Following the announcement of a tentative June release, Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt discussed the band's new album in detail, dubbing it Opeth's most melodic effort to date.
The Metal Assault interviewer got the opportunity to hear some of the fresh stuff, noting that "it has a very similar vibe to 'Heritage,'" to which Mikael responded, "I'd like to think there's an upgraded sound, and by that I don't mean a modern sound. We were looking at some of the late '70s and early '80s production, and that's what we were going for sound-wise and it's one of the reasons why we ended up recording at Rockfield Studios in Wales which is a legendary studio where many of our favorite bands recorded.
"So musically I guess you could say it's similar to Heritage but I'd like to think it's more hard rock and metal sounding," the frontman continued. "We also have something new that we didn't have before in certain songs. I don't really know what it is, which I like. I like to either recognize our sound or to hear something completely new, and I think we have both on the new album."
Reaching the matter of melody, Akerfeldt added, "I think it's probably a bit easier to get into because it's a bit more melodic. There's definitely more attention to melodies and I wouldn't say it's an easy-listening album at all, but there's more melody than ever before, not just 'Heritage.' I'm hoping that people who liked 'Heritage' will like this one too and also fans who liked the old s--t will hopefully like this one as well, and may be some new fans. You never know!"
Asked about the way "Heritage" polarized the band's fanbase, Mikael explained that the drastic sound change is finally settling in. The singer/guitarist also stressed that "Heritage" wasn't the first Opeth album to get bashed by fans and critics upon release.
"It wasn't something that happened exclusively for 'Heritage,'" he said. "We got that reaction from old albums too when they came out, like 'Blackwater Park.' A lot of people didn't like that album, and it was the same for 'Ghost Reveries' and some of the other albums we've done in the past that are now considered to be some of our best stuff. They got negative feedback when they were released.
"I think 'Heritage' probably took longer to settle in with our fan base because of the fact that it was a different-sounding record for us, but I think it's settled in now," the frontman concluded. "People have warmed up to it with time. I mean, there are still people who hate it of course, but I think there are people who initially hated it who now love it."