Is Opeth Metal?

Published by admin on September 20th, 2011

If you’re a die-hard metalhead, you may be disappointed by Opeth’s latest album, Heritage, which was released this week by Roadrunner Records. The album is rather folky and features none of the band’s signature death growls. It’s a lot more in line with 1970s prog rock than metal, but there are still some heavy elements sporadically. If Gentle Giant had been influenced by metal, the new Opeth is what they might sound like.

Not that this is a bad thing. I’ve grown to love prog rock, and I always appreciate it when bands try to venture out of their comfort zones – even if the music they produce doing so doesn’t gel with me. I still have to give Heritage another listen or two to make up my mind, but I did find it enjoyable. Listen to it with an open mind and you just might like it. If you’re one of the rare people who only likes loud music, then don’t bother.

Say what you want about Heritage, but that album cover (pictured above) is definitely metal. It might be the coolest cover I’ve seen all year. Either that or Crowbar’s Sever the Wicked Hand, a no-holds-barred metal album. But you can’t just an album by its cover, so on to the debate: Is Opeth metal?

Check out the song below, “The Devil’s Orchard.” It’s not nearly as heavy or extreme as some of Opeth’s earlier work, but its foundation is definitely metal. Its chorus is also pretty metal: “God is dead!” It sounds like a heavy King Crimson song. There may even be a King Crimson song heavier than that of which I’m unaware. While I don’t consider King Crimson to be metal, I also don’t think they’re 100% not metal. Anyway, just listen.

Mikael Åkerfeldt, Opeth’s vocalist/guitarist/pianist/etc., has said he was influenced by Alice Cooper when writing this album, though he admits it doesn’t sound like his mainstream work. I’d say it’s comparable to Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare, an art rock album that still holds up pretty well 36 years after its release. I’ve argued before that Alice Cooper is metal, but apparently lots of people disagree with me on that. Fair enough.

Clearly, it’s easier to classify Opeth’s earlier work, such as the song below off the 1999 Still Life album, as outright heavy metal. The band’s matured a lot since the 1990s. They were in their 20s then; now they’re nearing 40. If all of their albums kept sounding the same, their career would’ve ended years ago.  Stagnation is never a good thing. Opeth is no longer a black metal or death metal band. They almost defy categorization.

So, is Opeth still metal?

Our verdict: Yes

But more importantly, what do you think? Do you think Opeth is heavy metal? Vote and comment below! 


3 Responses

  1. Adriana says:

    Hey, I saw them play with Iron and Wine in MPLS this past fall and they were great. They have a darn good e.p. that they put out for the tour thats very good. I belive you can find some demo MP3’s on their wietbse (you could for a while at least, haven’t checked in a number of months)

  2. Aef says:

    I get the feeling this might turn out slmiiar to Ulver’s Shadows of the Sun, which (I think) is a masterpiece in it’s own right. The album is mostly devoid of traditional percussion, and yet the music doesn’t suffer at all if anything, it blossoms because of it. You have your beautiful(ly sad) tracks (Eos), your incredibly disturbing tracks (Funebre) and everything in between however, the idea of music like that blown up into 10+ minute suites is very intriguing and that’s where this article just sent my excitement for Storm Corrosion into the stratosphere. Can’t wait for April 2012!

  3. Rahman says:

    who doesn’t luv this song? i mean FOR REALZ. this song iz awesome! did u see her face at the end? lol. i waz on the couch lmao. my bf hates this song. he thikns imma be a stalker

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