Immediately, Opeth looks like a different metal band. The name of this album, Still Life, shows a side of Opeth that most metal bands do not have. Most other bands may have titled this album "Still Death." Life and the beauty of it clashes with the gritty, death obsession that comes with the genre of metal. Examples are abundant, including Metallica's Kill 'Em All, Children of Bodom's Are You Dead Yet, and Dimmu Borgir's Death Cult Armageddon. While the album storyline results in death, most of the album revolves around love, another representation of Opeth's almost Bohemian ideals.
Still Life is Opeth's 4th studio release and the first since the debut to represent a full band rather than a few permanent members playing with studio musicians. The album showcases more complex riffs and more originality due to the fact that the band is made of entirely permanent members. Another aspect of Opeth shows they are not just another metal band as well. Many of Opeth's songs enter incredibly melodic acoustic passages and give the listener a break from the huge metal riffs that pound eardrums worldwide. Singer Mikael Akerfeldt screams intense, powerful metal growls and still shows his ability to sing clean, beautiful vocals when needed. Martin Lopez never falls into the metal stereotype of relying on double bass. While he does kick the double bass sixteenth in the climatic moments, he knows how to make a great metal drum feel without it. However, he and Martin Mendez serve as background and an undercurrent for the guitar riffing, which is nearly always the instrumental theme.
As far as the death metal section of the Opeth formula goes, the riffing is original, powerful, and tight. Often, the bass will follow the guitar riff if it isn't a chordal riff. Peter Lindgren's lead parts harmonize and create an extremely evil and dissonant aura about them. However, the harmonization isn't overdone like a band such as Avenged Sevenfold. The harmonizations are mixed much better and often sit on top of the guitar riff, not heard unless the listener tries to find them. Typically, Opeth allows the riff to be heard by itself for a few repetitions with the lead guitar soloing before Akerfeldt enters with his powerful metal growling. When it is time for a full out guitar solo, whoever is soloing lets all hell break loose. He covers the entire fretboard and plays tastefully. Unlike so many metal guitarists,both guitars know how to make an enjoyable solo rather than playing as many notes as possible within 3 seconds. They usually extend the color tones (3rd, 7th, 9th, etc) of the chords and create jazzy melodies, or as close to a jazzy melody that a death metal band can get.
The melodic acoustic side of Opeth is in some ways better than their metal sound. The guitar patterns, again, are the instrumental theme, but the bass often creates a hidden countermelody with the guitar. Martin Mendez makes a much better bassist in this style than the metal, holding his own melodies and never succumbing to the guitar lines. Akerfeldt sings beautifully, and if Opeth produced an album entirely made of these dark, brooding acoustic passages, he would never be expected to be able to scream, let alone scream well. His tone is dark, warm, and round, like the perfect euphonium or tuba sound. The chord progressions are often dissonant and dark. The passages are reminiscent of riding horseback in a dark, quiet night. Lindgren or Akerfeldt play very bluesy solos, often on a clean electric guitar. Both men's solos, both in the metal and acoustic sections have influenced my bass soloing as a jazz musician although Opeth is a metal band.
Putting these two formulas together creates a full, epic album that sets the stage for their follow up and breakthrough album Blackwater Park. Songs reach past 10 minutes, trading off between these two feels, each song with a new energy and aura about them. Song formats never follow anything typical, and listening for the first time is often mind-blowing because of the unexpected climaxes, transitions, and virtuosity in every second of the album. Unlike other Opeth albums, the acoustic passages make a much larger appearance on the album, being mostly the entire song in Benighted and Face of Melinda. However, huge metal epics like The Moor and Godhead's Lament are still here. This album put Opeth in the direction of becoming one of the greatest metal bands in the 21st century thus far, and they show no signs of slowing down.
i always thought this played second fiddle to blackwater park, but having listened to it the other day, i think the two are about equal in quality, that quality being "ABSO-FECKIN-LUTELY EXCELLENT!!!!"
I've only heard one 'Opeth' song, and I couldn't get intp it. I don't even remember the song, it just randomly played on launch.com. So I've always put them off. Good review however.This Message Edited On 07.23.06
Face of Melinda is a great great song. Good acoustic for the first half and when the distortion comes in it just fits perfect. If only Opeth would do more songs with clean singing, but distorted guitars.