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Opeth: My Arms Your Hearse
There are still a few months left in dear old 1998, but here's a fact that
you can bet on: once the year has left us, Opeth's My Arms, Your Hearse
will be showing up on every "Ten best" list in the metal world.
Head honcho Mikael Akerfeldt refuses to pay any attention to genre titles: he
and fellow guitarist Peter Lindgren write songs which take the best elements
from any number of metal subcategories, and blend them seamlessly, as if they
were meant to be used that way all along. Here we have black metal tremolo
picking, sinister death-growl vocals counterpointed against clean and compelling
narrative, atmospheric chord phrasings which recall Voivod and Rush, and
elegantly composed lead melody lines which slowly weave a framework to these
lengthy and wonderful songs. Opeth are the Unification Theory of metal; living
proof that all things work to the good of the intelligent songwriter.
After a brief instrumental opening, "April Ethereal" gives the listener a quick
introduction to the band; here, in the space of just under nine minutes, Opeth
struts their collective stuff, working many of the entries from their bulging
book of tricks into a coherent and mature piece.
Opeth have a clear understanding of a point that I've been emphasizing for
years: aggression means nothing if there is only aggression surrounding it. That
is, extreme vocal styles don't really carry any emotional weight when they take
up the whole album; they only work when they are shining the light of contrast
on more sublime singing. Eight minutes into "When", Mikael sings several verses
in a clean, hypnotic tone; he does a similar maneuver near the end of "Demon of
the Fall," a crushingly heavy song which suddenly does an about-face to play
itself out through a few minutes of relative calm. When moments of restraint
such as this are coupled with moments of unbridled fury, the result is as
powerful as a kick in the stomach; it's the juxtaposition that makes it so
effective, not the extremity itself. At many places throughout My Arms, Your
Hearse, Opeth demonstrates just how important this principle is; rage met
with calm, fierceness of emotion met with fierceness of control.
Other high points include "Credence," a breathtaking and refined piece that
never leaves acoustic territory, and "Karma", a smart and engaging bit of
bombast segmented by a fast-picked acoustic interlude that is just perfect,
echoed by fantastic vocal lines.
In a musical climate filled with imitators and endless reiterations, Opeth are
an island unto themselves. My Arms, Your Hearse is one of this year's few
essential purchases…for all listeners.
Added: January 1st 2004
Reviewer: SoT Archives
Related Link: Web Site
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|Opeth: My Arms Your Hearse
Posted by Hugh Dark on 2007-02-27 14:49:42
It is on this release that things are beginning to heat up. To bad they did not tour for this release as the material goes over really well in a live situation. The band was really developing its heavy side and the clean vocals are showing much improvement in their effect and range. There seems to be a clear vision on where the band is going on the road to Blackwater Park. The one thing the band struggled with on this release was with the production. It's a little murky and is contrary to the musical development of the band. Eventually, as you all know, Steve Wilson captures the vision of the band and together they scale unimaginable heights. This cd deserves a full scale remix with someone taking a good week to do it right. The remaster (only a little louder) gives you a version of Celtic Frost "Circle of the Tyrant " for your listening pleasure and gives you a little more for your dollar.
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