The greatest album of all time fittingly births and climaxes with a gentle yet eerie acoustic atmosphere. It’s difficult to conclude whether the beastly roars on “Still Life” are bookended by polarizing acoustics to showcase the feelings of inception or finalization or if they just exist to creep the f*ck out of you, but regardless the result is astonishing, similar to how virtually anything Opeth puts its stamp on is. “Still Life” is a project of amazing reach, an absolutely stunning collision of brutality and melody, a duality- laced examination of power and weakness, pain and strife, co-mingling polar opposite forces that tear itself to shreds right about the time your head is about to explode in sheer amazement. Forget musicianship (although Michael Akerfeldt is easily the greatest musician in metal history), “Still Life” transcends pure technical wankery and formulaic Prog Death posturing. Yeah, Opeth can play the sh*t out of their instruments, but so can Between the Buried and Me. The difference between Opeth and pretty much everyone else is their ability to co-mingle power and grace, all carried home by an insurmountable grasping of intelligence.
Akerfeldt has penned numerous masterpieces in his time, from the ferocious blasting of “Blackwater Park” and the epic scope of “My Arms, Your Hearse.” When you are the greatest metal band of all time, you really don’t have the ability to write a tepid, atrocious, or even average album. “Still Life” is simply Opeth’s greatest work, but really it’s more than that. “Still Life” stands atop the metal plane for countless reasons, but primarily it’s the way that they combine their power (and make no mistake, Opeth Power makes regular metal band power resemble Richard Simmons quivering after a gang rape), with an absolutely unrivaled penchant for melodic grace. These polarizing musical aspects often do not work well together, but in the land of Opeth, power and grace are performed to their fullest capabilities, intertwined together by an explosion of genius.
You can everywhere for examples, but you might as well stop at “The Moor,” a textbook of muscular riffing that seamlessly lends itself to some of the most gorgeous acoustic passages you’ll ever hear (that is until you get to “Face of Melinda.”) It might be pointless to even point out tracks here, they are all stunningly brilliant and effortlessly portray a backstory of personal torment and unrequited love that would make Edgar Allen Poe call himself an unredeemable hack in comparison. The bottom line is Akerfeldt is more than a riff monster, more than a demonic, guttural roar master. He’s the guy who can kick your ass but still get all the chicks with his sensitive side. He’s the guy who’s the smartest SOB at the party, and is so completely awesome he doesn’t even have to tell you, it is inherently felt and known. If you’re looking for unimaginable genius in metal, you can pretty much pick any Opeth album. If you want to grace yourself with the most epic, beautiful, gorgeous, ferocious, intelligent melding in metal and probably music history, you reach for “Still Life.” Sure, if you’re standing by an eerie pond in the dead of night in Transylvania grasping a goblet of blood and a torch, next to a foreboding medieval castle, you couldn’t pick a better companion. But since that’s never going to happen (regardless of how messed up us Opeth fans are), we can all enjoy Akerfeldt’s genius anywhere, anytime.
THis is the Analyzer's first review. The Analyzer asks you to keep this in mind and please be kind and not to make fun of his Opeth fanboyism. The Analyzer realizes he probably deserves any criticism though as he so fervently picks apart others.
As always, the Analyzer thanks you for your patronage.