Oh Opeth what have you done? I think it was never that hard for me to get into a new Opeth album, not to mention how tough it was to turn those impressions and ideas floating around in my head into something like an opinion/review. There you have the explanation, why it took so long. I started countless times to write this review. Every time I started and listened to „Heritage“, I had more ideas and opinion changes... a hart nut to crack. So before we start, please reset your minds, forget everything you have in mind about Opeth and you might be less speechless than I was, when I heard „Heritage“ the first time.
However, before this all starts to sound way too negative, I would like to assure you, that Opeth still clearly sound like Opeth. The easiest description of this album would be: Take the growls away, take away Death Metal parts and agression. Then you get a rough impression of what „Heritage“ is like.
If you take all this together and after listening to the CD, it all starts to make sense. This cover, that leaves a weird impression on you, this damn surrealistic cover – it fits to this 70s like vibe that´s present the whole time, that makes you believe that Opeth found a way to build a time-machine.
While some might be wondering, why it is so bad, when a band leaves Death Metal elements or growls behind, you should keep in mind, that one essential part of Opeth was this contrast between captivating clean vocals and deep deep, but incredibly warm growls, that were a trademark of vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt. Guess this is now the beginning of a new era for the Swedes.
Hope you managed to reset your brains by now and entered the „Classic Prog album in 70s style“ mode. Are you with me? So it seems as if it´s either a follow-the-new-direction or stay-behind-while-you-embrace-the-good-old-times. Go or stay? I´d say give it a go. „Heritage“ seems to now set free, what has been drowsing under the surface for quite a while now (since „Ghost Reveries“ maybe). It seems as if Opeth now let all the soft parts of their music out, while letting go of heavyness. Ok, before we totally forget about that and before someone complains: „Damnation“ was an album without growls as well, but still, you can´t compare those albums at all!
Top-notch musicianship as always, meets this old vibe, percussions that are present throughout the album ,rather than real drums, all pretty light-footed and dreamy at times. But songs like „Slither“ that are a bit faster and slightly more heavy break through. In general however, apart from small outbreaks, it seems to be left to an „inner flow“ that´s guiding the melodies.
It´s pretty much impossible to fully put the songs into words, no matter what. It´s a very soft side of Opeth that we get to hear here, it´s versatile, it´s 70s, it´s almost unspectacular in a way and yet totally spectacular, because it came unexpected for most fans. It´s agreat album, when you give it a chance to grow. The only thing I really have to hate Opeth for now, is the fact, that they deprive us of this suspense-packed mix of angellike clean vocals, deep growls, extreme metal outbreaks and soft soothing melodies. Yet, at the same time, you have to be thankful for this walking off the beaten tracks, because it let´s you discover a whole new side on this band.
So take this as a warning, when you´re totally and only into the old Opeth with the aforementioned contrasts and are not willing to accept an album without that, you won´t really be happy with „Heritage“. The open-minded listener however, while get an album, that will let him discover new music. One is for sure, this album has shown, that it is possible for a band to break out and it requires courage to do that after 20 years of existence. Maybe regression is progression.