MIKAEL AKERFELDT: “I Could Technically Write Another Death Metal Record But I’m Elsewhere Right Now”

MIKAEL AKERFELDT: "I Could Technically Write Another Death Metal Record But I'm Elsewhere Right Now"

Mikael Akerfeldt recently looked back at Opeth switching to a more prog-rock sound since 2011′s “Heritage.”

Asked by Overdrive if he thinks the musical shift has “broken off the shackles of a sort of stereotype or predictability with today’s Opeth,” Mikael replied:

Well, I would say yes and no. I’m very happy with where we are at the moment.

What happened with the change in style was not really a big thing for us, especially for me because I’ve been consuming music that’s different to death metal for a very long time. I’m sure it was a little drastic for the fans.

When we released ‘Heritage‘ it really was intended to open up a few more doors for us and now as a result of that, I feel freer when I write.

I could technically write another death metal record but I’m elsewhere right now. So, I’m not really sure if we have discarded the shackles as you said, but I know that there are fans out there that are not with us anymore but I want to play music that makes me happy and right now I’m feeling very free with everything.

As a band, we got really tight after the tour cycle for ‘Heritage‘ which was a very long tour, which we actually started doing before the album was released.

We had a considerable portion of the album in the live sets and that was just a trial by fire as we were evolving and playing something different to audiences before the album was released.

It really showed a different sensibility to this band that’s been there before but we never really showcased it. That was a huge learning curve for us.

Focusing on the “pressure as the band was changing and also playing this new material to audiences that had not even heard the album,Akerfeldt noted:

There was a certain level of pressure for sure. I actually remember the first show of the tour and all of us were backstage just thinking, ‘What have we gotten ourselves into?’ [Laughs]

But we came out of that tour, roadworn and better musicians as well as a tighter unit overall. It was liberating in that sense.

I don’t really think about music in terms of what is going to be successful or what the fans will like, for us collectively, that change was well needed. We gained a lot from doing the ‘Heritage‘ tour, as well as the album’s that came after [2014's 'Pale Communion'] and ultimately became a better band for making the changes.

Now, in terms of the songwriting process, I just feel like there are no more boundaries, which is just a fantastic feeling. I’ve always wanted to feel free with my writing and I can safely say that I truly feel that way now.

Asked if his personal taste in music has changed dramatically over the last few years, Mikael replied:

Well, my taste in music has always been eclectic since as far back as I can remember. When I was writing for the first record I was only 19 years old and felt that I had to do things a certain way.

I wasn’t as advanced or as confident as I am now but I always had the passion to let the music become free and follow a natural evolution.

After the interviewer said, “I guess when you were that young there were things that you wanted to include in the music but just decided against as you didn’t know how it was going to be received by the death metal community?“, Mikael replied:

Yes, that’s so right! We were also finding ourselves as a band and wanted to get our feet on the ladder.

Eventually, we landed a record contract and I wanted to be part of that scene and have to say that even though we had just been signed I was already consuming non-extreme music and was pretty much done with it at 19!

I was enjoying some of the records that were coming out during that time, but for me, there was a longing to push the boundaries and try something different.

I was getting more and more into the older sound. I was visiting as many record shops as possible and searching through some pretty obscure stuff which I began to consume and listen to which had a profound effect on me.

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