My Arms, Your Hearse

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My Arms, Your Hearse
Studio album by Opeth
Released August 18, 1998
Recorded August–September 1997
(Studio Fredman, Maestro Musik and Nacksving Studio)
Genre Progressive death metal, progressive black metal
Length 52:38
Label Candlelight, Century Black
Producer Fredrik Nordström, Opeth
Opeth chronology
Morningrise
(1996)
My Arms, Your Hearse
(1998)
Still Life
(1999)

My Arms, Your Hearse is the third full-length studio album by Opeth. It was released in August 1998. It was Opeth's first album to be released simultaneously in Europe, through Candlelight Records, and in the United States, through Century Black.

Background[edit]

My Arms, Your Hearse was the first Opeth album with drummer Martin Lopez, who answered a newspaper ad that Opeth put up searching for this spot to be taken after Anders Nordin left. Shortly thereafter the band also brought in Martin Mendez, a friend and previous band-mate of Lopez. However, Mendez did not have enough time to learn the bass parts for the album, so frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt played bass for the entire recording session.[1] All of the songs on My Arms, Your Hearse are shorter than ten minutes, whereas on Opeth's last album, Morningrise, every song exceeds this length. The album is dedicated to Lee Barrett (of Candlelight Records).[2]

The title of the album is derived from the lyrics of the song "Drip, Drip" by the band Comus.[3]

Style[edit]

Concept[edit]

Åkerfeldt wrote the lyrics for this album before the music was written,[1] to create Opeth's first concept album.

The album concerns a character who dies and becomes a ghost. The narrative on the ghost's existence revolves around the woman he loved. Frustration and suspicion make the character restless as he watches his loved one after his death, his soul in constant turmoil as he does not believe that she genuinely grieved his passing. Though his ghost's actual presence remains undetected, she feels a great sadness, and remains unwilling to accept his death.

The progression of the album can also be seen as linked to the progression of the seasons, the final song ending with winter, and leading back into the first song with the beginnings of spring. The last word of each song on the album is the name of the following, with the album's final track, "Epilogue", leading back to "Prologue" to complete the cycle. Although the album has three instrumental songs, short stories are still written for those tracks in the form of lyrics, thus fulfilling the naming convention. In some cases, the "silent lyrics" move the plot along, and in others only serve to comment in a passive fashion.

Musical style[edit]

The record marks a large stylistic change from their previous release, Morningrise, with a heavier overall sound, cleaner production and fewer mellow acoustic parts. The album contains one mellow track, "Credence", which is devoid of heavy guitars and death growls, and three instrumental tracks: "Prologue", "Madrigal", and "Epilogue".

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[4]
Chronicles of Chaos 10/10 stars[5]
Metal Crypt 4.75/5[6]
Metal Storm 9.7/10[7]
Sea of Tranquility 5/5 stars[8]
Tartarean Desire 9.5/10 stars[9]
Terrorizer 4/5 stars[10]

My Arms, Your Hearse was widely praised by critics. Steve Huey of Allmusic said that it "flows logically from one composition to the next, and the mostly long songs have enough variation in texture and mood to hold the listener's interest fairly consistently."[4] Jeb of Metal Faith magazine said, "each song sort of flows into the next giving the whole album a unified feel."[10] Jeff of Mid West Metal magazine commented, "having never been exposed to Opeth, I had them pegged as a typical black metal bands that sings about love and relationships and crap like that. I really didn't expect to get blown out of the water when 'April Ethereal' kicked in, from this point I am converted! And while the album has some mellow parts and some folk-ish characteristics, it's still a very intense album from a band who seems to have not forgotten how the fuck they got their current plateau in life."[10] Christian Renner of Metal Crypt wrote, "the musicianship is brilliant as always and the songwriting is just what you would expect from this incredibly talented group. This is another great album that most bands out there would give their right arm to have written and that statement just speaks volumes of the songwriting talent of the Åkerfeldt/Lindgren team."[6] Pedro Azevedo of Chronicles of Chaos said of the album, "though some parts of the drum sound are somewhat awkward at times (new drummer and bass player, by the way), the instrumental performance is as great as one would expect, and Akerfeldt's vocals are again amazing. Top quality sections just flow throughout the album, making it truly -excellent-. My Arms, Your Hearse is a indeed a brilliant proof that Swedish metal isn't entirely stagnant."[5] Tartarean Desire's critic Cseke Róbert wrote, "this record is more powerful and more beautiful than most of today's music from this genre. The entire record is a mixture of hell-bound adrenalin and soul... My Arms, Your Hearse is such a powerful album that I consider it one of the best of the genre."[9] Demonic Tutor (Olivier Espiau) of Metal Storm stated the album is a "trip to heaven" and also:[7]

If the album Blackwater Park remains as Opeth's masterpiece so far, My Arms, Your Hearse also deserves the maximal rating. I personally think that this record is equal to Blackwater Park... Well, every metalhead on earth MUST have this album. If you're tired of your standards or if you just want to discover new horizons in the metal world, or simply if you don't want to miss the best band for its creativity, listen to Opeth... Listening to My Arms, Your Hearse, I can say that perfection has now a name: Opeth.
 
— Olivier Espiau, Metal Storm.

Tim Henderson of Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles said "you are in for a treat, easily described as the black metal version of Darkside of the Moon in all it's [sic] pride and glory. In fact, if Gilmour joined Emperor, or if Cradle took sides with Yes, can My Arms, Your Hearse be truly described".[10] "My Arms, Your Hearse is a milestone in 90's extreme metal", wrote Chris Bruni in his review for Unrestrained! magazine. He also wrote that the album is "easily their most stunning achievement" and "the songs are stronger, heavier, more cohesive, with a stronger sound courtesy of Studio Fredman, and the textures and song movements are some of the best executed structures to be heard in metal."[10]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Mikael Åkerfeldt, except where noted[11]

No. Title Length
1. "Prologue" (instrumental) 0:59
2. "April Ethereal"   8:41
3. "When"   9:14
4. "Madrigal" (instrumental) 1:26
5. "The Amen Corner"   8:43
6. "Demon of the Fall" (Åkerfeldt, Peter Lindgren) 6:13
7. "Credence"   5:26
8. "Karma"   7:52
9. "Epilogue" (instrumental) 3:59
10. "Circle of the Tyrants" (Celtic Frost cover) (reissue bonus track) 5:12
11. "Remember Tomorrow" (Iron Maiden cover) (reissue bonus track) 5:00

Personnel[edit]

Opeth[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Production[edit]

Release history[edit]

This is the second Opeth album with a major delayed release (the first being Orchid) and the recording for My Arms, Your Hearse was done a year before its release, just like Orchid. My Arms, Your Hearse was released on August 18, 1998, simultaneously in Europe and the United States on CD by Candlelight Records and Century Black respectively.[citation needed] It was released in Poland by Mystic Production on cassette. The album was reissued in 2000 on CD by Candlelight Records and on LP by Displeased Records. The LP was limited to 1000 copies. These reissues contain two bonus tracks, "Circle of the Tyrants" and "Remember Tomorrow".[4][13] They are covers of songs that were only previously available on two separate tribute albums, In Memory of Celtic Frost and A Call to Irons: A Tribute to Iron Maiden, respectively.[14][15] A special edition was released by Candlelight in 2003.[13]

Year Region Label Format Catalog
1998 United Kingdom Candlelight CD CANDLE25
1998 United States Century Black CD 7894-2
1998 Poland Mystic Production cassette 159
2000 United Kingdom Candlelight CD Candle055
2000 Netherlands Displeased double LP D-00083
2000 United States Candlelight CD CANUS068CD
2003 United Kingdom Candlelight CD CANDLE055TIN
2003 Russia IROND CD IROND CD 03-632
2005 United Kingdom Candlelight LP CVCS 005 PD
2006 Japan Candlelight CD XQAN-1003
2008 United Kingdom Back On Black LP BOBV099LP
2008 Japan Avalon CD MICP-10809

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Session diary of My Arms, Your Hearse
  2. ^ Opeth (2000) [1998]. My Arms, Your Hearse liner notes. Candlelight (CANDLE055CD)
  3. ^ "Comus - Progressive/ Psychedelic / Wyrd / Folk Rock (UK)". ComusMusic.co.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2011. "The new found popularity of the band was helped in no small way by Swedish guitarist and vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt, with his much respected metal band Opeth, who would often make references and dedications to Comus at Opeth gigs. Mikael had been obsessed with the band for many years, even naming one of Opeth's albums "My Arms, Your Hearse", a quote from the lyrics of the Comus song "Drip Drip". And so it was that in the spring of 2007 Glenn Goring received an email from Mikael's great friend and concert promoter Stefan Dimle, another dedicated Comus fan from Sweden." 
  4. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. My Arms, Your Hearse Review. Allmusic. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Azevedo, Pedro. Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse. Chronicles of Chaos. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Renner, Christian. Review: Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse. Metal Crypt. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  7. ^ a b Demonic Tutor. Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse review. Metal Storm. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  8. ^ SoT Archives. Opeth: My Arms Your Hearse. Sea of Tranquility. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Róbert, Cseke. Review: Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse. Tartarean Desire. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d e MAYH Reviews. Opeth.com. Retrieved July 10, 2011
  11. ^ "Opeth official website discography". Opeth.com. Retrieved December 26, 2011. 
  12. ^ http://www.opeth.com/home/discography/item/16-my-arms-your-hearse-1997
  13. ^ a b Opeth: My Arms, Your Hearse. Opeth.com. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  14. ^ In Memory of Celtic Frost. Allmusic. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  15. ^ A Call to Irons: A Tribute to Iron Maiden, Vol. 1. Allmusic. Retrieved July 9, 2011.