Progressive not only describes OPETH‘s music, it also describes the slow shedding of their death metal stylings. Heritage is OPETH‘s fruit that falls furthest from the extreme metal tree, save for the “soft” Deliverance album which was an explicit experiment released in near parallel to the “heavy” Damnation album. Let it be known that Heritage is a straight up OPETH-style 70’s progressive album (just look at the album cover).
Death metal growls are nowhere to be found–Åkerfeldt utilizes his passable yet characteristic clean singing for all vocals. Though his clean singing continues to improve. The octave shift when he sings “God is dead” on “The Devil’s Orchard” is impactful and outstanding considering that his usual vocal patterns are low in variety.
Guitars too see a distancing from the heavy gain. Distortion is significantly scaled back. The result, however, is still a producing a nice 70’s psychedelic rock warmth. Acoustic guitars play an obligatory role as well. The prominent presence of hammond organs greatly adds to the vintage flavor.
Heritage starts out very subdued and largely remains that way except for fourth song, “Slither,” which is the album’s sole uptempo song. Throughout Heritage, it’s clear that the band is exploring new territory and feeling things out. There are plenty of quiet passages with acoustic guitars, pianos, and even flutes and bongos, intermingled with busier sections with slithering electric guitars/bass and tasty drumming that can be heard throughout. Jazz influences and nods to Åkerfeldt‘s prog heroes can be heard as well. Songs like “Famine” traverse at a very slow and somber pace. “The Lines in My Hand” feature African/Latin-influenced percussion accompanied by classical guitars. The second half of “Folklore” comes out of left field with its ominous choir synthesizers and lead guitar.
Heritage is richly textured and expansive in construction while maintaining solid fluidity, unlike its predecessor Watershed, which was dark, diverse, and (arguably their strongest since Still Life). Fidelity is never over-cooked, perhaps under-cooked, but the results are grand. (Roadrunner Records)