For any band to change their approach to composition 4 albums into their releases is indeed a brave thing to do especially with an established following built up from that very partisan world of Death Metal. But that's exactly what Opeth have done. Their last album 'Heritage' began this hienous act of progression causing consternation amongst the diehard's, but it obviuously caused more of a consternation to Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt to produce more of the same old thing.
It's said "he began writing a bunch of songs in the old style but scrapped it a few songs in when he realised he was sick of the way it sounded".
Åkerfeldt's and Opeth's latest album 'Pale Communion' is a sumptuous wide screen drama of progressive rock. No more growling vocals and mosh pit riffing here, but spectacular harmonies that most prog bands would give their roadies for, set against a monster audio landscape of careful planning. This will really put the scare up some of their less than broad minded 'death' fans. Better face it guys Opeth are now progressive.
And what a sound it is. They can still produce a theme of sinister intent but from that dynamic now might be followed by a barely audible organ motif building a change of direction in the song or theme. This has more in common with classical composition than a heavy metal blitz. And of course being a Swedish production the sound is deep to say the least.
Why shouldn't musicians want to follow new directions. The Beatles did it every year for nearly a decade, Dylan has done it throughout his life. Jazz has done it for decades. Now Opeth have taken the choice of a new chapter in their world.
Vive La Change !. Or whatever that is in Swedish.
'Pale Communion' is available from the August 26th on Roadrunner Records. Pre-order it from the Opeth Store.
This is Opeth's official audio stream of the opening track 'Eternal Rains Will Come'.