Opeth fans are always divided be it their prog-rock sound or vocals.
Recently in a recent Nuclear Blast clip, Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt talked about whether he gets annoyed with continuous demand from fans to return to death metal sound and growls.
“Well, it’s not annoying. I get that question a lot from fans and journalists. Journalists are a bit more careful, diplomatic. They don’t tell me, like, ‘You suck now. You should do that.’
“But contrary to what people think, I’m happy to get that question, because that means that that stuff meant a lot to people. Now it’s, like, eight off years since we recorded a record that had those screaming vocals on – that’s a long time people are clinging to, and they still haven’t gotten over the fact that the last four records don’t have screams.
“And I guess that means I was great… I guess I was good. I guess it meant something, and that makes me happy. People who like that stuff, they have to understand that you change and the music changes, and you get other influences.
“I haven’t really consumed death metal music… I mean, the last death metal record I bought with my own money and enjoyed was ‘Domination’ by Morbid Angel, and that’s, like, ’95.
“Our first album came out in ’95, and at that point, I was still into that death metal – whatever scene we were part of – finding our feet, and I wanted us to be that band and have both the screaming vocals and the clean vocals.
“But even then, I wanted to add more clean vocals; it was just that I didn’t dare to – I didn’t have the confidence to sing more clean. And with more record, there was more and more and more and more, and then you end up where there are no screams, because of – I guess – confidence.
“I haven’t listened to a death metal record that actually pushed me to write something or inspired me. That scene reached a moment where it stopped developing, to me. It was as fast and technical as it could be. And also, a lot of people don’t understand that my death metal, that I listen to is pure.
“I will not listen to a death metal band that sounded like us; it’s not my cup of tea. My death is Morbid Angel, Entombed, Death, Bathory, Obituary – that stuff. That’s pure. No frills. That’s what I like. Morbid Angel, of course, up to ‘Domination’, when [David] Vincent left, and Vincent is the greatest death metal singer of all time.
“It was like Whitesnake without David Coverdale, if you know what I mean. It doesn’t work. I’m not interested. And the melodic [death metal] scene in Sweden was never really interesting to me, with the exception of At the Gates, who kind of, I think, started that melodic death metal scene – great band, but I don’t consume that music anymore. I don’t find it interesting, really, to be honest.
“And if I hear something that I think is good, then it’s retro. Like Obliteration from Norway. It’s pure death metal. I’m not sure what’s new about their music, but, yeah, that’s the stuff I like – rootsy death metal.
“So, yeah, I still listen to that every now and when I had a couple of beers or something, for nostalgic reasons, but it doesn’t inspire me, and it hasn’t for a very, very long time. And that’s why I stopped after ‘Watershed’ because ‘Watershed’ was the pinnacle to that style for me.
“And it’s kind of well-known fact that I tried to make a ‘Watershed 2.0’ or whatever, that was then deleted. And ‘Heritage’ was born and with that a new path for us. And I wanted to see what was around the corner there. And it’s because I’m a musician and I love music. We’re not entrepreneurs or businessmen.’
Nearly thirty years since their inception and Opeth are still held in the highest regard among the metal community. A unit that not only contributes to the genres long standing vitality but push at its boundaries. On September 27th, the Swedish, progressive masters deliver their latest offering entitled ‘In Cauda Venenum’. Loosely translated from the Latin as “poison in the tail,” in the sense that the worst is yet to come, Opeth’s newest album serves as an antithesis to that sentiment. For ‘In Cauda Venenum’ is, arguably, Opeth’s most exciting and invigorating record to date.
For ‘In Cauda Venenum’ serves as a testament that Opeth’s music has not yet been demystified. That it can still offer a sense of the ethereal, entice through exoticism, and is a worthy bastion of good organic songwriting. Certain to leave Opeth fans itching for more in kind, there is much more to be enjoyed here than sheer brute force. Musically, lyrically and linguistically, Opeth have gone the extra mile. And it shows.