Opeth’s basking in a new renaissance with me in light of news of an 11th record dropping this June, and in this opportunity beforehand I want to address their last record Heritage. Finally, Åkerfeldt banished the arid death metal vocals; so obvious in retrospect, he’d been threatening to do so for years. Damnation remains No.2 behind Blackwater Park for most fans, while No.1 for many others, so we know we’re keen. I’ve been listening back to 2010’s Live in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall and Opeth gave a definitive career performance, and oh fans be pleased, Mikael can belch out those signature gutterals like he’s twenty again… but it isn’t 1995 anymore. In a changing modern world where information reigns, there’s constant surveilance, and scrutiny is habitualised, it makes a producer of a creative art want to be understood: clarity in growling is paradoxical. I’ve often held the conclusion a poor lyricist can hide behind a wall of growls. Hell, there’s so many throwback Schuldiner imitators in the marketplace do any equate to the power of what he said other than just how he said it, even 15 years after the fact?
Heritage is a head first plunge into Åkerfeldt’s desire to make that heavy sinister sounding record he’s been after, a word that often comes up with him in interviews, ssssinissssster… These promoted clean vocals enact as compère here stepping the listener through a Master & Margerita-style ball, a hellish and extravagant occasion, there’s no crunch in the guitar attack, this is a delicate affair for softly spoken words, sidewinding hexes with intricate arpeggioed acoustics keeping the tense asymmetrical dance rotating. Mikael then croons and praises while burrowing beneath the omnipresent strings or soars above those undulating bell-bottom riffs that dredge the floor of the lava and muck surging underfoot. The entire record or affair leaves one with an unshakable dread of those unforeseen consequences we hide in the corner of our eyes.