OPETH Keyboardist Understands Fans' Frustration Over Lack Of Death Metal Vocals On Band's Recent Albums

January 19, 2020

Piero "Pie" Di Battista of Hop 'N' Music recently conducted an interview with keyboardist Joakim Svalberg of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH prior to the band's November 9 concert at Alcatraz in Milan, Italy. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the writing process for the band's latest studio album, "In Cauda Venenum":

Joakim: "Mike [Åkerfeldt, guitar/vocals] was in really good writing mode because we had some time off. We were going to take a leave of absence, like for a year, but it took him a few weeks and he started to write and being completely without any pressure. And he was really happy doing that. Before we knew it, it was like he got an album ready. It was, like, 'What?' We didn't even know. [Laughs] So he was really on the case."

On the decision to record the album in both English and Swedish:

Joakim: "This is actually a question for Mike, but I think I can answer it. He was driving his kids one day and he was, like, 'Hmmm… maybe I should try to write something in Swedish.' Like, 'Why not?' So he did. And, it actually turned out to be really good, I think. So that is the original version. And it really sank in and he was doing all these demos and we lived with the songs and it felt completely natural. But he decided he wanted to do an English version as well. It was really sort of at the last minute because he didn't want people to miss out on the album and not listen to it just because it's in a different language. It was a little bit of a compromise, but the original version is Swedish. I think it's the best."

On OPETH "closing its doors" to death metal, starting with 2011's "Heritage":

Joakim: "On the albums, it's not anymore like that. He [Åkerfeldt] felt he can't do any more with it to make it interesting anymore. He wanted to move on from that, but we're playing those death numbers anyway live, and we all love that, absolutely; it's just not on the albums anymore."

On what he would say to fans who wish OPETH would return to their original progressive death metal style:

Joakim: "There's a lot of fans that have that opinion. I can understand because that's how it started and that's how the band got famous to start. So I can really understand that. Sometimes people don't like too much of a change from that direction. And I understand that, too. It's just that you have to progress and not stay the same, which is very difficult to say about this band because it has always not been just hard-edged. There's always been elements of other things that are not death metal. The progression of this is that it's not anymore on the albums. I can really understand that some people miss that, but then again, you have to do what feels right; otherwise, it's not true. [If you do it] only to please certain people, then it's not really true if you don't feel like you want to do it."

Released in September via Moderbolaget / Nuclear Blast Entertainment, "In Cauda Venenum" landed at No. 13 on the U.K. chart and No. 5 on the German chart. The band's previous LP, 2016's "Sorceress", peaked at No. 11 on the U.K. chart, while 2014's "Pale Communion" entered the list at No. 14 and 2011's "Heritage" landed at No. 22.

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