Opeth - _Still Life_
(Peaceville, 1999)
by: Pedro Azevedo (9 out of 10)
Despite giving it a 9 out of 10, I have no qualms about saying that _Still Life_ isn't every bit as great as I hoped it would be. The fact is that its predecessor _My Arms, Your Hearse_ [CoC #32] set such high standards that it would be extremely difficult to reach such heights again -- difficult, yet not impossible, and I hoped Opeth would be able to do so with _Still Life_. Having said this, I nevertheless do consider _Still Life_ an excellent album -- hence my rating. The best way to explain my feelings about this album appears to be the following: I could replace any average song from _MA,YH_ with any song from _Still Life_ and I'd still give _MA,YH_ a 10 out of 10; but on the other hand, those same individual songs all put together, thus forming _Still Life_, just don't make it past a 9 out of 10. It is hard, however, to pinpoint exactly why this happens, as there is basically nothing wrong with _Still Life_ -- it is an excellent album, as I mentioned before. It may be overall somewhat less aggressive and more melancholic than _MA,YH_, but that's not necessarily the problem, since the more mellow sections and clean vocals that show up more often than before are as good as ever and the quality level is kept high. Perhaps the only problem here is simply that this is _MA,YH_'s successor. Regardless of that, the music is still great (especially opener "The Moor") and Mikael Akerfeldt's vocals and guitar playing are as superb as ever before. There are some differences in the musical style besides the fact that overall _Still Life_ isn't as aggressive as its predecessor, though: for example, while the songs on this hour-long album are still quite long and structurally challenging, Opeth have for the first time began to repeat certain passages within songs, although this seldom happens. The riffing style is often a bit different as well, but there haven't been any -major- changes in Opeth's sound. In fact, one of the great Opeth trademarks still remains: the album starts triumphantly, with Mikael's powerful vocals erupting from amidst another very well built crescendo. _Still Life_, great album that it is, just isn't as -special- as _MA,YH_. Nevertheless, I would rate every album Opeth released so far either 9 or 10 out of 10, and _Still Life_, their fourth album and first for Peaceville, is no exception. Despite the great difficulty of topping albums like _Orchid_, _Morningrise_ or _MA,YH_, the fact that _Still Life_ is no exception to the rule I just mentioned confirms once again the absolutely remarkable band that Opeth, in my opinion, has always been, thanks to Akerfeldt.

(article published 9/12/1999)

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