An observation on Opeth.
So… The Artist’s Way started getting more and more personal, but I do have observations on that process that I would like to share. But first, something that really isn’t that unrelated…
Opeth. Best known for being a Swedish death metal band who has had one foot firmly planted in the world of modern progressive rock for quite some time. But their most recent album, Heritage, is not death metal. At all. And they didn’t play any songs with growling death metal vocals at their absolutely stunning live show here in San Francisco. Heritage is a tribute to the bands’ influences, to metal and progressive rock of the 1970s, but with a personal, modern, and truly unique approach. It blends classic heavy metal with quiet acoustic interludes and even a Swedish folk song played in a jazz style.
What makes Heritage so brilliant, though, really?
One: It is not a hackneyed attempt to revive the musical trends of the past. It is a showcase of technical and emotional musicianship and a clear understanding of the music that paved the way for bands like Opeth to form and gain worldwide fame. These five men are masters of their art, tip their hats to the past, and make emotional songs. There is a fresh passion in their work, even as it references sounds from nearly 40 years ago…. and music even older than that in their reinventions of Swedish folk melodies.
Two: The lead singer makes no apologizes for any changes in the band’s musical style. Ever. In fact, he says that if someone doesn’t like it, they can fuck off. Death metalheads lament the lack of RAWR in the recent album and tour setlist, but Opeth stands firmly by their creative decision to showcase more mellow and melodic songs from their already diverse repertoire.
Honor the past. Know your roots. Be a master of your instrument (whether that’s your paintbrushes, your guitar, your words, or your body). Create honest art. Stand by your creative decisions.
Wise lessons to live by, I’d say.