7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Stunning, as ever, 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.