metal talk
Search here...
metal talk


  OPETH
'Heritage'
Jeff Kent


jeff kent



arch matheos sympathetic resonance

"I love the music, but I can't get past the vocals". How many times have I heard people say that about Opeth? Most even say it with a bit of regret; they WANT to like it, even love it, but that one element of their sound ruins it for them. Guys... this album is for you!

If you've been an Opeth fan for the last ten years or longer then you had to see this coming. Mikael has been dabbling with clean vocals more and more over the years. They even released 'Damnation', which was all clean and mostly acoustic, but it was paired with 'Deliverance' in all its heavy brutality so everyone was happy. 'Heritage' definitely marks a stylistic change for Opeth, though one may argue just how dramatic that shift is.

Article continues below...



'Heritage' opens with the somber title track, a solo piano piece played by Joakim Svalberg. The melody is based in Swedish folk music and wouldn't have been out of place on any past Opeth album. So far so good.

'The Devil's Orchard' hits right away with the heavy guitar riffs and Hammond organ that have become commonplace recently. The track settles down with a laid back drum and keyboard section that builds tension that you might expect to be broken by one of Mike's Satanic howls, but no. Instead of release the mood shifts to an almost 70s Jazz Funk feel with some incredible bass work by Martin Mendez.

There is what seems like a longer than normal pause before 'I Feel The Dark' and that will become a theme on 'Heritage', silence and if not total silence a sparse soundscape. Acoustic guitars and vocals along with 'Mellotron' open and each instrument lives in its own space, nothing really competes for attention and everything can be heard.

The recording quality is astounding and this might actually be where the shift in style is most apparent. Not going for a band sound as much as showcasing musicianship and the sound each instrument makes on its own.

'Slither' is a straight ahead rocker that would fit on a Deep Purple or Iron Maiden album which is made more understandable when we see that it was recorded as a tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio. This might be Mikael's most impressive vocal performance as he's not screaming or whispering or creating a mood, he's just... singing. The acoustic outro seems a little long to me, but given what comes next I can see the need for a transition.

Here's that dramatic shift we've been expecting. The first half of 'Nepenthe' is very quiet and again the drum and bass work is the most impressive thing here. The middle section kicks into another Jazz Fusion jam with a ripping guitar solo. In between these seemingly disparate parts you can almost see the band members smiling at each other in the studio and taking in the moment. I feel like they found their stride in these silences. It's the silence that makes you listen.

One of the things that makes Opeth great is the juxtaposition of quiet intensity and explosive intensity. 'Heritage' has the same moments but the quiet parts are almost silent and the explosive parts are more about big bass lines and heavy-handed Hammond organ.

It might be an interesting exercise to see just how much of 'Heritage' features only one band member playing at a time. 'Haxprocess' continues in the same vein as 'Nepenthe' and as each song progresses you really start to see where Mike was headed when he made that choice early on in the writing process to move away from the 'Watershed' type songs he'd already finished.

'Famine' comes across as their version of 'Powerslave' and feels like a soundtrack for being trapped inside a pyramid overnight. If you noticed the percussion and thought it sounded a little outside of Axe's scope of knowledge, then you'd be right... that's none other than Jazz legend Alex Acuna (Weather Report).

This track features some of the heaviest Hammond organ work by Per Wiberg who left the band after finishing the record, hence his head falling off the tree on the cover. It even has some Ian Anderson style flutes! Clocking in at over eight minutes it's also one of the longer pieces on the album.

Since I just mentioned Per's head on the cover, it may be worth pointing out some of the symbolism in Travis Smith's gorgeous artwork. The band/tree has its roots in Hell, but has grown. Band members have gone, but remain close to the roots. People congregate at the tree, even line up for it and the city in the distance is burning…read into that what you will.

'The Lines In My Hand' has the best bass line I've heard in a long time. It's Maidenesque in the way it carries the melody more like a lead guitar than a rhythm instrument. Bass players are going to love this. This may be the shortest song Opeth has ever recorded if you don't count the various intros, outros and interludes.

'Folklore' ventures a little close to Spinal Tap at first, but soon becomes more of a Pink Floyd thing. The band sounds comfortable, almost relieved to have taken things down a notch. I hate to make the comparison because it's not entirely accurate, but Metallica said part of the reason they wrote the Black Album was that the 'Justice...' songs were too long and hard to be fun live. Where Metallica could be seen to have dumbed down their songs, Opeth have opened theirs up and allowed more light and space into them.

This brings up the question of lyrics. In the past Mikael has been known to refer to his lyrics as "pure Black Metal nonsense" and let's be honest, you couldn't really understand them anyway. Now everything has been laid bare, there's no hiding behind the growl. You have to wonder how much more thought goes into the lyrics now.

'Folklore' winds down in a perfect way to end an album, but we're treated with an additional instrumental passage, 'Marrow Of The Spirit.' to close things out.

'Heritage' rewards repeated listenings in different settings. Try it on headphones, in the car and on the stereo. Each time I promise you'll hear something new.

If you like it the first time, you'll love it the more you hear it. If you don't like it, give it some time and you may come to understand it. I'd like to think that Opeth still has some Death Metal in their future, but the more I listen to 'Heritage' the less sure I am. I think they've really hit on something here that they should be proud of.

This will no doubt be the most polarizing record of their career. It will surely win them some new fans while alienating some longtime fans.

The question has even been raised as to whether those fans were ever really Opeth fans or just generic Death Metal fans as a 'real' fan of the band would appreciate the natural growth and progression of such a talented group of musicians.

2.10.11









 

extreme GET THE FUNK OUT! EXTREME TO HEADLINE RAMBLIN' MAN FAIR
"We are honoured to be headlining the Ramblin’ Man Fair. Extreme has always had a special relationship with the UK fans..."

scorpions EXCLUSIVE: SCORPIONS TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM IN EARLY 2018 AND CONTINUE TOURING
Brand new opus will be their first with Mikkey, who was Motörhead drummer for twenty-three years...

nidingr EXCLUSIVE UK PREMIERE: NIDINGR RELEASE FIRST SINGLE FROM FORTHCOMING NEW ALBUM
"To me this song solidifies a thing that is fucking great about Nidingr - no rules..."

iron maiden BREAKING NEWS: CELLAR DARLING SIGN WITH NUCLEAR BLAST
"We are proud and excited to have found partners who understand our music and share our vision..."

iron maiden BREAKING NEWS: IRON MAIDEN TO TOUR NORTH AMERICA IN JUNE/JULY
Support on all North American dates will be Ghost and tickets go on-sale from next Friday...

iron maiden HOME OF METAL TO JOIN BLACK SABBATH ON THEIR FINAL DATES
"Fans are our lifeblood, they've always been there to support us. The audiences have been getting bigger as the tour progressed..."

hammerfall EXCLUSIVE WORLD PREMIERE: HAMMERFALL UNLEASH NEW VIDEO FOR 'BUILT TO LAST' TITLE TRACK
Hammerfall are currently on tour throughout Europe and there are plenty of dates left to catch their new epic show...

grim reaper GRIM REAPER'S STEVE GRIMMETT SEVERELY ILL IN ECUADOR
"Unfortunately the operation didn't work and Steve is currently in the operating theatre having limbs removed..."

bill price GUNS N' ROSES AND SEX PISTOLS PRODUCER/ENGINEER BILL PRICE HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY
Price worked with Rod Stewart, INXS, Pete Townshend, Elton John, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Big Audio Dynamite...

fish marillion FISH CELEBRATES 30th ANNIVERSARY OF 'CLUTCHING AT STRAWS' WITH UK TOUR
"These are the only dates this year as because of my shoulder operation next month with the extensive recovery period..."

ross the boss UK EXCLUSIVE: ROSS THE BOSS ANNOUNCES TOUR DATES AHEAD OF SPECIAL GUEST SLOT ON MetalTalk RADIO THIS WEEK
"We are going to devastate every audience, every night, without mercy..."

dokken WAS BREAKING NEWS: CLASSIC DOKKEN LINE-UP CONFIRMED FOR RAMBLIN' MAN
Dokken, Lynch, Pilson and Brown will play together in England for the first time in around a quarter-of-a-century...

grand magus DEF LEPPARD AND POISON ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICAN DATES
"I could not be more excited. I know all of us will give one thousand percent on stage..."

grand magus VIKINGS TO INVADE YORKSHIRE: GRAND MAGUS TO HEADLINE KEIGHLEY FESTIVAL
"Get your tickets now and prepare to raise your fists and bang your heads for the glory of Metal!"

armored saint ARMORED SAINT UK TOUR DATES AND 'MARCH OF THE SAINT (LIVE)' VIDEO ARE HERE
"We're really looking forward to playing these select UK shows in March..."

screaming eagles SCREAMING EAGLES TO FEATURE IN NEW AMAZON PRIME SERIES STARRING BRYAN CRANSTON
The band will be releasing a live mini-album in spring 2017 and will be touring in the UK, France and Germany throughout the year...

martyrd MARTYRD SET TO OPEN FOR METAL ALLEGIANCE, MARTY FRIEDMAN AND GUS G
"NAMM is a blast, total musical sensory overload from every direction. It’s like getting lost in a hurricane - I can't wait."

john garcia EXCLUSIVE WORLD PREMIERE: JOHN GARCIA UNLEASHES 'GIVE ME 250ml'
"This record is one of the most important of my career, difficult and challenging to do, but worth every minute of sweat!"

avenged sevenfold WAS BREAKING NEWS: AVENGED SEVENFOLD TO OPEN LONDON POP-UP STORE
The shop will be hosting in-store raffles and giveaways of exclusive and signed merchandise...

avenged sevenfold ROCK MEETS CLASSIC 2017 EUROPE LINE-UP IS HERE
Rock meets Classic has a terrific vibe and the legendary cross-over-project combines emotional classic with world-famous rock songs...

paddy goes to holyhead PADDY GOES TO HOLYHEAD ARE BACK FOR THE CRAIC ON ST PATRICK'S NIGHT
The band supposedly played their last ever gig two years ago in celebration of their 30th anniversary...

nightlord EXCLUSIVE THE UNKNOWN BAND WHO INFLUENCED METALLICA AIRS ON MetalTalk RADIO
Also featuring is the very first UK radio airplay of Cellar Darling, the band created by former Eluveitie members...

epica EPICA RELEASE 'BEYOND THE MATRIX' VIDEO - WATCH IT HERE
"The energy that lives within 'Beyond The Matrix' is extremely contagious. It will sweep you off your feet when the melodies enter your mind..."

nightlord JOHN COGHLAN'S QUO BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN
John Coghlan's Quo have announced UK dates across the Kingdom that will see them busy throughout the year...

jimmy bain JIMMY BAIN'S WIDOW NEEDS OUR HELP
"Jimmy recently passed away without a proper will in place and now his better half is in trouble..."

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST 'LIVE' TOKYO FEATURING BARDEN, BONNET AND McAULEY OUT IN MARCH
Features guest appearances from some of the greatest rock vocalists who have worked with Schenker...

ozzy osbourne OZZY OSBOURNE OVERDOSED WHEN SHARON HAD CANCER
"I watched him scoop his hands into a bowl of pills, swallow a handful of something, and then wash it down with vodka..."

eluveitie ELUVEITIE NEW LINE-UP IS COMPLETE, FIRST GIGS GO DOWN A STORM
"Above all we're super happy and thankful that we're complete again and given the chance to have such gifted musicians on board..."

gene simmons GENE SIMMONS RESTAURANT HONOURS US VETS
"The opening day of every Rock & Brews is dedicated to our vets, the public is not allowed in."

deep purple DEEP PURPLE SUE THEIR LONG-TIME ACCOUNTANT FOR FOUR MILLION
"I'm completely irresponsible. I'm ignorant about money as a commodity — I have never really understood it."

tony iommi UK EXCLUSIVE: VINCE NEIL FIST FIGHT WITH BOY GEORGE STOPPED AS ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER SHUTS UP PRESIDENT TRUMP
"They screwed up. That was a huge miss and someone should have a talking-to."

tony iommi GLENN HUGHES: "I'M THRILLED TO BE TOURING THE UK IN JANUARY"
"Let's get 2017 going with a killer night for ROCK lovers, movers and shakers. I'm in. Let's go!"

tony iommi TONY IOMMI HAS SUCCESSFUL THROAT OPERATION AND IS CANCER-FREE
"We had to have it checked in case it may have been cancerous. But it turns out it wasn't, which I found out Christmas Day..."

ronnie montrose RONNIE MONTROSE REMEMBERED: ALL-STAR MEMORIAL CONCERT TO TAKE PLACE AT NAMM 2017
"Ronnie helped light a fire in me and made me want to approach guitar playing with that kind of zeal and expression..."

motorhead beer PHIL CAMPBELL AND MIKKEY DEE TO APPEAR AT MOTÖRHEAD BEER LAUNCH IN LONDON
This is sure to be one superb night with beer, live music and Motörhead, but not necessarily in that order...

tony iommi BLACK STAR RIDERS PREMIERE 'TESTIFY OR SAY GOODBYE'
Black Star Riders are set to release their forthcoming album 'Heavy Fire' on 3rd February via Nuclear Blast...

tony iommi BREAKING NEWS: TONY IOMMI DROPS HEAVY METAL AND JOINS THE CHOIR
"It's a bit different to Sabbath!" says Tony, in probably the biggest understatement of all time...

tony iommi ROCK MUSIC IN SUPERHERO MOVIES
It's pretty wild to think that this whole ride that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe started off with a little AC/DC...

jimi hendrix JIMI HENDRIX'S WAH-WAH PEDAL AND AMP SURVIVES AUCTION HOUSE BURGLARY
"It was a very positive and uplifting experience to work for Jimi. He was like a shaman, a medicine man, a preacher.."

alestorm ALESTORM ENTER FLORIDA STUDIO BUT A CHALLENGE AWAITS THEM BACK IN BLIGHTY
"It is full of epic songs about pirates, drinking, and pseudoscientific cryptogeography..."

queen QUEEN GUITARIST BRIAN MAY WANTS TO BRING ROCK TO A NEW GENERATION
"It was actually all very planned and deliberate and came totally out of Freddie's fevered imagination..."

phil lynott MASS TRIBUTES PAID TO PHIL LYNOTT ON ANNIVERSARY OF HIS PASSING
"God bless my old friend, thanks for the faith you showed in allowing me to record your music..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION ENTER STUDIO TO BEGIN WORK ON FOURTH ALBUM
"One thing I want to make clear to everybody across air nation is that Joe Bonamassa and I never fell out..."

hair metal heaven BLAZE BAYLEY BRAND NEW ALBUM AND WORLD TOUR DETAILS ARE HERE
'Endure And Survive' is set for release on 3rd March 2017 and will be accompanied by a world tour totalling some 120 shows...

hair metal heaven HAIR METAL HEAVEN FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FIRST ACTS FOR INAUGURAL EVENT
The Hair Metal Heaven Festival has a very eighties feel to it, as the team behind it explain here...

motorhead EXCLUSIVE TEST PILOT DROPS TWO GRAND ON NEW MOTÖRHEAD VIDEO SLOT
"A few spins later and I turned up a row of gold Snaggletooths which promptly caught fire and the voice of the man himself commanded: 'Turn it up!'"

deep purple DEEP PURPLE RELEASE NEW 'inFinite' TRAILERS AND EXPECTED ALBUM FORMATS
'Time For Bedlam', the first single which was revealed late last year, is available as instant grat as part of the digital album pre-order...

hollywood AEROSMITH FAREWELL TOUR COULD LAST FIVE YEARS
"We had a talk a few weeks back about going into the studio. When that'll happen, though, I'm not sure. We certainly have plenty of ideas..."

rick parfitt EXCLUSIVE MEGADETH MAINMAN DAVE MUSTAINE REVEALS HE'S AN ARSENAL FC SUPPORTER
Megadeth, formed in Los Angeles in 1983 after Dave left Metallica, are currently enjoying a rich vein of form...

hollywood FORMER PEARL JAM DRUMMER HITS OUT AT THE BAND
"We need music, each other and the spirit of Rock & Roll now, more than ever before..."

hollywood HOLLYWOOD SIGN CHANGED BY PRANKSTERS TO READ 'HOLLYWEED'
"An artist's role throughout history has been to create representations of the culture he exists in..."

metallica METALLICA GUITARIST KIRK HAMMETT'S HOME FOR SALE FOR £16m
Apparently a house like this doubles its asking price every six or seven years...

kiss EXCLUSIVE KISS' GENE SIMMONS DROPS BIGGEST HINT YET THAT ACE FREHLEY REUNION IS ON
Over 7,000 likes later, fans are in big speculation that it really is going to happen...

rick parfitt WAS BREAKING NEWS: BLOODSTOCK UNVEIL SECOND 2017 HEADLINER
"Megadeth had a blast last time and I can't wait to bring the Dystopia World Tour to Bloodstock this Summer."

rick parfitt EXCLUSIVE JOHN COGHLAN REVEALS TWO NEW TRACKS WITH RICK PARFITT ARE NEARLY READY FOR RELEASE
"It was going to be Status Quo PLC [Parfitt, Lancaster, Coghlan] and that was Francis' idea originally."

wizz wizzard WIZZ WIZZARD VOCALIST WIZZ BEAUPREZ HAS PASSED AWAY
Wizz Wizzard were signed to Rock Sector Records and labelmate Chris Appleton of Absolva led the tributes...

ronnie james dio RONNIE JAMES DIO TO TOUR IN 2017
"It was very emotional. I didn't think that I was gonna cry, but I did. I broke down...."

metal talk
© All written site content is copyright MetalTalk.net 2008-2017, unless otherwise stated, and is not to be used without prior permission.
Ads raid data recovery