OPETH — My Arms, Your Hearse (review)

OPETH — My Arms, Your Hearse album cover Album · 1998 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
My Arms Your Hearse marks the entry of new drummer Martin Mendez and melodic death metal top-producer Frederik Nordstöm who would both stay on board with Opeth for as long as Ghost Reveries and Deliverance respectively. Largely due to Mendez’ versatile drumming, the album marks the beginning of the progressive Opeth albums. While it doesn't have the finesse of Blackwater Park or the compositional mastery of Ghost Reveries, it simply rules in heaviness and merciless darkness. Olé!

The sound is a lot more aggressive and harsher than the chilly and frost-bitten atmospheres of Orchid and Morningrise. In fact this is Opeth's most surging attack. Later albums gradually became less intense and more polished. And no matter how much Mike announces each new album as “Our next album will be really brutal and awesome and evil”, don't believe his enthusiasm, Opeth never equalled the fierceness and awesomeness of this one and they never will.

That doesn’t mean this is their best album. I honestly wouldn’t know which Opeth album is “the best”. For one thing it depends on which album deflowered you and also on the amount of fury you can handle. If you compare My Arms Your Hearse to Ghost Reveries, then the composition and execution became accomplished, the production improved and Mike’s clean singing took leaps forward. But again, MAYH is darker and simply totally evil. Yes, as a reviewer you got to stick to the artist’s idiom. So there you go.

The clean singing is used only sparingly but that fits perfectly with the material. The heavily distorted chromatic riffs, the furious pace and intensity of the music simply demand for a full-blown cookie monster attack and - rumour goes it was due to a cold Mike had during the recording – his death vocals are in great shape here. The low register and powerful grunts turn this album into a scrumptious chunk of bleak metal. But the main secret for success is the restraint that they applied in the song writing. With only one track over 9 minutes and many short interludes, this is the album with Opeth’s most concise song writing. Each track has plenty of variation and short tracks like Demon of the Fall and the bluesy instrumental Epilogue are unique in their catalogue. There’s not one dip on the entire album and with April Ethereal, When and the opening minutes of The Amen Corner it has some of Opeth’s most gripping moments. Opeth would still grow in execution and this album's production could certainly have been better - making me long for a tasteful reissue like Still Life received - but it has such impeccable song writing and contains such raging intensity that it deserves no less then gold status for me.

Whichever of the Opeth masterpieces that I last hear, usually ends up being my favourite for a while. This one got stuck in the CD-player of my car for almost a year so you can imagine how long this has been a favourite. In my book this is the first in an exceptionally strong string of albums culminating with Blackwater Park.
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