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.