Monday, 31 March 2014

CD Review: Still Life, by Opeth (1999)

Consisting of seven tracks, six of them clocking in at eight minutes or more, Still Life is an exercise in stamina. The fourth studio album from Sweden's Opeth takes progressive metal to the extremes of ambitious journeys intent on meandering, and the outcome is an uneven experience with unpleasant moments easily vanquishing good memories.

Every selection has an intro and an outro longer than the entirety of most metal songs. Tracks like Faces Of Melinda and Benighted noodle for the sake of noodling, interminable exercises in self indulgence and repetition, featuring stretches of acoustic guitars and dreamy vocals that bring back memories of the worst of 1970s misguided rock.

And some tracks simply lack cohesion, with inspiration alone insufficient to sustain the lengths that the band insists on always achieving. Security Painted Death struggles for 9 minutes of mid-tempo mediocrity, exploring half a dozen avenues and several dead ends before getting abandoned literally mid-strum due to a production fail.

Better are the two opening tracks, The Moor displaying some tenacious muscle and a relatively sustained dose of energy, while Godhead's Lament finds a soul and weaves it through an evocative melody.

But the enjoyable music is strangled by unsustainable structures. Still Life succumbs to the disease of progressivitis tiresomous.


Mikael Åkerfeldt − vocals, guitar
Peter Lindgren − guitar
Martin Mendez − bass
Martin Lopez − drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. The Moor - 8
2. Godhead's Lament - 7
3. Benighted - 5
4. Moonlapse Vertigo - 7
5. Face of Melinda - 6
6. Serenity Painted Death - 6
7. White Cluster - 7

Average: 6.57

Produced by Opeth, Mikael Åkerfeldt, and Fredrik Nordström.
Engineered by Fredrik Nordström, Isak Edh, and Opeth.
Mastered by Göran Finnberg.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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