EXCLUSIVE: Opeth's "Heritage": A Listener's Guide

 
Story: Leonard Pierce To call Opeth’s Heritage a departure from the band’s previous work would be a vast understatement.  While it obviously builds on previous tendencies developing within the group over the past decade, its sonic attack – removing death growls, while showcasing complex polyrhythms, unexpected guest instrumentalists, and brain-shifting chord progressions – now includes elements of art rock, prog, space rock, and even jazz fusion, giving it a feel entirely different from anything that’s come before. Listening to Heritage is way too enjoyable to be homework, and longtime fans and newcomers alike should feel free to dive right into its ’70s-flavored stew.  But in case you want a crib sheet for some of the strange sounds that will be clanging around inside your skull, we’ve prepared a list of some albums we think are key to fully appreciating the latest opus from Mikael Åkerfeldt and company. Van Der Graaf Generator, Pawn Hearts (1971) Right off the bat, Heritage’s title track makes it clear that this is anything but a typical metal album. “Heritage” starts out like it’s going to turn into, of all things, a jazz piano ballad, upright bass and all – but it never quite gets there, taking odd turns before fading into the prog-metal stun-gun that is “The Devil’s Orchard.” In this way, it resembles Pawn Hearts by quirky British outfit Van Der Graaf Generator: clever, darting pianos illuminating songs that never quite go where you’re expecting them to. King Crimson, Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (1973) If guitarist Robert Fripp and drummer Bill Bruford had a nastier side to them, they might well have included “The Devil’s Orchard” on this legendary prog-rock album.
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Spotify Playlist: Roadrunner In 2011

 
Sometimes you can lose track of all the stuff you've done because you're just too busy doing it. The year's far from over - we've got albums from Opeth, Machine Head, The Parlor Mob, Megadeth and Nickelback still to come - but it's already been a damn strong one in terms of releases.
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Video: Opeth Talks Album Art At Vintage Vinyl

 
The third and final installments of our video series documenting a trip by Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt and Fredrik Åkesson to the New Jersey record store Vintage Vinyl is up now. (The first and second clips can be seen here and here.) In this video, the two men discuss the Heritage album art, and the ways in which it differs from any of the band's previous covers.
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Video: Opeth Performs "Nepenthe" On Swedish TV!

 
Remember that clip we posted yesterday of Opeth performing "Pyre," one of the two bonus tracks from the deluxe edition of their forthcoming album Heritage, on Swedish morning television. Well, in still further proof of the total superiority of Swedish TV over American TV, the band actually played two songs that day, and here's the second one - an abbreviated version of "Nepenthe" (cut off by the closing credits), which is on all versions of Heritage. Check it out: There was also some interview footage with Mikael Åkerfeldt, but those clips were entirely in Swedish, so if you speak the language, head on over to the Nyhetsmorgon page to watch them (clip 1, clip 2).
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Opeth's "Heritage" Streaming On National Public Radio

 
The new Opeth album, Heritage, is streaming now on National Public Radio's website, and can be heard at this link. Heritage is Opeth's 10th studio album, and marks several major changes for the group, including being the final disc to feature keyboardist Per Wiberg and the first to include no "extreme" vocals at all, only clean singing throughout from frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt. Heritage can be pre-ordered now from Amazon or iTunes, and a deluxe boxed set edition is available at this link.
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