Opeth — "Heritage" Review 5 out of 5 stars
Tue, 06 Sep 2011 10:42:12
"God is dead," croons Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt at the beginning of "The Devil's Orchard", the second track on the group's tenth studio effort, Heritage.
Of course, that phrase was most famously uttered by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Trent Reznor also screamed it in the middle of "Heresy" from The Downward Spiral, and it's a sentiment echoed by countless heavy metal and rock bands. Nevertheless, when Åkerfeldt delivers the refrain, it's devilishly soothing. That's the real brilliance of Heritage.
Rather than bludgeoning with a guttural death metal scream, Opeth slide inside psyches like a serial murdering mastermind. They're more Hannibal Lecter than they are Jason Voorhees. As a result, this is cerebral heavy music at its finest. The only kinship that can be drawn to Heritage is an album like Led Zeppelin's Presence or Physical Graffiti. No modern band thrives off instrumental intricacies and lyrical portraits this vivid and vibrant. The greatest band to ever emerge from snowy Sweden weaves a gorgeous tapestry of danger and darkness without reminding the listener that this is "heavy" music.
"The Devil's Orchard" slides from an off-kilter jazz-infused guitar riff into a twisting and turning progressive roller coaster. At the center of the sound, the lyrics paint a picture that'd make John Milton proud. Paradise may be lost, but there's an epicurean ecstasy derived from listening to music this deep. "I Feel the Dark" rolls off classical finger-picked guitar into a haze of distortion punctuated by organs and classical undertones. Then there's "Slither". It burns with one of the band's most infectious displays of guitar fireworks before crashing down alongside another crescendo of drums, bass, and keyboards. An airy flute sound courses just below the slow build of "Folklore" as the singer's voice floats from a watery grave alongside more acoustic guitar. "Will you be true?" he bemoans, before exclaiming, "Feel the pain in your brain—insane." Going insane with Opeth proves to be rewarding in so many ways.
After this ride, whether or not God is dead really doesn't matter, as Opeth are alive and kicking on the best album of their career… Nietzsche would dig it.
Are you excited for Heritage to drop September 20, 2011?