Opeth Members Compare New Album to Dio's 'Holy Diver'

"It's not traditional heaviness," the band explains.

Ultimate Guitar

Swedish prog masters Opeth gave an update on their upcoming studio effort, drawing an interesting comparison to Ronnie James Dio's 1983 debut "Holy Diver."

Chatting with Metal Injection, frontman Mikael Akerfeldt pointed out that the record won't feature "traditional heaviness."

"I revalued what I think is heavy," Mikael said. "Turning up the distortion and tuning down and triggering the drums doesn't make it heavy to me anymore, it just sounds ... like nothing."

"One album we talked about was the first Dio - the 'Holy Diver' album," guitarist Fredrik Akesson chipped in. "That type of sound - the early '80s, late '70s type of hard rock sound."

Describing the album as "emotionally heavy," Akerfeldt noted that the band wanted "a real sound. I'm really tired of the typewriter-sounding bass drums, the Mesa Boogies and that kind of stuff. It just kind of makes me go tired of listening to music," he said.

Getting back to the Dio comparison, the frontman added, "I always liked how 'Holy Diver' sounded, the Martin Birch production as well. Like, 'Heaven and Hell,' Black Sabbath and 'Mob Rules,' those kind of things."

The "Heritage" follow-up is tentatively due in June. Check out the full chat below.

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34 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Let's wait and see what Opeth will deliver this time. Um...I don't know, I hate to say it but Mikael these days seems a bit arrogant to me. Don't get me wrong, I love Opeth and Mikael is definitely one of the best vocalists regardless of music genre imo. I know he is entitled to his opinions about metal music and style, I respect that and he can write whatever music he wants but saying things like I don't listen to modern metal music because it's dull, I revalued the meaning of heaviness as tuning down the guitars and turning up the distortion sounds like nothing.... It just seems a little bit arrogant to me or maybe I was wrong. Anyway, I agree with what Linkerman said above, the uniqueness and originality of Opeth comes from the combination of metal's brutality and beautiful melodies, like Godhead's Lament from Still Life (One of my top five Opeth's song). Heritage is a good album imo but as I said, Opeth's uniqueness is gone, and I think there are/were progressive rock/psychedelic rock music which are/were better than Heritage.
    Second Rate
    A bit arrogant? He's Lars Ulrich circa 1997 at this point. After another Heritage, Mr. "I haven't listened to metal since the early 90s" will reevaluate his meaning of heaviness again and reverse course. Look for an ultra-brutal, straight Death Metal release from Opeth in 2016 or 17.
    This article makes me afraid. I was hoping that Heritage was merely a way for Mikael to get that old-school prog stuff out of his system, and that the new album would pick where Ghost Reveries /Watershed left. For me, the best thing about Opeth 's music has always been the dynamic between sheer aggressiveness and insanely beautiful moments. And Mikael's voice is perfect for that cleans/growls duality. That's what i most enjoyed about Opeth and what made them unique, IMHO. While i occasionally give Heritage a listen, i always feel like it could've been written by any other band. Like Riverside , for example -- a band that i'm also a fan of, and that album could pass as one of their works. It lacks what makes Opeth... Opeth , to me. Another Damnation , now that would be fantastic. That album is one huge "insanely beautiful moment " as i mentioned before, and i still have yet to find another album that comes close to it in style. It's pretty unique. But more run-of-the-mill prog rock/metal? No, thank you very much.
    Eclectic Lizard
    There's been 8 albums of brutal/beautiful stuff. Let them experiment. If people don't dig their newest output then they have 8 albums (13 years or so worth!) of the older style. I love Ghost Reveries and Watershed but lots of people complain that they sound like every other Opeth album. I'm pretty sure people would complain just as much if they continued with their death metal sound.
    Watershed doesn't sound like every other Opeth album. I was hoping Watershed would be the start of a new era of Opeth, but instead it's apparently the end of an old era. I was hoping it'd be their "Alaska" (thinking BTBAM) but instead it's their "And Justice for All", which is a bummer... I liked Heritage but Watershed was supposed to be the start of something new and it wasn't. Mikael can do whatever he wants, it's his band. But he should have followed up Watershed with a big, monumental opus. Watershed should have been a preview of Opeth's biggest and best album (the Opeth equivalent of Colors... a huge musical statement that brings them to a whole new level of awesomeness). Instead it's more of a "what could have been" album.
    dude you dont know opeth... half of watershed was acoustic. give Still Life or deliverance if you want heavy. there's no what could have been with opeth. that's absolute ignorance
    I generally agree, although my issue with Heritage is different - it definitely does sound very Opeth (it even makes me think of Orchid/Morningrise at times), but the main reason why THIS article makes me worried is the "70s/80s" thing again, because some tracks on Heritage simply sounded crippled by trying to fit them into that "vintage" sound. The melodic hard rock thing just doesn't even fit the atmosphere of the album in the first place, and I'm pretty sure e.g. The Devil's Orchard or especially Famine would gain a lot with a thicker, heavier sound. They just sound like classic Opeth tracks with the more extreme riffs replaced at the last minute with "vintage" hard rock. On the other hand, Steven Wilson also talked about the '70s all over the place when he was recording Grace For Drowning, and it's one of the most coherent and innovative albums I've heard. Let's just hope they know what they're doing... they usually did, after all.
    Am I the only one who thinks not heavy Opeth is better than heavy Opeth? Heritage was amazing. It was just butthurt metal fans that got upset.
    I like everything from Grindcore and Death Metal to Dream Pop and New Age, Heritage was a bad album because the song writing was terrible. It was just an incoherent string of cool ideas with little structure. It had nothing to do with the lack of death growls or heavy distortion.
    I would love to hear an Opeth record that sounds like late 70s/early 80s metal. That'd be so prime.
    I agree with Akerfeldt,metal bands tend to look at metal as just being musicaly intense with the type writer style rythms and heavy distorted down tuned instrunments,it is a bit overplayed as opposed to the playing with feel and the atmosphere of sound in metal.I think its an important part of originality that hes getting at.
    Mikael is right on the money with his comments about the current "heavy" sound and the old school heavy sound. I always thought that Holy Diver and Last In Line as well, were perfectly mixed, especially the drums.
    I like the sounds of down tuned guitar, double bass, etc, as much as the next guy, but he is right that there is more to something being truly "heavy" than just these things. That's why when you see some bands live, even if their music isn't as traditionally "heavy" they blow you away
    Agent 00Awesome
    Sounds like they might never return to their death metal style. Oh well, I'm still very excited to hear this album.
    I'm with him on down tuned guitars. I listen to Sepultura's "Arise" album. Tuned to E standard, and it's heavy as ****!...and the drums have a "real" sound to them, vs sounding like a drum machine.
    I reaaaally don't know if this is going to turn out well...
    Have a little faith! Opeth hasn't put out a genuinely bad album yet. A few I don't care for (admittedly, the earlier stuff) but on the whole a great career. And Mikael's love of prog and old-school metal is as genuine as he makes it out to be!
    Emenius Sleepus
    Triggered drums don't make anything sound heavy anyway. Article tl;dr: "I got sick of playing heavy music, and I love prog lol". Perfectly fine. In fact, trying to push yourself and experiment is encouraged. Heritage was shit because instead of writing proper songs that had natural developments and logical progressions, all these parts were sewn together like scraps of left over ideas put together to make a song.If the new album avoids doing that, excellent. Their first two records were their best material anyway
    1) "Opeth" doesn't have "members", it has an owner and hired session/live musicians. 2) No, they don't, because Opeth couldn't touch Dio's angelic voice with that embarassingly bad cookie monster bs.
    You are aware that one of the things that makes Opeth the band that they are is that Mikael uses a clean singing voice very frequently, along with the "cookie monster" voice, right? In fact, their last album did not feature any growling vocals, at all.
    I get what he is saying sometimes I just like staying in standard tuning. There are SO many bands that sound exactly the same, especially in metalcore which seems to be the most popular.
    Not sure what you're talking about with "standard tuning". Opeth has always been standard tuning and sometimes drop D.
    I love reading comments regarding the musical direction of Opeth, especially after Heritage was released. It seems as though they attracted a large following of metalheads by writing songs like Master's Apprentices and When, and those fans now feel alienated. To those who long for the "death metal days" of Opeth, how did you feel about songs like Face of Melinda or Coil? The Lotus Eater is super heavy but has a funk section. Deliverance is super heavy but has extended sections of softer songwriting. I feel like they've been doing this experimenting all along without complaint from the fanbase, but when they decide to string a whole album of less heavy sounding music together people get up in arms over it. The first time I saw Opeth live I was completely shocked to see people moshing. To me, Opeth is a progressive band above all else. They just happened to do metal better than just about everyone. I love the risks this band takes, and to my ears they have yet to hit a bad note (except for the downtuning at the end of Burden).
    Second Rate
    I've been listening to this band for a long time now, and the only thing even remotely unique about them was the combination of very light and very heavy. If you isolate those elements, Opeth become painfully generic. Their Progressive Rock moments have a been there, done that feel to them. Almost as if they were lifted straight from a Caravan album. Their heavy moments are fairly standard issue Swedish Death Metal. The moment they drop one or the other, they lose whatever modicum of uniqueness they once had.
    Opeth Members Compare New Album's Production to Dio's 'Holy Diver' Fixed...before it was just clickbait.
    I love how Fredrik just disappears for a second in the interview.. Regardless of how the album turns out, tonewise, I have no doubts I will be pleased with it!
    What happened to Mike and Fredrik?? Seems almost like first has lent some kilos to the latter!As for the album: if it'll have at least half the heaviness of Holy Diver, and half the proggyness of Heritage, I'm totally gonna love it.
    If Opeth took a page out of The Mars Volta's book, then I'd probably love this new album, but as it stands, I'm half and half on it. It'll probably be good but I doubt it'll top Watershed, which to me is their best album so far. And when I'm referring to The Mars Volta... heaviness is not in double bass and lots of distortion on the guitar. Heaviness, to me, is defined by how powerfully the music provokes you... and by that I mean, you can headbang at any speed, but the heaviest bands are the ones that make you headbang with the most force. I'm just using headbanging as an example though, my main point is that it's not about how fast or low tuned or whatever the music is, it's by how powerfully you feel it. Having a mixture of soft and heavy moments makes an album even more heavy, and I learned this through Opeth. But it'd be nice if we got something like Frances the Mute where the music has this intense quality to it where it unfolds like a story and builds in emotions until it's making these grand musical statements that drive the listener. The Mars Volta captures the intensity of Death Metal without all of the cheap shots like double bass, etc. People go to Death Metal because it's one of the only genres to incorporate such huge musical statements... the problem is, I feel like most people really want those huge musical statements but just don't know what makes those statements so huge to begin with. They get lost in the low tunings and double bass, which aren't what makes Death Metal great. what makes Death Metal great are those powerful emotions that they conjure up in the listener. Those same emotions can be found in any genre, but Death Metal does it best, and also has the most over-saturation because of people trying to imitate the details of DM instead of the big picture.
    Second Rate
    The Mars Volta capture the cliche's of early prog rock and dress it up in a package for vacuous hipsters with more money than taste. And emotions in death metal? A small contingent of bands that deal in weepy, quasi gothic lyrics aside..... Death Metal is mostly over top gore set to over the top technicality. It's more sick humor than anything... like the musical equivalent of a Nightmare on Elm Street movie.