In the hour-long, 11 track record, My Arms, Your Hearse opens to find small veins of life in demise. The record pulls back the velvet curtain with “Prologue” and “April Ethereal” as piano that pitter-patters like rainfall suddenly erupts into flames of striking viper-esque instrumentation and vocals. “April Ethereal” is this rhythmic chant between the percussion that includes off-beats and similarly syncopated style but a conflicting crush that does more to build than break.
Opeth has seen line-up changes through the 25 years as a group, but the consistency lies with Mikael Åkerfeldt’s ability to adapt to continuously molding environments. Featuring Peter Lindgren on bass and guitar alongside Martin Lopez on percussion, the surprising three-piece is a fully fleshed mechanical animal of bared teeth but also caressing grace. The writing style is of poetic nature but has crescendos and decrescendos of emotional refuge and torment that continues to illustrate vivid sculptures through sound.
Describing the relentless track “Demon Of The Fall” comes an inner conflict of a face-to-face meeting with slaughter. Opeth begins to blend blood with paint, blurring the lines between art and agony. Åkerfeldt illustrates, “And you saw nothing, false love turned to pure hate. The wind cried a lamentation, before merging with grey… Gasping for another breath, she rose screaming at closed doors. Seductive faint mist forging through the cracks in the wall.” The track is overtly ominous and focuses on forging tension with these build-ups and eventual break downs that etch into the audience’s skin. While horrific at moments, My Arms, Your Hearse is a tale of broken and charred remains of metallic shadows.
Describing, “Some would settle for less, the castles were all empty, asleep. Long awaiting for their king, beckoning round the bend.” Something fascinating with the writing on My Arms, Your Hearse is that every track ends with the next track’s title, so as soon as “And always welcoming winter’s epilogue” is spoke, the next transitional track “Epilogue” is featured as a final nail in the tomb.
While burnt blackness dawns the cover and most of the record surrounds itself with death, Opeth is a metal joy here on My Arms, Your Hearse. Almost a treat in some ways, the instrumentals alone are an immaculate display of effigies that burn as a solace for the calamitous twilight.