Review Summary: Opeth deliver yet another 5-star classic with a fresh sound for them.
Never, in Opeth's entire career, has their been a slight dip in quality. Every one of their albums feels like a natural evolution and progression to their last release whilst still remaining the absolute apex of metal music. From their not-so-humble roots on the creative masterpiece on Orchid through to their most recent releases, they have consistently amazed people. Their latest release is entitled Heritage and is completely different to anything they have done before, and yet was kind of hinted at by the overall softer nature of Watershed, the previous release from the band.
Heritage is a progressive rock outing for the band, influenced heavily by bands such as Rush and King Crimson, and is their second album to feature no harsh vocals whatsoever. Whereas growled vocals and heavy riffing were the main course for the likes of the title track to 2000's Blackwater Park, beautiful melodies and constantly adapting songs are the vibe of Heritage. Whilst this may sound like every other Opeth album except minus the range to the vocals, this is a completely new breed of animal. Heritage is a beautiful and mystical album that constantly warps the mind of their listener with the truly breathtaking pallet of emotions that the band shows off on here. Mikael's voice is as strong as ever, and arguably has hit is pinnacle here. His voice has a phenomenal range to it, from higher notes such as the "God is dead" moment on The Devil's Orchard to the lower notes he hits on Slither. This is an amazing display of a vocalist who previously showed a limited clean range whilst he relied on heavy vocals on their supposed best releases. The guitar work is also absolutely stellar, from the hammer-ons that are used to amazing effect in the introduction of the single The Devil's Orchard to the genius notation of the later tracks. Other instruments are used to great effect as well, so as not to allow the guitar to completely dominate the soundscape. The title track is a 2 minute piano introduction to the album that kicks it off spectacularly, whilst Folklore is probably the best track here with some truly beautiful musical textures.
To call Heritage anything short of a masterpiece would be an inveracity. This is a release that blew me away from start to finish and will have the same effect if approached with an open mind. This is not another Blackwater Park or My Arms Your Hearse but is instead the natural progression in style from Watershed and as such should be looked at on its own merit-as a masterpiece.