I must apologize about not doing anything blog-related over the weekend - I've been kept busy from both family and university. Regardless, I picked up Opeth's Heritage (HMV finally got around to stocking it), and have given it a listen. It's... interesting.
It's not a particularly good start, to be honest. I've read a lot about how Opeth have moved toward a more prog-oriented sound, abandoning traditional death metal influences in the process, and it's intriguing to see how it all plays out. Interestingly, despite the album being, in many ways, a throwback to the 70's prog bands which have influenced the band (hence, presumably, the title of the album), the songs are generally shorter than on previous releases. Trying to pack so much content into smaller time frames has not necessarily improved each song's quality - the first two 'proper' tracks, after the piano opener, have a somewhat disquieting shift in the middle, which sounds less like the songs are flowing, changing, living creatures and more two shorter creatures stapled onto one another.
The album grows on you, however. Definitely. The aforementioned tracks are the exception rather than the rule - the band definitely prove that they can craft wondrous songs without dipping into the extreme metal pool, with tracks like 'Nepenthe,' 'Häxprocess,' and the eight minute epics 'Famine' and 'Folklore' being joys in particular. Opeth fans looking for more of their older, heavier stuff should definitely approach with caution, but, the end result of this evolution is a solid album.