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Don’t judge a band by its fan base. - 94%

Bent__Canoe, January 5th, 2019

A common complaint about Opeth is that they try too hard to sound emotional or are “pseudo intellectual”. A lot of this stems from a small group of Opeth fanboys who don’t shut up about how “complex” Opeth’s music is and how Mikael Akerfeldt is a musical genius. As a result, a bunch of people listen to Opeth and don’t enjoy it, and then decide to call Opeth pretentious. Say what you will, but I absolutely adored this album.

The first thing you notice about this album is the dark and mystical album artwork which pretty much sets the tone for the album. Each heavy track on this album is full of brilliant guitar work that is both heavy and atmospheric and sometimes melancholy at the same time. Mikael and Peter are an absolute guitar powerhouse when together offering a nice selection of dark melodies and amazing riffs that make you feel as though you’re wandering through haunted woods throughout this album (See April Ethereal).

Compositionally, “My Arms Your Hearse” is above average. There are many interesting rhythmic and atmospheric changes on this album. Acoustic guitar interludes are a bit abused by Opeth, but it’s not awful. Some of these serve absolutely no purpose at all such as the interlude in the middle of “When” or the interlude track “Madrigal”. Other acoustic sections have a nice melodic and atmospheric affect however, serving an actual purpose such as at the end of “When” and on “The Amen Corner”. The acoustic guitar also sometimes accompanies the distorted guitars adding another layer of texture. There’s also an acoustic ballad on this album, “Credence”. The song is emotional as the rest of the album (which is a good thing), while giving you a break from the brutality of the album. However, my favorite acoustic part of this whole album is at 2:17 on the track “Demon of the Fall” where we get a gnarly acoustic riff for about 10-15 seconds which then kicks off into the same riff, but on distorted electric guitar with Mikael’s terrifying shrieking and Martin’s drumming backing it.

Speaking of vocals, this is another positive aspect of “My Arms, Your Hearse”. Mikael primarily uses his signature evil sounding growls and shrieks, which fit the atmosphere of this album so well, and I dare say they fit more on this album than any other Opeth album I’ve heard. He also uses melodic clean vocals sparingly which give the music a doomy feel.

Drums on this album are fantastic. Rhythmic shifts are done smoothly and drums are generally energetic with some nice fills here and there. The production of the drums is perfect for this album (and the production on the rest of the album is pretty great as well). The bass is hard to hear (no surprise for a metal album), I personally ignored it throughout most the album so I can focus my attention on the rest of the instruments and saving myself the mental energy of trying to hear and concentrate on the bass.

Overall, an amazing display of songwriting and musicianship. Listening to this album, one can imagine traveling through vast forests, mountains, and valleys with a haunting atmosphere. Brutality is not over the top and is well balanced by more mellow tracks such as “Credence” and the melodic organ-backed “Epilogue”. I don’t find “My Arms Your Hearse” to be pretentious in the least bit. It is both mentally and emotionally stimulating to me. Of course not everyone will have the same reaction to this album, but to call the band pretentious because other people think they’re amazing is absurd. If you didn’t like the album, feel free to review the album and point out what you didn’t like about it rather than insulting Opeth and their fans calling them snobs (some are, but many people generalize Opeth’s fan base as snobby).

Finally taking form - 89%

EzraBlumenfeld, October 12th, 2018

After two pretty solid albums, My Arms, Your Hearse is where Opeth finally started using the formulaic progressive songwriting they would display for many years to come. Although the preceding works had mostly focused on extensively long songs, many Opeth fans will be quick to point out that My Arms, Your Hearse is the band's only extreme metal-oriented album to have no songs over ten minutes in length. While the stylistic change is reasonably noticeable, it certainly adds rather than subtracts from the final product.

On Morningrise, Mikael Åkerfeldt and his changing cast of bandmates had experimented with acoustic interludes and vocal melodies to a great extent, culminating in the very long and sometimes repetitive "To Bid You Farewell," with the other four tracks also having their fair share. Then, only two years later, they decided to hold back a little on this fresh aspect to their music. Although you can find plenty of Opeth's signature twisting acoustic licks and a decent amount of clean singing throughout, it's not as prevalent and is only used when necessary.

Another notable difference between My Arms, Your Hearse and its predecessors is Åkerfeldt's increasing vocal range. Previously, he had only focused on black metal-tinged, throaty high screams; here, the aforementioned stylings are evenly mixed with his now-signature deep guttural, which adds a much more interesting and diverse feel to the whole album.

As for the instrumentals overall, the guitars are much more focused on intertwining than simply harmonizing, as they had been before. Åkerfeldt and Peter Lindgren are each panned to opposite sides, so depending on which side you focus on more you can get completely different experiences. This album also saw Åkerfeldt on bass, and recent Amon Amarth-departee Martin Lopez beginning his long role as Opeth drummer.

Songs on this album have a much more haunting feel than on any other, possibly because of the supposed presence of a conceptual storyline throughout. The band had yet to shake off their early black metal influences, and that contributes massively to the dark atmosphere. Although "Demon of the Fall" is one of their most well-known songs, I think it easily sums up what its parent album is all about.

MAYH is definitely an album that stands out among its peers. The riffs sound absolutely massive, largely due to the increased-quality production and the domination of dissonant chords over the single-note melodies Opeth favored before. The instrumentalists collaborate quite nicely, and it all comes out sounding truly fantastic. It's an essential Opeth album, no doubt about it.

Highlights: "April Ethereal," "When," & "Demon of the Fall"

My balls, your mouth - 16%

TrooperEd, April 1st, 2018

Opeth. The name alone sounds softer than baby poo. Say what you will about the name of Nightwish, but at least that idea started as an acoustic project before Tuomas wondered whether or not Tarja would make a decent Bruce Dickinson surrogate.

Now, no bullshit, there are some flashes of promise throughout this album. I was busy typing all sorts of insults to hurl at this aural Hustler magazine for fruity yuppies when all of a sudden the opening to April Ethereal just ripped my head off. And it's actually managed to keep going for a decent clip, until the inevitable "melodic" breakdown. The opening moments of When managed to get me to stare menacingly at my bedroom for a spell or two, until again, the fucking acoustic breakdowns. Boy did which everyone completely miss the point of that original moment from Male Supremacy. The biggest problem with these dumb moments is its hard to tell what's part of the song and what's something else. Case in point, the transition from April Ethereal to When. If I didn't look over at the album time I'd have assumed we were still on April Ethereal.

Look, I get that all these elements are part of Opeth to establish "atmosphere," but the atmosphere is completely wrong. One needs to look at death metal as making horror films. Look at Alien, which from a surface standpoint, seems completely unlike the Exorcists and Shinings of the world, but when you really break it's elements down it's more a horror movie than it is a science fiction movie. Scream Bloody Gore is a musical horror movie, Blessed Are The Sick is a musical horror movie, Mental Funeral is a musical horror movie, Necroticism is a musical horror movie. Even Swedish compatriots Katatonia managed to get it right with Dance of December Souls. This doesn't even work as death-doom. There needs to be a larger amount of aggression than usual. Meshuggah's Choasphere can make a much greater claim to being so called progressive death metal than this can, as at least that actually tries to be expansive with time signatures and rhythms WHILE maintaining a high level of noisiness. I'm not even saying you can't break things up occasionally with atmospheric pieces. This is why Blessed Are The Sick is the greatest death metal album of all time in my opinion, because it pulls this off masterfully.

Also, and I've noticed this alot with Opeth, just about every single song here has the exact same feel rhythmically, that triplet based waltz swing, whatever you want to call it. I mean using that for one track with death metal requires some care, but having that be practically every track makes it practically inexcusable. It was questionable when Overkill did this for three tracks in a row with Years of Decay, I'm damn sure not going to excuse so called "progressive death metal," especially when the entire point of progressive anything is variety.

Are there any positives with this album? Well, at least Akerfedt is bothering to play solos in 1998, and he is quite skilled at them, to the point where it makes me wish he would quit this nonsense and go join Spiritual Beggars or something. The openings of When and April Ethereal are relatively metal. The songs are at a reasonable 6-8 minutes rather than the plodding 12-20 minute snorefests they usually are. The beginning of Credence is an amusing Opeth parody of the beginning of Criminally Insane. Ok I'm drifting into backhanded compliments at this point that's just the nonsense that Opeth inspires. If I want to listen to folk anything, I'll stick to Van Morrison and Bob Dylan thank you very much.

One final note, Akerfeldt's "death metal vocals" sound like Randy Blythe's hardcore vocals.

Lost among the riffs - 84%

gasmask_colostomy, September 28th, 2016

As metal albums go, this isn't exactly the easiest to listen to. However, as far as Opeth albums go, it seems that many people find My Arms, Your Hearse more open and welcoming than the others. That can be attested by the comments in previous reviews about being "more coherent" or "more consistent", though I would question those judgments slightly. Is this album really more coherent or is it just more concise? I remember reading the Wikipedia page for My Arms, Your Hearse a long time ago (so it might not be there if you check) and finding that someone had written information which stated that this was Opeth's only album (at the time) with no song exceeding 10 minutes. That would seem to be a needless comment, yet it does feel pertinent with a band so renowned for writing very long songs, which is presumably the reason why many metal fans have turned their noses up at Opeth's music. I suppose I can see that cutting the song lengths here has made some difference to the overall effect, though we get an album largely similar in construction and style to the preceding Morningrise.

For those not familiar with Opeth's signature style (why not?), the Swedes used to meld together mid-paced melodic death metal and super-heavy prog rock riffs to form the basic chassis of their sound, then ladled a ton of acoustic guitars, baffling time signatures, and soaring solos into the mix. To top it off, Mikael Åkerfeldt would roar in a deep voice (think Insomnium) and occasionally sing pleasant folky cleans to narrate kind of conceptual stories. My Arms, Your Hearse has a kind of conceptual story, but I've never felt drawn into it in the same way as the one in Still Life, so it falls to the music to make an impression. All of the above listed elements are present here, plus the sometimes autumnal splendour of Opeth's sprawl that rears its head in post-metal sheens on the likes of 'When' and makes those moments fit for daydreaming. A lot happens in these songs too, with few repeating parts in most songs, if any. You can pray for a chorus as much as you like, but you ain't gonna find none.

That style means you can choose two different methods of listening to the album. Either you can sit bolt upright and stay alert through the whole experience, taking care to notice all of the time changes and song segments as they come and go, or you can lay back on your bed and let the whole thing blur before you as it takes you on a journey away from your own life. Both ways have their merits, the first allowing the musos to appreciate the evident skill that goes into playing the music, the second a way to tap into the atmosphere and wandering nature of the compositions. I'm an advocate of the second method, although I must say that sometimes I get lost within the album and find myself confused as to which song is playing, since there are fairly few hooks in either music or vocals, which the band would later improve upon. I understand that some will find that wandering nature troubling because of the lack of focus that it implies, but the fact that almost all the individual ideas are diverting makes it rather a null point if one accepts the songwriting on its own terms.

As I mentioned, I don't find it easy to distinguish the songs, but 'Demon of the Fall' and 'Karma' give some easier signposts within their twisting forms, while 'Credence' features entirely clean guitars and vocals, proving tranquil and soothing amidst the jagged heaviness. 'Demon of the Fall' is a fan favourite precisely because of that jagged heaviness and has the pick of the riffs, which change styles between soaring melodeath, brutish pure death, and the jarring rhythmic style which belongs only to Opeth. The other songs have great riffs too, though the complexity makes them more of an experiential delight than a memorable one, even if a few sections stand out in the opening numbers. Regarding the interludes, of which there are three, one might deem them unnecessary in an album that already includes acoustic sections and so on, but they work as a simpler break from a largely heavy set of songs, mostly focusing on just one idea during their length.

There is no great gap in Opeth's progress from debut album Orchid in 1995 to Deliverance in 2002, though the gradual trend was towards better organization of song structures and fewer superfluous parts. My Arms, Your Hearse certainly marks the first time that the band made a conscious effort to control those things and - despite a lack of truly memorable parts - means that they succeed in keeping most listeners on board from start to finish. Probably loaded with the tastiest ingredients of the band's career, Opeth would do better at crafting a finished product on the following attempt.

The summit of perfection - 100%

Writhingchaos, February 3rd, 2016

Opeth. The one band whose talent most bands would either piss themselves in fear of or kill to have even an iota of the skill that they possess. I mean these guys have more skill, conviction and talent in one song than most bands have in their entire careers. Funnily enough this was the last album of theirs that I heard, along with Orchid. Yes in case you were still wondering I did work my way backwards with their albums, as did most other fans out there I’m guessing. I mean the Swedes started gaining the mainstream praise we now attribute to them only after the release of Damnation and Deliverance after all. However having said that, this album certainly deserves much more appreciation that it’s got and for all you late-era Opeth fans - you are truly missing out on an underrated masterpiece here!

Here as most people have already pointed out, the songs have been tightened up making them more concise and definite as opposed to the loose, jammy and almost dreamy feel of Morningrise and Orchid. Neither approach is bad in my opinion, but on this album Opeth definitely established the precise blueprint for their upcoming five albums (not counting Damnation) as well as gave the genre of progressive death metal a new lease of life, if you will. All of the songs simply slay from beginning to end (no surprise there, it’s Opeth after all) and most of all, this album can be enjoyed as 9 separate pieces of music as well as a 52 minute long journey of thunderous peaks and valleys.

The echoing haunting piano at the beginning of "Prologue" only serves as an appetizer reminding you about the mystifying theme of the album, as "April Ethereal" launches the album into the stratosphere in full fury. Mikhael’s growls are truly terrifying here and the pounding riffs kicking in at 3:08 only to serve to heighten that fact. Such brutality. All the generic BDM bands out there cluttering up the scene with your nonsensical br00tality, suck on this and learn something for a change! The slow harmonizing part at 4:42 is just sublime bliss in every sense of the word. This song singlehandedly proves that all your grandiose plans of making progressive and technical metal aint worth shit if you don’t know squat about songwriting, and Opeth definitely have the talent of songwriting in spades. If this song doesn’t convince you, then probably nothing will. “Madrigal” is one of the better interlude tracks I’ve heard, actually adding to the album as a whole instead of just being tacked on lazily like in most other albums out there, simply to pad out the length of the album in question. “The Amen Corner” keeps the flag of brutality flying high yet again, with acoustic section woven perfectly into the face-melting riffage along with a fret-burning solo and multiple leads to soot, finally ending with a perfect soothing acoustic outro. How to fuse perfection with perfection? This song! The acoustic guitars in “Credence” are just heavenly weaving their way through multiple melodies and sections without you even realizing it on the first listen. That throbbing lead at 4:10 is just next level. Listen to it for yourselves and gush about it for a change. The section at 3:38 in “Karma” where the lush vocal line “You have nothing more to lose” gives way to another section of melancholic strumming topped by a mournful lead just depresses me in more ways than one as I know that I will never ever be this good at composing in my current lifetime at the very least.

For all you pure-bred death metal fans, be sure to look up “Demon Of The Fall” as the opening riff itself demolishes mountains, forget moving them and will conjure up such visceral images in your head that you’ll be forced to read books on Spanish Inquisition tortures for a month afterwards in order to satiate those images! Yeah no kidding. You’ll be humming the almost doomish melody at 5:25 long afterwards wondering how these guys can make music so brutally captivating and catchy at the same time.

“When” has one of the best intros ever. That echo-laden clean guitar picking and slide just adds to the puzzling feel of the entire album. Spasmodic headbanging of the highest order will probably occur post 0:27 however, as the song launched into one hell of a brutal assault. Ahhh Opeth doing what they do best. The gorgeous acoustic/lead sections at 2:44 and 5:40 is something most bands can only dream of composing at least once in their respective lifetimes. Epic, simply epic. Nothing more needs to be said. The same applies for the last song “Epilogue” a beautifully captivating closer to the album. I mean just listen to those leads towards the end and tell me if you still can’t feel yourself floating way. I know I can

The concept doesn’t interrupt the music at all and actually adds to the overall dark and foreboding feel of the album. Just magnificent. I truly long for more such albums in today’s bland and over-saturated music scene. If I had to nit-pick, I’d say that Akerfeldt had yet to perfect his clean vocals (Still Life and Blackwater Park were yet to be released after all) which he subsequently would on the following albums, so it’s all good. But that’s too small a quibble so it can be easily ignored. Although you may have certain favourites of your own, the best way to experience the outstanding glory of this album is to listen to it from beginning to end. A truly underrated masterpiece in every way folks. I cannot stress this enough. Consider my mind blown.

The pinnacle of flawlessness - 100%

GuardAwakening, July 16th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Candlelight Records

I never thought I'd really come across an album that so greatly captures an emotional balance seasonally. Especially one that features an interesting storyline as the album progresses through this turn of influences regarding dark fantasy and musically balances a perfect blend of progressive black and death metal. Opeth's My Arms, Your Hearse is exactly that. A concept album released in 1998 that borderlines the quality of a novel and a perfect extreme metal album.

This album is the epitome of concept records. In fact, if I did have a skill at reviewing stories or if I ever take up this hobby in the future, I would consider reviewing this album just to cover its storyline as well as its music in a simultaneous conjunction just to discuss its overall quality. Unfortunately I am not extremely skilled with terms to describe a novel's writing style, terminology, metaphors and the liking. Basically, I am not a book reviewer. Let alone, discussing the music of this release on a music website is the only direction that seems appropriate even if I was up to the task of doing this. So thus in this review I will primarily cover the album's musical performance.

Opeth being formed as a straightforward death metal band in the early 90's and progressing to something much more could very well seem very unorthodox to casual listeners in this day and age. In fact, the band currently have been putting out records only under the progressive rock genre as of late. Opeth has always clinically been a three dimensional output with no two releases or song among their library really bearing any sort of indistinguishable similarities with one another. Having released two full-length albums before 1998's My Arms, Your Hearse seem to have been the band only discovering the height of their potential. The records Orchid and Morningrise while featuring an earlier and slightly more primitive sound, are almost godlike performances bar none. My Arms, Your Hearse does what those records did, but maximizes the talent to a threshold unimaginable. Every single riff, drum pattern and song on this album is overloaded with passion and real emotion. Almost acting as if a valise for the next track just to embrace how much further and epic the tracks can garner into finally reaching the record's climax.

There is this heavy border between art and metal that I believe Opeth have breached with this release. The artform of music and the denial of extreme metal being treated as such is overlapped with this album. So much to where they intertwine even with something that almost resembles a novel being carried within the lyrical themes. The story of the album concerns a man who died and reigns the world only as a ghost, not even being aware he has died. Capturing the seasonal emotional twist as the album unveils song by song, the ghost closely follows the woman he gave his heart to while he was alive. The woman is constantly distraught in the story, not accepting his death. The progression of the album can also be seen as linked to the progression of the seasons, the final song ending with winter, and leading back into the first song with the beginnings of spring. The passion featured just in the album's lyrics alone is amazing, but the music itself furthers this sincerity of emotional pull even further.

Mikael Åkerfeldt frets his guitar as he screams and growls every line of this story while Martin Lopez and Peter Lindgren play beside him in this epic longplay opus which clocks in at nearly an hour in length. Sweden being a country home to unadulterated black metal and death metal styles, it's no surprise that Opeth have clinically mastered both of these genres but placed into a progressive rock box and unveiling something truly magnificent in the process of hybridization. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've heard this album and questioned how the atmosphere is almost equivalent to each season the songs are based upon. The channeling drop heavy riffs of "The Amen Corner" capture the distraught heat of summer, while "Demon of the Fall" captures the dreaded dropout of all environmental life that we see in the autumn. Art really can't be expressed in any better way.

The album's clam parts completely compliment the music in a way to stir the potential this release bears in order to prepare you for the next brutal lick, double bass drumming or heavy distorted atmosphere. Every song was meant to flow into the next which equivalents this record even further to the form of a storybook. The songs can be treated as chapters, even if you're not fully focusing on the lyrics. "Progression" is the keyword here, and I mean that as in not just a double entendre with progressive metal, but also the progression of this album entire from beginning to end. "Progression" may also refer to the band's subtle increased performance from every album they've released since Orchid which clinically succeeded in venturing up to higher rate of almost near-perfection which I believe was made real with My Arms, Your Hearse. This album is amazing, that is all I can say.

This is honestly one of the greatest metal albums of all time. I don't need to make a recommendation of this record to you based on what your music taste is for me to retain firm belief that you'll enjoy this record. Even if you listened to this album and don't like it, at least you experienced something which I among several other people consider groundbreaking. If you like music... basically, just listen to this album.

When can we scream instead of whisper? - 97%

SoundsofDecay, November 28th, 2013

I'm a big fan of the early Opeth albums, and this is probably my favourite one. It represents a massive change compared to Morningrise and is the beginning of the Opeth style most recognized on albums like Still Life and Blackwater Park. The vast compositions and near black metal tones of the previous albums are gone. In their place is a more concise songwriting style with a much greater emphasis on riffs, and lots of them I might add. My Arms, Your Hearse is a transitional album for sure as there are some traces of the old style left. They have yet to fully arrive at the sound for which they'd become most famous. This is also still the most aggressive and purely metal album from Opeth, though the clean guitars and vocals are in abundance as ever, the metal passages are arguably the heaviest they've been.

From the album art to the music, this album is swamped in a thick and murky atmosphere unlike any other Opeth album, and unlike a lot of other albums period. One of the best examples I can think of where the cover art really matches the content and the two help bring each other to life. This is the first of Opeth's concept albums, and features a unique writing trick where the final word of the lyrics for each song is the title of the one that follows. Quite a neat trick that I haven't seen elsewhere, which helps tie everything together. The lyrics are as to be expected from this band, with a nice poetic flair.

This album marks the first appearance of Martin Lopez on the drums, who lends a considerably different feel compared to Anders Nordin. Nordin's beats were often quite Mediterranean influenced, while Lopez (fresh from Amon Amarth) gives a much more aggressive and metal performance with some more subtle moments with a great swing to them. Bassist Martin Mendez was technically part of the lineup by this point, though he didn't have time to learn the parts so Mikael Akerfeldt stood in. I'm a big fan of Johan DeFarfalla's brilliantly expressive and skillful playing on the first two albums (especially Morningrise), however his much more complex playing would simply be drowned amidst the much denser compositions of this album. I've read some criticism of Akerfeldt's bass playing on this album which I don't find reasonable, he holds down the low end perfectly well and if you listen closely you'll hear him doing some quite interesting melodic stuff from time to time. Akerfeldt and Lindgren's riffing style has become much more about strumming chord progressions as opposed to melodeath style dual harmonized leads of the first two albums. The clean playing has taken on a more "jazzy" feel and the folky acoustic playing is still there. Mike's vocals have changed a lot, becoming much deeper and more like death metal vocals instead of the black metal styled rasp he used before. He gives a powerful performance, and also my favourite of his clean vocals on this album, which is strange considering he supposedly had a cold while recording.

I couldn't really pick a favourite song from this album, as they all give off the same vibe while being distinct in themselves, though I must give special mention to "Credence" for being stunning (my favourite Opeth "ballad") and "Karma" for being the one I probably would pick as my favourite if I had to make that choice...but I like it all equally really. It took me quite a while to get into this band, especially the later albums, but this one definitely helped me a lot in that area. Fully recommended.

Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse - 100%

Orbitball, May 15th, 2012

What diversity in metal, these guys used to play some great progressive music in this genre. A shame that they are no longer considered to be within the "metal" community, they've retired from it. Only 3 musicians on this one with a guest organist. Dark, decayed aura, but such beautiful reverence in the metal world. Songs on here just are so magnificently played without any noticeable flaws and such diversity in the musical and creative aspects. Maybe just 3 members here, but they sure do deliver great epic tracks. All of the songs show such great musicianship.

The riffs are all over the place as are the tempos. Thick, heavy, brutal guitar then you get a break and there's an acoustic piece that delivers, lightening up the song overtures. Wow, I still am amazed on how well metal can be played with such melody. Guitars that are plain destructive in tone followed by throat that's low and bellowed. Then again, after this, there are clean vocals. The majority of the time Mikael sings in a death metal tonality, but he still can sing in a clean tone as well. Magnificent overtures and memorable songs that are quite innovative plus they're quite unique.

Acoustic guitars fluctuate on and off and some of the tracks have an overflow of this kind of guitar work, but most of the time it's distorted guitar work. The music contains melodies that stick in your mind gathering such an immense orchestra of metal. If you're a melodic death freak like I am, you'll love this one. Such great compositions that are totally original and can never be overplayed. Tempos are slow for the most part, especially during songs that are filled with acoustic guitars. They mix the tempos quite rapidly. Extreme progressive metal fits the genre quite beautifully.

YouTube some songs such as "Credence" and "Demon of the Fall" and you'll hear what I'm talking about when I say extreme progressive metal. The topics that the band sings about include love, loss, sorrow, nature, death and occultism. As you can see, the diversity is not only with the music, but the lyrics as well. It's hard to decipher what Mikael is saying on each song. However, that doesn't mean that his efforts aren't without esteem. Songs are so much magnificently orchestrated. You won't find a better extreme progressive metal album like "My Arms, Your Hearse."

The production sound for this time when technology wasn't making instruments and voice sound too "perfect". These guys actually have talent and the music is what fuels the soul of this album. All instruments are all in the proper mixing with nothing left out, not even the bass guitar. The metal just flowed on this release and it remains to be my favorite out of their entire discography. It's too bad that they are now no longer a metal band, they're progressive rock. There's 2 bonus tracks on here one cover song and an additional track entitled "Remember Tomorrow."

There is no other album like this in Opeth's discography. That is my opinion though, others can argue it and I come to the same conclusion: their best metal effort ever. No boredom, no lack of innovation, no melodic guitar that is unimpressive. This album is just something that you can easily get into if you like this genre of music. Don't expect anything but pure melodies some heavy some acoustic like I've described. A monumental masterpiece, "My Arms, Your Hearse" is just too perfect and never played out. If you don't own this one, pick it up and form your own opinion of it. If you're expecting utter brutality, there's shades of it, but not entirely.

Excellent blend of old and mid-era Opeth - 95%

MediocreGuitarist123, February 21st, 2012

With My Arms, Your Hearse, Opeth went for a notable change in sound from the Orchid and Morningrise records. This could be best described as a sort of middle ground between the early works and the sound that Opeth would be later known for, mixing in the ethereal atmosphere from those two records with the vintage, jazz-oriented progressive death metal sound.

This is also Opeth’s first concept record. The story is about a deceased man who becomes a ghost and tries to confront his lover. Unfortunately, she doesn’t return her love back to him and further attempts to confront her results in her fearing and despising him. Accordingly, Akerfeldt mapped the story out before writing the music; a very good move when writing a full-length record, especially a concept album. As the album progresses, so does the story, slowly building up from a sorrowful start in ‘April Ethereal’ to the climatic and dissonant ‘Demon of the Fall’ and ending in the same sorrowful tone in ‘Epilogue’.

As a result of the change in sound, as well as the recent lineup change that Opeth went through, My Arms, Your Hearse is disturbingly heavier than its predecessors. And I say ‘disturbing’ because the aggressive nature of a lot of these tracks adds to the atmosphere of the content. Drummer, Martin Lopez, pulls off a very consistent and very aggressive performance while still controlling himself from overpowering the band. The bass guitar is very audible in the mix and does a good job at thickening the sound. In Mikael Akerfeldt and Peter Lindgren’s guitar work, the two shifted from using harmonic riffs in the last two to a jazzy, yet very heavy riff-based approach that is often dissonant and sets the dark tone of this album. The softer sections on My Arms, Your Hearse blend in very well, giving the listener a more of a breather from the crushing death metal. However, I do feel that some of the transitions feel rather contrived; often times, they will use a short acoustic guitar interlude to transition to another heavy riff. This is a minor annoyance, but it’s rather prevalent throughout the record.

Mikael’s vocals have become much more varied in My Arms, Your Hearse than in previous efforts. His vocals had become much deeper; almost to the point where they resemble gutturals, whereas the first two records had a mid-pitched black metal sound. This is the first time in their discography that his harrowing, sorrowful, and even at one point in the aforementioned song, ‘Demon of the Fall’; demonic growls actually add to the music. His jazzy cleans are stronger than in previous efforts and sound convincingly as remorseful as his growls.

Although it would be later topped by Still Life, My Arms, Your Hearse has a very unique atmosphere and serves as a great middle ground between the atmosphere of the early records to their signature sound. Their musicianship has progressed considerably, showing what was to later come in Opeth's career.

One Of Their Greatest - 95%

SonOfHades, July 21st, 2011

"My Arms, Your Hearse" simply has to be called one of Opeth's best albums to date. It may be one of their oldest, but that doesn't stop it from entrancing you with fantastic guitar riffs and the signature death metal and clean vocals that Mikael performs flawlessly.

The album gets off to a brilliant start with the songs Prologue, April Ethereal and When, all three linking together perfectly. Any avid listener of Opeth will not be disappointed with these songs. Prologue leads the listener into the epic riff factory that is April Ethereal and that gives a fantastic performance which then carries onto When in which there are even more great riffs and some acoustic guitar work that mesmerise the listener with their tranquillity amongst to usual loudness of death metal.

When then links into Madrigal which basically begins the guitar riff for the next song: The Amen Corner. Along with April Ethereal and When, this song captivates its audience, especially with the acoustic breakdown in the middle of the song. It comes as an unexpected, but nice surprise, and sets the songs tone perfectly. This then leads into the next song worthy of note: Demon Of The Fall. This song is considered by many to be the best song on the album and has been played as an encore at many Opeth concerts. It is well deserved of its title as best song on the album for a variety of reasons, one being that it has one of the greatest riffs of death metal history and that it’s catchy as hell.

The next song does seem a bit pointless, but it relaxes the listener after some great songs before it. It also sets up the next song, called Karma which is the final song worthy of a high mention. It is consistent and it has a great riff near the beginning of the song which sets the stage for the rest of the song. It is a great song to start an end to an album, its smooth riffs and acoustics make it a great song to play and listen to. Epilogue finishes off the album with an old heavy metal sounding riff and brings what could be a perfect ending to a perfect album.

Demon Of the Fall - 90%

jeanshack, May 9th, 2010

The first listen to this record, get ready to be confused as to what to hate more, the production quality or the obsessive echoing of bass in the background. "Prologue" starts of in a beautifully misleading way only to explode into "April Ethereal". Initially the record does sound different but scratch off the surface and it is the same old Opeth terrain decked with brilliant death growls, acoustic guitars, melancholy passages, Iron Maiden inspired riffs, clean and whispering vocals. Needless to say all the songs are different permutations and combination of the above attributes.

With this record its more than evident that the black metal influence has completely faded to oblivion and its a dominating death metal sound which is most prominent in the vocals of Åkerfeldt. Unlike Morningrise this is not the obvious staring into face melody, its more subdued and there is a strange echo which adds to the ambiance of the whole experience.

The riffs on this record are faster but blunted by the booming background bass which somehow deviates the attention of the listener. I do not know whether this was intentional but at a superficial level you can call this a "versatile" record, a dozens listens down the line you realize there is nothing new here other than a record producer obsessed with bass sound which literally drown everything other than the vocals. I have to say that I have never heard bass stand out so much on any band's sound other than of course Iron Maiden, which definitely is intentional there, thanks to Steve Harris.

As always Åkerfeldt stands out with his unusual ability to shift between a multitude of vocal styles. Around one minute to "The Amen Corner" you can notice how perceptibly deeper the growling gets, the trend continues into "Demon of the Fall" which starts off with vocals which is exploding from an endless abyss. Even the omnipresent bass seems to get crushed with the Åkerfeldt sound which comes full cycle when it ends with strong clean vocals. To me "Demon of the Fall" is that quintessential song which defines the whole album.

My Arms , Your Hearse has mediocre compositions and is a half baked record if you are a progressive death fan. You get an impression that Opeth was truly at crossroads, there were less musical passages compared to Morningrise and even more lesser clean vocals and shorter songs, from this point on their sound could have gone in any direction. On hindsight the first step towards getting a more 'civilized' sound was taken with this record, remove the omnipresent echo and the mindless bass, you get "Still Life", interestingly both are concept works revolving around a woman pursued by ghost in the former and by a outcast in the latter.

There are two bizarre covers of Celtic Frost and Iron Maiden in the re-released version, I am no fan of Celtic Frost but they definitely crucified the Iron Maiden classic, Opeth definitely achieved the impossible when they managed to make a Iron Maiden song sound like the way it did.

It is very typical of metal fans to be cynical and call a band pretentious when there is an effort to make the lyrics tad poetic than just created for mindless growling which fills the gaps when virtuoso musicians shift gears. I have immense respect for Åkerfeldt for the lyrics in this record, the Opeth sound he formulated over the years and even more for the ethereal vocals which makes emulation of Opeth a near impossible.

Drowsiness prevails, mostly. - 59%

Empyreal, January 7th, 2010

Alright, people. I have a bone to pick with a certain band that has garnered an obscene amount of praise since day one, and I have had it up to here! This is a band that many people will toss around as being emotional and intellectual, a band that many claim are the one savior of what they smugly deem ‘thinking man’s metal.’ This is a band that many have come to call…Opeth. The title of the album is My Arms, Your Hearse; long hailed as their best album by legions of frothing-mouthed fans who I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw. And let me tell you something, faithful readers. Let me tell you that I think this much-loved album is…okay.

Just…okay. It’s not great, it’s not terrible…it’s just inoffensively, incredibly okay. It’s pretty wishy-washy and there are parts of this I really don’t like at all, but I’m not going to pretend I hate this or anything.

Most of you probably know this band’s deal. Mikael Akerfeldt plays long, drawn out songs with lazily epic melodies, doom riffs and several acoustic bits. His voice alternates between a throaty growl and a sort of subdued, distorted clean drone that sounds like something I’d expect out of a 90s rock band rather than any kind of metal – pretty good though. The songs are played at a slow tempo, with the rhythm section generally sticking to that kind of fuzzy mid pace stomp the whole time. “April Ethereal” is okay, and along with songs like “When” and “The Amen Corner,” it packs some pretty decently written dark melody lines and riffs. But it gets old, and even though the latter songs have their moments, too, it’s just tiring. The band piles the same overly emotional hooks into every seven-minute-plus song (and pretty much everything on here is), and it gets really one dimensional after a while.

I just don’t really get it. What exactly is so complex and intelligent about this music, anyway? It has a rather obtuse atmosphere about it, but in and of itself, there is not really any subtlety to this, no hidden gems to be discovered. Right from the start, you get all the wistful melody, elongated songs and time changes you expected, and there’s not really much room for it to surprise you. Akerfeldt and his gang of metal poets can really play, but there’s nothing all that shocking or revelation-inducing about it. They’re doing what you expected them to do when you pressed Play. Look at the pretentiously dark album artwork, look at the album title with the comma spliced in between words, and what do you expect? Something…not pretentious, proggy or drawn out? It’s as easy as one, two, three. Are people really that enamored to find out that what they thought was going to be mellow prog with death growls is, in reality, mellow prog with death growls? Eureka!

I am talking about compositional depth. Opeth’s music is pretty well written for what it is, but honestly, what else is there to it? Competent musicianship can only take this so far. The songs on here are played with a certain foreboding something, except the band hasn’t exactly decided what it is the listener should really feel about their music – it’s all so middle of the road in terms of atmosphere and mood that it’s hard to tell. A lot of the time it sounds like they’d rather be playing soft acoustic rock instead of metal, because most of the heavy parts here just sound forced and contrived, like they were just doing it to please people.

Opeth’s My Arms, Your Hearse is an album that tries to be meaningful, consciously attempting to sound profound and scholarly, and the music suffers for it. It most likely was meaningful to the people who created it, but the same sentiment is not universal to the listener, nor really relevant. This music is actually relatively tame. The songwriting just isn’t up to par, and while they cover this fact up with a lot of prog riffs and death growls and acoustic doodling, Opeth never really reach any kind of emotional high point – certainly not the one they intended to reach – merely settling for ‘decent.’ Or perhaps ‘long.’

This is not bad, but just because it has atmosphere doesn’t mean it’s good. Maybe some people will think it is. Me, I would rather listen to something else. There is one good song on here in the acoustic ballad “Credence,” though, which actually sounds pretty genuine and not like they’re obscuring their talent beneath superficial heaviness and morbidity, like a lot of the other stuff on here.

The instrumentations are good, but the music does nothing for me. Opeth are certainly not bad though; this isn’t nearly as annoying as their latest mis-step Watershed. This album is pretty OK, but it gets tiresome after about the halfway point, and you wish the band would get off their laurels and actually write music that is as intelligent and driving and complex as what their fanbase would have you believe it is. They clearly have the musical chops for that, so what are they waiting for?

Opeth: More Coherent! - 86%

natrix, January 23rd, 2009

I'm not the world's biggest Opeth fan, but I like their first three albums a lot. I honestly don't think their the greatest thing since sliced bread, but they are certainly not completely void of redeeming qualities.

This one feels more song oriented, and overall a lot heavier than the other two. No doubt this is due to Martin Lopez' very aggressive drumming, which is instantly distinguishable from his predecessor, Anders Nordin's more jazzy approach. Martin is more metal; direct, precise, and concise. Michael Akerfeldt plays the bass on here, and he really adds nothing more than competent bass lines. That of course takes away another technical aspect which was the fretless bass lines from the previous albums. Once again, more streamlined, more coherent, and more metal.

There are more songs on here, and overall, they're shorter than anything Opeth had done previously. They're also a lot faster and the riffs generally feel nastier, both in terms of presentation and design. Sadly, the structures can be more jarring, as well. Regardless, My Arms, Your Hearse doesn't linger like its rather ghostly predecessors, but rears its ugly head, causing some slight mayhem, then leaving.

Amazingly, my favourite piece on here has to be the closing "Epilogue," which feels watery, distant, and extremely mournful. The guitar harmony in there is phenomenal, as well. It sounds like it crawled right out of the 1970's.

Good album, and I think that straight up metal fans would be much more receptive towards this album than anything else in Opeth's discography, due to the more agressive nature and concise songs, but it's still an Opeth album, meant to be enjoyed as a whole.

The Pinnacle of Their Career - 98%

Akerfeldt_Fanboi, October 20th, 2008

Opeth are an oddity in the metal scene. Shifting between what some people call "pretension" in their acoustics, to a rather sophisticated brutality.

In this sense, My Arms, Your Hearse is the pinnacle of Opeth's career as we know it. The previous albums (Orchid and Morningrise) had an apparent influence from the black and melodic death metal genres, but this album took on the styles of late 60's and early 70's progressive rock influence that they would be later known for.

Most of the metal riffs on this album consist of intense double bass and distorted chord progression strumming. Many of the songs have clean/acoustic interludes in spurts throughout the song, and some songs on this album are acoustic instrumentals.

The production on this album is rather atmospheric; but not in the common method you'd think. When someone says atmospheric, black metal is the first thing to come to mind, but not so for this album. The album has a moody atmosphere, like the sounds you'd hear if you were walking down a leaf strewn path on a cold, misty morning.

Yes, that aside, it is a fantastic album. Combining the aspects of the first two albums and what the band were to become, it creates a sound only rivalled by one other Opeth release (Morningrise). The band were in top form as well, performing several shedding/metal solos, and many soft bluesy solos.

Now, the most important aspect of this album seems to be the first inclusion of Martin Lopez. Coming from melodic death metallers Amon Amarth, Lopez was accustomed to the drilling double bass patterns common in their music. Another inclusion is the bass intracicies of Martin Mendez...

Wait...

Mikael played bass on this album, so that doesn't even matter, does it? Well, on the next album, Still Life, it will but for here it doesn't. Speaking of Mikael, his harsh vocals are in top form. After the gravelly power on Morningrise it was only expected for their to be an air of evil power to his next performance.

That's what we got. He shifts between heavily layered growls (layered to form power, not screech/rawr combos, so famous by Deicide) and raspy, yet powerful, screams very frequently (and smoothly) on this album.

His clean vocals are another feat on this album, having even more layering than the first two albums and the inclusion of heavy harmonies. Such a suitable vocalist.

Now, the music. Most of the songs have a grungy, dark tone with only enough distortion to give a tiny bit of heavy chug. The lead tone is remarkably different, very much in the "soaring" power metal vein, chorus-ized and reverberized to hell. The bass guitar is prominent and thick, with a tone I rather like. The acoustics, more prominent here than the previous, shine with an obvious nylon sound and with a hint of reverb to add realism.

The drums, as I said before are really powerful and probably Lopez's most "metal" drumming moment in the history of the band, including loads of double bass and excellent advanced beat after excellent advanced beat.

Well, there you have it, an overall look into the world of MAYH. Recommended to fans of Dream Theater, Mefisto, and several others.

Commas do not belong in album titles - 86%

Cheeses_Priced, April 7th, 2008

I “used to like” Opeth, and you know what that means – I bought their albums and liked them, but then people on the internet made fun of me and now I pretend to hate them. Kidding! Enjoying their old stuff kind of hinges on how impressed you are by their aesthetic, and nowadays they're... noted for their profundity and innovation by Lamb of God's fanbase. But this was my first Opeth album, the one that really impressed me, and in the interest of proving that I'm not a poseur at the expense of admitting that my taste in music kind of sucks, I'll admit to still liking it.

The airiness and repetition of their first two albums and the directness of their later work hits head-on here, and they cancel one another out. It is, incidentally, the heaviest, most death metal-like Opeth album – that I've heard, anyway (I would bet that hearing their newest work wouldn't change my opinion). I wouldn't single that out as the reason as to why it's the best, but it probably doesn't hurt, either. The fact that Åkerfeldt rarely sings clean is beneficial, and I speak as a fan of his voice (!) - there aren't any catchy choruses here, just rather weird, free-floating melodies.

One could criticize the album for being somewhat amorphous in structure, like their older music, but at least you won't ever roll your eyes and check your watch, thinking “oh dear, another bridge is starting.” A bit of chaos is intrinsic to death metal.

The chaos died down quite a bit on Still Life, and by Blackwater Park it was long gone. But if you're not a closed-minded elitist who hates progress and is bored by songs over three minutes long, you may be able to get something out of this album.

Pretty much the only reason I don't bash Opeth. - 89%

lord_ghengis, November 1st, 2007

Opeth are generally pretty bad, I know this because I've paid for, and felt ripped off by, almost all of their albums. However this one I have other views on, this a very good progressive death metal album, and easily their best. Hell, My Arms Your Hearse is so good that Opeth have made another six disappointing albums worth of profit off me since I heard it.

What Opeth did to make this album so good is that they took an original view on their earlier works, and made something truly new. The vocals are low and guttural, like they are today, changing from the slightly blacker ones on the first two records. The instrumental passages are shortened significantly (in comparison to Orchid and Morningrise). If you've noticed, this is very similar to everything they've done since. That's because they haven't changed at all since 1998, which wasn't a huge surprise, since Morningrise was just Orchid again, with less riffs and longer songs. They've always been fond of sticking to their own style, even if it does get old. Since My Arms Your Hearse they've really just kept making the same album over and over, without the good lyrics, and stale. The only thing different from their newest works is that they knew when to end a song. Yes, this is before Mikael got overboard with his "We still have long songs, so we're still truly against the mainstream". This leads to the songs feeling like natural, seven minute songs, rather than forced 7 minute songs with 5 minutes tacked on throughout.

The songs are hardly short though, and they do get out to nine minutes, but they are limited due to the lyrics. One interesting aspect of the album is that Akerfeldt wrote the lyrics before he wrote the music. Not only is the concept, about a guy who dies, and then tries to remain in contact with his wife (or similar, that's what I got), really very good, it means that once the lyrics for a part were used up, the song has to end. This forced limitation is something that the band should really try to get going with again. Unfortunately, some segments of the lyrics, actually 3 of them, are used up on instrumentals, meaning that story presented is missing a lot of content, and does seems little disjointed. Prologue in particular really did need it's lyrics used to make... well, the whole album make sense.

My Arms Your Hearse is one Opeth's heavier efforts, which if you've heard Deliverance should set of warning bells, but I assure you, this works much better. Due the more aggressive nature of the songs, they are shorter, and played with some actual conviction, which is so direly needed from them now. The softer sections don't just fade in, they smoothly transition in, and maintain a solid bond with the song, generally not going off into random places. Everything is written with a purpose, and for that reason doesn't sound so randomly cut and paste. Not to mention the music played is actually good, with some emphasis on writing catchy grooves and rhythms along with the atmosphere they constantly strive for.

The band still isn't a riff based monster though; the guitars still rely on making notes that create an atmosphere to fill up time rather than rock you senseless. So well, if you're a fan of short direct headbanging riffs, you won't find much to enjoy here. Even the quite powerful Demon of the Fall still relies on the proggy Opeth style rather than standard Death metal riffs. The drumming of Martin Lopez is really at his best, still sitting the background, but playing really very technical and intelligent stuff. Really, as overrated as most of this band is as musicians, he is a very good prog drummer.

Mikael delivers the lyrics in a much more fitting way than he used to, his low growls are a little easier on the ears than before, and they suit the bands style more. This album is really the first time he showed himself off as a good clean vocalist, with a good enough range for the doomy style of prog rock they play. Credence is without a doubt the bands best ballad track, which creates a truly depressive feel through it's simplicity and Akerfeldt's vocals. It almost seems as if the fact that he had a cold during the recording helped him sound more sombre.

I really don't like Opeth, honestly, it's not because they're not death metal (Which they're not), and it's not because I don't like progressive rock. It's that they generally don't have anything like enough ideas to fill up 20 minute songs, but they do here. This is fantastic, I can understand why standard DM fans would dislike them, but Opeth fans must be idiots or something, because this is their pinnacle. But then again, they tend to like Morningrise, the low quality version of Orchid, and Still Life, the low quality version of this.

Honestly, get this, and Orchid, and you've got all their worthwhile content. Everything else is taken off one of these two albums, and stretched out until it is a lifeless mess of a sleeping pill.

Opeth - "My Arms, Your Hearse" - 85%

Solarian_Nocturnus, May 3rd, 2007

I’ve been a long-time Opeth fan. I first dipped into this underground phenomenon with “Deliverance” and I didn’t hear their earlier releases until much later. I’d have to say that this is probably one of my more favored amongst their entire collection of releases, but it’s still cutting it close quite a bit.

The album is much more death metal oriented that many of their later releases. There are a few acoustic bridges and interludes strewn about, but they don’t populate this album nearly as much. They still manage to, however, keep the album itself together as one cohesive idea. The transition between tracks isn’t the usual stop-gap that you get with much more thrash oriented death metal acts, but is actually all interconnected. Thus there seems to be a typical “rising action, climax, falling action” sense that one (at least me) gets with the album. The Amen Corner and Demon of the Fall are probably my favorite tracks amongst the release, with Madrigal a slight disappointment due to it’s brevity.

Mikael’s vocals seem a bit distorted with Demon of the Fall, giving him a, you guessed it, “demonic” feel. His guttural screams are still as primal as they always have been. Drumming is at it’s peak, and the guitars still seamlessly flow between soft the soft and harsh style of play that took them a little bit of experimentation throughout the years to achieve (Morningrise is argued as their opus, but it often times seems like a bunch of small songs within one). Distortion is at an all time high (as any metal album should be) but this doesn't prevent beautiful melodies and catchy riffs from getting stuck in your head. There aren't that many guitar solos, however, which is a little bit of a bummer, but what they lack in this they make up through other aspects.

Lyrics are a great read when you’re actually willing to sit down and take a look at them. I’ll say right now that Opeth has some of the most beautifully written lyrics of all the bands I listen to and they manage to paint a portrait of some of the darkest and most melancholy landscapes with their music. Imagery of somber autumn mornings and bitter winter nights send chills down one’s spine when they really sit down and give the album a listen.

That being said, the death metal parts have a tendency to drag on. Only a little bit though.

A great start for the generation of new listeners probably just getting into them with the release of “Ghost Reveries” on Roadrunner. Nostalgia is a bitch, but every band must evolve.

A Turning Point for Opeth. - 81%

woeoftyrants, February 4th, 2007

(Note: Originally written by me for Amazon.com on January 14, 2006.)

On their first two albums, Opeth showed the world their take on metal, complete with mellow acoustic guitars, long progressive breaks, song structures that definitely weren't fit for sufferers of ADD, and poetic lyrics to top it all off. Opeth were staunch opposites of what death metal "should" sound like. Rather than hammering away with ridiculous brutality, Opeth's sound was painstakingly crafted to lull the listener in and out of certain moods, much like classical music or a movie soundtrack. This is what led Opeth to be loved by many, and despised by some. Their baroque take on metal infused melancholic prog-rock and Scandinavian folk with the ever-changing textures of their classic duel guitar harmonies. Opeth hit their progressive peak with Morningrise, and after recruiting a new drummer, the band decided to switch gears. The resulting change would shape Opeth into what they are today, and "My Arms, Your Hearse" are the earliest sketchings of Opeth's new sound.

Whereas "Orchid" and "Morningrse" were more prog-oriented, and many of the song structures meandered over the ten-minute mark, "My Arms, Your Hearse" drops some of the more mellow experimentations and heads straight for the jugular. The song structures are more groove-oriented and less disjointed, but the boys of Opeth still keep the acoustics and prog rock going. However, rather than abruptly stopping a metal onslaught and letting acoustic guitars waltz in, Opeth layer and weave the two together, all while serving up a dose of atmospheric, melancholic death metal. Acoustic guitars are lessened here to interludes while the metal builds up to its climax. Overall, the sound here is heavier, more straightforward, but not forsaking Opeth's roots.

Mikael's vocals evolved very much from "Morningrise" to MAYH, this time opting for a more gutteral, deeper growl, though it wasn't as polished or deep as it is now. His clean vocals improved dramatically, and are used more widely on songs like "When" and one of the only softer songs on the album, "Credence". One of the interesting things about this album is how everything flows together. For instance, the last word of each song's lyrics is the title for the next song, and the lyrics flow together as a story of sorts. (Though I have yet to figure out what it's about.)

Another noticeable change is the production. Some may have been put off by the dry, crisp, hollow production of the first two records, but MAYH boasts a thick, full production job. The drums are more punchy and contribute to the faster songs thanks to newly recruited Martin Lopez. Guitars are much thicker and more bottom-heavy, and some new elements have been borught into the mix such as the organs on "Epilogue" or the piano tidbits spread throughout the album.

I would have to say that this is my personal favorite Opeth album, due to the atmosphere, the wholeness, and the display of how the band matured. Highly recommended.

Personal favorites: When, The Amen Corner, Demon of the Fall, Epilogue

"The Day Came To An End" - 94%

OzzyApu, October 21st, 2006

Prior to this album, Mikael spent time with the boys of Katatonia to record Brave Murder Day. Mikael digged the production so much that he brought along Martin and Pete to the same studio, thus recording My Arms, Your Hearse. The production is somewhat similar to Katatonia's Brave Murder Day, except that the songs aren't repetitive and don’t sound the same.

This was also the first album where Opeth's sound pitched a different direction. Instead of the dreamy, strung-out tracks on Orchid and Morningrise, Opeth grew comfortable as a three-piece (During the recording) and became bent on creating standout tracks. By this I mean that the tracks became familiar to the listener, most notably ones like "When" and "Demon Of The Fall", both of which devotees can easily call back on and cite. This album is also noteworthy because of Martin Lopez's entrance, which he doesn't take easily. Martin uses a unique style South American influenced if I am correct, which isn’t so implemented on this record, but shows itself later on.

The tone of the album really kicks the entire ordeal into gear, being one of my favorites from Opeth. Whenever I listen to My Arms, Your Hearse, I feel things around me becoming cold and the atmosphere turns grim, dark, and haunting; the cover art portrays this pretty well. Mikael's vocals actually become even better here, as he finally utilizes it in a way where he can perform romantic clean singing to full-out demonic roars.
Mikael ended up providing both guitar and bass guitar, both which standout clear in all the riffs and solos he plays. This goes to also say that the riffs, as well as the open production, are the backbone, creating the albums gloom mood and heaviness. A track that represents this feeling extremely well is "April Ethereal", one of my personal favorites. To gain the overall feeling, it’s best if you heard the album at night, during autumn, or when you are sleeping. Believe me, it brings out the best in the album this way.

If any of this doesn't captivate you, then Peter Lindgren's solos definitely will. He may not be the fastest player in the universe this side of the millennium, but that isn't the style he plays anyways. His solos are melodic and crafty, like being able to hit a note and holding it because it is so damn good. Anyways you'll be possessed by his work. There, I've explained in a few paragraphs why this should be in your library. To put it in short if you didn't read any of that...Buy this album.

Opeths only consistent album - 92%

Sanjaya, May 18th, 2006

Lets get something out into the clear right off the bat. This band is NOT technical, whoever came up with that notion was unable to hold their attention for a couple of minutes and adjust the intrinsic melody latent in their head with the changing tempo's, rhythyms, and song structures of opeth - hence in their inability to keep up with the everchanging and overused musical interludes within an opeth song, they found an scapegoat that is the term "technical."

People love and hate opeth for all the wrong reasons, and as for the anti-opeth league, i can symphatize with your argument that the band can get obtrusely boring which brings me to why i consider My Arms, Your Hearse to be the most musically adept, easy flowing, distinctive and memorable album.

Why?

The songs are not overtly long, as compared to the atrocious Deliverance, the clean vocals are used sparingly and the guitars sound thicker and more fuller. Unlike, say Still Life, where Opeth hammers you with the atmospheric materpiece that is The Moor, then slowly fading into an confusing frenzy of acoustic poetry mangled with deranged strong structures, eg, Face of Melinda, White Cluster.

MAYH, fortunately does not suffer from losing its conceptual design with the chasms of atrociously layered music as the arrangements have a precdictable tempo and resonance while keeping in lieu with the story line - (which by the way is pretty interesting in its own right)

Oh, and it is short, by Opeth standards, and i am sure that is fine by anyone familiar with opeth.

For the fanboys, the biggest blunder that you committed was to judge opeth as technical, and while i am mostly a fan, i just cannot see how that idea was born. Any well rounded metal head, especially ones into Death Metal can easily rip apart that argument into shreds, and rightly so.

What i am indebtted to opeth for and this album in particular, is the fact that listening to the band made me appreciate harsh vocals, that got me profoundly into the death metal scene, so kudos in that regard.

Opeth are a band droning their musical abilities, exxagerating them far beyond the limits of our brains capacity to appreciate, filter and resonate the music they play, because their sound complicates, disarrays, overuses and changes melody so frequently they shoot themsels in their own foot by not giving us a chance to listen to the simplistic beauty of the music they are capable of creating.

They cannot dig themselves out of this hole, by either the fans or the band using an excuse such a "Technical."

Meh, not the best Opeth - 57%

FishyMonkey, February 23rd, 2006

MAYH sees Opeth finding their true sound that has developed all the way to now with their latest prog masterpiece, Ghost Reveries. After their wonderfully atmospheric and overall excellent debut, Orchid, the band went on to do Morningrise, which is still considered their best by some. This is a huge change from Morningrise. Pure growls now from Akerfeldt, and quite a bit more of straight singing than Orchid. Maybe a little more than Morningrise. The sound is really full and is just a behemoth to be reckoned with. This is not my favorite Opeth album, and it's a little repetitive and can even get boring, but is absolutely essential to any prog metal lover's collection and would be fine among a classic prog rock fan's collection too. It's also worthwhile to note that this is probably the most brutal Opeth album of any. Just listen to When, April Ethereal, Demon of the Fall...this stuff is evil as hell.

The album opens with Prologue, which, as the name suggests, builds up some nice atmosphere with rain and some piano. This track is rendered completely useless by the entry of the second song, April Ethereal, which has a such a brutal opening riff that you wonder why they even bothered doing the Prologue if they were going to destroy it so quickly. Akerfeldt's vocals are actually really brutal here. The song blasts along for about four minutes and then starts cooling down. Some great fading clean vocals throughout after that four minute mark, and a great section at around 5:40. The song starts exiting out with a simple riff Then the song decides to kick your ass one more time, then fade out with a wonderful riff that almost seems anxious. When is next, and after the brief acoustic entry, in comes probably the most crushingly heavy riff and growl Opeth has ever done. It blasts along like April Ethereal, has some nice acoustic interludes, then eventually returns to that sorta questioning, anxious and melodic riff at around 5:20. After it cools down, and Akerfeldt does some clean singing. Akerfeldt actually sounds kinda sick here, like he has a cold...but whatever. At around 7:48, one of the best parts of the album comes in, with some great singing and overall a great desperate and barren feel to the section. Good stuff.

Madrigal...instrumental filler, but nice. Whatever. The Amen Corner isn't quite up to par with the other two big songs so far, but it does have a crazy cool opening section that is catchy as hell. Otherwise, it kind trudges along with some uninspiring riffs. The predictable acoustic and clean vocal part at the end really does sound predictable and strangely lame.

The big standout of the album, and easily one of Opeth's best songs though, is the next song, which is Demon of the Fall. This...is awesome. It's ridiculously heavy, even with some layered growls to add to the vocals. The acoustics interludes are awesome, and the end is extremely well-done. This song has EVERYTHING you could possibly want in metal. Beautiful stuff, this song alone is worth the price of the album. It flows seamlessly into Credence, which resembles To Bid You Farewell. Completely quiet. Too bad it's not nearly as good as To Bid You Farewell. It gets a bit boring.

Karma brings back the quality, with some bone crushing heaviness complimented by a very long acoustic sections. Luckily, this is one of the best acoustic sections in the album. This is basically the closer, and it ends wit ha brutally long growl and some great riffage, then an acoustic twang...we're done. What a ride. No. Wait. We got one more. But no one cares. Scratch it off. It's worth nothing. Opeth tries a semi- Pink Floyd metal song, and it doesn't work.

The songs by themselves are not bad, but put together into an album, it's repetitive as all hell. Or maybe it's that my interest in Opeth has greatly waned of late due to the lack of variety throughout their albums. That's why Ghost Reveries is still my favorite Opeth album, because it changed things up. That and Damnation. Blackwater Park, Ghost Reveries and Damnation is all you actually need by Opeth.

A different step - 83%

meedley_meedley, August 15th, 2004

This album was a slightly different direction for the band. The production is much better. The bass is not a big part of the music anymore, or at least for this album. The clean vocals are much better and trained and have finally become what they are known for. The distorition on the guitars are much heavier. One of the big things here is the length of the songs. There's 9 songs with the longest being 9:16. Most are in the 6-7 minute mark on average. (That's short compared to most other Opeth songs. But this album is still good nonetheless. There are lesser amounts of standout songs here, for this is a more consistent album.

The prologue is ok, with some rain heard, then a piano bit.

Clean vocals build up in April Eathereal, one of their more popular songs. This is one of the heavier songs here. It's mind blowing.

When is an intense song. The clean vocals are one of the best parts here. This has nice chords and progressions. This is probably the lighter song on the album, although there is much intensity to be found here. Good riff at 4:16. It'd be nice if that riff lasted longer, maybe with some leads mixed in. Could've been some real headbanging stuff. All in all, great song. A little overlooked.

Madrigal is a short 'intermission' in the album and builds up into the next song.

The Amen Corner is a highly melodic song. This song really showcase what the norm for the clean vocals would become on furture songs. This is a true gem of a song. There also very nice melodic leads throughout.

Demon of the Fall is the most popular song from MAYH. A bit overrated but probably the highlight of the album. Weird sounds start which give way to a HEAVY as FUCK riff. This is probably also the darkest song. The heaviness and intensity are found all over. The vocals are almost unhuman. More riffs follow and just kick more ass. Acoustics do a little piece which is taken over by the heaviness and just blows you the fuck away! INTENSE! Also much more intense live. The chorus, if you want to call it that, it just so mindblowing. This has to be the better of their songs, mainly cause the song makes sense to the average listener, as it is more consistent. The dark, mellow part is cool, but doesnt last long. For the intensity returns, but is met by a more melodic feel. Clean vocals come in now. The diversity from heavy as hell intensity, to beautiful melodies is absolutly superb. You can obviously tell this is the best song here.

Credence is a little quiet and moody. The clean vocals finally make a very huge impact here, whereas before it was only brought in during intense parts. This is a nice little piece of music.

Karma scares the shit out of you after listening to the previous track. It gets going right away. This is intense, but not as great as the other tracks.

Epilogue closes the album (obviously). It's an instrumental and has some really beautiful stuff. Reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd. Very nice leads.

This is good stuff. I'd get Blackwater Park first If i wanted to get into Opeth.

Another Excellent Release!!! - 93%

WitheringToSerenity, March 16th, 2004

The one thing that I appreciate about Opeth as much as anything is their ability to evolve their sound and this album is definitely no exception. MAYH is undoubtedly much more guitar (heavy distortion) driven and heavier than their previous albums and perhaps there heaviest album to date. Songs like April Ethereal and The Amen Corner (not counting Madrigal) have little acoustic work in comparison. This experiment was far from a failure, seeing as April Ethereal is arguable one of their greatest tracks. The increased implementation of Mikael's clean vocals was another strength to this MAYH. His clean vocals gradually improve and he shows more confidence in showcasing this fine aspect of their music. His signature growl has changed a bit on this album to the point that it might detract older fans but make no mistake about it. His guttural vocals are as still ferocious. They are just closer to a lower death growl without as much of a black/dark metal tone in his vocals, which are great for this album!


One thing that will never change and stays the same is Opeth's ability to write some of the most moving guitar melodies around. Perhaps not as complex or progressive as some other Opeth efforts, this album still maintains their standard of incredible musicianship. This includes their amazing blend of different styles from the heavier Karma, April Ethereal all the way to the purely melodic beauties, which include the majestic Credence and the incredible closer Epilogue. Its hard to determine if their guitars have progressed musically, but I will say that I give them full marks because this CD contains many of their most hypnotizing riffs. The bass section of this album is quite average but their drumming does more than enough interesting fills and drum patterns to consider Opeth to have a formidable rhythm. It’s hard to choose standout tracks although I still stand by my comment about April Ethereal being one of their best. The prologue is beautiful, When is one of the more memorable MAYH tracks, Madrigal is a superb acoustic intro for The Amen Corner, which despite being one of the weaker songs, is still better than most. This brings us to Demon of the Fall which Mikael himself states is one of their more evil songs, one listen to the haunting intensity (melodies) and you’ll see why. Credence is without a doubt one their most beautiful acoustic songs. Karma mixes heaviness and beauty like no other Opeth song and Epilogue is an impressive closer and an excellent way to end one of their many masterpieces. Even if not their best work to date, it is still very well written and worth a good listen.

A few good moments here and there - 55%

SnipeBob, January 19th, 2004

I gave this album many listenings, but I’m still not impressed by it. I’m a big fan of most of Opeth’s other albums, however this one doesn’t feel right. There is nothing dynamic about it other than a several shining moments here and there. Compared to the previous release, Morningrise, this is a huge difference. One reason could be to the departure of bassist Johan Defarfalla. I’m not sure who did bass on MAYH, but it really doesn’t matter; you can barely notice it anyways. The lack of memorable bass lines is a striking difference from their older material. If the riffs were outstanding, I wouldn’t mind the lack of bass as much, but even the guitar work seems stale.

As far as the songs go, each has at least one good moment in it. However, these great moments are surrounded by uninteresting material. For instance, Prologue could have been far better than it is now. I feel that it should have been an extended piano piece with the sound of rain falling in the background. Instead they chose to make it very short without any chance to create the proper atmosphere. It left me confused as to why they didn’t make it longer. April Ethereal as a nice opening riff, and part with the line
“. . the rain was waving goodbye . . .” is awesome. Demon of the Fall is probably the best track. It has distorted vocals in the beginning to make it sound more ‘demonic’ and the chorus, if you can call it that, is catchy.

These are all good parts, but as I said the stuff in between are not interesting enough to keep you listening all the way through. MAYH feels like a creative slump for the band, as if they decided just to write an average or generic album. Hell, the several acoustic passages here are nothing special either; it’s nowhere near the quality of the acoustic sections in Morningrise.

It’s not a terrible album, just a dull one. For the hardcore Opeth fan, it’s worth buying for the moments I described above. At least they redeemed themselves with the next release, Still Life.

Highs: Demon of the Fall; Some good moments occasionally.

Lows: Uninteresting bass; Not very exciting material.

Final Comment: My least favorite Opeth album, far more dull than it should have been.