Opeth – Heritage (2011)

Posted: September 3, 2011 in Music

By Joey Soboson / Guest Reviewer

Opeth has been around since 1990, and with Heritage, have put out ten studio albums. This album is also the longest “gap” between albums. I don’t know why that’s an interesting fact – but it’s said everywhere I’ve read in regards to this album. They’ve grown from death metal roots (totally gonna reference that later) to their progressively inticing sound they have today.

At the helm of Opeth has been Mikael Åkerfeldt. Brainchild, chief song writer and composer. Basically he IS Opeth and that’s that. He’s also done work with metal band Bloodbath (more info here) and early Katatonia along with tons of guest appearances (listed here) all over the place.

So now that you know who the guy is, let’s talk about his opinion on his creation. Being the chief creative behind the album, doesn’t wanna toot his own horn, but he is certainly impressed with himself.

“It’s quite intense at times in some ‘old’ murky way, and quite beautiful and stark at times, if I may say so myself. It’s obvious I’m going to say nice things about it since I wrote, basically, the whole piece, but I guess it will raise a few eyebrows and it certainly is an acquired taste. I think you’ll need a slightly deeper understanding of our music as a whole to be able to appreciate this record.”

I certainly agree with Mr. Åkerfeldt about eyebrows beign raised over this album. Frankly, I was hoping I’d get something close to ‘older’ Opeth sound, maybe a little Blackwater Park if you will. Hell, I’d be okay with Ghost Reveries.

NOPE! First thing I noticed was tha lack of ‘death growls’ (as the biz terms go). All clean vocals here, which was last done on their album Damnation in 2003. While not a deal breaker, still a bummer. Musically the band still keeps ‘mostly’ on par. Opeth over the years have shifted all around the musical spectrum and now are known for their progressive experimentation and changes through albums. This has alienated some fans, and attracted others. It is this variation and experimentation that has me un-sure of an opinion on Heritage. Åkerfeldt himself said a heavy influence of the album was Swedish folk music, an that ‘death metal’ like Opeth albums were apparently ‘old news’ and it was time to move into something more expansive. This album is made by Åkerfeldt – for Åkerfeldt.

My first take was “Holy shit, it’s Deep Purple, 60’s era psych-prog with heavy amounts of twang.” Then we drift back to the melodic melancholy Opeth is known for. Dreary and extended track time of acoustic guitar over haunting background ambiance (which they make wide use of through out the album) then picking up the pace again into jazz-infused wizardy then settling the kids down for bed with some instrumental slow jams that’s rides the line to ‘sexytown’.

Oh wait, then we got tracks like “Nepenthe” that do the above, but throw you for a jazz-funk loop right around the middle. Slap ya around with that twangy bass, get the foots bouncing and heads nodding, ready to pound the ceiling of your pickup truck in homage to early southern rock – then right back to sleepy town.

I think what bugs me about this album is each track is made of parts from others through out their catalog. I can distinctly remember riffs, intros or entire atmopsheric movements I’d heard on albums like Damnation, Delieverance or even Orchid. It bug’s me since I expect more or something further, but the mood of the sound keeps changing during tracks. I’m used to Opeth albums having at least one ‘slow’ and melodic track, or one that starts heavy as balls then traces off to a hauntingly beautiful close. That’s not what I’m getting with Heritage, I’m getting the ‘changes’ they just happen during every song in no particular order.

To close: If you go into this album expecting comparisons to older works, you’ll be dissapointed. If you go into this as a fan of later Opeth, or fan of progressive metal as a whole: you’ll prolly be peachy.

[Editor’s note: The track “Slither” was written in memory of the late Ronnie James Dio, who was loved and is missed greatly by The Social Nutwork.]


01. Heritage
02. The Devil’s Orchard
03. I Feel the Dark
04. Slither
05. Nepenthe
06. Haxprocess
07. Famine
08. The Lines in My Hand
09. Folklore
10. Marrow of the Earth

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