Progressive metal group Opeth's tenth album to date, Heritage, was just released a few days ago. The record features less metal than most previous releases, and has a 70s prog rock vibe present throughout many of the tracks. According to an interview between I Heart Guitar and frontman Mikael Akerfeldt, it appears that the band was also heavily influenced by jazz fusion.
"We've been listening to not only fusion but all sorts of music," said Akerfeldt. "And the fusion aspect comes from Mahavishnu Orchestra, Billy Cobham I listened to Alphonse Mouzon, the drummer who was with Larry Coryell in The Eleventh House; some Herbie Hancock; the Headhunters, who are a mix of free-form and jazz and pop and whatever. But we listened to all styles of music. Some influences are more there than others, but I think we've been quite taken by the sounds of fusion for quite some time now, all of us."
With respect to the distinct lack of death growls and less death metal on the record, Akerfeldt had the following to say:
"I wasn't really writing thinking I'm gonna come up with death metal,' or anything connected with that type of vocals. I was just writing songs wanting to get closer to my influences, the stuff I listen to, and they're not really death metal at this point. I listen to a lot of 60s and 70s type of music, and I wanted to get closer to all of those influences."
"I don't think I could make better music in that style than I did on Watershed, so it was time for a change. Death metal was not part of that change right now. Maybe we'll come back to it in the future, who knows!"
Akerfeldt also made it clear that the versatility the members of Opeth possess is instrumental to the band:
"I surround myself with really, really good musicians, but they are also more than metal musicians. They listen to all sorts of music, they're interested in their own instruments and in developing their skills for those instruments. That's been the case since the beginning. We always aimed to be fairly competent musicians because it makes experimentation so much easier. I mean, we could not have been doing this album with just a bunch of musicians who can only play metal. It'd be physically impossible."