Back in 1999, progressive metal heroes in a band called Opeth released an album. That album was not the first I heard from them (That honor goes to 2008’s Watershed), but it has become a favorite example of their work for me. I especially like listening to this one while writing.
Why a death metal album?
Why Still Life?
There are a few reasons. First and foremost, I suppose, I like the sound. This is a nebulous reason for me, because I don’t really understand music. I only enjoy what I enjoy. I find it difficult to put into words why some sounds work for me and others do not work as well.
Second, as with many of my favorite albums, Still Life is a concept album. It tells a story. As a death metal album, this story is thoroughly dark and bleak. But the story is there, and connects the songs into a single theme. I find that enjoyable.
What really struck me yesterday, however, was the lyrics. That’s the third reason.
Now, lyrics for an album where half the words are growled or roared, may sound silly, and to some degree that is true. I actually have looked up the lyrics, because the ones I could decipher have stuck with me.
Having peered into that particular abyss, I was reminded of a moment from my education as a writer.
I was a senior in high school, and taking a class at the local collage, Introduction to Creative Writing, taught by a poet who would not terribly long later receive some recognition for his work, Matt Rasmussen.
In class he said something, the meaning of which I never forgotten even if the exact words are difficult to recall.
He told the class that most songs don’t have great poetry for lyrics, because poetry and music require different qualities to succeed.
I agree with him in-general, but recalled his words yesterday as I looked over the lyrics for Still Life.
I concluded that the lyrics for these songs are, in-fact, pretty good poetry. Lots of variance in word-choice, and tons of tonal flavor just in the text alone. Anyway, this is not really a review. This is a gushing praise of something I adore.
Still Life, by Opeth. If you like death metal, have a listen.
Anyway, I have other words to hammer on today.
Thanks for reading.