Opeth: 'We're Rebelling Against Metal Because We Love It So Much'

"A lot of metal bands don't like what they're doing, but have no guts to experiment," says frontman Mikael Akerfeldt.

Ultimate Guitar

"Metal should be rebellious, even within its own genre" - that's the stance of Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt, who had recently discussed the band's sonic experiments and drastic musical shifts from the past few years.

Chatting with Metal Hammer, Mikael explained how metal can be a deadly trap for a musician's creativity, pointing out that "there are lots of bands that don't seem to like what they're doing."

Adding that "a lot of metal bands don't have the guts to experiment," Akerfeldt switched to his own group, saying, "Maybe what we are doing is rebelling against metal, but only 'cause we love it so much."

Speaking of Opeth's sonic change, Mikael insists that he's "not stupid, I can hear people saying we're not a heavy metal band anymore." However, if the band was to make "another heavy record, it'd be pure death metal with blastbeats and s--t," the frontman added.

Rounding it up on the funny side, the musician discussed his daughter's obsession with One Direction, saying that seeing the pop sensation live wasn't exactly a mind-blowing experience. "Watching One Direction kinda felt like they'd just dragged up five guys from the crowd ... if there were guys in the crowd!" he jokingly said.

50 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Butthurt metalheads will hate them for changing their sound but their last two albums were exceptional in their own genres.
    Sorry, but this is really a fallacy and one of the two annoying extremes regarding Heritage. There are dumb orthodox metalheads that bash it just because it's barely metal, but then people claiming that everyone who dislikes it only dislikes it because it's not death metal is the other, equally ignorant extreme. I have my own issues with Heritage (not saying I dislike it, but it's significantly weaker) and it's nothing to do with the fact it's less metal - in fact, my favourite songs on the album are Nepenthe and the title track. People have different reasons for criticising it, in my case the forced vintage stylisation which more often than not detracts from the sound.
    I never said everyone disliked it because it isn't metal, I'm saying a lot, if not a majority of fans disliked it because of the change of sound. I only pointed out butthurt metalheads, Heritage has some weak points I agree but I like it and I don't expect everyone to like it. I expect them to at least be intelligent and if it is because of the genre, then don't say it is bad, just say it is not your type of music Peace!
    bullshit. Damnation is LOVED by opeth fans and one of their highest rated/most praised albums and there's ZERO metal in it. Heritage is not their first non-metal album. opeth fans are used to non metal being in their music. the problem with hereitage was the stale songwriting that ripped off classic 70's anglo prog shamelessly
    Damnation is loved because it's familiar, the songs sound like they were taken from the softer parts of their previous albums. Heritage caught everyone off guard because it was completely different than what we're used to. I understand why people don't like it, but I personally enjoy it. Folklore is one of their best songs to date.
    My main reason for disliking Heritage is that Watershed was hinting at an album that would have been much more interesting than what Heritage became. My main reason for liking Heritage is it's a good album for what it is. If I wanted a band to go into Classic Rock territory with their already Prog Metal influenced sound, I would just listen to Mastodon's Crack the Skye. If I wanted to listen to the ideas presented on Watershed and Ghost Reveries taken to their extremes, I'd listen to BTBAM's Colors. Heritage doesn't really have a place for me. It's not bad but it just doesn't have a place.
    So you're disappointed Opeth made that album? Does it makes you not like it? You said yourself it was great, that's all that would matter to me .
    It's got nothing to do with them changing their sound. It's got to do with the fact that they've released some rubbish records in recent times. I couldn't give a stuff what genre they play.
    The fact that you don't like it doesn't make it bad. The instrumentals are really good, they've produced an excellent prog record. And if you say it is rubbish, that is only because you don't like the genre. All in all, it is a matter of changing sound
    Spinning your argument around: the fact that you like it doesn't mean it's good. I used my perspective on the albums to illustrate my point. That is, the reason for the mixed response to Opeth's recent albums has less to do with the type of music they play and more to do with the quality of the songs themselves. I haven't heard Pale Communion yet, but Heritage and Watershed were both moderately painful to listen to. That isn't to say others didn't enjoy them. But to argue that the primary reason that so called "metalheads" didn't like their more proggy records purely because of the genre is absurd. The argument that metalheads are butthurt over Opeth's change in sound predominantly comes from those who drool over Akerfeldt's every word and action. The majority of people I've spoken to who dislike Opeth's recent records do so purely based on song quality, not style. EDIT: Also, to suggest I don't like it based purely on genre is beyond stupid. I don't particularly like Burzum's first record, but that doesn't mean I dislike the genre. I imagine you have genres which you prefer which possess albums you dislike.
    Fair enought, people seem to misread my comment as "everyone who dislikes it is a metal butthurt and just don't like the genre". It is not what I said.
    That's exactly what you said in your second comment maybe you need to reword it. But yeah, I'm tired of seeing people argue that we people who dislike current Opeth only do so because of their shift from the "metulz" to 70's prog worship.
    Yeah agreed after re-read. You gave me that that thought beacuse you didn't say why you didn't like it so i assumed it was because of the genre. peace bro!
    Pale Communion's pretty great
    I understand why you like it (I think i do, correct me if I'm wrong) but the structures are way more obvious, it is less an experiment as Heritage was.
    Just them doing something different I suppose. it is a bit more verse/chorus-y, but the musicality in the guitars is really blowing me away.
    "The argument that metalheads are butthurt over Opeth's change in sound predominantly comes from those who drool over Akerfeldt's every word and action." - That's not true. He is indeed an intelligent man who says a lot of stuff that makes sense, but to try and say people who criticize those who don't like the last Opeth albums are droolers, it's the same as someone calling you a butthurt just cause you don't like it.
    If only genre meant a damn thing. If Behemoth wrote a blues song, and it made someone feel good, who cares that they wrote it? If One Direction wrote an amazingly heavy, progressive song, and it was catchy, who cares? Music is meant to be inspirational. Personal. Emotional. If music inspires people to live better lives, and gives them more reason to live, that's all that matters.
    I think it would be ideal if what you said actually happened at all times, but truth is (and i've read articles about this) is that people don't like a given band just because of their sound. There's a thing of identifying with the image of the band, with the lifestyle the genre and the band members sell and all of that. And this is even present in metal, otherwise almost no one would like Burzum and other low quality recording/poor writing bands.
    The whole point of Opeth is that they're progressive; this is them progressing (and being awesome at it). also, pale communion's becoming my favourite album of this year, it's seriously proggy
    Exactly. Rush has been doing the same thing since...well, since they've existed. Every record is different. Can't be progressive if you don't progress.
    Who cares if they are "metal" or not? The music is just great. In fact, one could say that their new sound is more "metal" than many contemporary bands. It's not about ridiculous amounts of distortion or how low you tune (or how many strings you have).
    One of the coolest statements from him so far, I was slightly worried he was starting to join the "metal is not mature" bandwagon, but then, Mikael is too smart for that. Now give me Pale Communion already. Please. [**** leaks with a cactus]
    I know exactly what you mean. That mindset is very prevalent among musicians. Case in point: in the Rush biopic, Beyond The Lighted Stage, Neil Peart calls Moving Pictures the "real beginning of Rush," and refers to everything they did before that, (Including Permanent Waves I guess?) as "musical kindergarten." When he said that, I couldn't help but think, WTF?
    Little does Opeth know that metal loves Opeth more and cries by the window, awaiting the day Opeth once again comes home.
    Neon Knight
    I haven't got a chance to really go through Pale Communion but Eternal Rains will Come is probably one of the best songs I've ever heard.
    Lee Makky
    Here we go again, ANOTHER "They are metal", "No They're not!, "Fuck you yes they are" argument. WHO GIVES A FUCK, IF THEY RELEASED A FUCKING RAP RECORD WOULD IT FUCKING MATTER? As long as THEY sound good, it doesn't matter what "Genre" they are.
    I hope they do follow through and make a pure death metal album, as he said. Just to shut up the naysayers
    Second Rate
    he doesn't have the chops as a guitarist or as a songwriter.
    Yeah you haven't heard anything from their first 3 albums have you.
    Second Rate
    Unfortunately for you, I have heard them. Orchid and Morningrise are the closest they've ever come to straight Melodic Death Metal and they are both quite mediocre when put up against the output of Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates, and even early In Flames. Of course, those are just Opeth's direct peers. If you wanna talk about more Technical Death Metal... Opeth would be lost. Opeth up against Atheist, Origin, Death, Quo Vadis? It would be like sticking a double amputee in the ring with Bruce Lee. You would do well to remember,also, that Peter Lindgren had a hand in the songwriting up to and including My Arms, Your Hearse. Mikael did not assume total creative control until Still Life. As such, I stand by what I said. Mikael Akerfeldt does not have the chops to cut a straight Death Metal record.
    Yeah, people who complain about Opeth changing their sound are annoying. Like, what did you expect when you got into Opeth in the first place? You have a mediocre Death Metal band with crap-tier Prog flung mindlessly in at random intervals without a thought to song writing, and then they drop the mediocre Death Metal and just end up a crap-tier Prog band that wishes it could be half as good as Camel. Should have seen it coming a mile away, really.
    Second Rate
    I agree with your underlying point, but you could have worded it better. Opeth are decent to mediocre as a Death Metal band and tolerable to terrible as a Progressive Rock band. The only thing that made them moderately interesting was the contrast of heavy and mellow, light and dark, whatever. Since they've decided to try and go full on Progressive Rock, Mikael's limitations as a songwriter have definitely come to the fore. It's like he never got out of the ripping off your heroes phase. The music on the last couple Opeth records may be good to a wet behind the ears Prog Rock neophyte, but when you've heard Gong, Camel, Caravan, Hatfield and the North, The Soft Machine, etc. then this stuff being peddled by Akerfeldt and co. becomes the musical equivalent of marzipan. I propose we create a new genre of music for Opeth's current direction called Regressive Rock.
    To use a metaphor: Opeth used to be meat and potatoes with a serving of vegetables. Now, they have taken away the meat and potatoes, and only serve us the vegetables. I like vegetables, but not without meat and potatoes. If all I have on my plate is meat and potatoes, I'm a pretty happy camper. If all I have on my plate is vegetables, not so much.
    Instead of meat and potato, we now got a nice crispy BBQ chicken wrapped in bacon and exotic spices, served with some Feta cheese and some garlic bread! I love the new record! that first song gave me serious chills!
    Well, considering he doesn't make metal music...shitty wannabe program with hilariously bad and out of place cookie monster vocals =\= metal.
    I actually really liked the last record, it had more Rush into it and was progressive in a melodic musical way, not the usual, clean part vs death metal part thing. I thought it was a genius move. I also think it was a way to bring more listener to Opeth that really do not care about the gutural voices
    Yeah decent band. And the dude has a sense of humour. Their music is flower eating hippy material now. Not all bad.
    While their latest albums are great pieces of music, I wouldn't call it so much "rebelling against" as "abandoning" heavy metal.