Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse
INTRODUCTION TO MY ARMS, YOUR HEARSE
Opeths’ third album was different from Orchid and Morningrise in three obvious ways; songs were a bit shorter; Morningrise had extravagant songs like Black Rose Immortal, a whopping 20 minutes, while the longest song on MAYH is a little under 10 minutes. This was their first concept album (I’ll get to that soon), and this album is heavier and darker than anything they’ve done before, using Drop D on most songs and a heavier, thicker atmosphere on which the insturments and production both contributed. Now, for the concept...
So the story begins when the character, who is now a ghost, is at his own funeral, watching his lover (Prologue
), chossing to stay behind rather than go 'beyond'. At the second song, April Ethereal
, he confronts his lover for the first time, but as she only sees white mist for a second rather than seeing him as himself, ("Embodied in faint vapour"), he decides to wait in a forest and endure, waiting for another oppurtunity and dwelling on his backfired plan ("I will endure, hide away, I would outrun the scythe, glaring with failure") . On When
, the ghost tries again, but only to see his lover with another man, and happier too ("And I cried, I knew she had lied"). So the haunter leaves, with a feeling of utmost despair and fear. Madrigal
rolls around, and we find the character self loathing, wishing how he could have her back, as he thought they were both in love...and thats when the plan is concieved; I must force her to love me.
Thus Demon of the Fall
begins, a second, more real, scary confrontation of his lover, more violently too. However, not only does this confrontation turn disastrous, he turned his lover against him (You keep the dagger close at hand, and you saw nothing, false love turned to pure hate). She does see him, however, (She turned around and faced me for the first time) but is so overwhelmed with what he had done she flees (Run away, run away).
And so he lurks in his widows house (in Credence
), but she uses hurtful sayings (You speak to me through the shadows, walking in closed rooms, using cold words) and he knows that she doesn't love him anymore, because he confesses why he is here, and she spits in his face (I confess my hope, recognize my loneliness, your laughter weeps the truth). The character blames his utter defeat on karma, on his past deeds he used to find unimportant, but now realizes their effect on him. Karma
tells us all that and more, the ghost realizes he has nothing to gain or lose by staing here, his love won't love him anymore, thus he yeilds back to the forest described in April Ethereal
is on this record to emphasize that, as he discover while he cannot be loved, he will never fade from her memory, and says his goodbye at sunrise...
If that sounds like a deep, sad, heavy story, that’s exactly what the music is like, as Mikael says on the official website that the music was revolving on the lyrics. And now for…
THE LINE UP-
Mikael Åkerfeldt-Vocals, Lead/Rhythm/*Bass Guitars
Peter Lindgren- Lead/Rhythm Guitars
Martin Lopez- Drums
Martin Mandez- **Bass
*-Only for this album
The album begins with a short prologue, aptly titled Prologue
. We hear water falling of some sort, a soothing and calm sound. It gains volume, and suddenly, hard hit high-register piano notes, and the album takes a mood swing—and only 31 seconds in! Ominous and loss of hope are the things that come into my mind when I listen to the first track. Then the piano takes a seat, and some operatic-esque choir notes come in…then…distortion, fast double kick, then Death growls! If I had to pick a track to summarize MAYH, it would be the second track, April Ethereal
. The riff here isn’t necessarily fast, more Doom-like, but the fast kick drum makes up for that. Mikaels’ growls are much more profound, deeeeep they are, clear, and no ‘gurgling’ like that on Morningrise...
That and much, much more is on MAYH, almost a completely different band it seems from Morningrise. The longest song on here is about 9 minutes long, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any loss of Prog-Metal on this album, oh no! Acoustic passages are inspirational and original (When
, April Ethereal
), simply bliss. Riffs are varied, spanning from slow, creepy parts (The Amen Corner
) to fast, furious riffs, like those found on Karma
. Most are low riffs, down tuned, not as trebly as those on Morningrise, but still as amazing and catchy as they ever were. There’s also solos, which show two sides-shredwise (The Amen Corner
) and a calmer, more subdued but perfectly done solos (Epilogue
). Opeth will just keeping you coming back, back, and back again, all for those guitars!
Ahh, Mikaels vocals. How legendary they are, with such mellow, uplifting singing, along with such scary, crushing growls. His clean singing is a talent you’ll find nowhere else; it varies in style just as much as it does with volume, strength, and emotion. Now for those so called ‘Cookie Monster’ growls. I’ll be the first to say that Mikael is not as nearly
as annoying as Cookie Monster, his vocals are a beast to be reckoned with. He pushes every line he spits out with confidence, for he knows what he can do, what his abilities are now, and with that comes control, and control is good. He mostly uses a low-profile tone, rarely does he ever shriek, which I think is a pro.
The drums are excellent. Varied use of rhythmic patterns, and from heavy to subdeued in an instant is something that always gets me. Martin knows what he’s doing, and he’s in control for the beats. He can pound away at the double kick and yet be able to produce soft overtones in nearly every song. But…is that it" Of course not! Technicality is Martins game, he makes use of every piece on his drumset, and makes different and difficult patterns and fills with seemingly no effort. Martin is definitely talented; it shows on every record he’s ever done with Opeth.
So what could possibly be bad, you rated it a 4 and yet praised it with all your might! Well, the production is somewhat muddy with the guitars. Allow me to elaborate; notes/chords seem all mixed up, and especially when electric meets acoustic on songs like When
, it’s hard to make out. Also, the shortening of the songs leads to shortening of acoustic passages and stand-alone acoustic time. This could either be good or bad, depending on how much you love Opeths’ acoustic, but don’t expect to find a Ghost of Perdition type of passage here, there is just not enough time on this record. However, Credence
is a breather, as it's an all clean-song. Mikael does stretch his voice now and then, and that’s an irk, even if he doesn’t mean too. There’s no Mandez on this album, thus theres realy no awesome bass from Mikael. Finally, there are 9 songs on here, three of which are instrumentals, and I don’t think that was really necessary.
+ Mikaels voice improved a lot from Morningrise
+ First concept album by Opeth, and it’s great
+ Nice variety of riffs, soft/heavy, and unexpectedness
- Shortened songs, not enough time for things that could’ve been put in
- Somewhat muddy production
- Three out of nine songs are instrumentals, not totally necessary
Overall, if you need a break from any Opeth album with 10+ min. songs, this is the right album for you. If you are any type of fan from Opeth, you must have this. While nowhere near Blackwater Park or Still Life, it provides a darker, different side of Opeth not really seen on any other Opeth record. In short, amidst all the classics this band has put out, this sticks out with the shorter songs and ominous feel.