Opeth Frontman: 'Evolution in Metal Seems Unimportant, Most Fans Want Their Happy Meals Served'

"I thought metal was open-minded thing, I was wrong," says Mikael Akerfeldt.

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Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt recently addressed the concept he considers most difficult for metal fans to grasp - change. Chatting with Metal Hammer, Mikael criticized the metal crowd for being close-minded, saying that "in metal, evolution doesn't seem to be that important. "I think most metal fans just want their Happy Meals served to them," the frontman added. "They don't really want to know about what they're getting. For a while, I thought metal was a more open-minded thing but I was wrong. Maybe it's different from country-to country." Akerfeldt elaborated further, "Don't get me wrong, I love metal, but I'm also open-minded. I admire some bands that do the same record over and over again - I wonder how they don't get bored! For us, and Anathema, it seems impossible for us to stay still." Also taking part in the interview was Daniel Cavanagh of Anathema. "Every band I've loved has moved forward," he explains. "All the world-class songwriters, whether it be Black Sabbath or Pink Floyd, have evolved. Maybe not AC/DC because they're perfect as they are! Bands like Porcupine Tree have continued that tradition. It's a mark of intelligence in music and genuine creativity." So where's your stance on this one - do you prefer experimentation or the well-tested formula? Share your thoughts in the comments.

47 comments sorted by best / new / date

    He's spot on, as usual. not all metalheads of course... but, If you evolve, you lose fans and if you dont, you get hammered for sounding the same.
    There is a industry behind metal that sticks to what has proven to run the money train. I *would* like Maiden to make another album like 7th Son, I would like King Diamond to make a real Abigail 2 that is as awesome as the original and I *can't* imagine him going Jazz Fusion, but I'd like Akerfeldt to do growls again and don't see how that contradicts evolving. I just don't see where in this plethora of profit based music there is room for experiments in a genre that already is a niche in itself.
    And THIS is why they made Heritage...
    Amazing album, I really love it! From what I've read the next one is going to be similar but a bit heavier in a hard rock kind of way. That's great news!
    I liked Heritage, but the best moments were when it rocked a little harder. If the new one is anything like the heavier moments on heritage, I will be pretty damn pleased.
    I'm all for bands moving forward and evolving. For example; Karnivool. Their latest album Asymmetry is certainly no Themata, but I'm glad they didn't stick to the same style... in most cases these bands will still include the songs from earlier albums in their live set list which is all that matters in my opinion. I'll agree with Akerfeldt... a lot of metal fans are absolute knobs in this sense. Look at Queens of the Stone Age - we all love the debut, but if they did it again and again it wouldn't have worked out anywhere near as well as it has for them.
    <3 Karnivool. Took me a few listens, but I think I'll enjoy Asymmetry almost as much as Sound Awake. And yeah they still open many sets with COTE or Themata which really gets me going
    I'd say Mr. Akerfeldt is perfectly right. Many metalheads I know are far from open-minded. We went to a maiden concert not so long ago with Voodoosix, Ghost and Sabaton as support. Ghost sounded a little bad, i suppose they just had a bad day (or a bad audio engineer), but the other two were plain dynamite. Nonetheless, many people in the crowd were cheering, booing, giving them the finger and demonstratively turning their backs to the stage since they wanted to see maiden and maiden only and were of zero tolerance towards everything else. Ashaming.
    Maybe they didn't like the brand of metal being offered to them. Being open minded doesn't mean liking everything, if after a song or two they keep booing, maybe they genuinely dislike them.
    I have never disliked live music so much that I would have booed. And even if I disliked a band a lot, I wouldn't still boo at them. I think they booed just because they wanted to see Iron Maiden and nothing else. Being open minded is also about listening to the songs without any assumptions. I'm sure they just thought "this is not Maiden so it sucks". IMO booing is something you shouldn't do. If somebody messes up a bit, it's not something you should boo at. The musicians are there trying to entertain the audience. The audience should appreciate it, even if they weren't really fans of the music.
    Agreed. The only time I'd ever boo a concert is if the band truly wasn't giving a shit about the audience (too high/drunk, too sloppy, etc). So far, I have never seen a concert like that. Most metal bands have way too much respect for the music and for the fans. I like going to see openers I've never heard of before. Sure, there's crap in there, but every now and then you find something you really like. I found Monstro when they opened up for Clutch not too long ago, and that was a total score. But the dude makes a good point in the article. I got into metal when I was 11. Some bands were just coming out then, and for some of them I got pissed when they didn't 'mature' the same way I did in their later albums. I don't really think that made me 'close-minded.' Because it also lets you discover more of what's out there -- it's not like I was sitting there hitting rewind on Cowboys From Hell and wishing everything sounded exactly like that (although I still f---ing love that tape). I branched out -- Faith No More, stuff like that. In the end it's all up to the individual, but both metal bands AND metal fans owe it to themselves to keep pushing those limits.
    Opeth have actually helped me to be more open minded about metal and music in general, they also helped me to discover Porcupine Tree which I am forever thankful for.
    He's totally right. For a genre founded on open-mindedness and evolution, it has a huge amount of close-minded and elitist fans. You have the "trve kvlt" and "death to false metal" types of fans just saturating the metal scene. It drives me crazy.
    Anathema and Opeth are both flipping amazing! Honestly, wasn't a huge fan of heritage but still, Mikael can do whatever he wants
    Mr Winters
    Evolution is fine if you can do multiple different things. If you can't, stick to what you know you can do. I mean trying new things is ok, but if it doesn't work, don't force it.
    There are METALHEADS, and then there are music fans who appreciate metal among other things.
    I think it is particularly bad here in the U.S. We seem to always want either Thrash or whatever the current fad is, which has been deathcore for a couple of years. That is why many amazing bands never come here from Europe or other countries because there is not a market for them
    Reminds me of how a lot of people reacted to Super Collider by Megadeth... Endgame: This is awesome! Thirteen: This is also awesome! Super Collider: OMFG THIS IS THE WORST FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT I HAVE EVER HEARD OMG IT'S NOT MEGADETH ANYMORE OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO MY FAVOURITE BAND OMG THIS IS SO MAINSTREAM AND POP OMG OMG
    Endgame was awesomeI wasn't a huge fan of the last two... Mainly cause I wish the used Chris Broderick's potential more. But I still love that Megadeth is out there kicking ass! Live shows are great!
    Don't forget about the people who liked Youthanasia and even Risk. The problem with SC is not that it is different, the problem is that it simply is not good, not even as a rock album.
    Well, the thing is, people reacted to Super Collider like it's the first time they'd ever stepped away from their signature thrash sound, completely forgetting about albums like Risk, which I think is actually a pretty decent effort.
    i agree entirely. Obviously, i have my own opinions on what i think works and doesn't work in music, but bands have to develop and experiment to keep it interesting. Bands like Turisas, Lordi and Sonata Arctica have all done major experimentation in their songwriting, for example, and that's the sort of thing i like to see! Opeth themselves excel at this practice!
    I think because there are so many bands out there with a different style and sound, people don't need individual bands to change because the sheer number of bands out there provide for enough variety. If a band keeps their sound then it is easier for people to find a band to listen to for the sound they want to hear at that moment.
    So what you're saying is bands should never change and grow up?! That's horseshit. Musicians are humans too. Are you the same person you were 5, 10 years ago? It might work for a small percentage of groups (somebody mentioned AC/DC above), but overall that's total crap to think you HAVE to make the same album over and over again so fans won't get confused. The old albums will always be there. Musicians learn new techniques, they interact with other bands, they find new influences. The Beatles would have been nothing if they made 13 albums full of "Love Me Do." No, I'm not calling the Beatles 'metal', but still...
    Most metalheads won't give electronic music, pop or hip hop a chance, and yet I see bitching about metalheads being too close minded about metal? Come on, when was the last time anyone saw a salsa record being discussed by a metal band, or by metal fans? Being open minded doesn't limits to a single genre of music.
    Why even call yourself a 'metalhead'? It honestly just sounds like a dude who listens to nothing but Metal and is elitist about it. I love Metal too don't get me wrong, but listening to other kinds of music has helped my writing and music and just makes it more enjoyable to hear what's out there. Anyway, I agree with Mikael but there are times when Metal bands take a risk in changing and it doesn't sound good (well you can decide that). I am open to bands experimenting with new sounds. If it doesn't work out, that's cool, they tried, they can either go back or learn how to be better at it. I know what I'm saying is totally opinionated, but you get what I mean.
    "BANDS LIKE IRON MAIDEN (...) WHO MAKE THE SAME RECORD OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN" I'm going to close my browser right now and pretend I never read that.
    Maiden don't make the same album over and over? They are diverse, not as diverse as some bands but still I would hardly say they are repeating the same album over and over.
    I dig what he is saying but this is the pot calling the kettle black. His band is one mindless change after another. Oh dose this change work with this Change? Nope. Ok put it on the album. No thanks. But I do dig what he is saying.
    Well if you seriously thought metal was open minded, you deserved it.
    metal is extremely open-minded actually. It's just sadly saturated with fans who are closed-minded
    Nah man, musicians like to think they're open minded, then they bash some shit they don't like. Metalheads are as rigorous as any other fanatic. I know I'm not open minded about my metal, as well as many other metalheads. I've got an open mind towards other music genres though.
    You are basically contradicting your own statement. So what makes it so open-minded then?
    here's what I mean: Metal as a whole has always been moving and changing direction. You get artists who mix it with other genres. Anthrax teaming up with Public Enemy, arguably creating the rap metal genre. Then you have bands playing with orchestras. Now, most metal fans wouldn't take the time to listen to a classical orchestra or a rap group. But mixing metal into the mix, you find that you might actually enjoy classical music or want to explore rap. Of course other fans might not want to; some fans may think the new direction is shitty. However, it's all subjective. It's all about what the individual person is like. I myself am a fairly open person. I like most hard rock and metal sub genres (slowing opening up to death and black metal) and also enjoy the blues, jazz, classical music, and a little bit of rap. But there are a lot of people who listen exclusively to a certain genre or sub gene and are willing to mock anyone who thinks differently from them. Those are the kind of people that give metal a bad name when they say "oh, you listen to Godsmack? Faggy fanboy, you aren't true!" or "I only listen to progressive black metal; everything else is shit". And sadly, you see a buttload of those people here on the internet. Oddly, they're less prone to being so opinionated in the real world...
    Do what you do , if it feels right it is right , change for the sake of change or sticking to a formula because it pays the kerching will be found out .