Opeth
Heritage


3.5
great

Review

by Eli Kleman EMERITUS
September 15th, 2011 | 49 replies | 7,004 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For the first time in a decade, Opeth seem imbued with freshness and creativity.

The word hyperbole was invented for institutions like Opeth. Oh yes, critical acclaim seems to follow the Swedish metal collective wherever they may go. And why shouldn’t it? After all, the band somewhat revolutionized “progressive metal,” morphing it into a household genre name. However, despite the band’s unfathomably consistent track record, for the past decade there’s been a nagging bit of knowledge in the back of many metal fans heads"Opeth peaked with Blackwater Park.

Deny it as you may, the fact remains the same. Yes Blackwater Park was excellent, almost perfect even, but therein lies the issue. Said album was the absolute height of the band’s sound; a stunning refinement that took a sound as far as it could go. Yet Opeth weren’t content with that, instead opting to continue treading the same road for the duration of the 2000’s. While Ghost Reveries and Watershed were both great in their own right, they still felt like a re-imagining of 1999’s Still Life. Thus, many feel like the band have stagnated, and really, it’s difficult to argue after listening to album after album of copy/pasted material.

This is where Heritage, Opeth’s tenth proper album comes in. Heritage is the band’s boldest, freshest, and most inspired album since the 1990’s. It retains that wonderful familiar feel, all while taking a bevy of chances, resulting in something new, but decidedly Opeth. The band is still wonderfully proficient, with Mikael Akerfeldt’s always excellent vocals being a major highlight. Sure, there’s a bit more “prog cheesiness,” but as always the instrumentation is solid and fantastically executed. That being said, despite the fresh approach taken, it can’t help but be felt that the band are definitely out of their element, hitting a few snags along the way.

While Heritage sounds fantastically fresh, it should come as no surprise. It’s absolutely mired in old school progressive rock, taking cues from the seventies acts who defined the genre. As stated earlier, this should come as no surprise, as Opeth have been infusing their solid death metal roots with seventies progressive rock ever since their inception. It’s a logical step forward really, and for the most part it feels incredibly natural.

The album opens up with a lovely instrumental suite, which gives way to one of the heavier selections, “The Devil’s Orchard.” It’s more bombastic than most of the album, and features and overall heavier tone. From then on out it’s a maddening descent into metal tinged progressive rock. At times catchy, while at others, beautiful, Heritage is without a doubt Opeth’s most intriguing release. Dark, somber tracks like “Nepenthe” and “Marrow of the Earth” parallel the longer, more exciting pieces, such as “Folklore” and “Famine.” It may not flow perfectly, but the album always has something new and interesting up its sleeve.

Heritage is a breath of fresh air, and a welcome change of pace for a band who’s been all too comfortable with themselves. Yet the album’s major failing is its consistency, or lack thereof. Sure, it’s filled to the brim with great ideas, and the band seems more invigorated than ever, but overall the entire effort seems aimless. Songs seem convoluted, and gimmicks such as the flute and acoustic guitar feel shoehorned in just for the sake of artificially diversifying the sound. Stylistic transitions come off as contrived as well. For example, it often feels as if a song ends and another begins; only it is the same track with a jarring transition bludgeoned in the middle. Whether this be an attempt to extend playtime or a hackneyed bout of experimentation remains to be said. Regardless, the end result is a largely choppy, uneven, and stylistically schizophrenic album with an identity crisis.

Heritage, more so than any other Opeth record to date, has its faults. A lot of this is forgivable, simply on the basis that the band have stepped outside their comfort zone and tried something new, something different. There will be much contention from fans in regards to the new direction, and it’s difficult to blame them, but this is an album that needs to be approached with an open mind. Metal fans have come to expect what an Opeth album should be, rather than what it can be. And while, at times, Heritage leaves a lot to be desired, it is still a fun, engaging, and wholly enjoyable listen from one of the finest acts in modern progressive music.



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user ratings (1662)
Chart.
3.4
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Emeritus
September 15th 2011



10553 Comments


Felt like throwing my two cents into what will eventually be an ocean of opinions.

Digging: Saintseneca - Dark Arc

Ire
September 15th 2011



41460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

instant neg

Xenophanes
Emeritus
September 15th 2011



10553 Comments


aw c'mon

SowingSeason
Emeritus
September 15th 2011



14513 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I still haven't finished listening to this, but from what I've heard, this is either going to be like a 2.5 or a 4.5 haha.

Your review is top-notch as always Xeno, although i can't agree that Ghost Reveries and Watershed were "copy pasted material"...they are two of their strongest albums to date IMO, and Watershed really brought a lot of the progressive qualities to the table (i.e. The Lotus Eater) that we see here.

I'm kind of hoping this is like Damnation II, but with more off-the-wall experimentation. I wanted to review this and I still might, even though the other reviews (including this) probable cover most of what I will end up saying. Then there is probably a staff review on the way too, but with an album like this by a band like Opeth, it will just come down to whether I feel like putting my thoughts on paper.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2011



16126 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's really not much like Damnation at all.

tiesthatbind
September 15th 2011



7360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's really just an expansion of the proggier side of Watershed. Nothing like Damnation at all.

NeutralThunder12
September 15th 2011



8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Opeth are always freshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

pizzamachine
September 15th 2011



12568 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I read through the whole review. It's agreeable. pos

Yuma310
September 15th 2011



1656 Comments


inb4 someone complains about their being to many opeth reviews, cant wait for this though, but im keeping my expectations low, just in case

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 15th 2011



7237 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Awesome review, and I especially agree with your take on their post BP albums - as solid as they are they show no progression whatsoever. This may not be as good but it's a pleasant change.

WashboardSuds
September 15th 2011



4888 Comments


its okay so far, not as much of my cup of tea as GR or BP but still not bad

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins

taxidermist
September 15th 2011



7175 Comments


Xeno for contrib! Or staff if you wanna reach that high, lol. Pos.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

OMG a Xeno review.

Wait was that a pig flying by my window?!

Digging: Pixies - Indie Cindy

SowingSeason
Emeritus
September 15th 2011



14513 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Hey Xeno, Irving.

Jethro42
September 15th 2011



12036 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

1st Heritage' review I read. Posd

Wait was that a pig flying by my window?!

The three different ones héhéhé




Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2011



7011 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Hello Sowing. How was work today?

And why has your Lady Antelebbum review not been featured yet?

SowingSeason
Emeritus
September 15th 2011



14513 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Work was good, thanks for asking honey.

And my Lady "Antelebbum" review hasn't been featured because the mods are sick of slapping terrible albums on the front of their website

InFiction
September 15th 2011



3588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Really good review, man. Pretty much got my entire thoughts on the album. Mind you, I've only listened to it through once yet.
Pos'd and wouldn't mind this getting featured, js.

MO
September 15th 2011



17367 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Great review.

Digging: Soundtrack - Turok 2: Seeds of Evil OST

Xenophanes
Emeritus
September 15th 2011



10553 Comments


Sowing, Jethro, and Irving, all in one thread? This is most wonderful.


And thanks for the kind words everyone!



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