Well, I’m going to keep this short and to the point. This album is an exceptional piece of work. It is, at least to my ears, a emotionally stirring, thought-provoking experience that haunts and soothes all at once. Frightenly beautiful, this album from Opeth comes highly recommended. Period.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
I am a huge fan of Opeth, and although every album they’ve ever released is a 5+ star album, there is just something really special about Still Life.
If you’ve never heard it before Still Life is a concept album about the narrator(whose name is never mentioned) and his love interest Melinda. The narrator of the story has just returned home after spending several years in hiding, or banishment?, do to a questionable past. The reason for his return is of course Melinda, however fate is definately not on their side. Too keep from ruining the story I will only say that this is a very poetic, beautiful, and epic tale with many twists and turns leading to a climatic ending.
Still Life is not only amazing lyrically however, the music and singing heard here is really quite astonishing as well. Like all Opeth albums there is an excellent mix of heavy death metal music with beautiful acoustic interludes with folk and progressive influences. Mike’s vocals are at his best here with a great combination of growls, screams and clean singing that can change on a dime.
My personal favorite tracks are “The Moor”, “Godheads Lament”, “Face of Melinda”, and “Serenity Painted Death”. Simply brillant music all the way through. Any fan of Opeth should definatlely have this album. Anyone new to this band should approach it with patience and an open mind. It may take a few listens to get into if you’re not use to the more extreme side of metal but overall fans of any kind of music could get into this album if given a chance.
Well I actually picked up Still Life on a limb. I only had Ghost Reveries up to this point and for whatever reason it just didn’t do too much for me (at the time that is). Now I really appreciate the album. I popped in Still Life and my ears were open to an extremely haunting, yet soothing guitar melody. I gotta say that this album completely floored me with it’s brilliance. It’s one of those special albums to me that you just don’t really expect that much out of and it completely excedes your expectations and it really opened my musical senses up to something I have never experienced before. After listening to this album, I finally saw all the hype and praise that Opeth get. They are truly modern day innovators and I have never heard anything remotely close to what these guys are doing. They can go from the most brutal, insane black/death metal esque sound to a beautiful, haunting, folky, jazzy acoustic melody. And believe me if you haven’t heard these guys before, they are definitely one of the most talented and complex bands I have yet to experience. Mikael Akerfeldt truly is a musical genius and in my book he has yet to fail in the least bit. Still Life is my favorite Opeth album, closely followed by Blackwater Park and that’s saying something because everything these guys have put out is instant gold. It really is hard to exactly put in words just how diverse and excellent these guys are. As for this album, it is their most “balanced” I would say. They have all of their signature sounds and elements in here and they have plenty of acoustic portions in every song. The passion and melody in Mikael’s voice found here is superb and he is definitely one of the most distinguishable, best sounding singers in this day and age. It’s hard to believe that it’s the same guy on this record singing over delicate acoustic harmonies and then the next second he sounds like he’s gonna rip somebody’s throat out. It makes a great mixture of sounds and textures and just overall variety though.
It really is hard to pick out a favorite song on this album. The two tracks that stand out the most though and that caught my attention would be the acoustic tracks- Benighted and Face of Melinda. Both contain folky, intricate acoustic guitar harmonies that even the most accomplished guitar players would have to work at to perfect. Benighted contains somne of Mikael’s most breathtaking/ stunning vocals to date and he can nail that high note. It’s a very ambiant tune and definitely one of Opeth’s finest acoustic tracks ever. Face of Melinda is a classic live staple of theirs and for good reason. It has alot of jazz in it, put don’t fret. I’m not a lover of jazz and I never listen to it as I’m sure many of you don’t. But it’s something about the way Opeth does it that makes it their own and shows off their amazing talent. This is another very ambiant sounding song. Now for the others. The Moor starts off the album with a very dark/ haunting melody which eventually breaks in to a brutal attack with some very harsh vocals. It kind of drops back down to mid-tempo and goes back and forth between electric and acoustic guitars with clean and muffled vocals. One of the best for sure. Godhead’s Lament has one of the best choruses on here, although they never really have a true chorus on any of their songs parsay (take some give some). Moonlapse Vertigo and Serenity Painted Death both continue in the same vein as Godhead’s as they both go back and forth from heavy to light to slow/ fast guitar over different vocal techniques. And finally the album is ended off with White Cluster which starts off probably heavier than any other track on the album and ends with beautiful acoustic guitars with a crackling sound in the background.
This is a must have album for any metal fans. It is so much different than anything out there and it is so beautiful, yet so brutal and haunting. This is Opeth’s best and as usual every song is an epic, except for Benighted that is. It’s truly a different experience in the metal realm and it shows a innovative, technical band at the top of their career. If possible, I would definitely get the new remastered version which has a hard case almost like a book cover and has a real nice fold booklet and a second disc with Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound for DVD players and a live performance of Face of Melinda, which is amazing. I have not heard the older versions of this album, seeing that I’m still fairly new to these guys, but I can say that the production is supberb and for $15 or cheaper this is probly the way to go. Still Life is a modern day classic to say the least and is truly a musical journey.
The first Opeth song I ever heard was Harvest. I heard it as part of a random collection of songs that came packaged with a magazine. I’d never heard of Opeth but loved Harvest. Of course I had no idea then that Harvest doesn’t give a good impression of what Opeth really does. Harvest is only half of Opeth.
Before that, I wasn’t a fan of metal at all, and surely not death metal. The genre was completely foreign to me and not even something I wanted to explore. Still, this was the time of Napster so I got a few more Opeth songs from Blackwater Park to see what else they had. Needless to say, they didn’t compare to Harvest much and I wasn’t much interested at first. It sounded like noise and screaming. Not to mention the songs were really long.
I got to like it, though. There are two things I think separate Opeth from other metal acts: Mikael Akerfeldt’s voice, and the dumming. For the albums that I was first into, Martin Lopez was the drummer. He’s awesome. (I’ve watched and re-watched the documentary that comes on their “Lamentations” DVD and I’m awed just not by Lopez but by all of them.) I don’t see a lot of other people say that drumming is Opeth’s main draw, and I agree, it’s not. But I ask myself, why don’t I like other progressive metal acts as much as Opeth? Take Agalloch’s “The Mantle,” for instance. It’s supposed to be highly regarded. When I listen to it, though, I’m just bored. The musicianship just isn’t as good. And the vocals don’t even come close to Akerfeldt’s.
I’m digressing a lot. The point I’m trying to make is that Opeth isn’t just for people who are into metal, anger, and screaming. This music is beautiful. True, it’s brutal sometimes. Lyrically, it’s not something you’d hear in church. The death growl is jarring at first and hard to take seriously if you’re not used to it. You have to get past those things, though. Do not be scared to give this album and this music a chance.
Anyway, after buying Blackwater Park and then the others, Still Life is my favorite Opeth album. It’s got all the same elements as other Opeth albums so it’s hard to put into words why I like this one just a bit more than all the others.
And if you buy this at retail, and have a chance to listen to it on a 5.1 system, it’s quite an experience, especially if you’ve been listening to the album for a number of years. You’ll hear it in a whole new way.
I already held “Still Life” as one of my top 5 CDs, so the 5.1 mix enticed me to buy this. Definitely a good choice!
The “CD” portion of this package is just the same old “Still Life” with a slight fix on some of the audio. It no longer drops in places (such as the moor) but you won’t get anything else new. The CD is just a nice addition to replace your old one.
The real seller is the 5.1 audio DVD. One quick warning though: there is no LFE channel in the mix, so technically it was only mastered for 5.0. This is not to say your sub wont work, just that there wasn’t a dedicated channel to the lower frequencies. It has plenty of bass, it just wasn’t mastered in true 5.1 Don’t let that dissuade you though, the sound is quite superb.
The use of the surround speakers to add ambiance to the music is great, and the center channel pushes Akerfeldt’s voice right out. The mix is absolutely amazing, and the music sounds totally different and new (in a good way of course). The acoustic guitars and some leads sound as if they were re-recorded (very apparent in Benighted), and the music takes on a different dynamic, becoming more drastic in changes from crunch to clean. (if you can imagine “Still Life” having more drastic dynamics)
All in all, a solid re-mix and re-master. The bonus footage of Face of Melinda live is great as well.