Let me begin this piece by saying that I do, in fact, love Opeth. I have since 2009.
My favorite Opeth album is Watershed, and I do enjoy the classics further back as well. It actually really bummed me out when I found out that “fans” were pissed when Heritage was released in 2011. Many complained that the sound was just “too proggy” and that they “weren’t metal anymore.”
I, for one, have always disagreed with that. In fact, I think the bells, keyboards, and xylophone sounds that they’ve been using since Heritage show us their virtuosity – almost in the vein of Frank Zappa. There’s just something spookier and darker about those additions.
I’m sorry, but also not sorry, to report that their new album In Cauda Venenum isn’t any less “proggy.” In fact, I think its more progressive than Heritage ever was.
Those Zappa-like sounds that I mentioned previously drench this new album. In Cauda Venenum may also be Opeth’s most political release. Take some of the extremely dark (and metal!) lyrics to “Next Of Kin” for example:
We are left in a world that’s burning“Next Of Kin” – Opeth
Crawling through embers to safety
And my name is next to last
Feast on famine and death on the broadcast
Finding friends in algorithms
Forgot the sound of my daughter’s voice
Please remind me of my emptiness
The hissing of machines lost rhythm
As death would give an interview
In a metropolitan holiness
Ummm, yeah.. “finding friends in algorithms” struck me too. Is it possible that Mikael was referring literally to social media here? Who knows. However, I could see how someone would interpret that line that way.
“Heart In Hand” also draws political references too.
The parody is real, and we’re biding time
And while losing ground, make sure to worship monarchy
Death is but a story in a land of borrowed wealth
The burdened scale weighs heavy with the hunt for dopamine“Heart In Hand” – Opeth
Overall, the consensus on In Cauda Venenum is simple. If you’re a fan of prog rock, you’ll really like this album. If you’ve loved everything Opeth has done since Heritage, you’ll love this album.
If you’re waiting for Opeth to come back to their Blackwater Park or Still Life days, keep holding your breath.