Opeth
Heritage


4.5
superb

Review

by Azazel, He of the Twelve Wings USER (4 Reviews)
January 8th, 2012 | 29 replies | 2,685 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist


5 of 5 thought this review was well written

I should perhaps start off by saying that I was never a terribly huge fan of Opeth’s music. I found Still Life and Damnation enjoyable, and Morningrise had its moments, but I did not think them worthy of the heaps of flowers thrown upon their feet. Then along came Watershed, out of nowhere, and blew me away. The musicianship was astonishing, the production crispy and clear, and most importantly, Akerfeldt had transitioned from the somewhat choppy riff-based songwriting of his past into full-blown organic composition, showing he had a world of potential.

Thus we reach Heritage. Creating controversy even before its release because of its lack of extreme metal elements, this album expands even further upon the progress made in Watershed, and demonstrates that said album was not just a stroke of luck.

From the outset, Akerfeldt shows us that he’s taking this “no metal” thing seriously, a Debussyian intro (perfectly in synch with the impressionistic air of the album as a whole,) is followed by the serpentine main riff of “The Devil’s Orchard.” Right off the bat this isn’t the same Opeth we know, not even from Watershed. The production is warmer and less dense, and though it might hold the heavy riffs back a bit, it greatly benefits the album’s predominantly clean guitar tones, and sounds more dynamic overall. Accentuating this general feel is an increased use of keyboard ambience, the now departed Per Wiberg has been placed higher in the mix than in Watershed, and the timbres of his various organs and keyboards are now fully audible, adding a textural depth to the work unprecedented in the Opeth catalogue.

The band is also on top form, with drummer/band octopus Martin Axenrot deserving a special mention; he is as creative as he is technical and intelligent, always leaving enough space for the music, especially for the somber magic of Martin Mendez’s smooth counterpoint. As with Watershed, the guitar solos are always highlights, with the exception of the rather lackluster shredding on “Slither”. I honestly don’t know who plays which guitar solos, but they are truly gorgeous, check out the song-stopping lead on “Häxprocess” to see what I mean.

The star however is, of course, Mr. Opeth himself, Mikael Akerfeldt. As a composer he has developed far beyond his riff-piling roots. His work is now exquisitely textured and arranged, flute, congas, piano, mellotron, every layer and color he chooses to add into his music fits into it seamlessly, I imagine partly because of Steven Wilson’s help at the sound board. His vocals are better than ever, and the vocals melodies are some of his most adventurous, and they are perhaps the clearest evidence of the fact that he is no longer thinking in any way like a mere writer of rock tunes, allowing his clear and strong voice to drift into, out of, and through riffs like a passing cloud.

However, this is not where the man truly shines, but rather in composition itself, the element that finally drives this band forward and away from the rut of its roots. Mikael Akerfeldt has finally come around to developing motifs instead of simply following chaining riffs, and he does so in wonderful and often extremely creative ways, not only through rhythmic and tonal variations, but through changing dynamics, or moving a melody from one instrument to another. His songs are episodic as ever, as the abrupt ending of the intro to “Famine” surely demonstrates, yet somehow they seem more coherent, as if the inorganic transitions are now justifiable because Akerfeldt has shown us that he knows how to make perfectly organic ones as well. His characteristic on-the-dime drops are less subtle than ever, but now it is perfectly clear that this is their intention, and one gets a better picture of Akerfeldt’s strange vision.

Perhaps this dark, twisted and brilliant music has always been inside him yet he has not been able to properly channel it. Now however, Akerfeldt’s, and Opeth’s, skills are undoubted, as showcased beautifully on the dark, cinematic prog-rock of Heritage, particularly in its second half. The first half, which perhaps tellingly bears most of the album’s heavier material, somehow seems like it is holding back, like it is afraid to fully branch out, though it is certainly far from lackluster. This is not to say Opeth only shine on their soft tunes, the elephantine groove they discovered on Watershed’s mighty “Heir Apparent” makes a few appearances, and it is downright pummeling.

Overall, Heritage is a marvelous progressive rock record; a record that is at its best when it chooses to calm down and let itself evolve slowly, yet does not lag behind when it chooses to rock, or on some of its more abrasive and dissonant prog passages. Opeth have upped the ante for themselves in every aspect on Heritage, musicianship, songwriting, even texturing, and if they keep evolving they way they are doing now; they just might have a masterpiece in them.


user ratings (1816)
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3.5
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Comments:Add a Comment 
theartofdoom
January 9th 2012



254 Comments


Pretty unnecessary and somewhat fanboy-ish review, but I really wanted to write it.

KILL
January 9th 2012



70379 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sup

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

Ire
January 9th 2012



41746 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

true ratings

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"I should perhaps start off by saying that I was never a terribly huge fan of Opeth’s music."

or perhaps you could not sound like a ponce.

KILL
January 9th 2012



70379 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

rip god

MO
January 9th 2012



18192 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

"The band is also on top form, with drummer/band octopus Martin Axenrot deserving a special mention"

yeeep, great review, the musicmanship is definitely in top notch here, something people forget

AsoTamaki
January 9th 2012



2525 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

His songs are episodic as ever, as the abrupt ending of the intro to “Famine” surely demonstrates, yet somehow they seem more coherent, as if the inorganic transitions are now justifiable because Akerfeldt has shown us that he knows how to make perfectly organic ones as well.
That's a bizarre way to look at it, but okay.

Opeth have upped the ante for themselves in every aspect on Heritage, musicianship, songwriting, even texturing, and if they keep evolving they way they are doing now; they just might have a masterpiece in them.
Hahaha. What?

Nicely written review though.

Horsehammer
January 9th 2012



550 Comments


I for one....liked it

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Then along came Watershed, out of nowhere, and blew me away."

if the comma'd off section was gone, this would read "then along came watershed and blew me away. that is exactly how not to use commas.

"The band is also on top form"

in*

"His vocals are better than ever, and(1) the vocals melodies are some of his most adventurous, and(2) they are perhaps the clearest evidence of the fact that he is no longer thinking in any way like a mere writer of rock tunes, allowing his clear and strong voice to drift into, out of, and(3) through riffs like a passing cloud."

ok seriously how do you miss the fact that you have three ands.

you know, i've started listening to more jazz recently and honestly the drumming is pretty run of the mill stuff if hyper-proggy jazz is what they're going for (yes. that's what they're going for)

alright i stopped reading after that composition bullshit. if you don't think blackwater park was at least well composed then you clearly have a different opinion than me which is probably equally valid but no less bullshit.

ugh.

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ugh.

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

...did we just have sex?

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it's ok, i mean, look at this tight black pussy.

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

#pussyswag

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
January 9th 2012



30865 Comments


You know those threesomes where you end up just watching.....

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hell no i don't want none of that 'fresh from plowing the fields with sam and smoking a pipe with gandalf in the shire' bullshit. go take a shower and then you can watch.

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

my ex just gave me back the dvds i'm blazed and watching the 6 hour version.

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah, i mean, yeah.

ugh.

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

you should see whats under this tie

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 9th 2012



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

hey now step off step OFF the movies rule, especially 2 and 3.

Tyrannic
January 9th 2012



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

only if you call me catherine.



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