolent Melinda. There’s loads and loads of exquisite medieval sounding acoustic guitar parts intertwined in the thread that is this album. Benighted is a perfect example of this. The whole song is done on acoustic and is packed with magnificent finger picked parts. Combined with Mikael’s clean, yet powerful vocals Benighted is easily one of Opeth’s most beautiful songs. Naturally, there are much heavier parts of the album, as well. Easily the best song on the disc, The Moor displays this adequately. It starts off slowly, but don’t be fooled, this song is a powerhouse. There’re many menacing riffs scattered about, that coupled with Akerfeldt’s vocals create a near demonic ambiance. One thing this album didn’t have too much of was solos, though with all the complex riffs and extravagant acoustic interludes they weren’t really needed. However, there were a couple solos jammed in there. White cluster had an excellent solo. Not overly flashy, or complex (as that would not have suited the songs atmosphere) but still very good. Mikael showed good knowledge of his fret board and some swirls of tapping he threw in made it all the more enjoyable.

Considering Opeth tend to use a vast arsenal of instruments in their music, I was somewhat disappointed with the extra instruments presence. On some of the band’s other works, such as Ghost Reveries, instruments like mellotrons were much more involved. The album is still fabulous, but had the wide variety of instruments been put to better use this album would be basically unstoppable. I must say, however, whether they could be heard or not all instruments had well written parts. The drums in particular were great. I noticed a lot of unique beats and interesting fills, which was awesome.

Vocally, this album is a masterpiece. Mikael has damn near implausible range. He can go from a choir like voice that’ll melt your heart to a ferocious growl that will make your bowels erupt all in an instant. Serenity Painted Death is a fine example of this. During the heavy parts Mikael was like a rabid dog and during the soft parts a gentle lamb. His voice is a monumental factor in carving Opeth’s unparalleled atmosphere.

Besides the fact that Opeth could has made better use of all their instruments this album has only one snag. There are a few songs that while being of spectacular quality lack replay value. It’s like I listen to it and then a few minutes later cannot recall what it was like. This only applies to one or two tracks, mind you, but it still drags the album down a tad.

All in all, this album is amazing. It was the first time since their debut album that Opeth recorded with a set band rather than stand in musicians and it definitely showed. The whole album sounded really tight and well put together. Not too mention the song writing was brilliant. So, here’s to Opeth for taking the path less travelled by.

Pros Vocals
Instrumental work
Nice lyrical concept
Amazing song writing

Cons Underutilization of some instruments
A couple songs are forgettable

Overall Rating 4.5/5



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user ratings (3117)
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4.5
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
metallicaman8
July 16th 2007


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like this review a lot more than my other one today.

Anywho, haven't had time to proofread, as I'm about to head out. I'll fix any mistakes later tonight, or tomorrow morning.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2007


16387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, godly album.

Opeth's best for sure.

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

goneshootin22
July 16th 2007


142 Comments


Good review. I cant wait to get this. I have only heard the Moor and Face of Melinda but those two alone gave me a good inpression.

Yazz_Flute
July 16th 2007


18782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Very nice review, that quote at the begininning is from a Robert Frost poem right? I had to memorize that poem two years ago for english class.

On the album, this is my favorite of all time. The middle three songs are significantly weaker than the first and last two songs imo, but it doesnt bring down the album at all (similar to Iron Maiden's Powrslave, also one of my favoirte albums of all time)

However, I disagree, Serenityu Painted Death is the best song on the album, barely though, The Moor is my second favorite.

No mention of Godhead's Lament though? That song is really amazing as well.

Digging: Battles - Mirrored

metallicaman8
July 16th 2007


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes, it was indeed a Robert Frost poem.

Thanks for the feedback everybody

Bfhurricane
July 16th 2007


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Youre back!
Good review, I only have Blackwater Park and love it.

Kage
July 16th 2007


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cliche quote, terrible way to start off a piece of writing.

metallicaman8
July 16th 2007


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Actually Blackwater Park is on my hitlist. So, I'll probably be doing it soon. Next up is most likley Coheed's third album, though.

EDIT: Ouch, Kage This Message Edited On 07.16.07

Dulcinea
July 16th 2007


181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah incredibly lame intro, sorry. Also I hate when someone refers to the musical aspect as "the instrumentals."

metallicaman8
July 16th 2007


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Bummer, I was pretty happy with that intro. I realy don't see what's lame about it other than the quote being kind of cliche, but whatever. Opinions n' all that.

Yazz_Flute
July 16th 2007


18782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Get BwP first, not quite as good as this (but very very close) imo, but many consider it
to be Opeth's best.

:edit: before coheed's album that isThis Message Edited On 07.16.07

metallicaman8
July 16th 2007


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nah, I don't really like reviewing two album's by the same band in a row. Not sure why. I will get to Blackwater Park soon, though.

Kage
July 16th 2007


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's fine, I just don't find it to be a strong way to open the review because it's a quote that is so overused.

Opeth really isn't making their own path through anything anyway. They generally stick to the standard musical aesthetic. Sure they have their own sound and way of going about it, but they aren't that far off the beaten path of things that were going on in the 70s musically.

metallicaman8
July 16th 2007


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

True enough, I was moreso trying to emphasize that they're not afraid to experiment and try new things, while a lot of bands hesitate to do that.

And yea, the quote is overused, but I've never seen it used in music review context, so I thought it'd be okay.

Tyler
Emeritus
July 16th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0


True enough, I was moreso trying to emphasize that they're not afraid to experiment and try new things, while a lot of bands hesitate to do that.

I don't think that's true though. Opeth's albums have all been pretty much the same, save Damnation.

Yazz_Flute
July 16th 2007


18782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't think that's true though. Opeth's albums have all been pretty much the same, save Damnation.


I guess i can pretty much agree with that statement, I'd maybe say MAYH is a little different, its simpler and heavier but still kinda similar, and then Orchid seem much more melodic with it's guitar leads , but no major differences. Its weird though, cuz Still Life and Blackwater Park are so much better than Opeth's other albums imo, and those albums are still awesome.

EyesWideShut
July 16th 2007


3149 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes this is a godly album in every way. I felt that "Serenity Painted Death" was my least favorite song on the album and the best was "Godhead Lament". When the clean vocals break in, the song starts to sit a step above the rest. And am I the only one who fast-fowards the intro on of "The Moor" till about the 1.min mark?

SynGates
July 16th 2007


2467 Comments


And am I the only one who fast-fowards the intro on of "The Moor" till about the 1.min mark?
I only do if there are other sounds around me because its hard to hear then, but I usually listen to it. Makes that one minute mark sweeter.

Kage
July 17th 2007


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You can't wait a minute for things to get going, and just let the tension build?

SynGates
July 17th 2007


2467 Comments


Thats why I usually listen to it.
Good review by the way.



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