Opeth
Still Life


3.0
good

Review

by SadlyMisinformed USER (8 Reviews)
January 31st, 2009 | 112 replies | 6,525 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Unmemorable and frustrating at times, which is dissapointing considering the frightening amount of musical talent displayed at certain points

11 of 18 thought this review was well written

Repetition. That's how I'd characterise this album. Mid-tempo metal that repeats the same riff over and over again. The Moor starts off with about two minutes of ambient build-up, followed by an acoustic section that leads nicely into a big heavy riff, and this is all great. It's a fantastic way to start the album, and immediately upon listening, it's apparant that this album is going to be epic. And it is, in a way. Just not a particularly exciting way.

See, that first heavy riff that comes in during The Moor, is played over and over again. Then another mid-tempo, chord based metal riff comes in. And then another. Throw in some pretty excellent growls here and there, and the record is almost listenable, if not a little dull. Unfortunately, the random interspersal of clean guitar sections and clean vocals tend to kill any attempt at momentum the album builds up. Mikael Akerfeldt's clean vocals are, for lack of a better word, cheesy. It's almost cringeworthy the first time they kick in, and irritating thereafter. And it certainly kills the atmosphere. There's no doubt the guy can hit the right notes, but it just often feels like the more mellow sections are tacked on at random, thrown in for the sake of variation rather than any sense of necessity or pace. They drone. But then, the whole record drones.

The guitarwork on the record largely comprises of disorted chords played repeatedly, often with a lick somewhere in the progression, and maybe some lead on top. To be fair, the use of chords extends beyond basic powerchords, and the progressions are often quite impressive. The leads tend to be geuinely enjoyable, if not quite samey throughout the album. So the guitarwork, overall, is complex and interesting. For the first song or two. Because then it seems that certain progressions recur all throughout the album. It's almost as if the band decided they'd found something that worked, and tried to drag it out to entire album rather than contain it to a single song. The drums really don't help matters either, as although there are a ton of interesting fills and some very impressive rythms backing up the guitars, they maintain virtually the same pace throughout the entire album.

Much has been made of the atmosphere that Opeth records evoke, and it's true that the band can quite skillfully paint a musical picture of despair and solitude. In the heavy sections, the effect is achieved seemingly by the aforementioned chain repetition of riffs, which does work to create a sense of being crushed. Unfortunately, this is undermined by the fact that after a little while, all the heavy riffs sound the same, and the effect is largely lost. The clean sections, on the other hand, are an entirely different story. The use of acoustic guitar on the album is stunning, particularly in Benighted. While the transitions into these sections can be hit and miss, some are flawless, such as early on in Moonlapse Vertigo, itself an album highlight due to the feeling that more is happening than usual. Harmonies, leads and counterpoints on the clean guitars are geuinely wonderful to listen to though, ranging in mood from forebording to relaxing, with some unexpected surprises thrown in that are outstanding. It almost feels like sacrilige when Akerfeldt starts crooning over these moments of musical genius.

Having briefly touched on the album's harsh vocals, they really bear mention all of their own. Akerfeldt, when growling, is an absolute monster. His voice is deep, threatening, demonic, and incredibly powerful. There's almost a sense of having something big and muscular from some long forgotten wood in Sweden with fangs and horns towering over you about to tear you to pieces. It's this stunning voice that saves the repetitive distorted sections of the album from becoming a total bore.

And that's what this album often ends up being. Boring. Far too little actually happens over a seemingly infinite span of time at points on this record. It's often hard to tell if anything else is ever going to kick in somtimes, and often when something else does kick in, it's another mid-tempo metal riff that is again repeated into infinity. Even the clean sections can suffer from this, brilliant as they are, because they just keep on going and going. There's a fine line between atmosphere and droning repeated noise, and Opeth often overstep this boundary, which is geuinely a shame. There are highlights though, such as Benighted's clean sections, the first few minutes of Moonlapse Vertigo, and pretty much all of Serenity Painted Death, which manages to maintain interest despite repetition due to the riffs and leads being utterly brilliant. Serenity Painted Death even packs a solo that is ridiculously listenable, probably the highlight of the whole record.

The problem with rating this album is that none of the material is actually bad, with the possible exception of the clean vocals. Every riff, lick or passage is, on it's own, fun to listen to, and skillfully crafted. Sometimes these various sections are assembled well to create some very memorable sections in the songs, but all too often it just kind of feels like they were thrown together at random in the hopes they would stick. To reflect the album, I'll bring up the repetition again just because it's so frustrating, and makes certain songs borderline unlistenable, with The Moor being a serious culprit. This isn't a bad album, it's just unmemorable and frustrating at times, which is dissapointing considering the frightening amount of musical talent displayed at certain points.



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user ratings (2927)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SadlyMisinformed
January 31st 2009



16 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

/social suicide

Seriously though, I'm not that fond of the album, and tried to back up my points as best I could. I shall accept my negs with grace =]

bastard
January 31st 2009



3435 Comments


you've been SadlyMisinformed.

fireaboveicebelow
January 31st 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

solid review good job

taylormemer
January 31st 2009



4887 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm sorry to say but I think you are sadly misinformed.

taylormemer
January 31st 2009



4887 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Bastard. Beat me to it.

rasputin
January 31st 2009



14504 Comments


I'll commend you for your effort on tackling this album; I'm sure there will be some who will respond negatively, but your review was not so bad. There are some awkward moments in the review, such as the short sentences in the second paragraph, and that really goes against the flow of your writing.
I'll definitely have to challenge some of the points you raise - you seem to contradict yourself quite a bit, saying the entire thing is really boring but also saying almost everything about it is good. I highly disagree with the fact that you think this is a bunch of different riffs and melodies stuck together; that excuse will work for Morningrise or Orchid, but not for Still Life. To be very honest, I think you would have rated this higher but you're trying your very best not to like Opeth, for whatever reason; your review clearly shows it.
Good effort, anyway.

iamthenightmare
January 31st 2009



754 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

could only read the first few paragraphs but i got the idea.

sadly everyone who dislikes opeth has the exact some reasoning as you(at least in my experience). but you do back up your ideas very well so i cant help but pos(mostly because you had the balls to post this on a site where this is the number 1 rated album for 1999)This Message Edited On 01.31.09

interviewer02
January 31st 2009



23 Comments


Great review, one of the best I've seen on the site, and I agree with alot of what you say. Opeth is a pretty boring band at times, largely because they'll take a semi-cool part and overplay the hell out of it till I'm asleep.

I actually like this album though, its better than their complete snoozefest of an album Blackwater Park, which is almost completely unlistenable.

Probably the biggest reason I dislike Opeth is that while some of their guitar chords are put together well, I just don't like how a lot of them sound. Sometimes their great, but alot of the times I just grow bored with them and they don't "stick";they don't have any memorable qualities with me.This Message Edited On 01.31.09

lateoctober
January 31st 2009



171 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I liked this review though I would say Face of Melinda is the best and most none repetitive piece on here. Your right about the first few minutes of Moonlapse being at their best as well.

My one problem with the review is that your stating an age old complaint against Opeth on one of their most complex and acclaimed releases. I would have chosen to review Morningrise as better ammunition or perhaps Deliverance ....their still great of course :P

PossThis Message Edited On 01.31.09

SadlyMisinformed
January 31st 2009



16 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@Rasputin - I see what you're saying, and I appreciate some of the phrasing was quite awkward. I'd have the same issue if I was to tackle Colours, because as a musician I can appreciate what's going on, and enjoy the thought process behind it, but I just don't enjoy the overall effect as a song, and I'd rate the whole over the seperate parts.
I've been making determined efforts to get into Opeth for about four years, and it's just never happened. I've listened to this record many times, and I just feel it's the same thing over and over.
So whilst I disagree on the quality of the album, I do appreciate that you raised your points about my review eloquently, and will definitly try and avoid the same pitfalls on the next one.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2009



17913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sadly you have been misinf-


fuck

Cesar
January 31st 2009



2732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm going to write a review of Dark Side of the Moon with a 2 rating.

Psychotruck
January 31st 2009



99 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sadly you have been misinf-





****

[copy/paste]

rasputin
January 31st 2009



14504 Comments


Easily done, it's definitely the more overrated of Floyd's big records.

BallsToTheWall
January 31st 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Review is accurate and good.

bastard
January 31st 2009



3435 Comments


i am going to write a 1 star Blackwater Park review.

IAmInsect
January 31st 2009



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you are sadly fucking wrong

BallsToTheWall
January 31st 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Uhh, no.

bastard
January 31st 2009



3435 Comments


but its whorribble

lateoctober
January 31st 2009



171 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Note to self: writing somewhat negative Opeth reviews gets good press.



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