OPETH – Heritage

OPETH – Heritage

I’m a late bloomer to the Opeth express. Causally taking in their first few studio efforts, a touring escapade with God Forbid, Angel Dust and headliners Nevermore made me a believer in their distinctive progressive metal music. These Swedes aren’t complacent nor sedate in their style. They choose to challenge themselves and in turn challenge their following- truly embodying the ethos of progressive music. Mikael Åkerfeldt and the Opeth quintet set the standard for progressive death metal in the late 90’s and continue through the 2000’s to astound, mesmerize, and break free from any standard boundary placed in front of them.

“Heritage” will once again open the internet gateway with free flowing opinion about the band’s brilliance or demise depending solely on your viewpoint. Clean vocals throughout, the 10 songs on “Heritage” lean heavily towards the atmospheric, rock side than anything purely metallic. The guitar and keyboard tones evoke the memories of classic Ritchie Blackmore/Jon Lord duals in Deep Purple. Acoustic guitar parts aren’t mere fodder for intros and outros – often playing a key role in the center segments of a song like “I Feel The Dark”. And the production has this minimalist nuance, where you feel the musicians are truly enjoying the creative spark and interplay to get the best out of every arrangement and song.

10 albums into their 16 year studio odyssey, Opeth earn every accolade for developing a healthy following in a genre that normally struggles to gain much beyond a cult, headlining club status. “Heritage” lives for the softer, somber moods of the musicians at hand, yet dazzles with the dynamics between furious tempo juxtaposition (during “Famine” with drummer Martin Axenrot bursting at the snare/cymbal seams) and this love for unique phrasing (the flute parts in the instrumental section of same said “Famine”).

Not my favorite Opeth effort – “Ghost Reveries” wins that battle in my heart – but still Opeth at impressive blows away 95% of their musical competition. Sink in and slink away.