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Opeth - Heritage

by Mark Gromen at 28 September 2011, 4:34 PM

Warning: Non Metal Content. Lest you’ve avoided all pre-release publicity, the opening 2:05 piano/bass instrumental title track, which would be more at home on the Vince Guaraldi Christmas album (animated Peanuts soundtrack) than any Metal platter. Follow-up, “The Devil’s Orchard” sounds lyrically apt, especially with Mikael Akerfeldt’s “God Is Dead” refrain, but musically, the brushes on drum fills belong in the world of Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich, more Jazz, not Rock. While the third tune, “I Feel The Dark”, begins and ends acoustically, there’s a brief passage of heaviness, of a bombastic, symphonic nature, atop the guitarist/ frontman’s whisper. Akerfeldt has shelves his gruff/aggressive range for the eight proper songs on "Heritage" (the somber “Marrow Of The Earth” finale is also wordless). Snap, crackle, pop… not the sounds of vintage vinyl, on which this probably should have been recorded, but the noises associated with many a ‘fan’s’ record collection, as they toss CDs across the room after hearing their latest purchase. However, this is a disc we should all own, if for nothing more than to play for naysayers who belittle Metal musicians as untalented and incapable of anything other than three chord noise and screams.

OK, so if there are any open-minded Metalheads still reading, we’ll examine this work as a piece of music and not Metal (which it was never intended to be). “Slither” is a rare slice of old school Hard Rock, complete with Hammond organ. “Nepenthe” is subtle throughout (more brushes on drums), but for a freeform Jazz freak-out. This isn’t fusion Jazz, not be-bop nor even GARY MOORE’s up-tempo variety, but rather minimalistic, barely audible at times, as on “Haxprocess”. In the latter half, both “Famine” and “Folklore” crack the eight minute barrier, the longest tracks (by far). The former opens with hand drumming and desert (African?) sounds. Then it’s piano and sporadic spoken word, alternating with a rise in volume for odd psychedelic fuzz and wayward woodwinds. At #8, a short (3:48) “The Lines In My Hand” is the most cohesive tune since “Slither” albeit a mix of acoustic/electric Jazz/Rock. So damn late 60s/early 70s! Just what Akerfeldt was after, I’ll bet. Like “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, someone’s got to tell the truth. There’s not enough Rock to warrant investigation by most of the Metal-Temple Magazine audience. Only OPETH fans or Jazz fanatics in search of a new band need apply.

3 Star Rating

1. Heritage
2. The Devil’s Orchard
3. I Feel The Dark
4. Slither
5. Nepenthe
6. Haxprocess
7. Famine
8. The Lines In My Hand
9. Folklore
10. Marrow Of The Earth
Mikael Åkerfeldt – Vocals / Guitars
Martin Mendez– Bass
Martin Axenrot– Drums
Fredrik Åkesson- Guitars
Record Label: Roadrunner Records


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