Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Still The Same As Yesterday

Opeth – My Arms, Your Hearse

That's right kids, it's time for another Opeth album. My Arms, Your Hearse is the bands third release, coming between Morningrise and Still Life. As you might recall I found those albums a little disappointing compared to the brilliance of their later work, so my expectations were not that high for this one. Fortunately it turned out to be pretty damn good!

marks a transition point for this band. On their earlier albums, Morningrise and Orchid, they showed a unique sound and style but it is only at this point that their compositional skill suddenly makes some sort of quantum leap, and the thunderous heavy riffs and mournfully beautiful gentle passages that always populated their songs coalesce into arrangments of perfect proportion and craftsmanship. Martin Lopez' drumming is particularly insane on this disc. He has this brilliant way of alternating and even combining straight up death metal thundering and syncopated jazziness. I may not like this one as much as Blackwater Park or Deliverance, but it's still a fine entry in their discography.

Like Still Life and Ghost Reveries, My Arms, My Hearse is a concept album. The first half of the story has a mood bittersweet and sad, describing a recently deceased ghost watching over his widow, waiting for her to die so that they can be together again. The highlight of this first section is 'When', a nine minute epic encompassing the whole spectrum of this bands' dynamic range. The tone then takes a sudden turn to the horrific in the much loved fan favourite 'Demon of the Fall', in which the protagonist's feelings change to rage and hate, as he sees his love begin to put the past behind her and get on with her life. The album proper closes with the brilliant 'Epilogue', a song unlike anything else done before or since. Sure they've recorded other straight up wank solo centred prog rock instrumentals before, but not something as Eighties as this. I love that Dire Straits-esque organ.

The version I have also has two cover songs tacked on to the end. Their version of Celtic Frost's 'Circle of the Tyrants' is not terribly interesting, it sounds just like what you'd expect of Opeth covering a straight up thrash metal song. 'Remember Tomorrow' (written by Iron Maiden) works a lot better, probably because it's more sophisticated quiet/loud dynamics are a better fit to Opeth.

Another great album from these guys, but not their best.

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