Opeth
Still Life


5.0
classic

Review

by Kalle J. USER (37 Reviews)
July 22nd, 2007 | 44 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

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.

Opeth 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.

Opeth’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




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user ratings (3182)
Chart.
4.5
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
kalkal50
July 22nd 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I did the intro myself, my idea since I couldn't think of anything else to make a strong beginning. This is the first album I genuinely feel deserves a classic rating and has given me sweet dreams when I play it every night. I had to get the inspiration out.

Putrefaction
July 22nd 2007


59 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great review of an absolutely stunnning album. Opeth's best hands down. You just forgot to close some of the BB tags in Godhead's lament and at the quote at the end

rattlehead42147
July 22nd 2007


1345 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

^that was all i noticed.
this is probably your best kal tbqh
unfortunately i did download this but i plan on buying it back i just bought morningrise and damnation the other day. still life hasn't grown on me yet so i need to give it more listens. i think i will listen to this tonite.

Putrefaction
July 22nd 2007


59 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

// You should do, if you're in the right frame of mind it can give you quite vivid dreams. This album just grows more and more on me every day

Tyler
Emeritus
July 22nd 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Is it mandatory to have cheesy text at the start of an Opeth review?

ValiumMan
July 22nd 2007


493 Comments


Yeah it is. Fans of anything "progressive" have a natural penchant for cheesiness.

kalkal50
July 22nd 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Is it mandatory to have cheesy text at the start of an Opeth review?

yup unfortunately, it's my summary of the concept

Tyler
Emeritus
July 22nd 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm not insulting it or anything, it just seems like every opeth review has to start with a poem or lyric for it to work.

blackmilk
July 22nd 2007


584 Comments


this review is so deep

Tyler
Emeritus
July 22nd 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

review is really wordy. it makes it kind of choppy.

ValiumMan
July 22nd 2007


493 Comments


People just take music like this (or music in general) too seriously, that's all.

Tyler
Emeritus
July 22nd 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I understand the tone he was going for, some word choices just don't make sense. Mostly just the first actual paragraph.

blackmilk
July 22nd 2007


584 Comments


Well, saying "OPETH RULES BECAUSE THEY'RE INNOVATIVE AND THEY THINK OUTTA THE BOX" is overdone as well.


yeah it's also not true at all

Tyler
Emeritus
July 22nd 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

um nic. they have acoustic breaks. that's pretty innovative.

ValiumMan
July 22nd 2007


493 Comments


Satyricon had that too.

Unreal
July 22nd 2007


229 Comments


You reviewed this like a piece of literature, good job, quite orginal.This Message Edited On 07.22.07This Message Edited On 07.22.07

kalkal50
July 22nd 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm not insulting it or anything, it just seems like every opeth review has to start with a poem or lyric for it to work.

None of the other still life reviews have that, but I know what you mean. It helps to set the tone.
review is really wordy. it makes it kind of choppy.

yeah you're right, I did some editing

Tyler
Emeritus
July 22nd 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, metallicaman's starts with a quote. Same idea.
I like the way you approached the album though, so right on.

Dulcinea
July 22nd 2007


181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The capacity of human intelligence seems to limit the capabilities to expand upon any possible creative aptitudes. Indeed, if one cannot even notice the facets that the ingenuities around him are comprised of, how can he be expected to fashion a beast of his own? This inveterate sense of constraint is a great blow to the veracity of mankind’s abilities. It restrains us and holds our minds to the ground below, averting any possibility of rising above ourselves to something greater; something not fathomed by the conventional mind. This concept of seeking to go beyond one’s self, known as “transcendence”, is essentially a gateway to unlocking pieces of ourselves that can lead to some of the most elaborate and significant creations of our world. For many, this quest to transcend and form creations that were once considered unthinkable and overwhelming consumes life. Certainly it is rare to find such people, but when they are found, creative barriers are destroyed.

tbh

kalkal50
July 22nd 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, metallicaman's starts with a quote. Same idea.

I like the way you approached the album though, so right on.

Ye, it does, same way to approach the aesthetics. Thank you, do you mean the way I focus more on the concept?

That was Shadows introduction.



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