Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

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).