OPETH — My Arms, Your Hearse (review)

OPETH — My Arms, Your Hearse album cover Album · 1998 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
My Arms, Your Hearse was a major turning point in Opeth's career - after the gigs supporting Morningrise half of the original recording line-up departed or were fired, and Mikael Åkerfeldt grew tired of their early sound and composition style, which resulted in a new band with a new approach.

When April Ethereal blasts out after the short Prologue, the change is apparent. While the early Opeth sound was based on clear, harmonizing guitar melodies and very high-in-the-mix double bass drumming, April Ethereal comes out with big murky minor chords and riffs, and a positively muddy and gloomy sound. The double bass drums are still there, but supporting the riffs underneath instead of being on the forefront. One small but absolutely crucial factor which makes drummer Martin Lopez a brilliant addition to the band, in addition to his versatile style and overall skill, is the fact that his hi-hat came with a pedal, allowing an open flowing sound, which his predecessor Anders Nordin never used.

Guitar melodies are still a big factor in the music, but instead of harmonizing with another melody underneath, the second guitar adds a big carpet of sound with distorted chords and riffs. The acoustic parts that were there already on Orchid are still present, but integrated more seamlessly, which makes the song structures feel less fragmented, which was a big problem for me on Orchid. But while I welcome all this new approach with open arms, the songwriting isn't quite there yet. April Ethereal and Demon of the Fall are great tracks, and there are good parts in other songs as well, but nothing is really killer. But the atmosphere is very strong throughout, making the album as a whole a very enjoyable one despite the lack of true class A material.

On Morningrise Opeth mastered their early style, on My Arms, Your Hearse they're still learning their new chops. Stylistically a step forward, quality-wise a slight step backwards.
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