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Story - 'Still Life' concept album by Opeth


Still Life is the fourth studio album from Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth. Still Life was recorded at Maestro Musik and at Fredman Studios from 15 April to 29 May 1999. The album was produced and engineered by Opeth "under the watchful eye" of Fredrik Nordström. The album was originally mastered by Göran Finnberg. Upon its 2008 re-release, it was remastered by Jens Borgen. The artwork was designed by Travis Smith for all releases.

Still Life is a concept album. Front-man Mikael Åkerfeldt explains: "The main character is kind of banished from his hometown because he hasn't got the same faith as the rest of the inhabitants there. The album pretty much starts off when he is returning after several years to hook up with his old 'babe.' The big bosses of the town know that he's back... A lot of bad things start happening."


In "The Moor" the outcast emerges from the woods. For 15 years he has been in exile from the castle, beaten and banished because he was an atheist. He was called an "ungodly freak - a defiler", and was "branded a Jonah with fevered blood". He has returning 15 years later on a quest to find his love Melinda, whom he had to leave behind.

"Godhead's Lament" finds the outcast attempting to conceal his return. He contemplates the consequences, considering leaving for safety's sake, but does not, his desire to see Melinda again outweighing any concerns for his welfare. He watches her from afar, discovering that she has become a nun. He contemplates whether it's possible he could stay in the vilage unnoticed. Melinda knows he has returned.

In "Benighted" our outcast meets in secret with Melinda. The outcast tries to convince her to abandon her superstition and leave with him because he loves her. He tells her that she has been brainwashed and should let it all go.

"Moonlapse Vertigo" Our outcast hides in the castle knowing that they would kill him if they found him. As he hides to plan his next move, he realizes that he is running out of time to fulfill his task and decides to get Melinda and escape. He feels that 'the council of the cross' know he has returned.

"Face of Melinda" describes her as a quiet, brooding creature as he approaches her. After his failure to court her, she was sworn to the life of a nun, however, he never gave up plotting to have her back to fill his emptiness. He is disheartened, but tells her that he has risked everything to return to this place. She tells him of her own moral failings, but surprises even herself when she tells him that she still loves him. The song ends with a grim clue of what's to come.

"Serenity Painted Death" begins when the outcast finds Melinda has been taken and hung for her being 'unfaithful' to the church, which she was supposed to be "married" to. Consumed by pent up pain and rage, he brutally kills all the soldiers who had killed Melinda, in a momentous and final act of aggression. In a frenzy of rage he assaults and kills every soldier he can before he succumbs and collapses in total exhaustion. When he regains control over his mind, the Council of the Cross is there to take him.

"White Cluster" is the tragic end of the story. The outcast emerges from his dream-like state, which slowly turns to reality. The Council of the Cross tries to make him repent but he is insincere. He is led to the gallows to be hanged. In a moment of reflection before he dies he feels a hand on his shoulder and as he looks behind him he sees Melinda standing there, ready for him to join her in death. At last they are together.

Allmusic called Still Life a "formidable splicing of harsh, often jagged guitar riffs with graceful melodies".

Like most of the band's albums, Still Life features the unusual marriage of death metal and progressive rock elements that is characteristic of Opeth's music style.

With this album, vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt's death growl began to deepen considerably relative to the band's earlier albums. Still Life continues the band's experimentation with dynamics, and most songs contain at least two drastic dynamic shifts.

The song "Benighted" is its only acoustic track, containing a blues-influenced guitar solo. This is also one of the band's few songs that follow a linear song structure, containing verses and a chorus.

"Face of Melinda" is, for the most part, another ballad; while it does not contain death metal vocals, it does contain guitar riffs that are typical of the band's heavier songs. A fretless bass guitar along with brushes in place of conventional drumsticks were used in "Face of Melinda" to give it a jazzier sound.

Track listing

All songs written by Opeth.

No. Title Length
1. "The Moor"   11:26
2. "Godhead's Lament"   9:47
3. "Benighted"   5:00
4. "Moonlapse Vertigo"   9:00
5. "Face of Melinda"   7:58
6. "Serenity Painted Death"   9:13
7. "White Cluster"   10:02