Written by: MGA on 18/01/2012 10:40:41

Opeth's latest album begins with two minutes of piano, a tried and true tactic for Opeth when opening an album. From there, usually it's a waiting game: how long will it take until Mikael Akerfeldt and company put away the 1970s progressive rock and break out the death metal and Akerfeldt's brutal growls that come with them?

On "Heritage", the band's tenth album, the answer is never. Fans of Opeth know the band presented a similar formula – all soothing, no brooding – back in 2003 with the release of "Damnation", but this time things are different. "Damnation" was the companion piece of 2002's "Deliverance", an album that was typical Opeth at arguably their finest. What makes "Heritage" a greater departure is the finality of it: not for one second on the album's 57 minutes does Opeth launch into anything resembling metal, let alone death metal. This is a band taking the formula that made them one of the world's finest extreme metal acts and tossing it out the window in favor of a sound Opeth has been flirting with for a decade.

And now, the flirting ends as Opeth finally goes steady with all prog rock all the time. While the band puts together a 10 track effort that feels solid no matter how many times you've listened to it, there’s never that "aha!" moment of clarity that comes after hearing an Opeth LP enough times.

"Heritage" is a pleasing album. Nowhere does it significantly deviate from the track of quality, but it also never leads into anything truly special. Tracks like "The Devil's Orchard" and "I Feel the Dark" are enjoyable slabs of prog, but other tracks reveal a band that sounds like it was more sick of playing death metal than inspired by playing solely prog rock. "Famine" lurches around for eight and a half minutes, and when it finally ends with a flurry of flute followed by piano closing the track out, it feels less like the end of a journey and more like the end of a dream you'll forget about in a few minutes.

Opeth's album is by no means bad, but there's no reason anyone would select this album over the band's previous nine unless they weren't Opeth fans to begin with. "Heritage" is the ultimate tease: it's an album that's tasty at the time, but never unfolds into the main course Opeth has proved it's capable creating. It would make a nice EP or companion album, but "Heritage" as a main course is a waste of not only an album cycle of writing and touring, but also the talent Opeth's members have been blessed with.

Download: The Devil’s Orchard, Slither, I Feel the Dark
For The Fans Of: Gojira, Mastodon, Bloodbath
Listen: Myspace

Release date 20.09.2011
Roadrunner Records

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