It’s no lie that Opeth has been through a rotating cast of musicians over the years, and have possibly taken in half the population of Stockholm since 1990. As a result, the band has produced a very diverse, yet chilling and eerie discography. Opeth may have traded their early death metal origins for a more progressive sound over the course of two decades, but they’ve maintained their acoustic instrumentation and melodic roots throughout their ten-album discography.
So far Opeth’s 2001 release, Blackwater Park, has proven to be the band’s defining album. As far as metal albums go, Blackwater Park has it all: death growls interspersed with clean vocals, head-bang worthy bass, and acoustic interludes. The highs and lows in the album’s namesake track are consistently moody, even dirge-like, and Opeth has followed this trend throughout their subsequent albums.
Heritage, which is expected for release in September, is supposedly a departure from the style Opeth has painstakingly developed. Despite the gap in recording that the band has endured since the release of Watershed in 2008, they toured worldwide last year in celebration of their 20th anniversary. During this time they recorded a live DVD, In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and announced to fans that Heritage is in the works. Only the cover art is available at this time, but the design by longtime collaborator Travis Smith tells fans a lot about what to expect this Fall. The imagery Smith used is meant to symbolize the growth of the band throughout their artistic careers.
The story has it that guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt scrapped the first two songs he wrote for Heritage and started his tenth album with a clean slate. According to Akerfeldt the upcoming album was written sans death growls, and is instead lightly influence by Swedish folk music. The cover art represents that type of growth, featuring the faces of Opeth’s members dangling from a lush, green tree as their roots reach underground to the fires of an older, death metal sound that they no longer pursue. Is Akerfeldt’s mention of Swedish folk possibly a hint that Opeth’s new album could be inclined toward folk-metal styling? I doubt they’ll turn into Korpiklaani or Turisas any time soon, but we’ll have to wait until September to find out what’s in store.
While you wait for the new Opeth album (and wait even longer to see them play with opener Katatonia at the Granada on October 5), check out this live performance of Blackwater Park:
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