Music Review: Opeth – “Heritage”

Opeth - Heritage





Following the release of their acclaimed Watershed and the longest wait between albums since the band’s inception 20 plus years ago, Opeth return with the Heritage which is sure to be a head-turner for a few reasons. For one, the album completely lacks growling vocals from frontman/founder/only consistent member/all-around cool dude Mikael Akerfeldt. This is by no means a jab at Akerfeldt though as he produces one of my favorite singing voices not just in metal but all any genre. I point out this fact knowing that there are a number of fans that will actually care about this. To these naysayers I must point out that it is not the first time the band has gone this route. Please see 2005’s masterpiece Damnation.

Secondly, this was the last album to include keyboard work by Per Wiberg which is interesting since Heritage relies on piano and mellotron interludes quite a bit. I would understand the departure if he was left off the album or turned down in the mix but much like Watershed (Specifically “The Lotus Eater”) some of the most memorable parts of the record are due to Wiberg key work.

Finally the album (once again, like Damnation) has little to no elements of the trademark death metal stylings the band is known for but it is still heavy. What the album does offer instead is some folk guitar noodling and a bit of a classic progressive element harking back to the 1970’s in the vein of Jethro Tull (there’s flute in the song “Famine”) and Santana (bongos?).

Having said all of that, this album is quite good. It is a logical step to follow Watershed and will make for a nice bridge to just about anything that will follow. Tracks like “The Devil’s Orchard” and “Slither” keep the heaviness while the album’s closer “Marrow of the Earth” retains the melodic quietness that should keep long time fans happy. New listeners might find solace in the classic progressive rock approach from “The Lines in My Hand” and the King Crimson-esque “Nepenthe.”

This one might still split their audience. Most songs are shorter than eight minutes, there is no death metal, and it’s proggy in a way that doesn’t make modern music theory geeks squeal but hold your cries of, “SELL-OUT!” It might take a few listens to completely appreciate but it will be worth it.

I give Heritage an 8/10.

Heritage will be released on September 14 via Roadrunner Records


  1. […] Åkesson is currently on tour with Opeth promoting the band’s latest album Heritage (which I was a fan of). […]

  2. […] should bring new listeners to the fold. It won’t quite be the band’s Heritage as far as a backlash from fans goes, but it will certainly be a divisive album for their fan […]

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