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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.