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Progression in the best sense of the word,
This review is from: Heritage (Audio CD)
Opeth has always been more than a death metal band: one that pushed the boundaries of what could be and couldn't be death metal. From the time that 'Blackwater Park' was released, this was a direction that I could see Opeth going on. Their new musical direction is perhaps just a culmination of all that the band was building up to. Always filled with crushingly heavy riffs (they are Scandinavian after all!) Opeth always included heavily contrasting sections in their longer songs that were both beautiful and more calm in their execution, presenting heaviness in a less monolithic way than the blast of sound.
Heritage utilizes the sound and song construction techniques hinted in damnation and deliverance as well as Watershed itself. I dare say that this album is heavy in tone, lyrics and overall vibe, as opposed to just the riff. I'm not saying that this album lacks riffs: 'Slither' is built on a massive one, but just the way it is - the songs are less of a sledgehammer to the head and more of...a psychedelic drift into a dark place. As with all Opeth albums, listening to the album as a whole is the only way to fully understand or enjoy it - the subtle nuances of the album would be lost on people who skip around songs.
Artistically individual artists collaborating on the long term will always tend to rub off on each other. Listening to this release it is as though Steven Wilson's presence goes beyond the production and mixing on the album - on many of the softer tracks I swear that Wilson's touch shines through.
Interestingly, this seems to be the year where quite several mainstay bands of metal have released albums that have a marked progression (or difference, anyways) from their usual style. Mastodon's 'The Hunter' also manages to subvert expectations and build on their stylistic change of their previous album 'Crack the Skye'. If this is the start of a new era where metal goes off to different, much stranger places, I truly welcome it - the constraints for this genre that were made much more obvious with the rise of popularity in Metal-core needed to be broken down...and this may be just step one.