Review Summary: Prologue.
Opeth aren't a band that need an introduction. In the 20+ years they've been active just about every man and his dog has heard of them. They're Metal gods, legends in their own right. All 10 studio albums have been met with fan and critical acclaim, and rightly so. Though when speaking of 'Opeth's best' there is an album that is oft overlooked by many. Ladies and gentlemen of Sputnikmusic, this album is Opeth's third studio album, entitled 'My Arms, Your Hearse'
Starting out with the pitter patter of rain and a few ominous piano keys, its not long before a 'wall of mud' is hurled into your face. The 'wall of mud' comes from the infamous 'muddy' production the album posses, being both very thick and heavy. It doesn't diminish the quality of the album however, in fact it only helps the downtrodden nature of the music being played. That wall-o-mud however is actually the beginning of the first real song entitled "April Ethereal" coming at you like a battering ram. Possibly Opeth's greatest opening song ever, it features melodic and intricate riffage, inhumanly fast and pounding drumming, and of course Satan on vocals (its not actually Satan, don't worry) It is a perfect introduction to the album. It shows the overall tone the album will be taking and what to expect. Awesome riffs, pounding drums, beautiful acoustic interludes and both harsh and clean vocals done to an exceptional level.
'My Arms, Your Hearse' is the first of Opeth's two concept albums, the other being 'Still Life'. Here though, the concept revolves around a ghost, recently passed away, coming to terms with his death and watching his dearly beloved grieve for him. The lyrics do a perfect job at describing his situation and journey through the album. Here's a snippet taken from the third track, titled 'When'
"This day wept on my shoulders.
Still the same as yesterday.
This path seems endless, body is numb.
The soul has lost its flame.
Walking in familiar traces to find my way back home.
So there I was.
Within the sobriety of the immortals.
A semblance of supernatural winds passing through.
The garden sighs, flowers die"
An interesting thing of note is that each song ends with the title of the next song. For example, 'April Ethereal' ends with the word 'When' which is the name of the next song. 'When' ends with 'Madrigal' which the next song is titled and so on. 'Madrigal', though it is a short instrumental still has lyrics written for it (along with the other 2 instrumentals' Even the last song 'Epilogue' features 'Prologue' as its last words, giving the album a 'whole' feeling.
The album is also flawless in its vocal and instrumenal delivery. With Mr Opeth 'Mikael Akerfeldt' being on both bass and vocals (as always) Martin Lopez on the drums and Peter Lindgren on guitars. As stated before, intricate riffage and drumming leads the way with Akerfeldt's demonic growls and soothing cleans progressing the story forward. Its not all heavy though, the album it littered with gorgeous acoustic sections and even features a song completely devoid of the heavy guitars and growls. 'Credence'. Coming off of Opeths most well known song 'Demon Of The Fall' it provides a much needed break from the heaviness of the album (and the neck breaker that is Demon of the Fall) It is also Opeth's most consistent release, being able to hear the entirety of what to expect in the first song (with the exception of Credence, of course)
Ending the album, and story is "Epliogue". Coming into play with a beautiful solo played over the sounds of a hammond organ, it leaves the album on such a high and emotional note that you'll be pressing play and listening to the entire album again (which is what you should be doing now)
I'm not quite sure how to end this review to be honest as I could talk about it for days. Nothing seems to fit or give it the marvelous send off even a review of the album deserves, so I've opted for choosing the lyrics of "Epilogue" the closing track.
"There it was.
The final destiny.
A sunrise that never came,
still the night lamp that never faded away.
Farewell was the word,
and the afterglow was the brave morning.
Rising and telling everyone
about the beauty of its prologue"