‘Heritage‘, the followup to 2008’s ‘Watershed‘, will be Opeth’s 10th studio release, the 2nd with guitarist Fredrik Åkesson and drummer Martin “Axe” Axenrot, the last release with keyboardist Per Wiberg and another landmark in the band’s highly respected 20 years of activity.
To say that ‘Heritage’ is the most anticipated album of the year would be an understatement. The band also adds to the anticipation by releasing the album’s surprisingly ‘different’ artwork, although that description is hardly new to such an innovative outfit.
If any band is best represented by its artwork theme, it would be Opeth. Over their musical career, the Swedish band has been collaborating with renowned artist Travis Smith to create their dark colored conceptual themes and obscure visual landscapes (see Morningrise (cover taken by Tuija Lindström of the Prior Park in Bath, England) and Blackwater Park), all possessing a spiritual like intensity (see Ghost Reveries and Still Life) that always matched the band’s underlying music.
So what’s going with the ‘Heritage’s artwork? First thing to notice here are the vibrant colors and the background nature elements (sun, hills, water, tree, barren land), all striking an immediate recollection of Renaissance art, a ‘different’ theme from their known Victorian somber concepts. In the distance lies a burning city, with people fleeing it and heading towards ‘the Opeth family tree’, with its comical display of the band members’ heads on the branches. Simply put, this might just mean that the band’s history has culminated up to this point, with a dedicated legion of fans that found solace out of their corrupted world and into Opethian lands.
Mikael Åkerfeldt added to the ambiguity / suspense of this release by stating that it will be “intense in some old murky way” and that “it’s certainly an acquired taste“. Given that everything Opeth-related is an acquired taste, from their ‘Damnation‘ album to their most recent ‘Throat of Winter‘ song on the God of War III EP, Micheal is keeping the feel of the album as surprise, hopefully a pleasant one.
Heritage’s artwork is nothing but confusing as to the direction of the band’s music. Still, knowing Opeth’s history of surpassing expectations, I can safely say that on September 20th 2011, ‘Heritage’ will shock the Metal world.
Opeth – The Devil’s Orchard