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Opeth Heritage album cover
3.81 | 1412 ratings | 68 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Heritage (2:05)
2. The Devil's Orchard (6:40)
3. I Feel the Dark (6:37)
4. Slither (4:00)
5. Nepenthe (5:37)
6. Häxprocess (6:58)
7. Famine (8:32)
8. The Lines in My Hand (3:49)
9. Folklore (8:17)
10. Marrow of the Earth (4:19)

Total Time 56:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Mikael Åkerfeldt / electric & acoustic guitars, Mellotron, grand piano, Fx, vocals, producer
- Fredrik Åkesson / electric guitars
- Per Wiberg / Hammond B3, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, grand piano
- Martin Mendez / bass, upright bass
- Martin Axenrot / drums, percussion

- Joakim Svalberg / grand piano (1)
- Björn J:son Lindh / flute (7)
- Alex Acuña / percussion (7)
- Charlie Dodd / sound Fx (6)
- Steven Wilson / Fx & vocals engineering and mixing

Releases information

Artwork: Travis Smith with Mikael Åkerfeldt (concept)

2LP Roadrunner Records ‎- 1686-177051 (2011, US)

CD Roadrunner Records ‎- 1686-177052 (2011, US)

Thanks to Lerxst88 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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OPETH Heritage ratings distribution

(1412 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

OPETH Heritage reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Jake Kobrin
3 stars 70/100 - Rounded to 3 stars.

Opeth can be regarded as a sort of niche band. Despite their (perhaps misplaced) label of 'death metal' they do not generally appeal to denizens of the corpse slashing and blood vomiting world in which death metal resides. Alternatively, despite their influences from progressive rock, they have not acquired much allegiance from the average cape-wearing, middle-aged progger, either. Instead they have carved out their own groove in the music scene, one in which people who are fans of the bombastic, technical flaunting of progressive rock, but also the hard driving pulse of extreme metal can gather and be both moved to tears and sent to verge of murder by the same band.

That was until now. With their latest offering, Heritage, Opeth have forsaken their signature 'heavy - soft - soft - heavy' template with an experimental album that is difficult to classify. Gone are the lion roars and double bass pounding of old, and what now sits in their place is... well... hard to put a finger on. As a journalist I'd like to be the first to introduce new and ridiculous labels to this album such as 'post-ghost-wave' or 'blackened-folk-prog.' To forsake your confusion, and to name adjectives that may actually resonate with readers, however, one could perhaps call this album 'progressive rock,' 'experimental,' 'folk,' etc. From the album cover alone, it shouldn't be very difficult to determine that Opeth were aiming for the kind of album that you'd find for about $2 at your local record store, but could later sell on eBay for a hefty profit. This album reeks of feigned obscurity, as if Mikael Akerfeldt wanted to craft an artwork that pays tribute to all of the weird albums that he's assembled in his record collection and enjoys teasing his friends about because they've never heard of them.

This is actually Opeth's second time recording an album devoid of metal elements and growling vocals, the first being their 2003 album Damnation. As opposed to Damnation, which was very soft, somber, and beautiful, however, Heritage is a much harder hitting artwork. Opeth have perhaps strayed into hard rock territory in the past (such as Watershed's Porcelain Heart) but it has never been such a central element of their sound until now. Some parts of the album are positively heavy, but never in a way that is overtly metallic. Of course there are some of Opeth's trademark finger-style acoustic passages, but much less, surprisingly, than what we've heard on their past records. One of the problems with this album, though, and what makes it so difficult to describe, is that there really isn't a staple sound. It's not a hard rock album, it's not a prog album, it's not a folk album, and it's not a metal album. Instead, it's a dizzying array of scattered eclecticity, which leaves the listener feeling tired and confused by the time it's over.

The production on this album was obviously aimed towards being 'vintage.' For whatever reason, they wanted to make this album sound like it was produced without any of the modern luxuries that are available in sound engineering but yet actually produced it with those tools. The result is ineffective, in my opinion. Some modern bands have been able to successfully emulate a vintage sound on their albums (Astra's The Weirding is a prime example) but Heritage comes off as sounding muddy, congealed, and, ultimately, cheap. It's dreadfully apparent that the band was trying to make it sound like they used vintage recording techniques, as opposed to actually using those techniques. That said, I have a soft spot for vintage keyboards and this album is chock full of Mellotron, Rhodes, and totally bad ass Hammond organ sounds (which are actually all real - no virtual instruments!) The drum kit that Martin 'Axe' Axenrot dragged out for this album sounds delightfully fat and vintage, as well.

There are virtues to listening to this album, certainly. The musicianship is as impeccable as anything else this band has released. Martin Mendez's bass playing is especially impressive, and Axe's drumming is much improved over his last attempt. Like Opeth's last two records, the keyboards are again a very dominant aspect of the music, and I can't help but think about how much I will miss Per Wiberg's playing while I listen to this album. Furthermore, there are some legitimately beautiful moments on this album, moments that made me yearn to hear more like them, and for them to exist for longer than the brief moments that they existed for.

The musicianship is where the virtues end, however. The songwriting on this album is for the most part, crudely underdeveloped. Every one of the songs on the album has shining moments but when regarded as a full song, or as an entire album, it's a mess. Any moments of gold that the band may have landed upon are immediately vanquished by the next random and unrelated passage that has been tacked next to it for whatever illogical reason. This may have been the case with all Opeth's albums, but for some reason it worked. Perhaps it was the melding of extremes that this album is lacking that leaves the weakness of the songwriting so sorely exposed? As the last track comes to a close, what the listener is left with are a bunch of scattered moments amidst a sea of wankery and weirdness...

' And Opeth loves to flaunt their irregularities. The melodic structure of this album is, vaguely stated, unkosher. Mikael lives to write songs that utilize weird dis-harmonic guitar riffs and are basically devoid of any key or modality. Such music has been successful in the past, but by composers that were already thoroughly versed in 'standard' music theory before they decided to venture into uncharted territory and break the rules. Mikael Akerfeldt is completely unaware that these rules even exist, and most of his attempts at the avant-garde sound simply 'weird' and 'unpleasant'... and not in a good way. (Bartok, anyone?)

The vocals are the worst that Mikael Akerfeldt has ever recorded, and the lyrics are just as bad. Whereas in the past Akerfeldt was quite at home with a gentle, warm, and sort of Greg Lake style medieval crooning, he is entirely out of his comfort zone throughout Heritage. He attempted a kind of hard rock and belting singing style, occasionally aiming for his falsetto, but never actually on pitch. The vocals gyrate in a manner that is most bizarre. Why he could not simply choose a note and sing it, and had to instead warble over every tone that surrounds it, is completely beyond me. Some of the lyrics caused me to literally cringe. I shutter to recall the almost ICP-esque stanza 'Feel the pain | In your brain | insane.' Maybe his 4 year old daughter wrote that one?

In general, though, I think this album is pretty decent. It's listenable, interesting, and, however disorganized, actually has some brilliant material on it. I hope that Opeth continue with this new style, and perfect it. For the sake of the band's future, I also hope that Mikael Akerfeldt finds the writing partner that he so desperately needs, or that at least some of the band members will muster the courage to tell him 'Dude that part was sh!t, let's cut that.' I feel surprisingly apathetic to dish out such a scathing review of a band I once loved more than any other in music... Perhaps I already said my farewell years ago, like an elderly relative who's brain has already withered away in the wake of Alzheimer's but has yet to actually meet the grave? Apathy or something more predetermined, I'll miss Opeth and the music I once loved so dearly.

Highlights: I Feel the Dark, Haxprocess, Marrow of the Earth

Lowdarks: Famine, Nepenthe

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Heritage' - Opeth (5/10)

Opeth is a band that is famous for turning metalheads into prog rock fans. It was the other way for me; these Swedish titans introduced me to the world of extreme metal, a sound that I found myself averse to at first, but have since come to embrace as a realm where some of rock music's most visionary talents dwell. Although 'Morningrise' and 'Ghost Reveries' in particular have since engrained an indelible etch on my heart though, the past year saw my appreciation for this band has waned, virtually leading me to renounce my Opeth fandom; while brilliant at first, their style wore thin for me, perhaps from one too many listens to the now painfully familar soft-heavy dynamic. With that being said, let it be known that this reviewer may have had a slight bias against this band's work now. Hopefully however, my fatigue of Opeth hasn't stopped me from judging their latest album 'Heritage' on its merits.

While Opeth is best known for epic progressive death metal with strong acoustic elements and melancholic atmosphere, they are also known to deviate from that course, albeit only once in a while. The first shift away from metal was heard on 2003's 'Damnation', a mellow and depressing interlude between the heaviness of 'Deliverance', and the refined mastery of 'Ghost Reveries'. Although this was certainly a step away from what the band was used to doing, there was still the distinct Opeth-y vibe to it; the riffs were definitely the creation of Opeth main man Mikael Akerfeldt, and the feeling of the music remained relatively unchanged from the band's earlier incarnations. After 2008's 'Watershed', it was clear to many fans that Opeth was on the brink of another change- after all, only three of that album's seven tracks featured any death growls at all. Let me cut to the point; it came as little surprise that Opeth was now going to do something different with their sound. I loved what they did with 'Damnation', but as far as hearing that Opeth was planning on doing a '70s retro rock album, I was disappointed, even months before the album came out. All too many bands already in prog were looking back to the 1970's for their sound, and I was not enthralled by the news that Opeth was following suit.

After hearing 'Heritage' finally, I have a lot of things to say about it, and simultaneously I am both impressed, yet immensely disappointed. I am impressed for the fact that Opeth has been able to make a new style here while maintaining many of their trademark sounds, and the music here does not sound nearly as '70s derived as I feared it would be. On the less positive note, I have been immensely disappointed by the fact that- above and beyond, this is the most unbalanced thing that Opeth has ever done, and hopefully ever will do. I cannot see myself ever having the same appreciation for this record as I do for anything else that Opeth has done. Even still, amidst all of the confusion and disappointment that this record has created for me, there are still things that pleasantly surprised me along the way.

As far as their style goes, we still hear the interplay between acoustic parts and heavier moments, but the big change here is that all traces of death metal have been extracted out of the formula. Unlike 'Damnation', Opeth can still be heavy here, but it is heaviness in the same way that a band like Uriah Heep was heavy; gritty and over the top, with all the bombast but lacking the extremity. It is clear that- true to the reports- Opeth aims for a vintage proggy hard rock style, with pros and cons included. Even by looking at the cover of this album, it looks to me that Mikael Akerfeldt is giving a tongue-in-cheek tribute to his prog rock idols with this one, and it is reflected in the music as well; bluesy rock riffs, jazzy drumming, and plenty of keyboard textures. All the same, Opeth is clever enough here to lean towards a certain sound, without necessarily copying it note for note.

While I was pleasantly intrigued by the fresh take on the '70s prog style that Opeth crafted here, the songwriting that presents this style was another matter entirely. Even devoting several intent listens to the music on 'Heritage', I cannot describe the compositions here as anything but lackluster, underwhelming, aimless, synonyms, synonyms. The songs felt like a continental breakfast buffet at some second-rate chain hotel; there's plenty of variety to choose from, but they don't provide half of the equipment to cook the damned stuff. Much of these ideas felt like gimmicks rather than heartfelt musical observations, with a few moments making me wonder if Akerfeldt's only goal here was to sound strange or obscure to his fans. With a band of this talent, there's definitely aspects to the sound that score, but 'Heritage' is filled with a lot more misses than otherwise. Highlights of this album included the eerie title-track introduction, 'Nepenthe', parts of 'Famine', and the rather enjoyable climax 'Folklore'. While I might even say that each track on 'Heritage' has at least one interesting aspect about it, none of these songs stand much against the true greats that Opeth has churned out in earlier years.

Like most of this album, the performances and production here is given a largely mixed result. The first thing I really noticed about 'Heritage' that impressed me was actually the drumming, provided here by Martin Axenrot. While drums are usually something that takes me several listens before I start really listening in on it, I was immediately struck by both Axenrot's incredible jazz-tinged performance, and the richly organic way the drums sounded. I would even say that this is the best drumwork I have yet heard on an Opeth record. Coming in as my other favourite aspect of 'Heritage' is the keyboard wizardry of Per Wiberg, who doesn't necessarily wow audiences with technical skills here, but instead makes his mark by using a wide variety of vintage key sounds (think Mellotron, or Hammond organ) and using them tastefully. This gives a nice layer over the otherwise disappointing, grimy, and dull-sounding guitar riffs, which- once again- are among the worst that I have yet heard on an Opeth album. With Per's keyboard performance here being so vivid, it's a real shame that this is the last we'll hear of him with the band.

As I've said, the guitar riffs here are boring for the most part, and whatever pleasant aspects of 'Heritage' there are, are usually left to keyboards, drums, or other less expected instruments, like the flute. Lastly is Mikael Akerfeldt's voice on 'Heritage', as well as the lyrics. I'm beginning to sense a pattern in my disappointment here; Akerfeldt's performance here is mixed, with some moments benefiting from his warm tenor, and others feeling more like he's forcing himself to sound like some obscure hard rock singer than making a necessary artistic choice. And the lyrics; while I considered Mikael Akerfeldt to be something of a death metal poet with opuses 'Still Life' and all else, I cringed once or twice with the contrived rhymes that Mikael was trying to pass here; take a look at some of the lyrics on 'The Lines In My Hand' and you might see what I mean.

So there you have it; with another year comes another Opeth album, and for the first time in my life, I've been really let down by them, the band I once thought could do no wrong. There are plenty of interesting ideas on 'Heritage', but while listening to this, I get the recurring image of sifting through Trail Mix when I was a kid; having to rummage through the nuts and berries to get the chocolate crisps. Opeth can certainly be hailed for trying something new with their sound, but as far as experiments go, I would consider this as lukewarm, rather than the dazzling masterpiece some may have hoped it to be.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fascinating album! How many times can a band re-invent themselves? Like Conor above, I was immediately impressed with the drumming on this album. It is absolutely stunning. ANd, overall, I have to say that this is my favorite Opeth sound. I love the keys, am blown away by all musicians' skills and touch, actually really enjoy the vocals, but agree that the music seems to never really go anywhere. There is so little structure and/or point to each song's development as to leave me wondering--after almost every song-- what were they trying to do there? These are not so much songs as impressionist pieces, or, better, Zen pieces: every moment could and does lead to something raw and unexpected. More RIO/Avant, to my ears. I am more reminded of YUGEN, HENRY COW, and UNIVERS ZERO (and maybe a little JETHRO TULL??--even ZAPPA) here than anything else. Still, this is a very interesting album-- one that I will return to many times, I'm sure--which is more than I can say for "Still Life," "Blackwater Park" or "Damnation"--all of which I appreciate. I just don't feel the desire to revisit them very often. Nice job, OPETH. Check this album out. It really is worth it.
Review by JJLehto
4 stars Perhaps Opeth's most controversial album yet.

There was a lot of talk about it before we even got a listen, how it was going to suck, how could Opeth just rip off 70's prog rock, how it was going to be either a totally mellow album or jazz fusion (something I'd like to see)! Sure enough upon its release there was plenty of criticism thrown at it, either due to the lack of growls and death metal, that you might as well just listen to 70's prog, that it's aimless and incoherent and even that you shouldn't bother because Opeth has been a "hipster band" ever since after Still Life.

I only say all this because it pains me to see that one of my all time favorite bands has gotten to a point where so many seem to have stopped really listening/look to find reasons to hate it... but onto the review.

"Heritage" is the superior clean Opeth album,(and I really like "Damnation"). If you need growls and death metal heaviness, well you won't find it here. However, this is NOT a Damnation 2, it's quite different from it actually. There is still heaviness, in a 70's way, and sometimes even outright (though never death metal levels). There is even double bass drumming and lots of rocking out.

Musically, Opeth has done it again, with great guitar work from all over the map. The keyboard/mellotron is quite prominent as is the bass, (usually not high in the Opeth mix). Mendez can really be heard on pretty much every song. Also the drumming is quite good. Axenrot had a tough seat to fill replacing the awesome Martin Lopez, but his work on Watershed was just too straightforward. He is much improved here, with flavorful jazzy tinged drumming and there are quite a few drum breaks, like Akerfeldt made a point to defend and showcase him.

I personally don't find the music aimless and incoherent. With all songs under 9 minutes, and 8 of them under 7 minutes, I'd think they'd be a bit more direct actually. Opeth fans are used to the clean/heavy/clean/heavy format, which has been abandoned on "Heritage" and instead the songs are more genuinely progressive.

I'm glad, because while unique and successful, by the time "Watershed" came around the band could use a change of pace. Some songs do indeed sound drifty, but I like that. I guess if you crave structure and obviously crafted songs you may feel a bit lost, but the driftyness is relaxing and often beautiful. Also, be certain that all these songs are definitely composed and move somewhere.

I'll admit, on first listen "Heritage" can be sound a bit underwhelming, especially with it's pretty prominent use of silence at times, but there is a lot going on. Not only are the songs more progressive, they are pretty textured. The song structures are good, with great melodies, rhythms and sections, and shorter lengths actually allow it to get to the point a bit quicker and not ramble.

So, "Heritage" is still Opeth but just a bit cleaner and lighter, but with songwriting just as strong. There is no weak song, but some standouts are the awesome and progressive "I feel the Dark" and the rocking "The Lines in My Hand". There is good variation as "Slither" is more up tempo while "Nepenthe" is quite mellow. The album starts with the piano ballad title track, and ends with the light, acoustic guitar ballad of "Marrow of the Earth" (which unless in name only, does not appear to be a tribute to Agalloch).

A different, but strong output by Opeth. Fans of the band, I urge you to listen with an open mind and keep any talk/rumors out while you form an opinion, and do give it some time. Most fans of Opeth should be pleased. Now if they would just make a jazz rock album my dreams would truly be granted.

Four Stars

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A stunning masterpiece tribute to the 70s.

No death metal growls! I would like to personally thank every reviewer here who stated that fact. Okay, now we have got that out of the way we can commence (I loathe the over abundance of death growls in prog). Allow me to get personal for a moment. I love this album for the same reason I loved 'Damnation'. Akerfeldt has a great voice and he uses it well on this album, and the band are inventive virtuoso musicians and they are incredible on this release. I discovered Opeth on 'Damnation' and adored every part of it. I was completely dismayed after this that 'Deliverance', my next Opeth album, was infested with death metal growling. I had discarded that style years ago, it simply is not for me. I don't mind that others like it, I used to also, but I can't stand it now. So I decided that Opeth was not for me. Opeth get rave reviews such as the incredibly diverse Watershed and Ghost Reveries that I had to dip my toes in again and I was actually quite pleased with what I heard, thinking perhaps Opeth is for me, I just have to skip the tracks that don't appeal. Not ideal I know but they are excellent musos and deserve recognition. Anyway, I read the reviews for the new album and all of them said the same thing ' no death metal vocals. Okay, here we go. I had no idea I was going to encounter a throwback to the 70s! Here are the tracks.

1. Heritage and 2. The Devil's Orchard - After a quiet melancholy piano intro accompanied by bassist Martin Mendez. Track 2 seamlessly begins with the gorgeous Hammond sound of the 70s. Then we are treated to a King Crimson guitar polyrhythm ' The Black Sabbath dark lyrics and atmosphere is unmistakeable.

3 I Feel the Dark - An acoustic intro, a steady beat, inspired singing, spacey effects, time sig changes, lots of beautiful flute.

4 Slither - A heavier sound but still no metal distortion. More classic Sabbath guitar and keyboards, awesome riffs, a Hammond organ shimmering, an excellent lead break and some minimalist acoustic.

5 Nepenthe - Begins with soft acoustics, and weird jazz improvised drums, very slow pace and key pads. Akerfeldt is great with clean vocals sounding like like Camel. There are Psych prog embellishments, and reflective lyrics; 'in my darkest hour, yes, trust me with the light'. A King Crimson style guitar riff locks in, with soaring lead guitar, then more jazz drums. This is a real oddity, but quite entrancing, then a screaming killer lead solo breaks in, but suddenly drops out for an ambient passage of keys and guitar with those brush drums. Vocals return, singing, 'She would haunt my dreams,' and after a verse it's over. Opeth are a new animal here, and I love it. It's not prog metal, its eclectic mixed with jazz fusion.

6 Haxprocess - This incredible track features some very strange time sig that almost feels improvised, and thee is a very strong dark atmosphere. Akerfeldt is extremely quiet, and sounds like the early 70s. Ambient effects of acoustic and dark sustained key pads create a bleak feeling of despair. Finally a rhythmic guitar begins and some Gothic lyrics with surreal imagery focussing on 'one eternal winter' and 'one forgotten season, secrets in the mire, moon is riding high, save your children, drenched in poverty, tracks in the snow,' The guitar solo is completely devoid of any rhythm, and all other instruments drop out. There is beauty in the playing, and I am in awe of how much this sounds like Latimer or Hackett. The sound of children's playful voices is heard and later a haunting piano in the distance. The atmosphere is uninviting but very Opeth.

7 Famine - This is a long song at over 8 minutes beginning with a Jethro Tull flute, strange crying effects, a low drone and then African tom tom drums. Sad vocals and lyrics sing slowly over a lonely piano, 'I can't see your face and I can't breathe your air, so I wonder why I get caught inside when I hear your name.' Immediately a Fripp like guitar chimes in, and then blasts of drums and a massive Hammond crashing on the chords, sheer prog bliss. Akerfeldt's voice rises in pitch and it is a stand out moment on this album. The musicianship is unrepentant of the 70s sound, it seems it is designed to pay tribute to those classic 70s prog bands. The lyrics are even as weird as the 70s psych prog, 'Into the fire of my youth comes the devil again, when you feel your way, feel your way'. The song gets surreal and detours into new time sig territory, with very sporadic metrical patterns and crazy freakout Hammond and flute. There is a dissonant jazz feel and a bizarre riff that is impossible to pin down at first but it settles into an ethereal warbling flute over acoustic flourishes. The music draws me in as Akerfeldt sings with longing and pain, 'I would die, my heart was empty, come a ghost in perpetual void and neglect our reasons why'. Cue an echo and Ian Anderson must have channelled his presence as that is his flute. The droning organ caps off one of the best Opeth tracks, certainly the most experimental. The sepulchral laughing voice at the end is downright creepy and preternatural. How could you not be mesmirised by all this high strangeness? Opeth are going out on a limb and just taking too many risks but it actually works. Check this track out as it typifies the new Opeth approach.

8 The Lines in My Hand - This one returns to good old classic rock with cool riffs and spacey psych synthesizer. Akerfeldt sounds great on vocals and the verse is repeated over and over speaking about 'dying in the wake'. The acoustic breaks are well executed and there are so many various time changes and instrumental breaks to indulge in. The song changes mid way through with a kind of Camel style, as Akerfeldt sings 'the writing's on the wall'. I loved this track, and perhaps this would be the one to check out along with Famine to find out whether this album is really for you.

9 Folklore - Guitarist Fredrik Akesson presents a wonderful clean guitar for an intro, but it sounds great and the riff is missing a beat or two which is unsettling to the ears but very progressive for that reason. The vocals sound like the effect on Sabbath's Planet Caravan processed through an effects vocoder, very 70s, 'Hey you, will you, be true, when you can.' The shimmering Hammond waits around the corner and blasts now and then like an old friend. I like the melody that is consistently out of sync, if that makes sense. I like the part with the lyrics, 'lost control, call your name, left me home, pouring rain, in the sea, of guilt and shame, we just stay'. The music even feels uplifting for a change, and the guitar solo is excellent old classic rock style. It fades away like an old 70s vinyl album.

10 Marrow of the earth - The last one may be one of the highlights in terms of beautiful guitar playing for Opeth. It is a dominant acoustic feel throughout, and very mellow vibes are created so well, the finger work is excellent.

So now we have two Opeths - the heavy death metal Opeth such as on 'Deliverance', 'Still Life' and 'Blackwater Park', and we have the other Opeth that is full blown progressive such as on 'Damnation', 'Ghost Reveries' and now 'Heritage'. You will perhaps be a fan of one or the other, but not both so this will be a test for Opeth's fanbase and how they will incorporate these tracks with the likes of those on 'Ghost Reveries' is beyond me, but they will.

There were always quiet proggy moments on Opeth albums but this is their most progressive album I would suggest. It actually goes to great lengths to be as progressive as eclectic and symphonic bands of the 70s and even reminds me of Pain of Salvation and Riverside and of course Porcupine Tree, as Steven Wilson helmed the mixing again. This will no doubt alienate the huge fan base, but Opeth were never going to remain in one genre, they never have and that is why they are so endearing. I for one am pleased with this new approach and hope they stick to it as they do it so well. This is my favourite Opeth album hands down, and I am a dedicated Opeth convert if they continue on this path.

Review by J-Man
4 stars Since their formation back in 1990, Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth have never been a stranger to experimentation. After establishing themselves as one of the most unique bands on the metal scene with Orchid and Morningrise, the band constantly pushed the boundaries of their sound with every new release. 2003's Damnation even saw Mikael Åkerfeldt's brainchild abandon all of their metal influences in favor of a mellow progressive rock sound. Heritage, the tenth studio album from these extreme progressive metal legends, is sure to be met with more controversy than any of their previous releases. Not only has the band entirely shifted away from their death metal roots, but they've seemingly abandoned their melancholic and bleak style of progressive rock as well. Unlike Damnation - an album that had Opeth's trademark sound all over it - Heritage is a radical departure from everything we've come to expect from the band. This is retro 70's progressive rock in its purest form, and whether or not it is enjoyable entirely depends on the listener. Don't expect any growls, death metal sections, or crushing dynamics of their earlier releases - if you come into this album expecting a progressive death metal masterpiece, you'll be in for the disappointment of a lifetime. I personally miss the bleak atmospheres, crushingly heavy death metal portions, and light/dark dynamics of their previous releases, but there's no denying that Heritage is an exceptional observation.

The most important thing to mention when discussing Heritage is that it is not an easy album to get into. The compositions (for me, at least) initially felt rather disjointed and lifeless, and the true beauty of the pieces didn't begin to shine through until about seven or eight listens. Even then, Heritage still leaves you with plenty of room to explore the deep soundscapes that Opeth have created. My biggest initial complaint was that all of the songs seem to jump from one section to another without any warning - something that still holds true even with a greater understanding of the album, but things do eventually begin to make more sense. The seemingly random electric piano lick in "Nepenthe", for example, does eventually feel less jagged than it does during your first spin of the CD. All of Opeth's albums can be considered "growers" to some extent, but Heritage is possibly their most inaccessible and demanding work to date. The death metal purists may dismiss this album after a mere few listens, but people looking for a deep musical experience should make sure they give Heritage all of the attention it deserves before reaching any conclusions.

The album begins with the tranquil acoustic piano title track that segues right into the heavy progressive rock of "The Devil's Orchard". This song kicks things off in high gear, and is filled with complex riffs, soaring Hammond organs, and jazzy drumming. King Crimson is a very obvious point of reference on this track - very different from anything Opeth have done before. The highlights of Heritage are the very moody "I Feel the Dark", the fusion- influenced "Nepenthe", the stunning "Haxprocess" (one of my favorite Opeth tracks of all time), the epic "Folklore", and beautiful instrumental track "Marrow of the Earth". "Slither" is a more straightforward heavy metal piece, and sounds like something straight off of a Deep Purple or Ronnie James Dio album. The fast riffs, soaring Hammond organ, and blinding guitar solo characterize this song until the serene acoustic outro begins. "Famine" is the longest track on the album, and features a rather eclectic mix of sections - just listen to that Jethro Tull-influenced flute section in the middle! I find this to be the most incoherent song on the album, but it isn't without its strong points either. "The Lines in My Hand" is a shorter track that features some nice keyboard playing from Per Wilberg and excellent vocal work from Mikael Åkerfeldt.

From a purely objective point of view, Heritage is one of the most impressive Opeth albums to date. The sheer strength of the musicianship and the retro-sounding production show a band at the top of their game, and the strong music to go along with it makes this one hell of an album. The first two things that jump out to me when we're talking about the musicianship are the remarkable retro keyboard tones from Per Wilberg and the jazz- influenced drumming from Martin Axenrot. Both deliver the performances of their careers on Heritage - it's a bit of a shame that Per Wilberg parted ways with Opeth shortly prior to the album's release. Martin Mendez's fluid bass playing is also excellent, and Mikael Åkerfeldt and Frederik Åkesson's dual guitar work is spectacular. The acoustic guitar sections are especially impressive here.

So there you have it - one of the most controversial albums in 2011, but also one of my favorites. Opeth may have abandoned a large portion of their fanbase with Heritage, but this just shows that these guys are always willing to experiment with new sounds and never succumb to treading on previously covered territory. Fans of retro progressive rock will find plenty to love here, and I think the more open-minded metalheads should be entertained as well. Opeth have really taken a risk with Heritage, and I'd say that they've succeeded for the most part. These Swedish legends have done much better than this throughout their twenty-plus year career, but there's no doubt that it is an excellent addition to their catalog. 4 stars are very well-deserved in this case. I do hope that Opeth eventually returns to making bleak progressive death metal, but as a one-off experiment, Heritage is a refreshing change of pace.

Review by Tony R
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Respect your heritage.

Clean vocals, 70s Prog and Classic Rock, transition away from Death Metal, homage to influences: Camel, Floyd, Rainbow, Jazz Fusion. Sink or swim time for Akeldfeldt and Opeth. Death Metal fans estranged.

That just about sums up Opeth's attempt at a tradionally-styled and themed Progressive Rock album. On early listens I was entranced by Akeldfeldt's attempt to re-invent the band as a Prog behemoth and I still find the album an enjoyable listen. I was never a fan of traditional Death Metal vocals but their absence seems to have taken away the pure visceral excitement of their best albums from that genre. As an experiment it is interesting and worthy but ultimately I have downgraded my original assessment to 3.5/5 but am happy to award 4 stars.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For months before the release of Heritage the word from Mikael Akerfeldt was that the next Opeth would be totally different to anything the band had done before - their seventies prog album. It's also their second album to dispense totally with the death metal vocals, the first being Damnation, but Heritage is totally different. Where Damnation was a very mellow and largely acoustic album, Heritage, whilst sharing some of the qualities evident on that release at times is not by any stretch in the same ball park containing heavy elements, though not metal which is dispensed with entirely. How the death metal contingent of fans deals with this I can only imagine! However if you're a fan who was open minded enough to enjoy Damnation then you should have no problem accepting this.

Akerfeldt's love of seventies rock and prog is no secret and has always been an influence on Opeth. That Heritage is influenced by seventies prog is not in dispute - take a look at the cover, but they've been clever enough to not make those influences blatantly obvious and despite the dissimilarity to anything they've done before, strangely enough it still sounds like an Opeth album. In fact the only really obvious inspiration is from Deep Purple and Rainbow, the best example being the excellent up tempo Slither which is Kill The King in disguise. The bulk of the influence being in a feel rather than a particular sound, having a warm organic prescence.

Despite Watershed, their last album capturing them on home turf in prog metal mode, it did stray from the bands formula (upsetting many long term fans in the process) enough to lay the groundwork for some of what we get here. For example, parts of I Feel The Dark does bear a resemblance to the end of Hex Omega and the mood of the mellower parts shares a similar vibe at times. Yes, Heritage does have many mellow reflective moments, something they've always done of course and if I had a complaint it would be that there's perhaps a few too many, sometimes the music taking off only briefly before returning to peace and tranquillity. This however is only a minor complaint as Heritage is a brilliant piece of work, not an immediate album by any stretch of the imagination, requiring perseverance, but the rewards are more than worth it. Its major strength is the subtle haunting melodies that prevail throughout, interspersed between heavier moments, which are not in short supply despite my earlier comment. There's also funk, on Nepenthe for example, something of course that Deep Purple weren't averse to.

The band play brilliantly with drummer Martin Axenrot seizing the seventies challenge and putting away one of his kick drums in the process, rolling double bass patterns not to found anywhere. It's a shame that this is keyboardist Per Wilberg's last outing with the band, his vintage sound and parts being integral to the overall feel. As already mentioned death metal vocals are totally out and Akerfeldt's clean tones, which have always been there of course, are in fine fettle.

Heritage is not an album to dip into, being best digested as a whole. It's a very brave album destined to upset many fans but for the open-minded an excellent piece of work. It probably won't be regarded as their best by many though (but for me it's not far off) and whether the band go further down this road remains to be seen. I for one wouldn't mind and if death metal vocals are gone for good that's also fine by me. This album however is going to, even if only for this one release, gain a lot of new fans for the band. One of the albums of the year for sure. 4 ½ stars.

Review by horza
3 stars Been a long time since I wrote a review - so here goes. I actually felt so strongly about this album that I wanted to review it here to share my thoughts. I saw Opeth during the Ghost Reveries tour and then again on the Watershed tour. In my opinion Ghost Reveries was/is a classic album and Watershed was an acceptable follow-up. Opeth tour Scotland in November again and as I turn 50 in that month I was looking forward to seeing them. That was before buying Heritage - the special edition of course. The album opens with 'The Throat of Winter' and features melanchony meanderings on piano. Its not a demanding track to listen to and it sets the tone and would have made a nice final track on Watershed. The next track 'The Devil's Orchard' is retro-prog and sounds quite 'muggy' in places. It's one of the better tracks and has a quiter passage in the middle. 'I Feel the Dark' opens with nice acoustic guitar and builds slowly. The vocals are crisp and clear, and as everyone knows by now, there are no death growls on this album. I can live with that because I really like Mikael's vocals. This track actually sounds like Opeth, and if that sounds a strange thing to say then read on. The next track 'Slither' is where I think Akerfeldt is taking the piss. This song is a traditional rocker and sounds like Rainbow. I appreciate that it might be some kind of tribute to Ronnie James Dio but the guitar lead halfway through is pure Rithchie Blackmore. This track should have been a bonus track added on at the end. I don't want to hear Rainbow/Dio tributes on an Opeth album to be honest. 'Nepenthe' only comes alive two thirds in and then fades away again. It's not a classic. Haxprocess is pretty dire and belongs (as Opeth might say) 'in the mire'. The next track 'Famine' opens with free form jazz flute - not a good sign. Demonic rumblings follow and then piano. This track has elements of Tull/Gentle Giant/VDGG in it. I don't like it. The next track is more my cup of tea - 'The Lines In My Hand' is a busy-sounding song with the drummer to the fore. 'Folklore' has a Wishbone Ash intro which is quite pleasant. The vocals are absolutely Jethro Tull-ish. I think this is the problem with this album for me. It's not enough like Opeth. Certainly not the Opeth that I have seen on the previous two tours. I've decided to go see Dream Theater in February in Scotland. At least their new album was not the disappointment that Heritage was for me.
Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Opeth's second non-metal album is a marvel, an intriguing and slowly growing album that may fail to make much sense at first, but one that kept seducing me into it's attractive 70's gloom. At about 20 listens I finally feel confident enough to review it.

Without the metal sound, the compositions on 'Heritage' initially seem to miss the unifying glue that ties everything together on regular Opeth albums. So at first some songs sound quite haphazard and fragmented. Well, that's how much real Prog albums sound in my ears and this one is not an exception. It just takes time, an expensive luxury in these days of fast moving mp3-goods. I admit I had to throw away my initial draft of this review entirely and I'm sure this album's appreciation will suffer from rushed judgements. Also your expectations might stand in the way of the music. So for whomever who wouldn't know yet, this is not metal, not extreme, and also no 'Damnation II'.

And there's so much to enjoy. The more bluesy and rocking approach works wonderfully well for Opeth and the breathy and dynamic arrangements reveal the brilliant musicianship that usually got obscured by the thick guitar wall. Especially Mendez can be enjoyed as he curls his fluid bass lines around Axe's superb drumming. I may have criticized Axe's rather rigid approach on 'Watershed' but here he makes me forget Lopez altogether, as he can be busy as well as subtle, rocking as well as swinging. And of course there's Per Wiberg who can be heard like never before. There's also none of the disinterested growls or formulaic metal that made 'Watershed' such a disappointment for me.

We're a good 15 years after their debut 'Orchid' but the music from 'Heritage' is simply light-years away from that chillingly black atmosphere of yore. It's a change that not all fans will welcome but I'm happy that Opeth always managed to reinvent themselves whenever they seemed to be stuck in a rut. This is a refreshing listen, and much preferred over having yet another album where Akerfeldt's heart wasn't into anymore. It's not a match for BWP or Ghost Reveries, but different, and genius as well.

PS. Please get the version with the DVD surround mix and 2 more yummy tracks.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars See what happens when Mikael Akerfeldt pays attention to my reviews? We get a fine Opeth album that I can be proud to listen to in my car, with the windows open.

Seriously, this is an excellent album. Not quite a masterpiece, but it is my favorite Opeth album so far, even better than "Damnation".

With the title "Heritage", and the pre-release announcement that this album would not have any "growling" vocals, I expected this to be something of a tribute album to Opeth's idols. And it may be. But other than the very beginning of The Devil's Orchard, which sounds like it was inspired by Yes' Heart Of The Sunrise, for just enough bars to get the idea, and Ian Anderson-like flute in Famine, this album sound totally original to me.

The compositions are mature and layered, with nuances that come out after repeated listenings. The only things taking points away to my ears are too heavy a reliance on Middle Eastern motifs, and a muddy, washed out bass sound (as an ex-bass player, that's a sin).

So far, my favorite album of the year.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I've been holding off on my review for "Heritage" simply because i've been trying to find the right words to express how I feel about this latest OPETH album. Maybe I should take a step back so you know where i'm coming from. I'm not big on growly vocals but on albums like "Blackwater Park" and Still Life" I think they serve to make the more laid back sections sound even more amazing. So while i'm thankful they toned things down it's not without it's consequences."Damnation" will always be my favourite OPETH album and it is unique in their catologue not just because there are no growls but because the music is atmospheric and non-metal. It's a seamless album with mellotron, melancholy and atmosphere throughout and it moves me incredibly. "Heritage" is a big change in style for this band and again it's not just because there are no growls. There's also none of that low end distortion and the mixing of metalic sounds. The instruments here all can be heard clearly and the drummer certainly gets a chance to show what he's got, and he has plenty by the way. There are several sections that remind me of "Damnation" which I enjoy but overall i'm far from being blown away by this.Travis Smith did one of his best ever album covers here. It's fantastic !

"Heritage" is Per offering up some laid back piano melodies throughout. "The Devil's Orchard" opens with outbursts of sound including some powerful organ. I like when the vocals come in around a minute. When it settles 3 minutes in i'm reminded of "Damnation". Great section. It kicks back in and we get some soaring guitar late. "I Feel The Dark" is mellow with reserved vocals and acoustic guitar. A beat and mellotron-like sounds roll in. It kicks into gear around 3 minutes and guitar comes to the fore before 4 1/2 minutes. It settles back a minute later. "Slither" is dedicated to Ronnie James Dio. This is an uptempo rocker although it calms down before 3 minutes to the end. "Nepenthe" has a quiet intro then vocals come in just before 1 1/2 minutes. It starts to build then settles back as contrasts continue.

"Haxprocess" is dark and melancholic. Reserved vocals before a minute then it kicks in fuller at 2 1/2 minutes. The mellotron-like sounds bring "Damnation" to mind. It's laid back with guitar before 5 1/2 minutes. "Famine" opens with atmosphere as percussion joins in from none other than Alex Acuna (WEATHER REPORT etc). Piano at 1 1/2 minutes then reserved vocals. Guitar before 3 minutes as it builds then kicks in. It settles then kicks in heavily as contrasts continue. "The Lines In My Hand" is a little more uptempo than most of the ttracks on here but it's not heavy. The vocals and drumming standout. "Folklore" picks up after a minute then distorted vocals come in. It kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes with normal vocals as themes are repeated. "Marrow of Then Earth" has this "Damnation"- like guitar throughout. Very nice. It's a little fuller after 3 minutes.

A low 4 stars and far from their best in my opinion, and this is from a guy who's not big on growly vocals.

Review by Muzikman
5 stars Review of the CD/DVD Deluxe Edition

Mikael Akerfeldt (guitar, lead vocals), Martin Mendez (bass), Fredrik Akesson (guitar), Martin Axenrot (drums) and Joakim Svalberg (keyboards) are Opeth.

It has been a long time since I sat down and reviewed an Opeth album (Lamenations: Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire-2004). They have always been one of those bands that made Death Metal livable. That dynamic along with the fact that they are incredibly talented musicians that can make ferocious progressive rock and beautiful passages all within minutes of each other in one song has made them a favorite of mine. In fact, they literally define the term progressive in every sense of the word.

It has been a long wait for the next Opeth opus. Watershed was released in 2008 so the band's fans were more than ready for this new release, but did they know what was in store? Several years ago I mentioned in a review that I thought all the from-the-belly growling was unnecessary because Mikael Akerfeldt has a great voice and one fitting for rockers and the ability to carry the beauty of softer soundscapes to another place. I still don't get the growling thing and probably never will but have accepted the fact that it is part of the style and genre. That being said Heritage (engineered by Steven Wilson) was a welcome addition to my collection because the band decided to leave the growling behind for the first time and let Akerfeldt lend his golden pipes to their complex and intriguing compositions. I would think the Death Metal fans out there will be disappointed with what they will hear on this release however if they are hardcore Opeth fans and appreciate excellent music; they will forgive them and enjoy this presentation and everything it has to offer.

So if it is no longer Progressive Death Metal what do we call it now? I think simply Progressive Rock fits the bill with influences of psychedelic and even some jazz rudiments thrown in for texture and flavor. Metal is no longer a prevailing influence but it finds its place when necessary throughout this release to remind you from whence they came. Although many of the lyrics would have worked on previous albums this is very different with a lot of acoustic guitars and other elements that makes you forget you are actually listening to Opeth sometimes and that is the cool thing about this. 'The Devil's Orchard,' depicted in a cool 3D cover on this special edition, spews out lyrics such as 'God is dead' and features music that carry those lyrics a long way. 'Famine' is an excellent track that starts off with a haunting atmospheric soundtrack then the guitars and the rest of the band kick in while the lead vocals sound like they are more in the background echoing and pleading for release. It's an effect that works. Primarily this is music that is very cerebral, it is in constant flux and things like flutes come in accompanied by an ominous guitar line like in 'Famine,' reminding one of Jethro Tull in their prime although Tull was never this heavy musically or lyrically. This kind of music will not leave you alone, it forces you to pay attention as you wait for the next change or lyric that is going to come snapping at you to make you think even more.

This particular Special Edition was quite an experience. It offers the listener a stereo and 5.1 surround sound version which is simply enthralling to put it mildly. I have always appreciated Opeth for various reasons but have never been enamored with them. I think that is about to change as I hear this music more, the more I find an appreciation of what a tremendous accomplishment this recording is and the complexity and beauty of the music is astounding. The packaging emulates the LP gatefold style with a booklet in the middle and a second tray holding the bonus DVD which has the surround version of the album with several bonus tracks, most notably 'Pyre' and 'Face In The Snow,' which are also offered as free downloads from the band's site. The video portion of the DVD starts off with Akerfeldt explaining how the album took shape, which was ok but when they actually step in the studio to take you through the recording process they decide to start speaking in their native tongue because it was the best way to present this'wrong answer. If you were selling this album exclusively in Sweden that would work, so I am not too sure what they were thinking. After about 10 minutes of subtitles I felt like I was watching a foreign film and that was all she wrote for me. This was a disappointment as I really wanted to continue taking in the studio experience but I just could not deal with the subtitles anymore!

In the end the part of the DVD I did not enjoy took a backseat because the music was so incredible. Opeth have created a true masterpiece and what makes it even more prolific is the fact that they changed their style entirely and took a huge chance. Nice work gents you looked at the possibility of failure square in the eye and gave it the proverbial finger and kicked some major arse on Heritage. This is evidence of their total confidence in their abilities and proof once again what outstanding musicians they are regardless of what type of music they produce.

Key Tracks: The Devil's Orchard, Famine, Folklore

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars There's been a lot of talk about the band's so called sudden shift of direction, which in my opinion didn't seem sudden in any way. But instead of getting in on the (un)flattering rumors I gave Heritage a few open-minded spins. The album I heard was neither a big surprise to me nor any disappointment, but the big question was whether this was an excellent release or merely a good but ultimately a non-essential one? It really felt like the former at first, even though I was clearly not set on giving it an essential rating of any sorts. Unfortunately, my initial enthusiasm began to fade over time and finally came down to a level that I now feel comfortable of sharing in a review form.

As I said, I don't consider Heritage to be a major departure of any sorts when it comes to the evolution of Opeth and their unique sound. Mikael Åkerfeldt has clearly stated his intention of moving the band's sound away from death metal and morphing it to the vintage sound of the '70s for new inspirations. This was expressed in numerous interviews that were conducted with him ever since the release of Watershed and can be found by a simple search through any major search engine.

The best qualities of this release can be considered somewhat of a double-edged sword; The band covers a lot of ground with these ten songs but lose the feeling of consistency in the process. I'm also not sure what to think of the lack of any growl vocals from Mikael. He has been a master at constantly shifting between the two styles in the past. I guess this departure makes Heritage sound a lot more vintage but wouldn't it have been every more exciting to have death growls on a record that otherwise sounds like an offspring of the '70s?

Either way, it's the compositions that ultimately make up the bulk of my final decisions, or rather, the lack thereof. It would be unfair to say that there isn't a single great piece of music here. Quite the opposite! Unfortunately very few of them manage to keep things interesting for the entire duration of their running time. In fact only the album's single Devil's Orchid is worthy of being the biggest highlight, which is strange considering the previous hardships that the band had undergone with their commercial material.

Even though Heritage has not managed to convince me of this new direction that Opeth have been heading for I'm still really looking forward to their concert in December and hope that they will be able to lift there compositions even more in a live setting. The direction of this release is an interesting one and I'm sure that there is more left to explore here for the band so let's hope that they won't make this a one off type of experiment!

***** star songs: The Devil's Orchard (6:40)

**** star songs: Heritage (2:05) I Feel The Dark (6:37) Slither (4:00) Häxprocess (6:58) The Lines In My Hand (3:49) Folklore (8:17) Marrow Of The Earth (4:19)

*** star songs: Nepenthe (5:37) Famine (8:32)

Review by Zitro
4 stars After Opeth's front man's announcement of them removing death metal elements to their sound, it left not only hardcore and casual fans intrigued of their future music, but also music listeners who cannot stand the iconic deep growls yet enjoy the musicality of the band.

Given the band's decision and their non-metal sections introducing acid rock, 70s prog rock, and jazz-fusion (as opposed to their older acoustic folk passages), the album is not that surprising to me. Despite lack of death metal elements, the atmosphere and songwriting continues being unmistakeably Opeth. Not to say that the music is predictable or lacks surprises, but this is not as much of a shift in personality as some would have expected. You have here an album full of terrific sections. The experimentation is both a strength and a weakness. The strength is the inspired, virtuosic musicianship and the abundance of terrific passages of music. The main weakness is that the structure of songs are loose, resulting in some awkward transitions and odd dynamics. While this keeps elements of surprise and mystery, sometimes you wish more proper climax and conclusions to songs. Another weakness is Mikael's singing which sounds strangely detached at times, as if there's more technicality and less raw emotion.

It begins with a piano instrumental accompanied with a bass guitar. The single "Devil's Orchard" has all the strengths and none of the weaknesses, making it my favorite song in the album. The vocal sections are memorable, the riffs complex, and the twists and turns exciting. It includes a hypnotic instrumental section and a fitting climax led by a guitar solo.

"I Feel The Dark" starts with an acoustic motif and is folkier in nature. A dark, mysterious instrumental section with outstanding percussion follows. A church organ interrupts and the theme is revisited with a heavy metal riff and soaring vocals. An undeniably fantastic moment. However, this climax is in the middle of the song and the rest seems to have less direction.

"Slither" is an unusual song for Opeth as it sounds more like the band Rainbow or Deep Purple with its driving 70s hard rock guitar riffs and stabbing hammond organs. While the acoustic outro has the haunting mood that is typical of Opeth, this song would have worked better as a bonus track. The upbeat and short "The Lines in My Hand" has some of Mikael's most detached vocals I've ever heard from him. My wife believed I was listening to Nickelback during this song. Instrumentally it's still Opeth, but this could have been another bonus track.

"Nepenthe" is as strange as its name applies. It is a jazz-fusion track driven by meditative percussion in a very slow tempo. The vocals are brief yet leave a very good impression. The highlight is a funky synthesizer riff reminiscent of King Crimson and Gentle Giant. The wailing guitar solos are also impressive. The vocal melody returns and the song just stops. It feels like it could have been more if they made it longer.

"Hax Process" is extremely minimalistic in the first two minutes with its simplistic mournful melodies. Suddenly an upbeat acoustic riff bring the song into a dynamic progressive rock song. The last segment is a weeping guitar solo played over a meandering bass line. This is a very proper ending and it is incredibly beautiful.

"Famine" has a very fragmented structure and sounds more like musical ideas crammed together. It is a shame because these ideas are very very good. The tribal percussion in the intro gets inexplicably cut off by a piano (?). A loud electric guitar riff fades in over that piano (?). Luckily the second half makes more sense with some surprisingly good falsetto singing and a doom metal riff with aggressive flute.

The psychedelic first half of "Folklore" has processed vocals, mellow guitar riffs and natural dynamics. The song transitions well into a mix of themes that gradually progress into an restrained yet fitting climax to an album that is restrained in itself. What is interesting about this climax is that it actually sounds positive, one of the main surprises of the album for me. "Marrow of the Earth" is a very pleasant instrumental conclusion.

Be sure to pay close attention to the intricate detail of the musicianship. The bass and drums are particularly breathtaking and the keyboardist steals the show with his wide variety of very organic (never digital) sounds.

Review by m2thek
2 stars Opeth's Heritage was being looked at by curious eyes back in the time of its release. Its announcement of a change in sound from the band's traditional metal to a more classic prog rock approach left some excited and some skeptical. Regardless of style, what we have here is a very boring album that should be approached with caution by everybody.

While I have heard a couple past Opeth albums, Heritage is really my first experience with the band. I can't speak much about the change in sound, but I can comment on what is present. The album is guitar led, achieving a folky sound usually and occasionally drifting into hard rock territory. There are no growls to be found, and the music never comes close to anything that could be called metal. Piano, organ, and occasional Mellotron and flute are used to fill out the sound, as well as the odd guitar solo, but most of the music is driven by guitar riffs and vocals.

Here is really the problem with Heritage. Each song plays around with two or three riffs and uses them to death to the point where I'm tired of them before the songs are even over. The vocals are fine but are never strong enough to carry the slow, boring tunes that play underneath. The more interesting parts of the music, like the short solos, are better, but can't save the songs they're within.

Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the album gets its two best tracks out of the way right at the beginning: an absolutely beautiful classical piano piece, and a very exciting and dynamic hard prog song. After these two though, there's little to invigorate you until the end of the album, and by then, you've had to sit through so much tired music it's hardly worth it.

Opeth took a risk when they made this album, and it seems they've failed. I haven't seen any long-time fans loving this, and from an outside perspective, it's not a success either. Regardless if you're a newcomer or a fan, take caution when approaching Heritage because it seems like an album that is made for neither.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 7/10

"Heritage" is one of the most radical retro-Progressive Rock albums ever.

With a little bit controversy accompanied by a bit of confusion by the fans, here comes, after three years, "Heritage", Opeth's tenth studio album already. An almost dramatic turn of direction is why people are confused really: instead of the Progressive Death Metal album, we have a soft, retro prog rock release. Comparisons are thrown to "Damnation" which was considered the softest Opeth album, and still is. But "Heritage" is one of those rare retro-prog albums that gives just as much impact as a good Prog Rock album of the seventies, feeling like one of them, instead of "Damnation", which didn't at all feel that way, even though the two albums end up being approximately at the same level.

"Heritage" has a very impressive atmosphere that truly captures those magical moments that obscure Prog bands of the golden age were able to create so wonderfully, instead of perhaps influences such as Yes or Genesis, even though admittedly there are more than a few hints to King Crimson. The fuzzy guitars are far from the distorted ones of the previous Opeth albums, the keyboards much more abundant, as well as flutes, acoustic guitars, organs, spacey mellotrons, and all the typical elements of the genre. Because, looking at it musically, it's a pretty standard Prog Rock album, but it unfolds so much more with repeated listens.

What seemed to be the most impressive about this album is how the band can perfectly create a vintage and magical sounding atmosphere, especially in their mellower, creepier moments. The more lively moments can be a tiny bit disappointing in a few spots, but mostly, even these are almost always top-notch. Not only the melodies for the most part tend to be beautiful, but the arrangements and the instrumentation are always extremely ambitious and complex. Behind the quasi-biblical theme that echoes in every song, there is a strong, earthly feel to the music, especially in my beloved mellow moments, where you feel like it is music that comes from the inner parts of the earth, it's so visceral.

Many of the songs here require multiple listens before they can be swallowed properly, that said even for the single "The Devil's Orchard", a multi faced six minute piece that almost always maintains great quality. The claustrophobic and sinister "I Feel The Dark" is just as great, with impressive performances by all the musicians. The more Jazzy songs like "Haxprocess" and "Nepenthe" don't quite deliver as much as the previous tracks in their softness, but the other more lively songs do: "The Lines In My Hand" and "Slither" sound like old, mystic Hard Rock songs, extremely catchy and once again boasting great musicianship by each member. The two longer songs of the album are very different from each other, "Famine" and "Folklore": while the first one is darker, more tense, and has a unique Oriental- esque section in the beginning (with the percussions and everything), "Folklore" is much more lively, epic sounding in many spots, especially the mighty presence of the mellotron at the end of the piece.

With "Heritage" Opeth have massively changed their sound in a way that I didn't at all expect. This is one of the most radical retro progressive rock albums I've heard, remaining extremely faithful to the sounds of the seventies. If they should go on with this kind of music, I personally wouldn't complain, even though I miss the metal passages.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Heritage" is the 10th full-length studio album by Swedish progressive metal act Opeth. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in September 2011. There's been much speculation about how "Heritage" would sound after the band made it clear that they would drop the growls and focus on playing progressive rock. Of course we've heard Mikael 'kerfeldt talk about this before, being the prog rock head he is, but he has talked about other projects before that hasn't materialized yet. For instance I remember he talked about releasing a black metal oriented Opeth album once, and that project certainly hasn't surfaced yet. With "Heritage" it turned out to be more than words though as the band have completely left their progressive death metal roots behind and focus on playing a 70s influenced progressive type of rock.

...especially keyboard player Per Wiberg, is given a lot of space and opportunity to flash his vintage keyboards (ironically Per Wiberg left the band before the release of the album), but everything from the jazz rock influenced drumming, the warm bass sound to the dynamic and structurally challenging compositions, to the fuzzy distorted guitars, scream 70s progressive rock/hard rock.

The album starts out with a piano intro and then "The Devil's Orchard" kicks in. It's one of the more energetic tracks on the album even though it's quite dynamic too with some mellow sections thrown in. "I Feel the Dark" and "Slither" are pretty great too but "Nepenthe" is kinda dull to my ears. From that moment on it's like the album only captivate me in glimpses. The last track "Marrow of the Earth" is quite the beautiful instrumental piece though. My issue with many of the tracks is that they don't sound like fully developed compositions, but more like a lot of ideas put together to form tracks. The interesting thing is that the earlier material by the band is also structured like that, but that type of songwriting approach works much better within the context of a progressive death metal album than in does on a full blown progressive rock album. while the playing is excellent (I'm especially impressed by drummer Martin Axenrot, who really shines on the album) and the production is warm and organic, the songwriting simply isn't strong enough. "Heritage" is loaded with great ideas and for the most part the album is very enjoyable but the full promise is too seldom fulfilled. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

Review by FragileKings
5 stars This is the second review I am posting which was written while listening to the CD carefully during my train commute. The review is "live" without much editing.

I have been sampling Opeth's CDs on Amazon and their albums have been moving in and out of my shopping cart. I love the progressive metal and their softer songs but the death growl vocals have never appealed to me. When I sampled this album, I felt this would be a good place to start and yet ironically, this album is likely the least Opeth-like in their catalogue. On with the review.


Piano and bass instrumental. Slightly jazzy atmosphere. When's the lazy tenor sax solo?

The Devil's Orchard

Rapid, tripping heavy guitar, Hammond organ sound. Rollicking riff and drums with a tripping time signature. Wavering organ chords. Song rocks on then goes laid back and cool, heavy again and laid back again. Mood keeps changing. Ends with really cool solo of effects and mood. Finale: piano and vocals.

I Feel the Dark

Acoustic guitar, rock vocals, flute. Electric guitar, drums, Mellotron? About 3 minutes in, the song gets heavy with rapidly sprinting drums. Next, the song alternates between soft but rapid music with organ and drums and more guitar-driven heavy parts. Still strings or is it Mellotron?


Like heavy Deep Purple circa The Battle Ranges On. Guitar sound similar, heavy organ, too. Guitar solo quite Blackmore-esque. Ends with Heaven and Hell-like acoustic closure.


Again a mellow jazzy tune. Shuffling drum rhythm, soft jazz electric guitar. Partway in song turns electric with more experimental style guitar. Stops for mellow moment, then goes into a heavy funky rhythm with a lame leg, like a giant robot dancing with a broken knee. Soft again, then wild soloing like Steve Vai. Mellow again with organ keeping a steady repeated note. Soft jangling electric guitar. Nice mood. Finishes with mellow shuffling drums and electric piano sound.


Hard to describe this one. Kind of jazzy start but as I keep saying jazzy I should add that it's a haunting style. Something seems to be up. By now I am also really digging the drumming on this album. Perhaps it's the drumming that gives the jazzy flair. The song slows down to a percussion-less segment for the vocals which precludes an interlude of soft empty piano with voices in the background. The song moves into full gear with drums and bass and passes through moods with Mellotron and flute. Once again, Opeth have a song that can be divided into several parts. Bass and electric guitar are the only instruments to carry us through the guitar solo, a lament of bluesy guitar. Piano slowly and quietly finishes off the song.


A flurry of flute notes introduces the song which suddenly turns dark with an Eastern flavour. The drumming is all hands and no sticks, it sounds like. As is becoming typical of this album, barely a minute later the mood changes and we have piano and slow clean vocals. Then a crazy rolling electric guitar creeps in and the song busts open with more wild drumming. Then the sound gets edgy, a bit King Crimsony for a moment before dropping back to a mellow pace. Gears keep changing. Suddenly we're hearing doomy Jethro Tull with flute and heavy guitar and organ. How does one write a song with this many parts? Back to a creepy clean electric guitar solo and dusty dry flute bursts like brief dust devils on dry sand. Heavy again. The song wraps up with some distant piano with a demented feel to it.

The Lines in My Hand

Boom of bass and more crazy drums. Mellotron, organ, acoustic guitar, quick pace. Electric guitar. Cool bass going with the drums. Sudden change to organ and flute then all out metal. Heavy rocker now but still clean vocals. The song ends abruptly.


Electric guitar intro. Meandering blues. Goes slightly renaissance before drums and bass join in. Nice groove here as organ comes in just before the vocals. Then heavy rock with organ and Mellotron joining the distorted guitar, but soon the song returns to its groovy pace. After the second heavy part acoustic guitar follows. Very beautiful. Then piano. Then quick bass and drums. Bass over piano. Power metal sound with synth choir and more melodic guitar solo. Song finishes in this vein.

Marrow of the Earth

Acoustic guitar and clean electric guitar. Slow, bluesy. Reminds me of something but can't place it.

Overall: great variety in sound and style, songs with many changes in mood, tempo, instrumentation, wicked drums, beautiful delicate parts and heavy rocking parts. A very eclectic album. Love the flute, organ and Mellotron joining the various guitar sounds and Hammond organ.

For a prog album, I think this sure has a wide range of sound and most songs go through at least a few changes. In a way, it's as if Mikael Akerfeldt was trying to put as many different parts to many of the songs as he could. Either creative genius or exploitative madness. Considering, however, the variety of guitar sounds and playing styles, the remarkable drumming, and the use of various keyboards along with flute, and the difficult and abrupt shifts in the music, I think this album is an excellent example of someone's attempt at doing something different and possibly unique. I'm going to suggest a full 5-star rating but Opeth fans might have strong mixed feelings about this album. It's not totally my cup of tea, at least not yet, but it must be the most creative modern prog album I have heard among all my recent purchases.

Review by Andy Webb
3 stars The Dark Trilogy, Part I - Opeth's Heritage

Here it is, Opeth's most controversial release yet, excluding the anomalous Damnation which was hardly an Opeth record at all. Heritage is in one way an incredibly apt name and in another an awful choice. In the first way, this record is essentially a tribute to Mikael Akerfeldt's musical heritage - the music of acts like Camel, King Crimson, and Black Sabbath who formed his early musical tastes and, at least before he discovered a tasty little thing called death metal, dominated his listening experiences. However, in the 90s when death metal made its debut, he spent his time writing illicitly evil music of the far more extreme style. Seventeen years after the release of his new band Opeth's debut record Orchid, though, he changed his mind on the whole thing. While we could see a shift in his musical outlook on 2008's Watershed, the death-ness was still present, so at least most of the hardcore fans were pleased. But what made him drop the growls entirely?

This is no psychoanalysis of Akerfeldt's musical tastes, so I have no definitive answer to that. All I know is that in 2006 Ghost Reveries was released and hailed as one of the most critically acclaimed progressive death metal albums of the last decade, and five years later Opeth released a hard rock album. What happened? How are we supposed to react? Is this even Opeth? In short, Akerfeldt got tired of doing the same thing over nearly 20 years. Fans of the band should recognize that this is simple a progression of the band's style and we should go with it. And is it Opeth? Did you even listen to the damn album? It's got Akerfeldt written all over it! So yes, despite the fact that Opeth has dropped distortion and death growls for overdrive and Hammond, this album is textbook Opeth and should be evaluated as such.

So let's see here, ten tracks ranging from two to eight minutes. Not too bad, although right off the bat we're missing those killer ten-minute killers. We'll live, don't worry. Track one - self-titled - stars off with some nice acoustic piano work. Okay, now I'm getting worried. But wait, Watershed started with the acoustic ballad "Coil" and was kicked off an awesome album. Phew, we'll be fine. After two minutes, in comes the single "The Devils Orchard," and here it begins. Aggressive and classic overdriven riffs as opposed to ferocious distorted chugging, gritty Hammond lines to go along with it, and Mikael already excellent clean vocals with a bit of a, uh, "natural" tone from the lack of studio-fix ups or enhancements. Not a bad thing, although his vocal lines can seem like warbling from time to time. A nice mellow and dark interlude, some Opeth-y Mellotron flutes, eerie guitar lines, and a coda back to some nice overdriven riffs again. Hey, look! A pretty standard playing card for an Opeth song. We're off to a good start.

Fine, I won't go through every song on the album displaying how the music is still Opeth, not a rip off of Camel (whoever says that is just plain wrong), you get the picture. You have your obligatory acoustic lines, diminished-scale riffs, precision drums, quintessential keyboard parts, and Akerfeldt's gruff clean lines, which are quite different from Andrew Latimer's whispered vocal parts. Not a Camel right, right? Right??

Alright, I've drilled into your skull that Heritage is indeed an Opeth album, so I'll actually review it now. And here I'll contradict myself: while of course this is an Opeth album, this music is incredibly stylistically different from their previous material (obviously), so in no way can I evaluate this as if it were part of the tech/extreme genre. This album is an excellent example of modern heavy prog. All the aforementioned qualities of this album come together in an absolutely wonderful way, and with the Opeth stamp and sound in it, it's even better. Akerfeldt had incorporated blues elements in his older material, but it really shines on this album. Riffs are trilled, blues scales are favored over diminished most of the time, and lots of the arrangements are in a far more blues/jazz-fusion oriented way.

However, while the music is interesting and engaging throughout the first half of the album, I can't help but feel a sense of ennui as the tracks of the latter half of the album come. By the time the slow-starting but in-the-end-exciting "Famine" ends, the songs start to get 'samey.' Compositional distinguishability starts to blur, ambience sound the same, and those same tricks from older Opeth songs are used over and over again with a new guitar tone. While of course any Opeth is good Opeth, I can't help but feel that even with the new direction, Akerfeldt is still stuck in the same rut of songwriting. He has a new pallet of sound to paint with, but he only knows one style in which to paint. For a huge Opeth fan, I can enjoy the songs, but at the same time I crave some truly new.

In the end, I'll say it loud and clear: this is a different kind of Opeth album. You won't find any growls or evil riffing, but you'll still find Opeth, dressed in a new outfit. If you're looking for a crazy Swedish 70s prog-fest, look somewhere else, because while this is certainly influenced by that era, this album is not retro prog. Retro although it may sound stylistically, the music is still very modern. However, expect much of the same compositionally, as Akerfeldt has covered no new ground here, and expands on many of the same ideas quite a bit, leading to a bit of a stale sound by the end of the album. In the end, however, this is a solidly good Opeth album. 3+ stars.

Now I've covered the music, what's this whole "dark trilogy" business, you might ask? As most know, this album was mixed by Akerfeldt's best buddy and prog extraordinaire Steven Wilson. The two have been attached at the hip since Opeth's Blackwater Park, and in my opinion Wilson has helped Opeth create some of their absolute best material. In 2011, though they worked together more closely than they ever had before. Within a month of each other both Opeth and Steven Wilson had released albums, and immediately after that, they began collaborating directly on their own mysterious project, Storm Corrosion.

The three albums, the third of which was released half a year after the other two, are intrinsically connected in an interesting way. The three albums are all incredibly dark musically - dark riffs, dark lyrics, dark art, and a darker perspective on each musician's usual material (or at least in Akerfeldt's case a different kind of dark). Interestingly enough, this darkness is sopped up by the prog public, and I would not be surprised if Storm Corrosion tops most prog lists just like Heritage and Grace for Drowning did. An interesting trend, and one that I'm sure the dynamic prog duo will pursue further.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A clever way to call it as "Heritage" ...

It took me quite a while to take a deep breath on what Opeth have done with this album when I listened to it for the first time. There were two main issues I faced by the time I got this album and both of them were critical to ask and answer as they form a foundation for me to write this very late review - by the time I write this I already received the new album "Pale Communion" which actually I am about ready to write a review. But I was surprised when I looked at this site I have not written anything yet with respect to Heritage album. That's definitely the results of posting those two critical issues that I raised.

The first issue was: If this is called as a heritage from previous legends, what forms in this album that I can refer to the legends?

Typically when we call legends it's all about those who shone in the glory days of the 70s ...the hey day of progrock and other styles of music: disco, funk, blues , rock, pop as well as R&B. I did not count jazz into it as by that time I did not pay any attention to the development of jazz music until found the music of Chick Corea and Dave Brubeck with his Take Five fame. Talking about legends of prog you can bet me with names like Yes, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Van der Graaf, ELP, Genesis etc. In fact some new prog bands already labelled as they are heavily influenced by Genesis or ELP or Pink Floyd etc. For example when I mention RPWL, people will automatically associate the band with Pink Floyd even though it's not the same.

But now ...look at any track this album by Opeth features: where is in the segment of the music in any track that I can easily refer to legendary bands? Is there any segment that I can say something like ..."A ha ....this sounds like Genesis!" ..."Aha ...this looks like Gentle Giant" or whatsoever. Having spun this album for many times, I think it's been more than 8 times, the critical numbers enough to give fair views about any prog album irrespective its complexities. Unfortunately my friends ... I failed to identify anything (even a small chunk of segment) where I can say it's influenced by legends like Yes, genesis, ELP and the like.

If that is the case, is it fair enough to say that this album is influence-free? Not really ....!!! I can sense it ... I can taste it ... I can feel it that somehow the music has a very deep connection with the spirit of 70s prog music but I fail to identify any reference in the music where I can easily say its connection with legendary bands. So what is the conclusion? Well ... what I can say is that Opeth is really CLEVER in a way to compose an album that use that spirit and nuances of legendary progrock music and translate them into a beautiful composition where any part or segment in the music has no direct relation with the past. It's really clever!

The second critical issue is how I should rate this basically new style of progressive music where I can find little reference as comparison?

This second issue has caused me to defer the review for such a long time until now. Actually partly due to my busy schedule in my real life profession. But as far as review concern I tended to delay because I was quite confused with the rating. Honestly I do not quite put this album as my favorite largely due to I do not get used to listen to music like this album. It's not fair to review based on liking or not liking the album. For sure it's a definite a good one but how good? Should I consider it as excellent? In fact ...after long time thinking about it I land into a conclusion that this is really a four-star rating album. I enjoy the album even though not really love so much. But I admire the boldness of Opeth making this new avenue of prog whenre maybe in the future I will love this kind of music. I remember vividly that in the past I was not happy with Yes "Tales from Topographic" but then I admired it highly as it grew on me really.

SALUTE for Opeth who has made this excellent album! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Opeth takes a sharp left turn on this release and moves away completely from it's trademark death metal sound and veers completely into the progressive metal genre. Gone are the growling vocals completely, which was my only complaint that I had about the band before, even if they did alternate from dirty to clean vocals in the past. Now, this is not the first album where Opeth turned away from dirty vocals completely. In "Damnation", the album was completely mellow and featured all clean vocals, but they remained true to the acoustic aesthetic of death metal. This time, on "Heritage" all death metal leanings are left behind. What you get in replacement is a great reward, 10 top notch progressive compositions that stay completely true to the genre and it's heritage.

In my opinion, this is the best Opeth album up to this point. Opeth has always been know as a band that always improves, but never have they taken as huge of a risk as this. These tracks are all elaborate and heavily progressive songs through and through with variety in abundance. There is still a heavy presence of guitar, but there is also a lot more keyboards with a lot of mellotron. You'll hear all kinds of influences in this music, but even with that, the sound is original. Acoustic is meshed with electronic and with hints of jazz oriented prog thrown in for good measure. This is very apparent in "Nepenthe" which starts on the mellow side and suddenly explodes in a jazz/prog fusion that sounds very much like UK. They also tap into the arpeggios that were made popular by King Crimson and they expand on this beautifully. And Mikael's vocals are amazing. I don't know why he had to hide them under his growling vocals for so long

Of course, most metal heads were furious at this album at first. Some of them never came around, but others, for whatever reason, were intrigued with the sound and eventually fell in love with the album. I love the fact that Opeth could open some minds with this album and with their music. I could never figure out why or how anyone could just stick to one genre anyway, there is so much great music out there under several genres.

Those of you, on the other hand, that thought that Opeth was a great instrumental band but couldn't handle the growling, this is your album. This one has all the prog that you could want and all the variety that you crave. Songs are constantly changing meter, dynamic, timbre, even style. This really almost sounds like another band, but those who have been familiar with Opeth know without a doubt that this is the real band. It's so great to hear them break away from the sound that could really get repetitive and allowed for very little exploration beyond what they had already perfected. This album represents the breaking away of expectations of a narrow genre, even though the band was consistently stretching the boundaries to there limits. Now there are no limits. Now the band is free to explore so many avenues of music, and this is what they do. And it is amazing that they can reach masterpiece status on their first attempt. Yes it's true that they have been honing their skills and musicality on past great albums like "Ghost Reveries" and "Blackwater Park", and now we have the culmination of everything. This is an excellent album and it is a shining example of a band that continues to progress. Amazing! Beyond your expectations. 5 stars.

Review by Necrotica
3 stars On September 14th, 2011, Opeth brought forth the unexpected. Once a group supposedly impervious to criticism and showered with praise from critics and fans alike, their tenth effort Heritage displayed to us all that even the most sacred of musical cows could be brought down to size. It's not like a more subdued style wasn't tried before by the band, judging by the even-softer Damnation back in 2003 - what caused the backlash here? In fact, Heritage has much stronger roots in classic progressive rock, each song sounding as if it's a tribute to Mikael's past influences - hence the album title. Each song exudes either classic 70s progressive rock, folk, jazz fusion, metal, or a combination of any (or all) of these influences to create a more satisfying and diverse package than a number of the band's previous efforts, each song an interesting experiment in the band's fresh new direction. The lone piano of the intro tune is an immediate sign of Opeth's change in pace, but "The Devil's Orchard" comes out of the gate with its toned-down guitar distortion and precise rhythms of drummer Martin Axenrot - and that's where you start to notice the serious changes in style.

The band aren't letting their musical fury loose with any massive death metal segments on this record (or perhaps anymore, given the sound of the new release Pale Communion), instead preferring more balanced and natural dynamic variations within each piece. One of the common complaints given to Heritage is that things tend to "blend together" after a while, but this is ironically one of its greatest assets. Gone are the abrupt changes in tempo and volume to slide each musical "block" into its compositional slot, each song instead balancing its changes more fluidly. "I Feel the Dark" eventually reaches a climactic flourish of heavy guitars and keyboard chords, but it has an entire quiet acoustic guitar portion to build up to this moment. Either this, or the songs are simply consistent with their moods and styles. Closer "Marrow of the Earth" is just fantastic in the way it concludes things in such a melancholic fashion, the sparsely adorned instrumental folk ballad serving as a reflection of all that was heard on the record prior to it. Or there's "Slither" which garners the title of being the heaviest and most straightforward effort here, much of the guitar riffing and drum work resembling classic speed metal. While the more long-winded tracks tend to lose their way or end up being slightly boring (I'm looking at you, "Famine"), they don't detract a whole lot from what's on Heritage. When you're walking along a sunny road and suddenly it snows out of nowhere, what do you do: adapt with the weather change or give in to your struggle with the elements? Opeth, musically speaking, were presented with a similar scenario with Heritage. Do they take the progressive elements of Watershed and reconstruct those influences into something really different, or do they continue making the same progressive death metal that has served them well over the years and give in to what the metal-oriented fans want? Thankfully, Opeth adapted to the stylistic changes featured in Watershed and took them to a new level of adventurousness with Heritage. If you didn't like it the first time around, I implore you to try it again... it takes a while to unravel, but ends up being one of modern progressive rock's more rewarding gems.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

Review by Prog Leviathan
5 stars This review was a long time coming for me. In part because the largely instrumental Heritage is among Opeth's most intricately nuanced and complex albums to date, so it simply took a long time for it to sink in. Secondly, it is probably one of the most magnificently artistic, elegant, musical, and engrossing albums I've heard in a long time... so I've just been having a ton of fun listening to it many, many times!

Heritage is an amazing release by an already amazing group, known for their straddling of genres and impeccable compositions. Opeth is at their most consummate professionalism with this release, abandoning their (excellent) death- metal styling in favor of a rich, emotional, and intense experience that falls much closer to a classic prog sound than any of their previous work. It's still aggressive and energetic, and heavy, but not a metal album. It's like a straddling of prog-folk and heavy prog, without much in the way of amplification. This gives it a unique tone that sits very well alongside the traditions of classic prog.

From the opening track's gorgeous, melancholy atmosphere - featuring fast-paced guitars, drumming, and dark sense of beauty - the listener is in for a treat. The songwriting is amazing, dense with variety and class, while the band's performance is achingly good. From the dynamic and ambitious drumming of Axenrot, to the fuzzy bass riffing of Mendez, and the lush mellotrons and keyboards of Wiberg, and of course the warm, melancholy sound of Akerfelt's guitar and voice - everything is just right. In fact, this is probably some of Akerfelt's best vocals; all clean, all powerful. Heritage is amazing at creating moods, dark, bleak, torpid, and frenetic. The end result is a wonderful example of what can happen when all the pieces a great band is known come together in just the right combination.

Heritage will doubtless appeal to Opeth fans who explore Prog Archives, and are willing to hear music from the group that doesn't have growling, and will probably be the album to convert those who shied away from the group BECAUSE of the growls. This album has all of the intensity, and more of the art, of other Opeth albums, and probably of many of the band's peers. Heritage is an amazing, dark, elegant experience. It may take a few listens to get there, but it reveals itself in short order as an excellent addition to any prog lovers library. Highly recommended.

Songwriting: 5 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 5 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by Progfan97402
3 stars In December 2011, I bought Opeth's then-latest offering Heritage. Prior to that I had paid little attention to the band. Perhaps because I was never a fan of death metal, and it would be very difficult for me to hear death metal growls without laughing. I bought this because I heard that Mikael Åkerfeldt had lost the monster growls and went a more prog direction. Actually this wasn't the first growl-free album they did, that goes to Damnation way back in 2002 (actually 2003, but was recorded during the same sessions as Deliverance, released six months earlier, but apparently record company politics prevented Damnation to be released together at the same time or part of a 2 CD set). So Damnation was basically a preview of what Opeth will be doing the following decade, some eight years before the decade actually began! No surprise that Heritage really disappointed many fans. Death metal vocals gone, a more prog approach. To be honest, I look back at it, and I felt the album really needed more room for improvement, as it frequently seemed disjointed. I own the two disc version on Roadrunner that includes the CD (with the gimmick lenticular cover, similar to the Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request), as well as DVD that includes two bonus cuts (including the wonderful "Pyre", which has a nice psychedelic vibe and nice use of Mellotron flute). The DVD also included The Making of Heritage, and it clearly shows that their then-keyboardist Per Wiberg was using a real Mellotron, the M600, and they also openly admitted to using sampled Mellotron on previous releases. It's as you expect, sessions showing you how they recorded. Part of this was recorded at Atlantis Studios, which was formerly ABBA's Polar Studios. As for the album itself, it's not bad, but the flow seems quite disjointed. I do like the heavy prog approach they do here, but sometime memorable material went astray. This was to be their last album with Per Wiberg, who was replaced by Joakim Svalberg. In my opinion, if you don't mind that Åkerfeldt has dropped the growls, and don't mind the proggy approach they now do, I suggest Pale Communion or Sorceress, as they have certainly improved quite a bit on those two efforts, plus it has a much better flow. Still Heritage has some worthy material, but a three star is what I can cough up for this album.
Review by The Crow
2 stars Good bye death metal, welcome boredome!

Heritage changed it all... One of the most well crafted and influential prog metal bands of the last decades suddenly left the style that made them big to derivate into an attempt to replicate the 70's prog rock sound that Akerfeldt loves so much. And they clearly succeeded in achieving this goal buty the forgot the good and catchy songwriting in the process. Where is the overall quality that this band always had? Gone!

Per Wiberg gained a lot of protagonism (and he left right after finishing the album) in the sound of the band and that also happened with the ambiental and jazzy parts too, decreasing the decibels and eliminating the growls. But the album sounds good... Well, that's not accurate. The music has a great production and mixing! Steven Wilson helped, of course. But what happened with the songs?

Heritage is a beautiful and melancholic intro wich introduces us in the album's mood effectively, leading to The Devil's Orchard, the best song of the entire record, very dynamic and with a superb guitar and keyboard work. The ending of the song is astonishing! And the vocals are also adequate here.

But the comes I Feel the Dark... Why are you shouting all the time, Mikael? Where are your mellow and soft vocals? Are you trying to be someone else or it's just my imagination? The song is to bad, but the singing is. It just doesn't fit with the mood of the song. And them comes Slither, a mediocre attempt to recreate the 80's NWOBHM style, with a Mikael trying to sound like Dio... What the hell were you thinking, guys?

Nevertheless, Nepenthe is even worse. A boring jazz oriented track with a lot of psychedelia on it but with an absolute lack of direction, apart from a great guitar solo. Häxprocess starts with almost three minutes of nothing, and at this point we are irreparably bored to death. And the slightly better final part of the song can't repair that.

And of course Famine and its eternal and boring percussion part is not better. The good instrumental work can't disguise the complete lack of inspiration this song has. Fortunitely, The Lines in my Hand and its pompous mellotron, good acoustic guitars and the typical Opeth's sound save us from cutting our wrists. One of the best tracks of the album!

Folklore is not so bad like Nepenthe or Famine, but it's also far from the band's best moments. Echoes of Damnation but again with unfitty and lame vocals. Marrow of the Earth comes as summary of this album: sad, unloved and unispired.

Conclusion: it's not the lack of death metal vocals, or the style change. The problem with Heriage ist he bad songwriting and the endless boring parts. And of course, the Mikael Akerfeldt's singing, wich is strange, loud and just lame in occassions. What happened to you? I think this man was trying to became a different musician, a different singer... And he failed miserably.

After all this years, I'm still amazed... How managed one of my favourite bands to release an album so unispired? This always be a mistery for me.

Best Tracks: Heritage, The Devil's Orchard, The lines in My Hand.

My rating: **

Review by Lewian
4 stars I'm one of those who don't like death growls and by implication didn't like Opeth in their beginning, although I have some respect for what they did there. I still don't know all of their catalogue, so I can't say Heritage is my favourite of them (it surely is of those about six I know), but I was motivated to write this review by its somewhat lowish rating compared to other Opeth albums. Obviously my four stars are not going to improve this a lot, however I recommend this album warmly to listeners who come from a different direction than most Opeth listeners, namely neither from Death Metal/earlier Opeth, nor from Neoprog or say Dream Theater or PT, nor from the more symphonic and mainstream prog of the seventies (although I love quite a bit of the latter), but rather from a more experimental, RIO-like angle.

Actually this one came to me later than 2018's "Collaborators Album of the Year" A Drop Of Light by All Traps On Earth, but in fact it achieved something quite similar and in my opinion even better seven years earlier than the (also Swedish) Traps, admittedly without the Zeuhl element, but still dark, complex, and adventurous. "Compensating" for the lack of Zeuhl, we get a good dosis (if somewhat less than on some other albums) of Opeth's well known delicate acoustic guitar work that I admire, and that has always set them apart from their Death Metal roots. Although the album has obvious links to 70s prog, there are some clear characteristic Opeth elements in this. It is certainly not just a nostalgic album based on elements of prog's golden years, but an album that stands confidently on its own feet.

A problem with much new prog is the sometimes routine and soulless seeming showing off of instrumental skills and complexity. A problem for me as a reviewer is that I find it hard to pin down what makes the difference between a superficial showing of skills and some musical magic that really grabs me. Anyway, Opeth manage to do that here. I can connect to much of the music emotionally and things seem to be properly in their place despite no lack of virtuosity, harmonic and rhythmic complexities etc. There is tension, relaxation, vulnerability, sudden outbreaks of energy, beautiful melodies, you name it. Apparently the contrast between heavy and delicate acoustic parts is something of an Opeth trademark, and both is still there, but far more elements are mixed in. which makes the whole thing far less predictable and more interesting than what I know of their earlier material.

The album has been called "messy" for a reason, and indeed you find a dazzling and sometimes bewildering variety of different parts. One valid criticism is that rather than the 5-6 minutes average official song length in fact there are far more "microsongs" here, as cohesion within a song has obviously not been their first priority. However according to my taste they give the different parts enough space to breathe and show their beauty, and I don't mind much that traditional song structures and the notion of coming back to the main theme to remind the listener that it's still the same song are sniffed at here. Another tiny criticism is that the singer may not be the most exciting one in the world, but I think he is largely OK for what he does here, so no complaints really.

If you like some traditional prog virtues combined with an experimental approach that gives you something that is still tonal and accessible but at the same time delightfully unpredictable and more on the dark side of things, even if you haven't liked some other stuff by Opeth, check this one out. A special recommendation goes to those who love A Drop Of Light. This Heritage is a rewarding listen and shows Opeth in proper and successful progression. 4.0 stars.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 499

"Heritage" is the tenth studio album of Opeth and was released in 2008. The album signals a departure from the musical style of Opeth's previous studio albums, being one of the two studio album of the group not to feature Akerfeldt's signature death growls. The other was their seventh studio album "Damnation". Akerfeldt was very clear when he said that he decided that the band is going to embrace progressive rock more openly and depart from the metal sound that Opeth has been pursuit for much of their preceding career. So, somehow "Heritage" represents a new starting point.

The line up is Mikael Akerfeldt (vocals, guitar, Mellotron, grand piano and sound effects), Fredrik Akesson (guitar), Per Wiberg (grand piano, Mellotron, Rhodes piano and Hammond B3), Martin Mendez (bass guitar and upright bass) and Martin Axenrot (drums and percussion). The album has also the participation of Alex Acuna (percussion), Bjorn J:son Lindh (flute), Christopher Wadensten (flute), Joakim Svalberg (grand piano) and Charlie Dodd (sound effects). "Heritage" has t en tracks. All songs were written and composed by Mikael Akerfeldt. The first track is the title track "Heritage". It's a short but beautiful, simple and eloquent instrumental entirely played on grand piano, by their new keyboardist Joakim Svalberg. Per Wiberg left the band after the recordings. The second track "The Devil's Orchard" is probably the only track that follows closest from the usual musical style of the band on their last two studio albums. This is an excellent song with some intricate musical moments, great musical passages but that maintains a very strong musical atmosphere. The third track "I Feel The Dark" is another great song that opens gently with its looping bass lines, chilled acoustic guitar work and Mellotron. The song fluctuates between happy and dark musical territories. There's definitely a "Damnation" feel in some parts of this song. The fourth track "Slither" is a song barrelling along on a hard rock guitar riff backed with strong Hammond organ work. It's a song with some good electric guitar work. Curiously, the song ends just with a folksy acoustic guitar playing. This is a song very influenced by the Akerfeldt's love for Deep Purple. The fifth track "Nepenthe" is a beautiful atmospheric piece of music, with an almost ambient feel. It has acoustic guitars, brushed drums, jazzy bass and Akerfeldt's warm and deep vocals. This is a very different song from the rest of the album, until now, with a very strong influence on the ambient and jazz styles. The sixth track "Haxprocess" is perhaps the perfect companion to the previous song, in terms of style. It's, in general, a slow song with calm and tranquil musical sections with the space between notes seeming as important at times as what is being played. The seventh track "Famine" opens with a very strange way with a burst of flute, before some bongo percussion, layered over an ominous sonic backdrop, leads us into the song, which starts with gentle piano and voice before a catchy riff kicks in and moves things forward. This is, in my humble opinion, a great song with strong influences from King Crimson. The eighth track "The Lines In My Hand" opens with a very interesting drum work, which manages to be simultaneously tight but loose, over with Akerfeldt delivering the lyrics. Gradually the track shift gears, with some great guitar work and nice driving rhythms and a strong chorus, and in the end the song ends abruptly. The ninth track "Folklore" is one of the strongest pieces on the album. It starts with some jazzy guitar work which gradually comes together with a short solo piano piece that leads the song down another path, with the rhythm section fading in and out of the mix, and the effective employment of celestial choirs, assuming conjured up from the Mellotron. "Folklore" is with "The Devil's Orchard" and "I Feel The Dark" the greatest highlights on the album. The tenth track "Marrow Of The Earth" ends the album in the same mood of the opening instrumental piece, only this time utilising acoustic guitar instead of piano. This isn't a strong way to finish the album but it represents a beautiful and gentle close to the album.

Conclusion: "Heritage" is another great album of Opeth. Everything on it sounds rich and full, mostly thanks to the use of analogue recording methods and other old hardware like real Mellotrons and Hammond organs. The vintage musical treatment of Akerfeldt's signature melodic sensibilities helps to consummate a unique world teaming with the beauty of the Scandinavian folk and jazz, while exuding the aura of some of the 70's darker psychedelic style. His vocal melodies are perhaps the most brilliant he's ever delivered, perfectly accenting each and in an every instrumental component. This is undeniably the album that will have most divided their fan base. If they have lost probably a lot of long time fans with "Ghost Reveries" with the addition of a keyboardist, with this last album the divorce was definitely consummated. Akerfeldt assumed more the progressive musical side and dropped more the metal side. Of course, his musical collaboration with Steven Wilson isn't strange to that. Steven had also declared that "Heritage" is the first part of a trilogy, alongside Wilson's solo album "Grace For Drowning" and "Storm Corrosion" the self titled album of both.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Warthur
4 stars In some ways, prog metal stalwarts Opeth putting out an album which is all-prog, no-metal wasn't so unprecedented when Heritage was released. After all, Damnation had come out nearly a decade earlier.

However, come to Heritage expecting Damnation Part 2 - or, for that matter, something sounding anything like Opeth releases past - and you'll find yourself extremely surprised. You see, that Damnation comparison overlooks the fact that Deliverance and Damnation were always meant to be one album, and when they were split in two the harder, heavier, more energetic numbers ended up on Deliverance and the softer, gentler numbers ended up on Damnation, accounting for the sedated, tranquilised feel of that album.

That's not the case here: Heritage has a mixture of gentler numbers and more thunderous ones, that blend being captured by gentle piano intro - the title track, Heritage - which then leads into The Devil's Orchard, one of the more energetic tracks on the album. And it's on Devil's Orchard where you really hear the difference - because it's very much a prog rock track, not a prog metal track.

At most, you might be able to catch a hint of fury in Martin Axenrot's drum work, but even then he's hardly pulling out the blast beats, and the rest of the band really are not playing in a metal mode at all, instead shifting to performances mixing classic prog of the past with more modern takes. Sections of I Feel the Dark take on a very Porcupine Tree- esque sound, perhaps inevitably given Steven Wilson's presence at the mixing desk, whilst the heaviest moments on the album are more reminiscent of, say, Atomic Rooster rather than Black Sabbath (or perhaps, as at the start of Slither, one can detect a shade of Deep Purple).

Naturally, more or less all the vocals are clean, which I feel is the album's weak point - Mikael Åkerfeldt just isn't that exciting of a lead vocalist. Other than this, it's another interesting departure in the Opeth catalogue; I personally enjoy it, but those who only find Opeth interesting when they have at least a pinch of death metal in their formula will likely be disappointed.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I know this album since its release, and it is thanks to this one that I understood that OPETH could play something other than what I had heard before. My previous experience was the Still Life album (the highest rated at the time on the Progarchives). I had not tried any other listening experience ... (read more)

Report this review (#2442543) | Posted by Muskrat | Saturday, August 29, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was the beginning of a new era for Opeth, a turn from Prog Death Metal to Prog Rock. This is very similar to The Raven That Refuse To Sing, only about 2 years earlier. The musicianship and writing is really well done, Mikael Åkerfeldt did quite the job with the rest of the band. This re ... (read more)

Report this review (#2378313) | Posted by Zoltanxvamos | Friday, May 8, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I don't think Heritage is a bad album, but it is perhaps a confused one at times. Opeth took a very bold move on this record fully committing to a sort of folky prog rock sound after their final progressive death metal album Watershed. The result is a bit mixed, but I very much respect their artis ... (read more)

Report this review (#2352135) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Friday, April 17, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first Opeth album with that features a dramatic change in the music direction of the metal giants. Gone are death metal vocals and instrumentation, the foreground belongs to prevailingly metal guitars, clean vocals (sometimes a bit lost in the mix), versatile progressive rock drumming and in ... (read more)

Report this review (#2279503) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, November 9, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This album had Opeth's fans divided before its first notes were even out there. Basically, one part of the fans were die-hard (black / death / whatever) metal fans who took it as a personal offense that their favourite band would "betray" them or their "community", while the other part consisted ... (read more)

Report this review (#1346604) | Posted by Ieshee1i | Saturday, January 17, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Opeth, I have not explored so much of their discogrophy, only a metal album in the middle and the real prog album of this year "Pale Communion". That was a story they began 20111 with this record "Heritage" the band's tenth record. When I started to listen to this record a long time ago had I ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#1284942) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Saturday, September 27, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I always wanted to like Opeth. I found them musically interesting, but one thing prevented me from listening to them - the "cookie monster," death metal vocals. I tried listening to them, but once those growls came in, I immediately lost interest. The one exception, prior to 2011's "Heritage," wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#1282850) | Posted by Igor91 | Tuesday, September 23, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Opeth's first true nonmetal album (sure, Damnation was softer, but with its themes of resignation and withering had an unmistakable doom/gothic feeling). Heritage sounds like depressive, meandering psychedelic folk/hard rock album. Keyboards are decidedly vintage-sounding and the second part of ... (read more)

Report this review (#1269128) | Posted by Progrussia | Friday, September 5, 2014 | Review Permanlink

1 stars 1.4 Stars. Tangled in their roots Heritage is the 10th Opeth album and can be marked as a brand new chapter in the band's career. The Death metal part of their sound is completely gone and has been replaced with a very deliberate 70s retro sound. Everything from the sound production to the choic ... (read more)

Report this review (#1048522) | Posted by LakeGlade12 | Monday, September 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Heritage" is a 10 track album by the Swedish death metal band Opeth, that starts a new era for the band. Even though the album seemed a lot of times as a really bad one (at least for the criticizers) , it is still one of the best selling prog albums. The album starts with a beautiful melancholi ... (read more)

Report this review (#917569) | Posted by FenderX | Friday, February 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Here comes another calm and introspective progressive rock record by Opeth. "Heritage" is maybe a little bit more metal orientated than the weak acoustic sleeping pill "Damnation" but cites a lot of influences from famous progressive rock bands such as King Crimson, Deep Purple and Jethro Tull. T ... (read more)

Report this review (#808880) | Posted by kluseba | Thursday, August 23, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8/10 This is a remarkable change of sound - and for someone who hates growls and stuff, this is a change for the better. I do not have much experience with Opeth, having heard so far only Blackwater Park (which I gave 3 stars) and Damnation (4 stars). I began to get curious about a recent H ... (read more)

Report this review (#777182) | Posted by voliveira | Monday, June 25, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Many people compare this album to Damnation. I think nothing is further from that. Damnation is their most straightforward and easily listenable album (in a way of mellow Steven Wilson's projects), though dark, hypnotic and beautiful. Heritage on the other hand contains musically some of their m ... (read more)

Report this review (#602013) | Posted by stewe | Monday, January 2, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The most highly anticipated release of 2011 for me! I have been a die hard Opeth fan since Blackwater Park. When they announced that this would be an album without grunting I was excited. Not because I dislike grunting, but because they were trying something new (and because I liked Damnation) ... (read more)

Report this review (#582351) | Posted by jverweij | Monday, December 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Time Travel In the year 2008 Opeth, my favourite ever rock band, have released WATERSHED, album of such a variable artistic quality, that I often had problems with listening to it in its entirety. It is, therefore, small wonder I was worried about their future. When I read that Opeth leaves extre ... (read more)

Report this review (#578428) | Posted by bartosso | Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The concept has turned into a more "classic" progressive rock sound. Beyond of any possible critic, Opeth has made one of their most elegant and sophisticated works to date. Once again Mikael & company have broken all the rules of Metal standard, they dared to take its music one step further. ... (read more)

Report this review (#567052) | Posted by Epsilon | Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Heritage of the 70's It seems Opeth tries hard to convince people like me, who love 70's prog, to get at least one of their albums. Even at the risk of annoying old Opeth fans. It seems they reached their goal. 'Heritage' is the second album out of ten, which does not sound metal-ish and do ... (read more)

Report this review (#554256) | Posted by Formentera Lady | Friday, October 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Every band must have a bad album...thus; here is Heritage. First let me say that I am a HUGE Opeth fan. I love their range, and style. From Damnation to Morningrise, every album has a uniqueness that makes Opeth, well..Opeth. Ok- so this album supposedly is a tribute to 70's rock- and a tr ... (read more)

Report this review (#544571) | Posted by Drew | Thursday, October 6, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In the last year I have slowly been eating through Opeth's discography and getting some exquisite dishes. This album is no exception. I always hear that Opeth is always changing, to me, until this album they really hadn't swayed too far from their sound. Damnation is similar, but only because ... (read more)

Report this review (#541226) | Posted by cyclysm748 | Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Opeth are a band I once wanted to like, and indeed I have tried to in the past, but one thing kept putting me off - barbed-wire gargling, growling, cookie monster vocals, call it what you will. In my mind although this expression of aggression can and indeed does have its place, especially within ... (read more)

Report this review (#539140) | Posted by Starless | Saturday, October 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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