Opeth's master work, Still Life, starts audaciously with "The Moor," a serpentine, 11.5-minute blast of metal that slithers through many landscapes, giving Mikael Äkerfeldt the chance to show off that demonic, dirty growl as much as his clean, gentle vocals.
"The Moor" sets the stage for Still Life, which is chock full of tasty riffs and epic arrangements, as the legendary Swedish death metal group is known to do. "Moonlapse Vertigo," a nine-minute effort, eventually erupts into a propulsive riff and rides it. "Face of Melinda" builds to a foot-stomping rattle.
As Opeth also is known to do, not everything is shiver-your-bones death metal. "Benighted" shows their softer side.
All of the tasty metal riffage is set against the story of Still Life, which charts the tale of a religious expatriate who returns to his hometown. Without reading a lyrics book, Äkerfeldt's rough vocals make the concept difficult to track, but when the music is this good, much like The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, no one cares if your concept fails.
As prog metal goes, it's hard to imagine many records better than Still Life.
Tomorrow's entry: The Killers, Sam's Town