Opeth – Heritage review

Oh opeth, the cross way point between astringent epic- fantasy metal and guttural moaning “alt-rock.” Unfortunately with the first couple of tunes into this album I feel more of the latter.

With redundant and uninspired lyrics such as, “God is dead”, which lead singer Mikael Akerfeldt (yes, they’re Swedish) sings with great distain with over-stylized guitar licks in the backburner, I find myself disappointed. Until, the remainder of the second song reveals itself to listeners, reminding us that Opeth is special in that they experiment, take their time and provide some sensational and authentic instrumentals.

This game goes back and forth for a while In Heritage, moments of musical heaven (or hell, whichever is more appealing in this context) are provided such as the harmonious and partly unplugged “I Feel the Dark” and a prime example of why we like metal in “Napenthe”.

However, I am consistently rudely awoken at some point in every song by Akerfeldt’s choice of singing. I recognize this is a style in which the pipes are obviously present but the tone is disregarded. I don’t appreciate this style with any singer but I find it particularly difficult with Opeth because they are so strongly otherwise talented. Additionally this throaty tone wasn’t as prevalent in previous albums and I am worried they feel it is a good idea by trends, fat cat producers and radio friendly hits.

You find at some point In Heritage, between the wailing guitar solos and sexy percussion, loses you to a point where vocals are secondary. The instrumentals seem to improve immensely as the album evolves; incredibly prevalent in “Famine” and “Folklore”. I am blown away by the audacity of talent in these tracks and can hear the improvement of an already previously superb band.

For music alone Heritage is quite impressive and with that Akerfeldt voice does grow on you, even though he decides to synthesize it nearing the end.

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