Interestingly, Opeth’s boldest album since its 1996 debut Orchid was also the most natural next step for the Swedish band. Although firmly rooted in extreme metal, Opeth’s music, all written by singer/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt, has always been influenced by classic 1970s progressive rock, and as the years have gone by that prog element has been creeping into the band’s music more and more. What’s so remarkable about Heritage is not only how deeply Åkerfeldt immerses himself in prog—there’s nary a death growl to be heard—but how it still feels like an Opeth record. Influences can be heard throughout the album, from Rainbow, to Camel, to the Moody Blues, but Heritage‘s impeccable blend of jazz, rock, and folk make it wholly original. Åkerfeldt won’t rule out returning to the band’s heavier side, but he’s also said this is the first time he’s made a record that sounds like the music he’s an actual fan of. That passion can be heard on Heritage, and is why it feels like a career-defining album.
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