Review : Opeth - Heritage
SputnikmusicThe last time we saw Opeth, they were admittedly in a bit of a creative slump. Coming off of the high that was 2005's Ghost Reveries, their follow up, 2008's Watershed was more than lacking, it was a wee bit stagnant. That's not to say that it wasn't another quality addition to Opeth's canon, but after nine albums it was clear that Opeth is as Opeth does. So here we are three years later with album number ten, Heritage. If the name itself isn't glaringly telling, here Mikael Akerfeldt and company have created an album focused solely around the seventies' progressive rock influences that have made them one of the most instantly recognizable bands in the extreme metal landscape. There's only one problem though – after years of increasingly incorporating sounds of the likes of Camel and Caravan to round out their death metal stylings into something unique, now that they've pushed those former nuances into the forefront more and more since 2001's Blackwater Park, their attempt at going balls out prog doesn't differentiate itself from anything they've done in the past. In fact, even though vocalist and guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt no longer uses his deep bellowing roar throughout the entirety of Heritage, there is absolutely nothing that keeps it from being just another Opeth album. It's a shame too, because everyone in the band is at their best, providing more than impressive musical chops, but every song relies on the same characteristic twists and turns that we've heard from Opeth a hundred times over since their debut, 1995's Orchid. When listening to it just on a song by song basis Heritage can be a rather enjoyable experience as songs like “Slither” and “The Devil's Orchard” are absolutely delightful on their own, but as the album progresses it's hard to stop yourself from asking, “Haven't I heard this before?”...full text
AngrymetalguyDisclaimer: Knowing how to review this record has been very difficult for me because I’m a big fan of the band and I have no desire to try make my opinion seem bigger than the band’s work. I understand my subjective position as a reviewer very well. But this record suffers from pretty major issues that it make it very difficult for me to enjoy and that show off the weakness of the band in its current incarnation. I am aware that there will be a good amount of whining and gnashing of teeth over this review, and you’re welcome to it. Just remember that I 1) am not invested in Opeth playing death metal; 2) like plenty of bands that have changed their sounds; and 3) enjoy progressive and abstract music of all stripes very much.
It’s hard to believe that we’re actually looking at Opeth‘s 10th full length studio record now in 2011. It’s amazing how the little progressive death metal band that could is a global powerhouse of extreme and progressive music that is signed to one of the biggest labels in the metal world. Heritage was billed as a bit of a ‘look backwards,’ in a sense, with main man Åkerfeldt saying that he thought extreme metal was boring and that he has thought that for a while and so this was going to be something else. As a long time fan (who has regularly been called a fanboy), I think it’s obvious to me that Opeth was outgrowing their roots. While I think that Ghost Reveries is a genius album, Watershed was definitely not. It felt uninspired and rushed. So the big question for me coming into all of this was: would having more time and freedom make Heritage feel fresh? Would it be a record that would change Opeth for good—and also for the better?
Heritage is very much as Åkerfeldt said in a recent interview, it is a progressive rock album that sounds very much like its biggest influence actually is mainly Opeth. Over time, Åkerfeldt has crafted a sound that is unique to the band and that has moved them into the limelight. There is a cadence and melodic structure to Opeth riffs that just feels very Opeth. The linear fashion of writing songs is also something that, nowadays is commonplace, but that has long been associated with Mikael’s writing style. Songs that are often more like movements than traditionally structured tracks works well in death metal, which is so heavily riff-based. This made for epic soundscapes that were at once exciting and interesting, but also had the ability to be fragile and beautiful. It was a sound that worked for the band and launched them into the stratosphere popularitywise....full text
GuardianSufficiently admired in the UK that they were able to pack out London's Royal Albert Hall in April 2010, Opeth have long been a potent antidote to the notion that prog rock and metal are genres bereft of substance. The Swedes' 10th album, Heritage, is a brave, melancholic and often beautiful heavy rock record that revels in the warm, analogue tones and shimmering mellotrons of the pre-punk 70s while still exuding a sense of wonder at new ideas. Band leader Mikael Åkerfeldt has confessed to a peevish rejection of the modern metal scene, but there is still plenty of rugged oomph amid the labyrinthine riffing of The Devil's Orchard and the Rainbow-like clatter of Slither. Although proudly mired in indulgence – Famine is a bewildering squall of crescendos, calms and rasping flutes; Folklore ends with an outrageous Gilmouresque guitar solo – this is both tasteful and timeless enough to lure in the prog-averse, too....full text
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