Overall Score: 9.5/10 : 1/10 : 1/10 : 1/10 Pros: Cons:
Opeth… quite simply one of the best bands around, and one of my favourites. What follows is a review of their latest album, the opinion dividing ‘Heritage’.
Now, firstly it should be noted that Opeth are not a band of convention; they have always said that they are not afraid to experiment and diverse themselves with their musical direction. They are true musicians in every sense; they all have a background and interest in different styles of music and this has been evident with their past releases; the intentionally contrasting ‘Damnation’ and ‘Deliverance’ being a prime example.
The furore around this Opeth release was that it was a move away from, basically, the prog-metal of the last few albums. Whilst ‘Ghost Reveries’ and ‘Watershed’ had some typically mellow tracks, there were riffs and pedals; ‘Heritage’ is a marked transition, bordering on what some are calling ‘prog-folk’. Whilst I actually disagree that the music is ‘folk’ per se, there are massive elements of it and tracks such as ‘Folklore’ add to the mystical, almost subterranean feel of the album and suggest that Opeth have created as they intended; there is no luck or filler with a band that have played the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, but pure musical genius.
If I’d not known the style of the album before I listened to it for the first time then I would have been expecting music lurking in the waters of the previous two, but it has to be said, I am very glad that it’s not. That isn’t to take away from anything they’ve done before, as some of it ranks amongst my favourite material of any band; but this is still so unmistakenably Opeth. The music, and especially Mikael’s voice, are instantly recognisable. You’d be hard pushed to suggest any of the tracks on ‘Heritage’ weren’t from another of their albums; it’s the collection of them together that makes the album what it is and what divides fans and critics.
With that being said, I would stongly suggest that anybody who claims this is a bad, or boring, album are wrong. The album is utterly mesmerising and it’s been the staple of my journey to work for the last 3 weeks. It took a few listening cycles, both as listed and ‘random tracks’, before the brilliance really shone through; as expected. I had no doubts this would be a great album because, well, Opeth are priviledged to say they they have never produced a bad album. Every piece of material they’ve done has been done their way, and their way is pretty much THE way.