Review Summary: Truly Opeth's most defining album. Still Life is an absolute masterpiece, which, in my opinion, has yet to be topped by Opeth.
Opeth never ceases to amaze me as a band. Never before have I seen a band mix so many styles of music and make it sound so wonderful and original all at the same time. Most all of this is thanks to the bands genius writing skills, which belong to Mr. Mikael Åkerfeldt. Mikael is by far the most talented song writer I have ever encountered. The guy can still hit you with countless hooks while keeping a song incredibly heavy and dark. It is just absolutely amazing to me!
Now that I'm declining for my introductory monologue of how wonderful this band is, I will now go on to explain why I love this album so much. Like a lot Opeth fans my first Opeth album was Blackwater Park; a masterpiece. From there on I went to Delieverance, Damnation, Ghost Reveries and then My Arms Your Hearse. For some odd reason, Still life never appealed too much to me at first. I only bought it because I was trying to complete my collection of Opeth albums. Still Life, Opeth's
fourth studio release and second concept album, is an absolute masterpiece and, in my opinion, Opeth's
best album to date.
One of the reasons Still Life has established itself as a classic in my eyes is because of its ingenious story and the way it is flawlessly played out through each song on the album. The story, for those who don't know, is about a man who is cast out of a village because he is viewed as unholy by the villagers and the village cult(The Council of The Cross). After leaving behind the woman he loves (Melinda), he later finds out that she has become a nun for The Council of the Cross. The outcast then becomes determined to go back and convince Melinda to flee the village with him. As the outcast returns, he convinces Melinda to meet up with him. After they meet and plan an escape, Melinda is later killed for being unfaithful to The Council of The Cross. When the outcast finds out, he incites revenge amongst the villagers and the council members my killing every one of them he can get his hands on until he is later captured and hung. For more of an analysis (and a better one), visit wikipedia's web page for Still Life. This is also where I got some of my information about the stories plot months ago when I first bought the album.
From the very first song, Still Life establishes itself as something to truly be reckoned with. "The Moor", Still Life's opening track, starts the album off flawlessly with an extremely eerie guitar intro that truly is haunting. The song then goes to a distorted riff and then the band truly kicks it off when Mikael comes in with a deep growl. The song has many of Opeth's
traditions such as plenty of acoustic interludes. "The Moor" truly depicts Opeth
in their truest form.
"Godhead's Lament"is yet another great song on this album. Instead of starting off with a haunting guitar intro, this one starts out by giving the listener a swift kick to the balls right from the beginning of the song. The lead guitars being played at the beginning almost sound like some insane carnival you would imagine seeing in a horror movie. Why the beginning of this song had that type of impression on me, I don't know, but all I do know is that it sets the stage for even more Death Metal bliss. The band cycles through several riffs and licks before getting to one of my favorite transitions into a clean singing section on the album, which is headed up by an awesome guitar solo by Mikael, which then goes into a beautiful harmony between Åkerfeldt and Peter Lindgren (the band's second guitarist at the time). This song remains as one of my absolute favorites by Opeth
After "Godhead's Lament" is done bludgeoning the ears of listeners with its heavy Prog/Death riffing, "Benighted" shows up to mellow things out. When I first heard "Benighted", I was amazed. This is absolutely one of Opeth's
best acoustic songs that they have ever performed, hands down. The song starts out with a very angelic sounding acoustic guitar being played. After this, Mikael comes in singing in almost a whisper. It is absolutely beautiful in its entirety and really manages to mesh well with all of the other heavy songs surrounding it. An electric guitar is later brought in to play a wonderful solo about halfway through the song, and then the song later ends after verse is sung for one last time and the song fades out with a short closing finger-picked guitar section.
The next song is "Moonlapse Vertigo". Once again, another classic song by Opeth
. It starts out with a very melodic harmony between two distorted guitars and then leads into another melodic section between the two guitars, which ends with an acoustic guitar starting up the main verse of the song. After this, Mikael then comes in with a very deep growl, which shortly brings the song back into a distorted section along with Mikael growling. The song later goes back to the acoustic verse section and goes right back to the same distorted section for a short amount of time before changing to yet another part that leads into a very jazzy break followed by an awesome guitar solo by Mikael. This IS Opeth
, folks. Once again, another song that shows Opeth
in its truest form.
Next up we have "Face of Melinda". This song start out with a very bouncy, finger-picked acoustic intro. Mikael sings wonderfully at the beginning as the instruments play very melodically behind his voice. The song continues on its way till it hits a break and slowly builds up to a new distorted section which continues to be sung cleanly by Mikael. The song later hits a short acoustic interlude and then fades out with a guitar harmony between Åkerfeldt and Lindgren.
"Serenity Painted Death" is another one of Still Life's best songs. This is yet another song which gets its start to the heavier side of things pretty quickly. I love how Opeth
transition from the beginning riff into a very melodic lick played by the lead guitarist. This lick is still stuck in my head to this day, which comes back to what I said about Åkerfeldt at the beginning of this review: He can give you countless hooks in a song while still keeping things incredibly heavy. The song later gets to its main part which comes along after a quick change in tempo. This part is truly my most beloved part of "Serenity Painted Death". It truly is a great song.
"White Cluster" is the final song of the album; the grand finale, you might say. It's not the longest song on the album, but it is the second longest song. However, all of the songs are longer than 5 minutes, and most are above 9 minutes in length. Once again, the song starts out with a very heavy intro with the drummer quickly pedaling away on the double bass. This is another one of Still Life's best and most heaviest songs. It also brings the ending to the Still Life story with a very saddening yet touching ending.
All in all, Still Life is a masterpiece in every way, shape and form. It is Opeth
in there best years, in my opinion. They had already made the wonderful albums such as "Morningrise" and "My Arms, Your Hearse", and they had already established themselves as a premiere Progressive Death Metal Act; however, they truly found there sound with Still Life. This album helped pave the way for the Opeth
that we fans know and love today, and that's why Still Life is truly special to me.