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One of the best albums from Opeth
on 30 September 2013
Still Life is the fourth studio album by Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth. The album was produced and engineered by Opeth alongside Fredrik Nordström, and released on 18th October 1999 through Peaceville Records. It was the first Opeth album to be released through Peaceville, following their departure from Candlelight and Century Black after the release of My Arms, Your Hearse.
Like its predecessor My Arms, Your Hearse, Still Life is a concept album. Frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt explains: "Still Life was not Satanic but an anti-Christian theme. It sounds pretty naive when I explain it like this. It kind of takes place a long time ago when Christianity had a bigger importance than it has today. The main character is kind of banished from his hometown because he hasn't got the same faith as the rest of the inhabitants there. The album pretty much starts off when he is returning after several years to hook up with his old 'babe'. Obviously a lot of bad things start happening with, as I call it on the album, 'the council'. The big bosses of the town know that he's back. A lot of bad things start happening. They see him as a hypocrite in a way. It's almost like a devil's advocate or whatever it's called".
Like most of the band's albums, Still Life features the combination of death metal and progressive rock elements that is characteristic of Opeth's music style. With this album, vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt's death growl began to deepen considerably relative to the band's earlier albums. Still Life continues the band's experimentation with dynamics, and most songs contain at least two drastic dynamic shifts. The song "Benighted" is the only acoustic track, containing a blues-influenced guitar solo. This is also one of the band's few songs that follow a linear song structure, containing verses and a chorus. "Face of Melinda" is, for the most part, another ballad; while it does not contain death metal vocals, it does contain guitar riffs that are typical of the band's heavier songs. A fretless bass guitar along with brushes in place of conventional drumsticks were used in "Face of Melinda" to give it a jazzier sound.
Still Life is, in my opinion, another excellent album by the Swedish metallers Opeth. Despite the fact that the band were only able to rehearse twice before entering the studio due to time constraints for recording Still Life, I don't think that spoiled the recording and production quality of this album as it is a masterpiece. (Did you know that Ritchie Blackmore's band Rainbow had similar time constraints when recording their quintessential 1976 album Rising which contains the classic piece Stargazer, and yet those time constraints didn't spoil the quality of that album either?). This edition of Still Life that I bought contains two discs, the first one being a remastered stereo mix of the album on Audio CD and the second one being an Audio DVD containing a 5.1 surround sound mix. The DVD also contains a live video for the album track "Face of Melinda" from The Roundhouse Tapes live performance in London. The remastered and remixed versions of the original recordings were done by Jens Bogren.
Overall, Still Life is an absolute masterpiece and I very highly recommend this album to all music lovers out there in the world.