Opeth – Heritage
“…It would be wrong to discard Heritage as a bad album. It’s not. It’s just directionless, and unlike all of Opeth’s previous albums, it’s not heaving with captivating moment after captivating moment…”
Was this always destined to happen? Was Mikael Åkerfeldt always on this path that would someday see him free from “the shackles of metal”? Opeth’s evolution over the last 20 years has been an awe-inspiring journey, from the more-raged progressive metal found on Orchid to the band’s gleaming crown jewel that was 2001’s Blackwater Park right up to their last studio output, Watershed, which sitting here now seems like such an apt album title.
The revered Blackwater Park album was the band’s first encounter with Porcupine Tree (as well as a slew of other bands) architect, Steven Wilson at the production desk and this album, Heritage sees his return to the chair, his first time there since Deliverance and Damnation. His decidedly less metal, more classic prog rock approach certainly left an influence behind and now on Heritage that has come to fruition… the fullest of fruition.
Åkerfeldt has never been one to shy away from such influences though, with a professed love of the Canterbury Scene, and when news surfaced that Heritage would be void of his unmistakable growl, many a fan were left scratching their heads. Save for Damnation’s foray into mellowed territory, Opeth had never done anything such as this for an album that stands entirely on its own. That 2003 album was accompanied by the heavier Deliverance record released five months prior, after all.
Heritage, though a bold record, isn’t the same gripping and captivating album in the same way as its predecessors are. It takes thick skin, heart and a set of cast iron balls to make a decision like this, and Mikael Åkerfeldt has all those and then some. However, Heritage still feels cold in several areas.
The Porcupine Tree-esque melodies have seeped into Opeth’s sound several times over the last ten years, and here, it is its most prevalent but not with the same invigoration as Porcupine Tree. I Feel The Dark’s noisy elements don’t create the tension that they should while Nepenthe just blindly meanders.
That’s not to say the entire album is a snoozefest. Slither erupts with the fastest moment of the record, a song dedicated to Dio, and it sounds so, with its fret work dripping with Heaven & Hell era riffage. And of course, there are still moments of utter genius like second last track, Folklore; it has caught the essence of what Åkerfeldt was trying to capture on this record, and the closing instrumental Marrow of the Earth is simply breathtakingly beautiful.
It would be wrong to discard Heritage as a bad album. It’s not. It’s just directionless, and unlike all of Opeth’s previous albums, it’s not heaving with captivating moment after captivating moment.
Drop-d Rating: 6/10