The tenth full-length studio album by the cult Swedish Progressive Rock/Metal/Jazz/Fusion band.
The album was recorded in early 2011 at Atlantis/Metronome Studios in Stockholm and produced by Mikael Åkerfeldt, engineered by Janne Hansson, and mixed by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson). The album signals a departure from the musical style of Opeth's past albums, being one of only two albums by the band not to feature Åkerfeldt's signature Death growls (the other being "Damnation"). "Heritage" finds the Swedish band abandoning Death Metal: no growled vocals, no blistering fast power riffs and no blastbeats.
“Heritage” is easily Opeth's most musically adventurous recording. Written primarily by vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt, these ten songs are drenched in instrumental interludes, knotty key and chord changes, shifting time signatures, clean vocals, and a keyboard-heavy instrumentation that includes Mellotrons, Rhodes pianos and Hammond organs (ironic since keyboardist Per Wiberg left the band after "Heritage" was completed).
Opening with the title track, a haunting solo piano instrumental, it careens into the explosive "The Devil's Orchard", with spectacular, arpeggiatic guitar work by Fredrik Åkesson and matching drums by Martin Axenrot. With a huge, swirling B-3 in the backdrop, it melds Progressive Metal to Prog Rock, with Åkerfeldt's clear, clean singing. "I Feel the Dark" marries Åkerfeldt's classical guitar to piano, flute, a droning Martin Mendez bassline, and double-timed, quietly tense drum kit work. "Slither" sounds like Motörhead meeting early-'70s Deep Purple. "Nepenthe" begins as a ballad but shifts toward Jazz-Rock in the instrumental break before finding its way back to a middle ground with sparse instrumentation and taut dynamics. "Haxprogress" draws real inspiration from King Crimson; Mellotrons and nylon-string guitars give way to Åkerfeldt's crooning, thundering bass-lines, and syncopated drums. At eight-and-a-half minutes, "Famine" is the album's most abstract cut, with guest Alex Acuña adding Latin percussion to the mix, creating spaciousness in a long intro before giving way to colliding Prog Rock at the seam where King Crimson's "Larks Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 2" meets Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick." "The Lines in My Hand" is the set's most aggressive cut, with a deeply satisfying guitar crunch. "Folklore," with its myriad instrumental and vocal parts, complex melody, and breakbeats, comes off as an eight-minute suite before closing with another Jazz- and Rolk-inflected instrumental entitled "Marrow of the Earth."
Love it or hate it, "Heritage", for its many excesses (and stellar conception and execution) is a brave album. It opens the door for Opeth to pursue many new directions and reinvent themselves as a band.
Album has a critical and commercial success, and sold 19,000 units in the United States in its debut week, charting at number 19 on the Billboard 200.
Approached with an open mind, "Heritage' will certainly prove a rewarding listen for most experienced fans of the band, an album containing all the signature twists & turns that has become Opeth's trademark, albeit in a way totally new for the band. "Heritage" is arguably the band's 10th magnum opus in it's now 20 plus year career and without a doubt represent the grandest vision yet captured on an Opeth album!
Nuclear Blast GmbH/Cargo Records Germany GmbH, 2011 (RRCAR 7705-1). Made in Germany. First press. 180g gatefold black vinyl 2LP.
1. Heritage 2:05 I
2. The Devil's Orchard 6:40
3. I Feel The Dark 6:40
4. Slither 4:03
5. Nepenthe 5:40
6. Häxprocess 6:58
1. Famine 8:32
2. The Lines In My Hand 3:49
3. Folklore 8:19
4. Marrow Of The Earth 4:19
Total playing time: 57:05