Sep 122011

Opeth’s new album, Heritage, leaked at some point in the last week or two, I forget when exactly. The official release date isn’t until September 20, but lots of fans have already heard it — and as of today you can now hear the whole thing in a stream at NPR — and flame wars have already begun here, there, and everywhere. Mikael Åkerfeldt has been giving interviews about the album (here, there, and everywhere). Among other things, he has said (here) that although the album isn’t “a massive departure for me and for the guys in the band,” some of the band’s legions of fans may find it “different.”

In the same interview, he said, “We don’t make albums thinking about the fans too much. We have been fortunate to have people who have accepted what we put out so far. Because we were just doing what we wanted to hear and apparently other people liked it too. So I’m hoping it’s going to be the same for this album.” When asked about fans who shout “treachery” whenever a band decides to tread off the path they have beaten, he replied: “Well, they wouldn’t be fans if we hadn’t started as a band. We have fans because we did what we wanted. Our success, or whatever you want to call it, is based on the fact that we do what we want as opposed to doing what the fans want. So it doesn’t apply to us.”

Oh, I beg to differ Monsieur Åkerfeldt! You can’t so easily escape the ire of fans who are already up in arms over Heritage, calling it “boring”, or “lazy” or “70’s prog rock”, or worse. Of course, there are at least as many defenders of the Opeth faith who, while agreeing that it’s “different”, admire the music on Heritage and support the freedom of the band to do whatever it is they did on the album.

I’m not entirely sure what they did, because I’ve only heard the first song that premiered back in July — “The Devil’s Orchard”. I liked much of the instrumental music on the song, didn’t care for the vocals, and decided I probably wouldn’t listen to the song again (after the first four times). But that’s mainly because of my own taste in music. This just isn’t the style of metal (if it is metal) that I want to hear. But I wouldn’t say the song is bad, for what it is. Which leads to a few thoughts and a few questions about “music criticism” and fan response (after the jump).

As I think about it, there are three levels of music criticism, ordered by the increasing amount of effort that each entails.


This is the “sucks/awesome” level. This is the mode of opinion that doesn’t really analyze the music or try to set it within the framework of objective standards (begging the question, for the moment, about whether such standards really exist). It’s an expression of personal taste and preference. It’s the first way many fans react to something they’ve heard.

The typical choice of words is unfortunate, because when you say an album sucks or is awesome, the words signify something about the merit of the music, but the truth is, when most people brand music with those words (and words like them), they’re really not saying anything about the music at all. They’re saying something about themselves. They’re merely expressing whether they liked the music or didn’t.

This kind of opinion isn’t analytical, of course, and it doesn’t really help anyone else decide whether the music is worth hearing, because it’s so rooted in the speaker’s own personal tastes and relative sophistication as a listener. If you don’t know much about the speaker’s tastes or the extent of their knowledge and education about music, then hearing (or reading) them say that the music “sucks” or is “awesome” tells you nothing useful. The debates also get tiresome quickly:

“This sucks!”

“No, it doesn’t! It’s awesome!”

“No it isn’t, and by the way, you suck, too!”

But hey, this isn’t a put-down. People are entitled to their opinions, and really, do you have to put a lot of thought into what you write when you’re just banging away on some message board, or chat room, or Facebook wall (or NCS comment section) late at night? Shit, I hope not. I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage that at NCS. But still . . . if you’re really trying to learn something useful as a reader, you might come away empty-handed.


Now we move beyond the simple, unadorned expression of personal likes and dislikes, and we get into explanations of why someone does or doesn’t like the music. This kind of criticism is still rooted in the speaker’s personal tastes, but at least now the speaker is disclosing something about those tastes as well as something about the elements of the music and why those elements do or don’t appeal to those tastes. Now, at least, you as a reader begin to have a better sense about whether the music might be your thing or not. You might also get a better idea about whether you should put any weight on the speaker’s opinion.

So, when someone says that Heritage lacks the heaviness or the cutting edge of some of Opeth’s previous albums, or bemoans the lack of harsh vocals, or proclaims that it’s a piece of 70’s prog-worship, you begin to get an idea about whether the album may appeal to you, based on your own tastes. But this kind of criticism is still very much a product of subjectivity. It’s a way of saying, “I, as a listener, like music that includes certain elements, and this music doesn’t have enough of them going for it.”


Now we get to a mode of expression that at least makes an attempt to test the quality of the music against objective standards. Here, we find expressions of opinion that the music is good, bad, or indifferent, but attempt to explain those opinions by reference to something beyond the listener’s own personal tastes (unlike Levels One and Two).

The writer or speaker, for example, could confess that they don’t personally like the style of music, but then analyze it by reference to the standards of quality applicable to that style or genre. It could be deemed good for what it is, or bad or mediocre for what it is, because of the sophistication (or lack thereof) in the songwriting, or the inventiveness (or lack thereof) in the instrumental performance, or the quality and emotional expression (or lack thereof) in a singer’s voice, for example. The music could be judged for whether it takes the tropes of a certain style/genre and combines them in a different way, or stretches the boundaries of a particular mode of musical expression to produce something intriguing and new.

This kind of opinion tends to lead to a more engaging discussion of the music, which may or may not be what you’re in the mood for at the moment. I’ve seen debates about Heritage, for example, that produce conflict about whether Opeth is simply re-treading 70-‘s-style prog by failing to add anything new to the mix, whether it represents nothing more than a form of self-indulgent exploration of prog influences that have always been present to lesser degrees in the band’s previous output, or whether it represents the band’s use of their undeniable talents to create something noteworthy, even if very different from what people may have been expecting or wanting.

I suppose, at this level of criticism, you might also see discussions about whether it’s right to condemn a band for departing from their more typical style, or whether instead we should recognize that people who’ve been creating music as long as Opeth aren’t going to stay in the same place, and that they’ve earned the right to make music that reflects where their heads are at any given moment, even if it isn’t what their fans want them to do. This kind of discussion really isn’t musical criticism — it isn’t really an analysis of the music itself. But it still seems to fit better here, in this classification, than in Levels One or Two.

And that brings me, finally, to opinions about opinions. Must all music critiques fall into Level Three to be worth the time of day? Is there a time and a place for Level Two and Level One discussions? Is a speaker himself or herself to be judged by whether all they can do (or all they choose to do) is provide opinions at those levels?

If you have thoughts about those questions or anything else I’ve blathered about in this post — including whether you think Heritage sucks or is awesome, leave a comment, won’t you? In teh meantime, I’m going over to NPR to listen to that full Heritage album stream.

UPDATE: Phro’s first comment below suggests another topic I should have included in this post: What do you think of artists who say they create what they want to create and don’t pay attention to what their fans want, even though it’s the fans whose money allows them the freedom to create? Are they being honest when they say such things? And if they are, does that make them scumbags, or awesome?


  1. Okay, I’m gonna completely ignore the main point of your post (because I’m a dickish dickery dick), and just focus on one thing that really annoys the shit out of me.

    “We make music for ourselves.”


    You are in a band. You are PAID to make music. You are PAID to write songs and play them. You are PAID to produce things that people want to buy. If you ONLY wanted to make music that you wanted to hear or that you liked, you would doodle around in your basement and just listen to yourself doodling around in your basement. You might even put it up on YouTube, JUST IN FUCKING CASE someone else wanted to hear it. But you sure as shit DON’T PROFIT FROM IT.

    This is the laziest, most scumball way of saying: I don’t care about the people who support me.

    Now, I think it’s absolutely awesome when bands try new things. I fully support every band trying out new ideas and experimenting and even just completely fucking changing to some other genre. That’s fine and great and wonderful.

    But any douchebag, asshole, donkeycum guzzling, self-entitled shithead who says “we make music from ourselves” needs to be kicked so hard in the head they can’t see for a fucking week. It’s a lie. A lazy, meaningless lie.

    If you tour or make a living on making music (or art, or books, or what the fuck ever), you are NOT doing it for yourself.

    So, in conclusion, fuck Opeth, fuck their shitty lead singer, and fuck their sucky music. (See what I did there???)

    • The rage of Phro has been unleashed…RUN FOR THE FUCKING HILLS!

    • Now thas what I’m talkin’ about! Let’s get this discussion rolling! Allow me to play devil’s advocate on the other side:

      First, I doubt Akerfeldt really, honestly meant what he said as literally true. He’s a musical perfectionist, and neither he nor Opeth is really going to just record a bunch of wanking around in their basement. Im sure they care about how their music will be received by fans and musicians, in this way: They have their own standards of quality, and they’re not going to release anything that doesn’t live up to them.

      On the other hand, I’m sure he WAS being completely honest when he said that they chose to record what they wanted to record, and didn’t spend much time thinking about whether their fans would LIKE the musical departure that “Heritage” represented, as compared to their previous albums.

      Is that really something that should be condemned? They get paid for what they do, but that’s because people enjoy listening to what they do. They put out what they want and they profit from it because people want to hear what they do. That doesn’t mean they’re obligated to conform what they do to what the majority of their fans want to hear. And if people don’t want to hear what they’ve done, they won’t profit from it, and that’s their choice, and ours.

      • Islander sort of made the point I was going to make, if people don’t like it they’ll be less inclined to buy it, profits go down, band stops being able to live off of their music. I guess the logical follow-up question is, at what point is it your obligation to release only music that your fans will like?

        • You don’t have that obligation, I agree.

          But by marketing the music, you’re not actually “making it for yourself”.

          That’s the crux of what pisses me off.

      • I think that, in my Phroish rage, I didn’t really get at the thing that pisses me off. It’s not the idea that artists make the art they like. That seems like a no-brainer to me. And I certainly don’t mind musical growth or stylistic change.

        But this idea of the artistically pure band/artist/whatever who is ONLY motivated by the desire to create art really just fucking makes me wanna skull fuck people to death with toothpicks.

        My complaint is that it’s insincere, shallow, and reeks of pretentious bullshit.

        I want them to be paid for making good music–especially if people like it. (I don’t care if I like it, which I have to say I’ve never liked Opeth and I don’t get why people like them so much, but it could be any band or whatever.)

        I just hate the fucking hypocrisy of professional musicians act like they’re artistically pure.

        It’s really just a word choice, I suppose, but it belies an underlying mentality.

        Akerhole thinks (rightly) that it’s okay for his band to make whatever music they want. I agree.
        He some thinks that he only makes music for himself though. This is factually NOT FUCKING TRUE.

        He makes music PARTLY for himself. If it were purely for himself, he’d stay home and do it. But, whether he wants to admit it or not, he’s clearly doing it for others by touring, marketing, doing interviews and trying to sell it.

        The kvlt black metal bands that make shitty music in their basements and then never release it have more artistic integrity.

        Now, for bedroom projects where the music is made for self gratification and then released on bandcamp, I’d agree 100% with you. But the act of MARKETING a product (the music) destroys the idea of pure artistic impulse.

        • I think I’m not really making sense and my posts are getting longer and longer and less and less coherent. I blame the lack of donkey spunk in my bloodstream.

          • Well shit, I think thats the most I’ve ever seen you be serious Phro. You also make a good point.

            • Hahahaha! I’m sure I’ll be back rolling in slimy tentacles soon enough! That’s just my huge pet peeve. Sorry. Sometimes I go all feral on the stupidest shit.

        • I think your point is partially valid, it’s hard with a straight face to say you make art for yourself if your livelihood depends on it. However that’s where the slippery slope begins (or ends). When do you lose the ability to say you’re doing it for yourself (of for the art)? As soon as you market it? Or is it as soon as you sell albums? or do you need to make a profit? and what is counted as profit? Just the last release ? or recouping years of struggling? Like I started out, I agree I’m just not sure where one should draw the line.

          • I think it’s the point where you’re marketing it. Self releases on bandcamp, for example, where the purpose is to recoup losses and get it out there seems to be “just for me”. But when you’re actively marketing and trying to get people to buy it, I think you’re not JUST doing it for yourself. I don’t think that’s bad, I think it’s just dishonest to say that’s ALL you’re doing.

        • Okay, after reading Islander’s comment again, I think I see where we’re coming from different directions.

          I’m not questioning the actual decision making process behind the music writing. They definitely DID do that for themselves. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s good. Personal taste makes for variety, which is awesome.

          What really just pisses me off is the idea professional anyone (lawyers, musicians, accountants) claiming that they just do it for themselves. If you’re making your living doing something, you’re doing partly for your own gratification, but you’re also very much doing FOR the people who pay you to do it.

          I mean, how is Opeth’s album different from a car or a computer or a cellphone? It’s a commodity to be consumed. It’s no different from the Renaissance artists who made are for their patrons. The only difference is that contemporary artists can say truer to their own vision, since they have income from more sources. (I.E. more patrons, so the amount of say one person has is greatly diminished.)

          Making art of any kind is a deeply personal act. And I’m glad artists share their work with us. But it’s categorically dishonest to say that they just do it for themselves when they then try to sell it.

          • Wow Phro, you and me come at this from completely different angles.

            I’m totally all for artists not making things “for their fans”.

            And I take issue with the idea that they are “paid” to do it. They’re not. I’m not paying a band to make a record for me. I haven’t commissioned it and my input to a record is zero.

            An artist makes music for themself, THEN they put it out there and see if there is enough interest to support them financially.

            Music is in no way a commodity, it is simply packaged as such to support the artist. There is a difference.

            There’s nothing at all dishonest about an artist saying they do it for themselves then trying to sell it – in fact I take my most major issue with that point. If you create something then try and sell it that doesn’t mean you’ve created it for the express purpose of being sold. Ultimately yes it will be packaged as a product for sale, but it was neither written or designed to suit “a market”.

            I think there’s nothing dishonest or disineguous or hypocritical about Mikael’s statements there. Inf act I wish more bands had the balls to stand up and say “we don’t do this for YOU” to the fans. That doesn’t equal not valuing the input and response from their fans, as it;s the fans who enable a band to tour – but they have NOTHING to do with the creative process, unless you’re the sort of band who likes writing stuff “for the kids”

            THAT’S hypocritical, attempting musical honesty while working to a recipe designed purely to get a reaction from someone else.

          • I feel pretty sure that 99+% of metal bands can’t live off the income they get from their music — Opeth being one notable exception. Andy is absolutely right that some bands make a calculated attempt to give “the kids” what they want in hopes of putting themselves in that 1% bracket, but eventually most of them will figure out, like the rest of the people in that 99% bracket, that it ain’t gonna happen. But I think most bands ARE creating the music for themselves, because it gives them pleasure. They ALSO hope there will be an audience for what they’ve done — that’s just human nature, and after all, music IS meant to be heard.

            Now, to my way of thinking, marketing the music, trying to earn a few dollars from what you’ve created, doesn’t devalue the artistic integrity of what you’ve done. The creation came first. If you can earn something from it, that may make it somewhat easier to do more, or to provide what you’ve already done to a wider audience (through touring, for example). Does that really mean that you’ve now stopped making the music in the way that’s true to you as an artist, or turn you into a hypocrite for saying that you make the music for yourself? I don’t think so.

            Now, I think your point may have more validity in the case of a band that puts tremendous effort into marketing blitzes, with multiple variant releases, and box sets and special bonus tracks (all of which Opeth is doing with “Heritage”) and daily interviews and internet games, etc., etc. It may be their label that’s doing those things, but they knowingly signed on to that program. So in that case, is it hypocritical to then say that they don’t care about the fan response and are only creating for themselves? I’m still not sure I agree with that conclusion, but I do understand where you;re coming from with it.

            • The recorded music as it is, once finished, is inviolable.

              True certain artists may then make some… questionable moves when promoting it, but I think it’s very obvious if and when bands have made music “for the fans” just to fulfil everyone’s expectations.

              Saying you don’t make music FOR the fans is not the same as saying you don’t care about the fans. I’m sure bands who appreciate the support of their fan-base (but are in no way “owned” by them) do feel bad when fans are disappointed by their music, jsut as they feel gratified when an external source says “wow, this is really good” – as although they create for themselves and do so to the best of their ability, it’s always nice to have validation.

              But in making music FOR the fans any validation becomes ultimately worthless, as you’re already writing towards what they like, hence there’s no surprise or worth to their response. It’s reduced simply to a Pavlovian response… when we say breakdown, you hit the floor!

              • I think you have a very good point here.

                I agree that no one owns a band (though some record labels might disagree with that). Least of all the fans. So, in that regard, artists don’t owe their fans anything.

                But aren’t they still making and selling a product?

          • I’m going to try to come up with a succient statement here, because I feel like I’m doing a really shitty job of expressing my point.

            Making music is a personal act of self expression. I think we all agree on that. Selling CDs, MP3s, and concert tickets are commercial acts. Commercial acts are, by definition, not done for themselves. So, while writing music is generally done for oneself, the act of selling it is done for money (which is something I don’t have a problem with).

            What I do have problem with is the idea that commercially successful artists are in it ONLY for the art. I believe 100% that most metal bands make music because they love to do so. I definitely believe that Andy’s intention in making music is to make the fucking music he wants to make. I’m sure that’s true for Opeth. What I don’t believe in Opeth’s case is that they ONLY do it for the act of making art.

            And I DON’T think bands should make music for their fans. That’d lead to a bunch of boring homogenous music. But I do think it’s dishonest to say that “I only do this for me” when you make your living selling it.

            Okay, it’s 2 am, that wasn’t succient, and I am clearly not contributing to this conversation in a meaningful way anymore. Good night, and don’t let the tentacled bedbugs rape you in your earholes. That’s what J-Pop is for.

            • How about…

              They make the music for themselves.

              Then they sell it in essence as a separate “thing”.

              So… there’s a semantic dfifference between the music as a written thing and that same music as a commerical product?

              • I think that’s very close to what I was failing to say.

                After sleeping a bit…
                They write the music they want to hear.
                The who it is written for is a more of capitalist confusion.

  2. I think Opeth couldn’t really get much better at their current style, so they succumbed to the pressure their fans lay on them to be in constant motion and changed.

    • Oh you bastard, now THAT is an interesting point.

      I wonder if/how many bands DO feel pressurised to constantly keep changing and innovating when all they really want to do is settle into a nice brutal rut?

      I’d actually like to think of some examples of bands who became “better” when they settled down, rather than kept pushing the envelope.

    • Yeah, I agree, that’s an interesting bit of speculation. After all, “Heritage” is their 10th album, starting with “Orchid” in 1995, and they do have a reputation of movement and evolution to protect. How ironic it would be if “Heritage” were more calculated than it seems to be.

  3. I quite honestly don’t know how I feel about artists who claim they don’t care what the fans think. On one hand, I don’t believe creative freedom should ever be limited. I know I would be pissed if anyone tried to prohibit me from making the music I truly wanted to make. As Phro rightly said, making art is a deeply personal act, and in a perfect world, the only person Mikael Akerfeldt would have to answer to when creating music would be himself and the other members of Opeth, because they’re the ones putting blood, sweat, tears, and passion into it.

    But on the other hand, I remember when Illud Divinum Insanus came out, and Morbid Angel made the same statements that Akerfeldt is making. And I remember thinking, “Wow, how disrespectful to the rabid fanbase they accumulated over twenty years by playing death metal.” If you have people who love what you do, and put money into buying your albums, and your merch, and tickets to your shows so that they can see you in person and scream and headbang and mosh to your music, it seems like a slap in the face to be like, “I really don’t care about pleasing you, AH DEW WUT AH WANT”

    Does it make me a bad person if I think that yes, bands have an obligation to their fans to some extent? Like .jh up there, I don’t know where to draw the line.

    • Interesting you should mention Morbid Angel. In that same Akerfeldt interview, he was asked about Illud Divinum Insanus and gave this answer (not surprisingly, I suppose):

      “Q: Obviously, nowadays, when somebody uses to words “it’s different” to describe an album, the debate generated by the orientation of Morbid Angel’s latest record jumps to mind. But is that even comparable?

      “A: Probably a lot of people will hate it. I haven’t heard the whole Morbid Angel album but I respect bands that do things differently. I think, with David Vincent coming back into the band, a lot of fans expected something extraordinary from them. But obviously a lot of things have been happening for them as persons since 1986. So, you might not like it but I have a huge respect for bands doing different things as opposed to doing the same old shit over and over again.”

      • I think that’s true; with David Vincent coming back, people probably did expect another Covenant or Domination, and I think that was part of it. I wonder, when bands change their sound, how much of the ire is the simple fact that I wasn’t what everyone was expecting, and how much of it is actually disliking the stylistic shift.

  4. SELLOUT – here’s why: if he wanted to make a record like this, he should have used a different band name. Imagine if the Devin Townsend stuff that just came out were released as SYL records. You would only do that to cash in on the name. And I understand that; I can imagine the inner dialogue in Akerfeldt’s head: “hmm… it’s my band, I can do what I want with it and if I call it the Michael Akerfeldt project, that’s basically starting over and probably means 1500 records sold out instead of 10,000 in America and my venue size will shrink from 3000 to 300 overnight. Yeah, It’s still Opeth.”

    • Counterpoint: I’d call that move a cop-out. These are all the guys in Opeth. They made this music together. I think it’s a testament to their belief in the album they made that they feel it belongs in their discography. Anything else shows a lack of confidence and artistic integrity.

    • The thing everyone seems to be forgetting… Opeth have always been death metal via 70s prog. Right from the beginning.

      Now, Mikael isn’t a very good harsh vocalist anymore so he made a straightforward, but extremely well crafted 70s prog album that is a celebration and expansion of the very foundations of Opeth. This is a progression for the band, just in a completely different direction that what is expected of them.

      Selling out would be if they released a pop punk album, not complex 70s prog that doesn’t suit the average person’s attention span.

  5. I think that if Opeth were trying to make money, they’d simply keep releasing albums that sound like Blackwater Park and Ghost Reveries. They’re taking a huge risk by doing what they did on Heritage, and I like it.

  6. Any band that plays their music live cares about what their fans’ response it to is, and Opeth is no exception. I’ve put up shitty drunken wailings online so I could remember them in the morning, anyone can post anything online these days and having a company distribute it for you, however antiquated this process is starting to seem currently,still means nothing if no one buys it or cares. But when you play that music live you do it for, and in the face of, direct response to get that feeling or gratification from the people who support you. The fact that Opeth are going to do just that with this record makes that quote easier to interpret in a positive light for me.

    I also think musicians are just sick and tired of being asked that question, hence normally getting brusque responses whenever asked it. The calls of SELLOUT are ceaseless across every genre of the music industry, especially with bands whose sound develops over time or ones that aren’t afraid to experiment. I’m sure there are people out there that have been calling Opeth sellouts since Blackwater Park. You almost have to say “We do this for ourselves” because if you say anything remotely sounding like “We just want everyone to like us and buy our shit” you get labeled trend whores and spineless corporate drones.

    • I’m think jonesy is using the word “sellout” in a different way than it’s typically used — to connote the idea of a band trading on its massive name brand to do something dramatically different from what people may have come to expect and want. But I agree with groverXIII’s comment — there’s no way this is a sellout in the money-grabbing way that usually leads to the use of that label. It was a risk-taking move — maybe a calculated risk, maybe not, but either way, not a play for cross-over appeal or even more bucks.

      I can also imagine that a band with Opeth’s long-term popularity would get bored with explaining themselves and would resort to Akerfeldt’s sometimes brusque interview answers, which are somewhat more politic ways of saying, “what the fuck, we made the record we felt like making, so like it or don’t like it.”

  7. The thing about any kind of artistic expression, inherent in the word ‘expression’, is that it presupposes communication of an idea. Communicating an idea assumes a ‘contract’ of sorts between the communicator and the audience (even if that audience is only one person). If you make any kind of art solely for your own benefit, you are not engaged in that contract and are therefore not expressing yourself. People have a tendency to hide behind ‘artistic integrity’ as a buffer against rejection; if you attempt to communicate an idea and it is not well received, you can blame it on the fact that you were just being true to your vision and it’s not your fault that people don’t ‘get it’…thus the failure becomes that of the audience and not the communicator. Insidious, no? It’s my belief that true artistic integrity comes from being so true to your vision that you will use any means necessary to communicate that vision until the audience DOES get it.

    • And even furthermore just labeling something as “art” in and of itself is already a judgement inherent in that contract. Art is a word we use to label higher forms of expression (I opted not to use the word “entertainment” because all art isn’t made to entertain). All art is made to be consumed in one way or another.

    • Wow, now there’s another interesting and unanticipated take on this subject. It rings true, too. But it’s a perspective on the idea of “artistic integrity” that doesn’t speak very well about cave-dwelling hermits (certain black-metal bands come to mind readily) who seem to believe that the measure of their integrity is inversely proportional to the number of people who listen to their music.

      • Look at it this way: generally, the ideas communicated by black metal are nihilism and misanthropy, so in a way, they’re actually marketing their product.

        • Reminds me of that Bill Hicks rant : “By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself. No, this is not a joke: kill yourself . . . I know what the marketing people are thinking now too: ‘Oh. He’s going for that anti-marketing dollar. That’s a good market.’ Oh man, I am not doing that, you fucking evil scumbags.”

          It’s a struggle. In theater and improv we are taught that apathy is a horrible acting choice. If you don’t want to be in the room, then fucking leave. You obviously have a reason to be in the scene or you wouldn’t be there. I’m not calling these bands disingenuous, it’s just a fine line to walk.

          • As a writer I hear a lot of fellow writers talk the old “I write for myself” talk. The irony of it is that I usually see that sentence in some form or another on a writer’s blog. I find this immensely annoying because there’s a term for “writing only for yourself”: it’s called “keeping a journal”.

            Personally, I write for myself in the respect that I write the shit that I like to read. And the shit I like to read happens to be shit that other people like to read, or I wouldn’t be able to get it at the bookstore. By that extension, then, I am writing for a broad audience: the people who like the same shit I do. Those are my “fans”. If I’m not writing with that group in mind (“people that are like me”) I’m basically doing them (and myself) a disservice.

            Now if I wrote horror novels primarily and suddenly decided I wanted to write children’s books…I would totally do it under a pen name. That way, when my fans picked up my newest album expecting another “Karelian Isthmus” and instead got some clean-sung hippie prog rock, I wouldn’t be all feeling betrayed and rage-filled at you, Amorphis.

          • You just won the thread by quoting Bill Hicks.

            Congratulations! You win…shit…Zombie Vahanna White just ate your prize of babies…

  8. If U2 came out with a death metal album, would it still be U2? That is kind of how I feel about Heritage. I don’t know who I am listening to on this NPR stream right now. That is not a comment on the quality of the music or the skill of the playing. I just don’t know who Opeth is anymore. I don’t think it has any connection to the band I fell in love with the first time I heard My Arms Your Hearse (the first album I heard of theirs and still my favorite), but I will admit that there were signs of this coming on the last couple of albums; or maybe I am just hearing the keyboard/mellotron parts right now. I don’t think this album is bad, but I am not sure it is something I want to listen to. This may be the first Opeth album that I don’t buy. All Clean Singing.

    My personal metal history has moved through 3 favorite metal bands. First favorite was Megadeth, then Death, and then Opeth. Now what?

    On a different note, but related, a couple of days ago I ordered my tickets to see Opeth in Kansas City. So the level one part of this post is: Ticketmaster sucks and is a fermented, communal mound of zombie shit! There is no reason that a pair of $23 tickets should have $18 dollars of service fees and another $4.50 surcharge on top of that. Fuck!

    • Allow me to join you in saying FUCK YOU to Ticketmaster, because I bought tickets to see Opeth in Seattle, and experienced severe rectal pain in doing so. I sure hope they don’t decide to play Heritage end-to-end and then call it a night.

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