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Opeth - 'Heritage' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     November 10, 2011    
 
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The intent of a band interested in its fanbase is clear.

Opeth have just released their third album with Roadrunner Records and their tenth in total. A Swedish band with a massive pedigree has delivered an album which to sum up in one word is “eclectic”. To clarify, the opening track ‘Heritage’ is a Bach-like piano piece with a bass played as a double bass, followed by progressive rock, classic rock, nu-metal, classical guitar, Celtic… the list goes on. There are also elements of Deep Purple; a Ritchie Blackmore 70´s style solo (and it really sounds like him) in the second minute of the fourth track ‘Slither’ (a new song and not the Velvet Revolver track!), takes the breath away. Another appealing factor is the way the bass player Martin Mendez plays fast and melodically with the guitarist in the way Geezer Butler interleaves with Tony Iommi (especially in the Dio period) and this is a joy to listen to.

One thing to keep in mind is that Mikael Akerfeldt´s vocals are not classic rock oriented but provide, in a way, a new instrument to the overall sound - think Fish when he was in Marillion. Fish is not a classic rock singer but he´s a great singer. Mikael fits the bill for Opeth in this context and note that this time around, there are no extreme vocalisations to contend with.

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‘Heritage’ is produced by Mikael Akerfeldt himself and mixed by Porcupine Tree´s Steven Wilson. The sound is exceptionally bright and all instruments can be heard clearly. Musicianship is superb; some tracks are on the edge of being jams but they do have a structure. That fine line between a long jam and a song with multiple themes is where the word “epic” is often used and on this album, ‘The Devil´s Orchard’ warrants that description. Interestingly, this track is also the single, considering its length and exceptional changes of pace.

Perhaps part of the overall mystique of the album, are the sections where there is a lot of near silent or broodingly quiet periods, before the gradual build-up of the song. Whilst a natural occurrence in classical music, in a rock context it´s a bit disconcerting. Nevertheless, this album will please Opeth´s fanbase but has a depth and variety to it which will appeal to a wide rock audience.

In this digital age, it is pleasing to see this release being made available in umpteen different formats:a cd/dvd/vinyl boxset, a special edition, a standard CD and a double vinyl LP. The intent of a band interested in its fanbase is clear.

Rob McKenzie

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