The darkness fading in, the light drowning out, Opeth creeps swiftly like a specter through a large, but filling gap in their sound. Heritage is one of their first steps into the prog-ridden waters, clean vocalism, more refined instruments, and a more grand focus on the presentation and pacing than ever.
With any new direction comes possibilities that were never before imagined; Opeth already being the heavier metal band that had the technicality of talent would be able to erupt and form a large sense of scope with this new style. They had moved toward prog-rock and extended tracks before, but the decision to use no heavier vocals or hardened emotional stress through the overbearing instruments similar to their previous releases opened new doors for Opeth. That emotional stress was still present and features itself instead through instrumentals that rely heavily on daunting melodies and more broad focus on creating an evil, but gentler Opeth.
With the incredibly moving and near tear-releasing self-titled piano solo introduction “Heritage,” there is an immediate urge to move the fingers along with Joakim Svalberg who handles the grand piano on the track. It is beautiful, but sets a strange overture for Heritage as the album follows this sense of remission, but also death and a lurking perspective that is constantly transpired through Opeth’s grace and dualistic disparity. As they move into “I Feel The Dark,” the third track in the listing for Heritage, they capture an emotional pull with the track that moves through several territories of vibrating transitions.
It can capture the progressive nature that Opeth illustrated and demonstrated well in the past, but then also turn a new leaf onto several transitions that create these incredibly well produced and influential moments. It is important to have direction, but Opeth is at full control with their movements and with the way the tracks can flow about on Heritage. To see the overbearing organs that then flood over Mikael Åkerfeldt and his incredibly talented band of musicians that switch places over the years, but find a home on Heritage. Or on the following, the instrumentally driven, “Häxprocess” where the acoustic guitars that begin, creating the middle breakdowns, and eventually having an electric lead out the track. There is a heavy reliance on atmosphere here and some of the tracks on Heritage feature a very destructive, almost impending sense as “Häxprocess” begins to spread throughout and then die down once more.
Even more present on “Famine,” a heavy reliance on hellish atmosphere makes the background and mastering behind the track feel so incredibly important. Opeth uses the chains that rattle and the jungle-esque percussion to their advantage to pull a curtain over the listener, opening their imagination to the cruel sound that is revolving around them. The metallic soundscape that is in a surrounding state, to the flute that rushes in and creates a feeling of Jethro Tull with a heavier sensibility behind the band.
Even as Opeth begins to fade with “Marrow Of The Earth,” there is still that daunting and heavy presence that lingers behind as the final notes are being displayed. Opeth makes Heritage feel as an experience and as a newly formed extension of their artistic arm. Through the complexity within their musical style, Heritage shifts into different animals and makes the final moments feel just as somber, but emotionally touching as the opening instrumental.