Roadrunner Records, 2011


REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


Opeth fans, if you like Heritage, congratulations. You are truly a special breed of metal fan.

I like Opeth. I have a lot of their releases, and while I took a few years to catch up with the band, I am doing my best to pound back their releases into my brain. To that end, I made the trek from North Liberty to Minneapolis, MN to see the band, resulting in a concert review that described the show as “mediocre.”

That same adjective doesn’t fit this album – it’s too high of a compliment. There was a lot of hype about this album prior to its release. Vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt would only sing cleanly instead of interchanging growly vocals throughout the songs. The Internet was abuzz, applying labels to the music unheard. Some feared it would be awful, while others seemed to embrace the possibility that Opeth was not about to retread ground already covered by their previous discs.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Heritage bears faint traces of Opeth’s previous releases. The title track is a two-minute piano instrumental. When the second track, “The Devil’s Orchard,” began, the first thing I noticed is the prominence of an organ in the opening 30 seconds; it sounds like a long lost Doors track. Afetr a couple of listens, I wondered why I was wasting my time. There is not a middle ground to be reached. The band is off on their own trek to write music that they want. They don’t care if you don’t like this release, at least on the surface. If you want your music evil, this is not for you.

The problem with this album is that there’s only a single track worth listening to repeatedly, “Slither.” During this track, Opeth sounds close to what they used to sound like. In tribute to the late great Ronnie James Dio, there is an abundance of energy. On the other end of the spectrum, the song immediately prior to “Slither” is called “I Feel The Dark.” It might have been written in the dark. What starts out mildly promising transforms into bad ’70s progressive rock. Note to wannabe progressive metal bands – if you traverse time signatures and have a drummer not playing a standard backbeat, you are not automatically a progressive rock juggernaut. You have to have pieces of the composition that go with each other. “I Feel The Dark” is a bunch of different musical ideas thrown together without clear transitions. “Nepenthe” follows “Slither” and totally disappoints. It would not be a good use of the band’s talent to play this song ever again.

“The Lines In My Hand” starts out with a promising drumbeat and mixes in a bassline before adding a cliché acoustic guitar fill. “Marrow Of The Earth” starts out pretty and soft on the acoustic guitar again. Eventually, after a few minutes, the drummer comes in with brushes. Somewhere in the mix is a keyboard part that does little to improve or expand the song.

Heritage is a disappointing release. I was excited to hear Opeth with only clean vocals, but I expected the music behind the vocals to be interesting and appealing to the ear. This album fails in multiple ways, not just for a metal fan but for an Opeth fan. Again, if you are an Opeth fan and you liked this, you are a special breed.

Rating: D-

User Rating: B+


Paul, your commentary reminds me of the folks who set themselves on fire when Dylan played ELECTRIC GUITAR!!!! OMFG the end of the world!! Frankly, you sold me on "The band is off on their own trek to write music that they want. They don’t care if you don’t like this release".

That is EXACTLY what I want from a band. That's what great artists build a legacy on, not pandering to taste. I'll take experimentation over regurgitation any day, even if its not a masterpiece. I like this disc but its not my fave by any means. Growing pains aside, I'll buy their next disc unheard without hesitation. I know you'll give it a fair shake when it does.

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