Many Opeth fans argue that Still Life is Opeth's best album. For me, it's their first proper album, with unarguably great production and a little more diversity on offer than before. It is also the first to feature the classic lineup of Akerfeldt and Lingdren on guitar, and Martins Lopez and Mendez on drums and bass. Still Life treads the line of heavy and mellow perfectly, from ridiculously deathy passages on Serenity Painted Death to the guitar heaven of Face Of Melinda. As Mike Akerfeldt himself has said, it's a very dense album; every song is chock full of music, intense instrumentation, ideas and life (no pun intended). It is without doubt a masterpiece, and paved the way for its spiritual sequel Blackwater Park a few years later.
Still Life reviews are readily available, but I thought I'd provide a little more insight into the specifics of this latest release (the third, I believe). First of, the packaging is gorgeous. The album comes in a sort of hardback book, with the CD trays on the inside covers and the booklet as the pages. The artwork has been reworked (mercifully by the original artist and with the band's permission) and the new style is just as pretty as the old. The booklet features extensive liner notes from Akerfeldt on everything from he and Lindgren's in-studio hallucinations to why the Martins could not be trusted with shopping for groceries. Amusing and light hearted, and as enjoyable as he always is. The main attraction for most will be the new mix of the album. While I didn't notice the main album being much different, the 5.1 mix makes all the difference, and if you're into that sort of thing, this is the version to buy. Also included is an excellent rendition of "Face Of Melinda" live from what I presume is to be an upcoming DVD, with new drummer Axe (another Martin!). The performance is well shot and laid back, and immaculately played with fervour as always with this band.
This latest version of the album seems to be the cheapest as well, so, considering the band's fresh input, you don't need to worry about Peaceville pocketing all the money unfairly. This is an update worth your cash.
on 20 April 2003
Still Life is, for me, Opeth's most accessible album, and the best starter for those not from an extreme metal background (as I certainly wasn't when I first heard them). The first song that drew me in was Face of Melinda, a stunning track that remains one of my favourites. It took me much longer, and seeing them live a couple of times before I _really_ got to appreciate the death vocals on some of the other tracks. However, it does not take long to start getting into them, and perseverance even if you are not at first a fan yields huge rewards. This album, as other reviews mention, is a concept album; the story is (at least in comparison to other Opeth work) fairly easy to follow, and is well documented elsewhere. I am undecided as to whether (as other reviewers argue) the story adds to or detracts from the overall quality, but it at least makes the lyrics more interesting to read. When reading the next section, bear in mind that there isn't a single Opeth song ever that is actually bad, and any criticism is relative to Opeth standards, which stand not just head and shoulders above the rest but dwarf them.
The album opens with a typical Opeth plucked acoustic guitar riff that breaks out into The Moor, a good opener, but not one of my favourite tracks. Of course it is a fine song, but by Opeth standards, fairly run-of-the mill. It is easily surpassed by the raging Godhead's Lament, a song containing one of the best riffs ever written, and an excellent mix of death vocals and singing. The next track, Benighted, is not one of Opeth's most inspired works, a slow ballad that lacks some of the intensity of their other slow and/or quiet tracks. It is fairly unrepresentative of the body of Opeth's slower work (try Credence on My Arms, Your Hearse or Harvest on Blackwater Park), but still a pleasant interlude with good acoustic guitar work. Moonlapse Vertigo, the following track is almost entirely death vocals and heavy guitars, and has a fine instrumental break in the middle. The unsurpassed Face of Melinda comes next, and never disappoints after any number of listens. It is split roughly in half, the first section acoustic guitars and the second heavier, but is sung throughout. Serenity Painted Death has some excellent excellent riffs and is one of the best heavy tracks. The only annoyance is that the guitar cuts out at the end; it sounds like a mastering error but I read that it was deliberate because Opeth were bored of using a fade. Still Life closes with White Cluster, a good, heavy track that completes the album well and brings the story to its inevitable conclusion.
This album is a metal classic, with some of Opeth's best work. If you don't already have it then you've unfortunately missed out on the first two pressings with their card slipcase, but a Digipack is hardly worse and irrefusable at this ridiculously low price. Buy this, then buy Blackwater Park, then buy all the other albums and marvel at a career that comes as close to perfection as is possible.
on 21 January 2006
Opeth really are fantastic but this is exceptional, the best albumn i have ever heard, and this comes from someone who listens to virtually no other death metal bands, indeed i am usually into flamenco! So never be put of by the narrow minded people who lump Opeth into that genre and leave it at that, they do everything and do it all so well. Death metal vocals are not easy to listen to if you are not use dto it.....however with time you begin to appreciate them (i cant do it!) especially after seeing them live (5 times for me) he really can just switch between his amazing melodic voice and then his 'demon of the fall' voice without litres of water.
It is in this album that they really hit the spot for me, it satnds in the middle of their early work which was more raw and unforgiving and the newer albums where the become i think a little more experimental than the had done in the early days. Still life combines the best of those worlds and every song is a classic pact with amazing guitar riffs and fantastic song construction the twists and turns in the music are quite unpredicatble, never boring and always rewarding. Softer beuaty is acvailable in the Face of Melinda and Benighted whilst white cluster and serenity painted death show the heavy monster they can be. The Moor however stands out to me as the best song to open an album.....after years the hairs stand up still when it reaches the end of the buildup when Aekerfelt begins to roar.
on 12 July 2013
This is where it all came together. Song writing, production, band line-up....it all came good. For me there are 3 albums that have the 'classic' opeth sound; still life, blackwater park, and deliverance. Blackwater park has my favourite opeth song ever, (the track 'blackwater park') and deliverance my second favourite, (again, the title track) but as an overall album, still life has them both beat.
Stunning production, great transitions from clean to death, awesome riffs all over the place. Is it their best album? It's the best album to showcase their 'classic' sound, but not their best overall - that's ghost reveries :)
But ghost reveries is different to all their other albums and this is a still life review ;)
Their 4th album; still life, starts eerie, then acoustic, then the heaviness comes. The Moor is such a ridiculously strong track; the best opening song of any opeth album, and from there it changes from crunching, to soothing, from deathly to light, with dazzling guitar breaks and rolling drum fills. It's all just so consistent and brilliant.
Orchid was fantastic, but raw; far more accomplished than any debut deserves to be, and probably my 4th favourite opeth album, but clearly it was just the beginning. Morningrise was.....well I don't like it. It's like many shades of grey. There's no light and dark, it's got thin production, and I just can't get into it. My arms...is fantastic; a definite step towards the still life sound, but again - not quite there.
Still life is a fantastic place to start if you're new to opeth. Most people would say Blackwater park, but I would say the 3 ESSENTIAL opeth albums are orchid, still life, and ghost reveries, and the individual tracks, 'blackwater park' and 'deliverance'.
on 2 April 2003
Crushing and haunting in equal measure, this is, in my opinion, the best album Opeth have yet put out. Telling the story of a love doomed to failure from birth, each track (as to be expected from Opeth) spans the best part of ten minutes. They never drag or become repetitive, though, as each feels like four or five songs in one, as different chapters of the story pass by. The opening track, The Moor, switches seamlessly between parts where Mikael's roar sounds like it could strip paint from walls and slower, more melodic passages which draw you in and really show off the quality of his voice. This pattern is consistent throughout the album, with tracks like Benighted soothing you and displaying real tenderness, then being contrasted with a track like Serenity Painted Death's imposing riffs and searing vocals. The constant smooth changes of tempo and style grip you and force you to actively listen to each track in the same way that a printed novel's plot grips you, and as a result, I (for one) find it very hard to do anything other than listen to the whole album in one go. To dip in and out of it, while possible, as each song more than stands on its own two feet, doesn't do the scope of the album any justice - it's far more than a simple collection of songs.
Throughout the whole hour-plus this album spans, not a single note or word seems out of place. Anyone sceptical of the value of the traditional death metal growl as a valid from of singing (and there are plenty) should listen to this album; anyone who believes that death metal can't be anything other than relentless grind with unintelligable screaming over the top should listen to this album. Anyone who enjoys metal at all should probably just buy it straight off simply to experience the quality of the musicianship and songwriting.
In my opinion, the European metal scene is, on average, of a much higher quality than the American. Within Europe, the scene is dominated by Scandinavian titans such as In Flames, Meshuggah, and Dark Tranquillity. Brilliant as those bands are, Opeth are head and shoulders above all of them. And this is Opeth's best album. No metal fan should need any further encouragement.
on 8 February 2009
I only discovered Opeth about a year ago. I thought I had become an age where 'death metal' was a thing from my youth (i'm 47). I'm very much into prog rock with favourites like Rush, Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree. I read that Steven Wilson had worked together with Opeth, in the studio as well as on stage, so I was curious. So I listened to a few songs of Opeth on You Tube: what an absolute surprise! This band has nothing to do with deathmetal, but is a metal-prog rock-classical-jazz-and I don't know how many more stiles of music all combined together in a haunting-brutal-stunningly beautiful mixture. I've bought most of their records and 'Still Life' is, to my oppinion, their very best. It's a musical adventure, a rare gem that summons tons of emotions, from the harder passages where composer, guitarist, singer Mikael Akerfeldt uses his 'grunt' that cuts right through your bones, to the beautifully sung softer passages that almost moves you to tears. Seven songs, seven little masterpieces of musically genious and beautiful lyrics. If you want to buy 'Still Life', go for this edition. It's packed in a great looking digibox, with a booklet. You get the stereo mix from the original 1999 album + a stunning 5.1 mix on DVD. This is without a doubt one of the best records I bought in 2008, and I recommend it to everyone who has an open mind for 'musical adventure'.
on 21 May 2001
This is an album of stunning quality. It is a concept album, very much like a gothic Romeo and Juliet tale. If you are a first time Opeth listener I wouldn't recommend this, go for the more recent "Blackwater Park", it's slightly more accessible while this takes a few more listens to get into. "Still Life", though, is actually a fair bit better than "Blackwater...", even though "Black..." is an excellent album in itself, strange as that sounds. "Still Life" is only the second Opeth album I have bought but I fully intend to buy the other three. Musically Opeth are an absolute joy to listen to. Finely combining a distinct death sound with some wonderful acoustic sections, Opeth are technically one of the best bands around. In a nutshell they are Morbid Angel at their peak (in my opinion "Domination") meeting Pink Floyd ("Dark Side Of The Moon"). Singer Mikael Akerfeldt effortlessly changes scale, from furious death vocals to calm harmonies. You will really notice, though, that Opeth have their own distinct sound. Despite the communion of the harsh death/doom music and the numerous acoustic atmospherics, Opeth are the kind of band that anyone could appreciate. "Still Life" is excellent. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
on 31 July 2003
This is best death metal album with prog elements i have ever heard, and an all time death metal classic. It blends aggresive and melodic death metal riffs, with progressive rock influences that would not look out of place on a pink floyd album. On paper it may seem like a bad idea, however when left in the hands of Opeth they create a truely exeptional blend of the two styles. The complex riffage interlaced with acoustic and atmospheric passages presents an engaging musical journey for the listener. The more progressive elements provide a build up to the crushing death metal riffs that keeps the listener engaged for every second of the albums sixty plus minutes, while they are on the edge of their seat in anticipation of the next unexpected change in direction. Still Life is an album of surprises that when first listened to cannot be predicted, and on subsequant hearings will continue to throw up surprizes through its unpredictable changes from death metal riffs and guttoral vocals through a number of differing musical stages to gentle acoustic guitar work and clean melodic vocals and back again. Other Opeth albums such as 'My arms your hearse' and 'Blackwater water' follow a similar path to 'Still life'(both are definately worth listening to, not to mention the rest of Opeths work.), however I believe Still Life provides a near perfect example of how two seemingly opposite forms of music can be blended together to proivide a truely exeptional and unique form of extreme music. If your looking for straight up death metal or the usual melodic experiments of progressive rock then this is not for you, however if your looking for truely unique and original metal music, Opeth could just be what your looking for, and 'Still Life' remains their progressive metal masterpiece. Opeth could possibly be the most unique and best band in the world.
on 12 September 2006
ok you,ve read the reviews and your probably no wiser as to which opeth album to buy first. i,ve listened to them all countless times over the years and this is the one to buy first.. its a masterpiece. then buy blackwater park, morningrise, my arms your herse, orchid, deliverence, damnation and ghost reveries ... in that order. by the time youve soaked them all up and learnt them Opeth will have released their next album. so now you know what to do there's no excuse... get off your ass and go buy!!
on 9 December 2004
Well, being new to the whole Black Metal scene, I decided to browse a local record shop and see what jumped out at me. Thinking it was a 'PIL' Ltd. Edition Metal Tin (I wish), it was instead 'My Arms, Your Hearse'. I got home and played it on repeat, literally for Hours whilst on the PSX. I couldn't get enough from it. After that, I splashed out on 'Still Life'.
You can not honestly knock the album. The only trakck on there worth skipping is Benighted. I usually walk my dog listening to this album, as it can be difficult listening to it playing a Video Game or playng about on the computer. There will be a big difference in your opinion of this album if you just sit and listen to it or if your out walking., as opposed to if your occupied with something.
If anyone is interested in the Genre and doesn't quite know where to start buying, start here. Not only does it keep the pace with Heavy Guitar battery, it breaks it down a little for those who might be turned off by listening to straight Black Metal.