Review Summary: Still Life for now may be just another album due for file sharing, but it will have an impact on the way we write music and touch the lives of others.The leaves shriveled away lamentingly with the light breeze. All was silent, all was dead. The sigh of summer graced my return, 15 akin since I was here. Bathing in the tepid mist coiled over the glazing lake, the thin branches dancing silently in the thick air of still life, the songs of birds writhing in their sleep. I, ungodly freak, defiler had vowed to seek her. In these eyes there is no forgiveness, all but one. As the mist dispelled, the face of Melinda faintly reflected on the crystalline surface of the lake. I plead “I returned for you in great dismay, come with me, far away to stay” inscribing my words upon her heart, the love of her tender voice. No longer was Melinda, and gone was all that would linger, red lines around her neck, but then her warmth behind me, as the final sighs of release in the crowd began to wither.
have never failed to ravish us with their seraphic songs. Their discography is probably the most contentious in Metal history, as nobody can decide which album put them at the top of their game. Music is constantly reaching out to change the world as it is, where some sounds are ahead of their times in order to set the bar for others. In its day and age, Still Life
, the title of Opeth
’s fourth studio album, was presumably not the new Sputnik I, but damned if it isn’t one of the most poignant albums to tread its way into the 21th century. It unfolds sudden development in Opeth
’s raw and fundamental sound which was found on earlier outings, namely Morningrise
and My Arms, Your Hearse
. Though mostly overlooked due to what many consider the peak of their career, Blackwater Park
, Still Life
is another kicker when it comes to singling out the very best of Opeth
. As much as subjectivity has done good to our world, I say screw it. Still Life
for me stands out as being Opeth
’s magnum opus, solely because of its variation in song, its precision in instrumentation and the fact that the riffing is more fluttering unlike anything they have ever cut. As this is a concept album, the imagery that is evoken makes for a deeper listen.
The storyline, written in first person, talks about the love between a girl called Melinda, and a man who then runs away with her. The music’s deep focus on this bond is what makes it extremely beautiful, while their reclusiveness enhances the story. The Moor
paints this man’s past, unnamed in the Medieval times, who is exiled from his town for not sharing the religious beliefs of Christianity. A moor seems like a solemn place which invites reflection and inspiration, just like Opeth
’s music, allowing peace of mind with the echoes of nature. The ambiance is carefully beset with the opening minute of this track, signifying the isolation this character has to put up with before returning 15 years later to the only one who shows ‘forgiveness’, Melinda. The fierce vocals of Mikael Akerfeldt highlight the hatred and the hostility this town feels towards the protagonist for being an outspoken Atheist. It portrays disdain in the form of a lyrical flashback, showcasing tempo changes which adumbrate the severity of the storyline. Tender vocals sing ‘Melinda is the reason why I’ve come’ as the man, with nothing to lose, returns to the one thing he gave up.
The protagonist ponders the consequences of anyone noticing that he has returned, and contemplates leaving for his safety. Nonetheless, his will to see Melinda distorts his mind. In Godhead’s Lament
he observes her from afar, and notices that she has become a nun, or a Godhead
. The guitar work is rather grim, while the lead notes are played high in short intervals to underline the suddenness of these occurrences. The lyrics focus on the moment when the two lover’s eyes come in contact, with soaring fills and poignant acoustics to highlight the aesthetics and intensity of emotion. “What would they care if I will stay/No one will know” features amazing clean singing, which is only a small timeframe of the quality that Akerfeldt has achieved in this album. The song follows through to Benighted
, a love letter which tries to persuade Melinda to elope with the man. This is, with all probability, one of the most beautiful songs of this decade, no blinking. As the guitar chord cascades down into a slow lullaby, a pattern of multiple string picking follows, the subtlety of which is beautifully appreciated. Everything is flawless and Akerfeldt pulls off a song that is very hard to sing, holding a note even in the lowest of keys.
The 4th track on the album ensues. Moonlapse Vertigo
is the quintessence of feelings such as guilt and second thoughts, but also the beginning of an adventure. Picking out moments in Opeth
’s music is never easy, mainly because out of an entirety which is so powerful as a whole, that singling out a segment does not prove anything. Yet the reason this record is so amazing is that every little second is mind-blowing on its own, fortified by the bonds of other elements. Without it’s entirety, the whole picture can not be built.
With the description of Melinda, Face of Melinda
showcases lantern-jawing musicianship with a hook which begins around the 4:50 mark, following a whole batch of clean vocals and a subtle melody. The main character tries desperately to gain Melinda’s heart, and even she is surprised at her own words when she concedes she still loves him. Face of Melinda
is a quixotic track and the punch of this love story, while Serenity Painted Death
features the melancholic twist. This aforementioned is one of the more purely brutal songs on the albums with straightforward and dynamic patterns to highlight the wrath. When the church finds out that Melinda is seeing someone, they murder her for being unfaithful as a nun. Enraged by this, the man kills all the soldiers who had Melinda killed, but after he is to lethargic to continue.
Consequently, he wakes up in the hands of the church during White Cluster
, who takes him to the gallows to be hanged. The song features a frenzied solo which speeds forth through the second half of the song. Then we are given a description of the group of people dressed in white as the hangman clutches the noose where he will place the man’s head. Before he dies, he feels someone touch his shoulder; he looks behind only to see Melinda. Left are the sneers upon his demise, but with the reconciliation of Melinda, the solemn melody fades out into a closing whisper.
’s, beyond its praise in the real world, is an experience from the moment the first seconds of the first track start ticking away. Whether it be the most elemental sounds of our imagination, the most natural instincts of love, or the things we value the most through the course of life, Opeth
embodies and sparks these feelings through melodies of serenity. As I listen to them, every other song that has passed through my mind seems one-dimensional, and any other album I’ve felt doesn’t tell a powerful enough story. Still Life
for now may be just another album due for file sharing, but it will have an impact on the way we write music and touch the lives of others. Only the future will bring more.
Cloak-captured sighs of relief
As the primal touch brought me back
And the last sight I did see is still here
Beckoning right behind me