Rating:
8.6
Opeth - Heritage
14 September 2011


01. Heritage
02. The Devil's Orchard
03. I Feel The Dark
04. Slither
05. Nepenthe
06. Häxprocess
07. Famine
08. The Lines In My Hand
09. Folklore
10. Marrow Of The Earth
11. Pyre [bonus]
12. Face In The Snow [bonus]


Heritage poses more questions than answers. Have Opeth reached a creative cul-de-sac? Have they chucked their "Extreme Progressive Death Metal" for good? Have they finally shed their "Underground Garage Band" (I am quoting Akerfeldt from an earlier interview) and have ventured out into the Pantheon of the "mainstream" Gods from their hallowed underground temple so frequented by hordes of reverent worshipers?

Heritage has undoubtedly made many fans skittish who are in denial mode. "Remember Damnation? They are gonna come up with something killer next time!" But Heritage is no Damnation. Let's face it, Opeth are one of those great bands who never repeat themselves, and after nearly twenty years of their inception, and after eight "heavy-as-hell" albums (excluding Damnation); Akerfeldt and Co. have had enough.

This opens up several new avenues for the band and closes several other doors. Heritage is somewhat an acquired taste. It has a warm, fuzzy retro feel compared to their other albums. The guitars have a crunchy vintage feel to them, the drums are more humane (compared to the "Drum Machine" like sound in other albums), and Mendez's bass creates more havoc than ever. Akerfeldt's singing has considerably improved but is not perfect. He fails in bits and parts ("Slither", "Famine") but makes it up in his side project Storm Corrosion. Nevertheless it doesn't change the fact that he is one of the greatest voices in metal around.

Coming to the album, it does have some great tracks. The opening track is an exquisite piano piece which leads to "The Devil's Orchard" which is a standard track on its own. But add the Opeth logo to it and it becomes something pretty average. "I feel the Dark" is a deeply emotional track with beautiful guitar picking and mellifluous vocals, but then the song can be neatly split into two distinct parts which is somewhat odd as songs are supposed to be continuous no matter how "progressive" they are. However the main highlights of the song are "Haxprocess" and "Folklore". "Haxprocess" has an unconventional song structure which actually works and "Folklore" is somewhat inspired from Rainbow's "Gates OF Babylon".

Heritage is obviously a tribute to the obscure progressive bands of the 70's whom Akerfeldt greatly idolizes; it is his grand homecoming . The unveiling of his roots, which made him what he and Opeth are. The band still continues its show of dazzling musicianship and brilliant production, but most important of all; they have retained their soul. They have taken a huge gamble and have consciously sailed away from their comfort zone and that too at the peak of their musical carriers, which is admirable.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 10


Band profile: Opeth
Album: Heritage


 


written by SauradipGhosh | 29.05.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
Demonic Tutor

Rating:
7.8
The general consensus when a great band dares to move away from their original Death Metal sound is usually not positive. However Opeth have done it before masterfully with Damnation in 2003. They are back at it with one of the year's most anticipated albums, Heritage.

Cutting to the chase: Compared to their previous releases, Heritage lacks character. Despite the song structures being very progressive rock and the vocals being crazy good, the absence of catchy guitar riffs or memorable growls is a downer. One can positively recognize Opeth as the artist, especially since a lot of the songs borrow tidbits straight from the Ghost Reveries period. Certainly they manage to perpetuate a dark atmosphere throughout the album, but the mellowness of the whole thing is borderline irritating to someone expecting their trademark sound. I know we have been forewarned by Mikael Åkerfeldt himself about this being a throwback kind of release. Still, I believe this would be either catchier or more aggressive. Nevertheless the album does feature good moments, mostly from the jazz-infused portions of the songs.

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published 20.09.2011 | Comments (134)



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scapeplan - 29.05.2012 at 06:37  
Great review, but I disagree on your saying that Mikael's voice has improved, as I feel this is his weakest performance thus far. It is still great, though, and consistently so.
Unhealer - 29.05.2012 at 06:40  
I can't believe you actually think that Martin Lopez's drumming sounded like a drum machine
I disagree with several points from the review but I liked this album too.
Doc Godin - 29.05.2012 at 07:07  
Quote:
they have retained their soul.

My exact problem with the album. It doesn't have much soul. It's derivative and completely lacks the variation their previous albums had. This just sounds flat and uncreative. I can see how it might be enjoyable (maybe I'll give it another spin - haven't really listened to it since it came out), but I can't comprehend why it would be 8.6 good. Even the review here doesn't give me any indication as to why it is above average.

All this being said, I'll have to wait and see on the next Opeth release. If they go back to the dynamic progression of soft melodies mixed with aggressive death metal, I'll probably be more accepting this as a one-off fun thing for Mikael. Somehow I see this as just another step in the gradual downward spiral this band has been on for a while now.
SauradipGhosh - 29.05.2012 at 07:33  
This is purely acquired taste. And comparing Heritage to any other Opeth album is pointless. It is a complete new musical direction. I wrote this review after I gave it a dozen spins and it's one of those obscure, quaint albums that you listen to and love. And after Storm Corrosion, it would be unwise to think that Opeth might degrade. But yes, it won't be the same Opeth we grew up hearing.
SauradipGhosh - 29.05.2012 at 07:35  
The drums are by Martin Axenrot, by the way. Lopez left the band ages back.
BenWasHere - 29.05.2012 at 07:56  
All I have to say is that if their next release doesn't have growls, I am going to cry. It's not that I don't like the more mellow approach Mikael has been taking lately, but I think Opeth became so popular for their metal. Mikael has the most beautiful growl in all of death metal in my opinion. I really hope they don't stray away from death metal for good.
SauradipGhosh - 29.05.2012 at 08:15  
The point is, Opeth doesn't crave for popularity any more. They have reached a space where they will create what they wish. Fans'll love 'em or hate 'em.
Doc Godin - 29.05.2012 at 10:03  
Written by SauradipGhosh on 29.05.2012 at 07:33

This is purely acquired taste.

Really? They've actually made themselves much more accessible with this one, while simultaneously making themselves less engaging.

Quote:
And comparing Heritage to any other Opeth album is pointless.

Why? They're using the same name they once made dynamic music under.

Quote:
It is a complete new musical direction.

No. Just no. It isn't - at all. For Opeth, maybe. On a broader scale, this is anything but new. I think that was the whole point of the album, Akerfeldt paying tribute to some of his favourite bands. Which is why I don't think they'll stick with this sound for more than an album. At least I pray that's the case.

Either way, that is the main issue with this album; it is a predictable, derivative tribute album from a band that once did innovative things.

Quote:
I wrote this review after I gave it a dozen spins and it's one of those obscure, quaint albums that you listen to and love.

Obscure? Howso?

Quote:
And after Storm Corrosion, it would be unwise to think that Opeth might degrade. But yes, it won't be the same Opeth we grew up hearing.

After hearing Heritage, it's actually completely wise to suspect Opeth are degrading.

I think this might be another point of view from someone who thinks Akerfeldt can do no wrong. Especially when he can look at an album that was pretty much intentionally derivative, and say "It's a new musical direction".
Marcel HELP - 29.05.2012 at 10:38  
Written by Unhealer on 29.05.2012 at 06:40

I can't believe you actually think that Martin Lopez's drumming sounded like a drum machine


Martin Lopez? He left the band in 2005 or so and since then it's Martin Axenrot drumming
Unhealer - 29.05.2012 at 15:29  
Written by Marcel HELP on 29.05.2012 at 10:38

Martin Lopez? He left the band in 2005 or so and since then it's Martin Axenrot drumming


The reviewer said that in this album drumming sounds humane and other albums sounded like a drum machine, I'm guessing those where Martin played
Ace Frawley - 29.05.2012 at 15:49  
Agree with the part of your review where you say Akerfeldt has one of the best voices in metal. I think what made him so great was that he had incredible growls and very strong clean vocals but the growling is absent on this album, which means it lacks something.
bodomroy - 29.05.2012 at 17:19  
Production could never be a 10. guitars sound awful, boring, flat..........the songs sound a lot better in concert, although when the old ones appear you can't compete with that.
Troy Killjoy - 29.05.2012 at 21:54  
The way this review reads I'm surprised you didn't just give it a 9.5.

I suppose Akerfeldt and co. will always have their fanboys.
Michaelgpc - 29.05.2012 at 23:05  
Sadly, this album does nothing for me, a keen Opeth fan. I think Akerfeldt's admiration for Ritchie Blackmore has got the better of him on this occasion. Sounding very like Deep Purple, right down to the Hammond organ flourishes, it lacks any sparkle or originality. I found Ackerfeldt's vocals strange, his voice appearing to my ears, slightly off-key for the entire album.
infernaldeath87 - 30.05.2012 at 05:18  
Great review.
SauradipGhosh - 30.05.2012 at 17:33  
Well, this album does have several weak points as I have tried to delineate. And I am not those drooling fanboys who think Akerfeldt can do no wrong. (I took Opeth seriously after Still Life). But coming to Heritage, I have tried to be as objective as possible (people won't agree to this, anyway) and I think Heritage is a decent album which stands out on it's own. I never mentioned it is not "derivative", I believe I have mentioned similar sounds as well. but when I talk about a new musical direction, I meant the one with respect to Opeth's own musical graph. I don't find anything wrong with Akerfeldt paying a tribute to his idols. It's something every musician should do in return for all the inspiration they have imbibed. But people who think Opeth will fall after this albums are mistaken. Akerfeldt won't release another tribute album. He'll comeup with something different, or he simply won't.
Vit - 30.05.2012 at 19:05  
As a fan of rock music in general, especially progressive stuff, I've got to say I love this album. I love all of their other albums too though. Recently saw them live for the Heritage tour and they were amazing. Not to be too big of a dick but all the growling is getting old, at least for me. Everybody does it and 99% of them all sound exactly the same. If you haven't noticed, most bands through their career will reduce, if not completely drop the growling and screaming eventually.

The best way to write a review is objectively. You did a good job of it I'd say.
Mr. Doctor - 30.05.2012 at 20:11  
Written by Vit on 30.05.2012 at 19:05
Not to be too big of a dick but all the growling is getting old, at least for me. Everybody does it and 99% of them all sound exactly the same.

The problem is that Mikael was part of the 1% I don't know any growls that sound like the ones he does.

Quote:
If you haven't noticed, most bands through their career will reduce, if not completely drop the growling and screaming eventually.

This part only depends on the kind of bands you listen to so it's not really true.
PocketMetal - 30.05.2012 at 20:55  
I liked this album too , I mean it wasn't a "fail album" ...but they were more interesting before .
I disagree that this made them more accessible , not all calm and clean music are accessible ...

P.S I'm surprised this got lower rates than Damnation , Damnation is baaaaaaaaaaaad !
bodomroy - 31.05.2012 at 00:43  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 30.05.2012 at 20:11

Written by Vit on 30.05.2012 at 19:05
Not to be too big of a dick but all the growling is getting old, at least for me. Everybody does it and 99% of them all sound exactly the same.

The problem is that Mikael was part of the 1% I don't know any growls that sound like the ones he does.


true!! mikael growls are distinctive
Mr. Doctor - 31.05.2012 at 00:50  
Written by PocketMetal on 30.05.2012 at 20:55

I disagree that this made them more accessible , not all calm and clean music are accessible ...
P.S I'm surprised this got lower rates than Damnation , Damnation is baaaaaaaaaaaad !


It's pretty damn accessible considering how much this stuff has been done before.

I also take Damnation over this anyday
SauradipGhosh - 31.05.2012 at 06:51  
Mikael has admitted that he can't take his growling any further. I mean he's reached a saturation point. Considering the fact he's a great musician, he could have released a couple of more Still Life-esque, Blackwater Park-ish, Watershed-ish albums but then he hates repeating himself. They have always tried something new in each album. They are at the rubicon. it'll be interesting to see what will they come up with next.
Chobo_jokeR - 31.05.2012 at 07:39  
Well if all we have to look forward to is Heritage-esque albums, I will not be paying them much attention. I've listened to this album numerous times, and even saw Opeth twice in under 12 months. These songs were boring as shit live. The second concert they played Demon of the fall and Grand Conjuration and those two songs were fantastic.

This album is repetitive and dull. It has moments, but those moments are just followed by the same dull shit. The reason why I've enjoyed their albums so much is the variation. Now that they've pulled the growls the variation is lacking.

Damnation was good, because it was an oddball in their catalogue. This...this is just mediocre.

EDIT: I drove 3 hours to see them, and was disappointed both times (the second time a little less, because they played Grand Conjuration). Could say I'm just a bit of a disgruntled fan.
SauradipGhosh - 31.05.2012 at 07:51  
Heritage is a tribute album. Never heard of bands pulling up one tribute album after another. Heritage is not exactly repetitive. As long as they stick to being progressive, Opeth will be fine.
Neiluria - 01.06.2012 at 03:42  
Certainly, opeth style has changed, it changes radically, but it's still a very good album.
mz - 01.06.2012 at 05:11  
Well, I admit that I love extreme opeth more than soft, prog rock one, but also I should say that this album is not their weakest. Perhaps it was a right album in the right time for me but it is stronger than Watershed. Im actually totally shocked as I see Watershed is higher rated than this. Opeth needed to break their structure of clean/harsh/clean/harsh... music and this album does that in an appropriate manner. Now Im looking forward to seeing them again having an extreme edge but it if they repeated themselves by another "familiar opeth" album, I am totally sure that everyone was bashing them.
good job, better than Watershed, damnation and deliverance for me.
SauradipGhosh - 01.06.2012 at 18:55  
Couldn't have agreed more.
Fredd - 01.06.2012 at 23:52  
Written by Unhealer on 29.05.2012 at 06:40

I can't believe you actually think that Martin Lopez's drumming sounded like a drum machine
I disagree with several points from the review but I liked this album too.

Yea, Lopez's one of the first drummers I think of when someone says organic drumming.
hadriel - 07.06.2012 at 05:53  
It's a good album, and still probably among one of my preferred albums from last year, but I still can't help but feel like something was missing from this one. It's not even the lack of harsh vocals....Opeth are completely capable of releasing less aggressive sounding albums without sacrificing their innovative spark. There's just something that's not completely 'there' that separates it from Opeth's other albums. Although it's still structurally strong and the musicianship is impressive it lacks the organic feel that other Opeth albums have. The psychedelic elements are certainly running rampant here, but I would challenge anyone who thinks its a complete change in musical direction... it's always been incorporated into their sound, quite prominently in fact.
Diamonds - 11.06.2012 at 14:07  
I feel like saying this album is only getting good reviews and ratings because it's Opeth. They're undoubtably great and talented, but I think the album is getting too much credit just because of who it's by. Don't get me wrong it's good, I love their slower stuff Damnation is my favorite album but .. I find this rather exhausting to listen to. It needs to be listened to one song at a time. But, to each their own.
monti_84 - 02.10.2012 at 18:53  
8.6? Seriously? I felt asleep listening to this album. It is utterly boring. I think "Damnation" is a masterpiece, "Heritage" is nothing more than a shade of Opeth´s greatness. Bring back pre-Damnation Opeth. They have not been any good since 2003. Such a shame.
Angry Chair - 16.02.2013 at 18:30  
At first i hated this album but after many listens in an attempt to like it it has got better. It still has nothing on the other albums but I do still rate it highly as it is good. I will go with a rating off 8.0.

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