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Opeth - The Candlelight Years CD (album) cover

THE CANDLELIGHT YEARS

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.98 | 63 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Candlelight Years is a boxset which consists of the first three studio albums ( Orchid, Morningrise and My Arms, Your Hearse) from Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth. It´s hard to see who should be interested in this boxset as they fans probably already have the albums and there are no extra songs that hasn´t already been released on other reissue versions of the albums. So no extra treats. The music is of course as good as it always was, so my rating won´t be too low.

Orchid:

I´ve had this for years but never really gave Orchid the attention it deserves. The main reason for that is the fact that I´ve been listening a lot to the later Opeth albums and always found Orchid to be inferior to those. I still think this is true, but Orchid is a very good doom/ death album with slight prog tendencies.

The music is well played and the compositions are intricate and melodic. The technical level is not quite as it would become on later albums but it´s allright for the time and bearing in mind that this is a debut album the playing is very good. Opeth was inspired by some of the great doom/ death bands of the time like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Anathema and especially their fellow countrymen Katatonia. The link between Katatonia and Opeth has continued through time as they have similar ideas with their music even though Opeth is much more heavy. Mikael Åkerfeldt also plays in swedish retro death metal band Bloodbath with the two founding members from Katatonia Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström. If you like Opeth I strongly recommend that you check out Katatonia.

The diverse vocal delivery from Mikael Åkerfeldt is not as prominent on Orchid as it is on later releases. The few places the clean vocals appear they seem a bit underdeveloped. So it ´s mostly death metal growling on this album. The music changes between melodic mid-tempo to slow death metal passages and acoustic parts as usual on Opeth albums. It´s just a bit more repetitive and drawn out on Orchid than what we´re used to from Opeth.

The sound quality is surprisingly good even though I personally don´t like the drum sound, but I spoke to others about this and they don´t seem to have a problem with this so maybe it ´s just me being too hard.

I think this album deserves 3 stars for the very good and intricate songs. I really enjoyed Orchid. It doesn´t come close to being as good as any of the later releases from Opeth though and therefore only a 3 star rating, but still recommendable.

Morningrise:

The second album from Opeth called Morningrise is by many metal heads I know considered a classic within the doom/death genre. Allthough more progressive than most other important albums in this genre like: CATHEDRAL´s Forest of Equilibrium, PARADISE LOST´s Gothic and MY DYING BRIDE´s Turn Loose the Swans, Morningrise is still first and foremost a metal album.

Opeth have developed their style since the debut album Orchid which I found pretty good. There are now more acoustic sections between the melodic death metal parts. The tempo is still slow to mid. All songs are generally well composed and played and as always when talking about Opeth there are moments of pure bliss in some of their songs. Just listen to the wonderful fretless bass in Advent.

The sound quality has always bothered me on this album though and it is a major problem IMO. You can hear everything that´s happening but the instruments have an irritating sound and the vocals are also badly produced. I´m sure this is an aquired taste but I can´t stand this production.

Drummer Anders Nordin does not play in a style that I prefer and I like Martin Lopez who would play on the next album much better. The other musicians do a great job though. There is nothing wrong with the skills here.

All in all it is a good album from Opeth, but I do feel they miss that something special that would later send them to the top of progressive death metal. It´ll be present on the next album though. For this one I´ll give 3 stars as it has about as many flaws as it has beautiful moments.

My Arms, Your Hearse:

The third album from Opeth is a giant leap and a massive improvement to the two previous albums Orchid and Morningrise. My Arms, Your Hearse starts the sound that Opeth is famous and known for today. The monumental and massive wall of guitar blended with more mellow acoustic moments and Mikael Åkerfeldt growling and clean vocals. My Arms, Your Hearse is generally a very heavy album, so don´t expect seventies prog rock here even though there are traces. Opeth comes from the Doom/ death metal tradition and even though Opeth is a bit more progressive than most bands in that catagory there are still many doom/ death moments on this album. There are plenty of the more mellow moments though to keep ones interest in the album and give you a breather between the massive metal riffing.

The sound quality could have been a little better. It´s raw and pretty unpolished which is an aquired taste. Personally I like my metal a bit more polished normally, but when the music is as good as this I´m ready to forgive everything.

The musicians playing here are very competent and I can never seem to get enough of Mikael Åkerfeldt´s clean singing even though it´s still quite imature here compared to later releases. His growling is also an aquired taste for sure, but I enjoy it. Being an old death metal fan helps of course. The biggest difference in the lineup is the addition of Martin Lopez on drums. He is such a good drummer for this kind of music and even though this is metal he gets to show his latin background some places. There are no latin parts though, it´s more a matter of touch. A brilliant addition to Opeth. Mikael Åkerfeldt handles both vocals, guitar and bass on My Arms, Your Hearse as Opeth had not yet drafted a new bass player for the recordings. Martin Mendez who would soon become the new bass player for Opeth, are on the pictures on the sleeve though. Peter Lindgren plays some nice guitar on the album as well. The dual attack of Lindgren and Åkerfeldt is very much the melodic focus on My Arms, Your Hearse.

The music is as mentioned above made out of massive and monumental metal riffs with growls and softer acoustic moments with clean singing and sometimes there is clean singing over the metal parts as well. This is a cocktail most metal bands use today but in 1998 this was the exception to the rule. Especially the way Mikael Åkerfeldt sings is very exceptional in metal. Very soft and melodic. Standout tracks for me is my favorite When, Demon of the Fall and the soft acoustic Credence. The ending song Epilogue is a nice instrumental with some exciting dual guitar leads and some nice Hammond organ from Fredrik Nordström.

The two bonus tracks are worth mentioning as well even though I´m not that excited about them. Celtic Frost´s Circle Of The Tyrants is covered in a good way even though I prefer Obituary´s version on their album Cause of Death. The problem with this song is that I´m not too fond of Celtic Frost. I never understood why they were hailed as metal gods by especially death and black metal bands. The other cover song is Iron Maidens´s Remember Tomorrow from their debut album. Opeth plays an ok version but again it doesn´t excite me very much. Just don´t think of the two bonus tracks as part of the album, but take them for what they are.

All in all there is still some way to the masterpieces Opeth would make later in their career, but My Arms, Your Hearse is an excellent progressive extreme metal album and I´ll rate it 4 stars.

Conclusion:

So as I mentioned above in my intro this is not a very neccessary release but the music is very good even though the only album I really find excellent out of the three is My Arms, Your Hearse. Two 3 star albums and one 4 star album means that The Candlelight Years will receive a solid 3 star rating from me.

UMUR | 3/5 |

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