Heritage review by Opeth

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  • Released: Aug 31, 2011
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (138 votes)
Opeth: Heritage
4

Sound — 9
For album (or observation, as the band likes to call them) number 10, Opeth tap even deeper into frontman Mikael Akerfeldt's affinity for 60's & 70's prog, drawing from a pool of influences as diverse as Swedish folk music to the late great Ronnie James Dio. The warm, distinctly 70s analogue sound captured on "Heritage" is due in no small part to the return of long time collaborator & Porcupine Tree mainman Steven Wilson for the first time since the "Deliverance" & "Damnation" sessions, who once again lends his remarkable talents to take charge of the album's mixing, and he does a superb job. The instantly noticeable thing about "Heritage" (besides the lack of growled vocals & abundance of 70's prog & fusion worship), is the remarkable dynamic range captured by the analogue recording techniques used during production, meaning every instrument is instantly recognizable in the mix, with the album not succumbing to the loudness war like many of it's contemporaries. Though all songwriting was as usual handled by Akerfeldt, "Heritage" is clearly the work of a focused & formidable quintet, with every instrumentalist bringing something unique to the table, none more impressive than drummer Martin Axenrot's busy jazz-influenced fills & Martin Mendez's always complimentary basslines. While it is by now no surprise "Heritage" was never intended to be a metal album (with growled vocals absent entirely for the first time since "Damnation"), a strong metal influence is felt throughout the album on key tracks, none more upfront than the blistering Slither', its soaring lead lines very reminiscent of Ritchie Blackmore's work in Deep Purple & Rainbow, the song itself being a tribute to former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Elsewhere, jazzy piano opener "Heritage" helps set the scene for explosive first single "The Devil's Orchard", with other standouts being "The Lines In My Hands", revealed by Akerfeldt as the first song he completed for the album, and stunning instrumental close "Marrow Of The Earth". While containing enough highlights to make this another worthwhile outing, with some of the material easily ranking among the band and Akerfeldt's best, instrumental meandering plagues certain songs on the album, "Nepenthe" & "Haxprocess" being the main offenders, as well as a number of poorly constructed transitions, carrying on from the sometimes jarring transitions on their previous effort, 2008's "Watershed". While these are but minor complaints for an otherwise stellar album, "Heritage" is an album that will take a few listens to fully sink in, and certainly won't be to everyone's taste.

Lyrics — 8
Having announced early on during the recording of the album that growled vocals would be completely absent for the first time since 2003's "Damnation", Mikael Akerfeldt's always improving clean vocals have arguably reached their peak on a few of the album's tracks, a standout vocally being the acoustic first half of "I Feel The Dark". Retaining the imagery-laden approach of past efforts, Akerfeldt's ever imaginative lyrics also reach a career high on "Heritage", announcing that "God is dead" on first single "The Devil's Orchard", a song lyrically every bit as intense as past efforts, including, among others, the epic "Blackwater Park" & "Harlequin Forest".

Overall Impression — 9
Approached with an open mind, "Heritage' will certainly prove a rewarding listen for most experienced fans of the band, an album containing all the signature twists & turns that has become Opeth's trademark, albeit in a way totally new for the band. "Heritage" is arguably the band's 10th magnum opus in it's now 20 plus year career, and without a doubt represents the grandest vision yet captured on an Opeth album.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    iktpq666
    everyone negging on this album should try getting really high and listening to it. i guarantee you will change your mind.
    Reflection92
    disappointing..i understand the change in direction but that doesn't excuse the weaknesses of this album
    mckenna64
    Metadeth93 wrote: I don't know what album have the reviewers been listening to. I think the album is a ''king masterpiece! One of Opeth's best!
    I agree, I'm not really a fan of the death growls, so I really like this album a lot and the direction they took. I prefer when bands do their own thing and change it up, otherwise the fans might as well stick to whatever album(s) they like best, and listen to that/them. Opeth made this album for themselves and I think it paid off. Also kudos to Steve Wilson/ Mikael for the production on this album, sounds awesome.
    Eclectic Lizard
    I actually prefer this to all there older stuff. I am, however, newer to Opeth. Their old stuff is cool but it's all too depressing and dark for me. It's cool to hear them rock out like Rainbow!
    Optimo
    For thoes that say if Opeth didn't change shit up they would get boring....WRONG....this band is so ****in epic that's completely impossible! No other band in this world will never ever ever ever ever come near being on the same level as Opeth's epicness!
    Optimo
    This album is clearly not the "Opeth" we have grown to love with the best growls, the best classic acoustic guitar/singing along with spectacular druming and guitar rifts that give you chills it's so epic. I for one thought that there is no other band in this world that could compete with Opeth's "epicness" and I still do think this when reguarding their first 8 albums. But Watershed started the downfall...while I think Watershed is actually better than Heritage...it was still bad as in the quality of the music. I'm not saying it's bad as in Opeth sucks! I'm saying the quality, the "epicness" of the music was like it was recorded in a basement instead of a studio. Heritage takes this to a whole new level...the drum work on this album is hideous...WTF happend? Sounds like whoever is playing the drums in this album is a amature to be honest. The epic "electric metal" guitar rifts in Heritage are non-existent. This album to me sounds like a completely different band all together. The only good thing about Heritage is that Mikale got to make a album that he always wanted to make and I respect him for that but hate him for that at the same time. Who else is with me on this? I am a Opeth fan for life but it hurts me to see them go in this direction. PLEASE BRING BACK THE GROWLS AND "EPICNESS" while still keeping the "soft rock"?? approach heard in Heritage!!!!