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Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse

1998 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

I figured it's high time that I reviewed this, as it's been my tape of choice (along with The Haunted on side B) for biking for some time now. As can probably be told from the previous reviews, Opeth are one of my favorite bands, fusing progressive passages with real heaviness, muscular drumming and Mike ?kerfeldt's killer vox. Here we come to a turning point. I seem to smell a pattern with creative bands. They release a sensational album which revitalizes the scene, then they either break up, or follow their opus magnus with a semi-mundane offering. I won't name names, but I have been so disappointed in the last year that I was wondering if all the bright lights in metal were fading. Several big changes in the Opeth camp had me a little worried as well. Half of what made Opeth was gone. Dan Swan? would no longer be producing. Yikes. A slight sigh of relief when I found out Fredrik Nordstrom (In Flames, At the Gates) would have a hand in this, but then Opeth were also moving from Candlelight to Century Media. Yup, things could be grim. With anticipation I chucked this into my player and crossed my fingers... A sigh of relief could be heard outer-island as I just listened, and listened, and listened again to the brilliance which is Opeth. Martin Lopez (ex Amon Amarth is an excellent replacement, and ?kerfeldt's bass work is comprable to the past, but all this would be for naught if the dynamics were grown, and thankfully the songwriting abilities have done nothing but gone stronger over time. Biggest changes are the production, which is much meatier than the first two, Lopez' funkified approach to metal drumming, and ?kerfeldt's heightened confidence on his clean vocal parts. Songs are also shorter, although this change is not as apparent as others. If anything, the whole band is more refined, able to direct their ideas into a tighly cohesive attack. It's this coupled with the emotive power thrown into the mix which just beckons for repeated listens. Lyrically, this is a concept album based on a fictional ghost story penned by ?kerfedlt (at least as I understand it!). In short, Opeth are masters, and My Arms, your Hearse may just be their best work yet, which is saying a lot. A must have.