Thursday, October 5, 2017

Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse (1998)

After two very promising, but not fully developed records, Opeth comes through big time with "My Arms, Your Hearse", the first concept record of the band. It is here where they seem to find the balance between all of their influences to create a cohesive sound that feels fully original. Gone are most of the jazz and fusion elements, and left is a very dark, but still beautiful, melodic sound that weaves its wave very smoothly through the speaker and ear canals. And let us not forget the black and death metal elements too, they are still there.

As said, this is a concept record, but it is one that is up for interpretation. All of the lyrics are written in a very poetic way, almost like Mr. Åkerfeldt was sitting out in his garden, enjoying his side hobby of poetry writing, reflected upon what he wrote, and said "yes, this is what we are gonna base our third album on". It is definitely interesting, and it encourages the listener to go deeper into the lyrics, making them think for once, and while we do lose some catchiness in the process, it really does not hurt the music all that much.

Besides from the lyrics, what really makes "My Arms, Your Hearse" stand out is just how well balanced the record is. While "Orchid" was very dark and murky, and "Morningrise" was very calm and collected, this album utilizes both strategies to not only give it more variety, but also just stabilizing the sound, and it all comes together nicely. Each and every song comes naturally, flowing without any problem at all, which just makes it easier for the listener.

And it is this mixing between the heavy and the calm, the harsh and clean vocals, the tough and soft riffs that just makes this record so fascinating. With so many little details here and there, it is close to impossible to take it all in at first listen, so you need to listen to the album again and again and again, but you still find a new little beat every time you spin it around. The replay ability is through the roof, and I will gladly play this sucker again and again, because it is just so pleasant.

But while this album is mostly soft around the edges, it still has a hard enough core to draw most metal lovers in. The band still knows how to hit it hard with those deep black metal vocals, and there are also a bunch of crunchy riffs here and there. As said before, this is a very well balanced record, so there is truly something for everyone here. I could wish for another song in the mix though, since we only get 6 real songs (and none of them are over 10 minutes), but the album is still 52 minutes long, so it still has some decent length to it.

Nonetheless, this is an astonishing record that just delivers a lot of different things. It is heavy, but soft. Dark, but light. Tough, yet fragile. It is an album with many faces, but it still has a very cohesive feel to it all, making it a very strong effort from the Swedes. It is their spring board towards stardom, and they are certainly touching the sky, with a progressive effort that delivers on every front. Maybe the concept could have been a little clearer, but it might just be me, I am not the best at interpreting high art, I am just here for the metal, and the metal is certainly good.

Songs worthy of recognition: Demon of The Fall, The Amen Corner, Credence, Karma

Rating: 9/10 April Ethereals

More reviews of Opeth
Still Life
Blackwater Park
Ghost Reveries
Pale Communion

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