Review of "My Arms Your Hearse" the 3rd Album by the Swedish Progressive Death Metal Band Opeth
April Ethereal Shows That My Arms Your Hearse Is a Musically Creative Album
Swedish progressive metal band Opeth entered the year 1998 on a very high note because they had released Orchid and Morningrise, two of their most elite albums to start their career. Their 3rd album called My Arms Your Hearse is no less impressive actually. After a short but beautiful prologue part, the song April Ethereal shows that these guys are ready to play music that’s going to be heavy and creative! The album is the first album to feature Uruguayan born drummer Martin Lopez. He replaces Johan Defarfalla. The album begins in the same good fashion as Morningrise did with the song "Advent" except in this case, the song starts heavy instead of slowly building up to that kind of intensity.
Should the "Prologue" Really Be Considered a Song?
However the first track or song Prologue if we can call it that is the sound of rainfall followed by light piano play and then the real fun starts right?
What Is the Song "April Ethereal" About?
"April Ethereal" is a song about someone that takes a peek through a looking glass as if there is some sort of secret tapestry in the glass itself. I hear in the guitar work as the song goes on, a little bit of a slower part that the band Arch Enemy would have used in their music. The acoustic guitar part in this song would have made even the members of In Flames proud!
As we would later hear in the band’s 2001 album Blackwater Park, a repetitive riff follows vocal growls by Mikael Akerfeldt. Since Opeth is one of the early bands of the Swedish death metal scene, they have given rise and or influence to bands that would enter the music scene later such as Noumena.
My Arms Your Hearse the Back of the Album Cover
My Arms Your Hearse the Songs "When," "Madrigal," and "The Amen Corner"
The song "When" starts with some progressive style acoustic guitar before the heavy growls of vocalist and guitarist Mikael take over. Lyrically, the song is similar to a song that Finnish melodic death metal band Noumena would write. But the vocals are certainly better than Antti Haapanen’s growls. "When" is a song about a person walking a path that he is familiar with as he is able to arrive home. He sees the sun rise through a very dense fog as he has a burden on his shoulders. The song is also about what humans can do when their final days come. We wonder when we will take our last steps as we cross that gate or tunnel to heaven. Can we scream instead of whispering? There are questions such as this that are so challenging to answer but Opeth’s philosophical lyrics are good enough for me. "Madrigal" is a short instrumental that has a bit of tapping in it. "The Amen Corner" has an acoustic part which could be influenced by In Flames (think about the song Zombie Inc.). However, that song would not come out until 1999.
Prologue Followed by April Ethereal
My Arms Your Hearse Songs 6-9 and Conclusion
Next comes the song called "Demon of the Fall." It is one of the weakest songs in Opeth’s career as Mikael’s vocals don’t really match up to what he has done before this song. The song also has some growling sounds at the beginning though not like the kind that Mikael usually does."Credence" is a song that describes what a ghost would do and the song uses exclusively progressive style acoustic guitar. The song then turns into a style that The Gathering have used throughout their long career. "Karma" is a song about what happens when winter or the cold season comes upon us. The trees become very barren and the birds even fly away. The castles are even said to be empty. Overall, My Arms Your Hearse is not as good musically as Orchid or Morningrise but it still shows that when the band changes their musical emphasis slightly, they can still make their music be good enough. "Epilogue" is a mixture of Arch Enemy and Fates Warning influenced instrumental guitar work and we can even say that it is Iron Maiden influenced because of the guitar’s sound and tone.
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© 2017 Ara Vahanian