Metal Wani's Carl Rourke recently conducted an interview with frontman/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish masters of progressive heavy rock OPETH. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the meaning behind their new album title, "In Cauda Venenum", which, when translated to English, means "the worst is yet to come":
Mikael: "It's a reference to… I don't know who coined that thing, which was good. I didn't want to reference a record title because then I have to defend a physical person. So I found this phrase somewhere and there was no reference point. It's often referring to a scorpion, with the poison is in the tail, like what you said 'the worst is yet to come,' like something vicious and nasty, or negative coming at the end if you know what I mean. That was something… I don't know. The initial reason, to be perfectly honest with you why I picked that title was because it sounded cool. That's very important, still. You want those cool 'Blackout' [album titles, referring to the classic SCORPIONS album]. [Laughs] Cool titles. It was also weird in many ways because it was fitted with the artwork that we already had, and also the whole idea of, or really how I perceive songwriting for a new record these days because I treat every record like it's the last record. I'm not saying this is the last record for us, but it could be. You never know. It's something I do just to stay on top of my game. I don't want to let anything half-assed slip through the net, so to speak. We also had in the artwork, we're portraying the band has a five-headed scorpion demon type of thing. And that was already there before I found that title. It's also if you've seen the sleeve, there's a house with us in it. If you zoom out from that picture of the sleeve, you will see that the house is standing on a demon's tongue ready to be swallowed, which I could find in retrospect, to that title. The short answer, if I hadn't been thinking about it, would be, 'Well, sounds cool.'"
On the decision to record "In Cauda Venenum" in both English and Swedish and whether it's something OPETH will do going forward:
Mikael: "I don't think it's a new standard for us, to be honest. I guess I would prefer to keep it simple for the next release. The bilingual idea was something that I came up with in the middle of the songwriting process because the original version is the Swedish version. That was the original plan. For a while, that was the only plan. It was only to be a Swedish version and that's it. As I progressed with the songwriting, I was really happy with the songs. I was also getting a bit anxious whether people are going to pass on this record just because it's in a language most of our fans wouldn't understand. Then I was, like, 'Maybe it's good for this record to do an English version as well because I wanted people to hear it.' I didn't want anything to be in the way of people checking it out. That's from personal experience because I had problems with music in the past when I was younger, I kind of refused to listen to rock music that was in a different language. Luckily, I overcame that barrier since. By doing that, I obviously discovered shitloads of fantastic music with lyrics that I can't understand, if you know what I mean. I did this album — I was chickenshit, basically. The main version is the Swedish version. And the English version is the supplementary version. If you want to hear it, it's great, but the main version is Swedish. And if you start with the English version, I'm pretty sure that's going to be your personal favorite. It all depends on where you start, but if you want advice from the horse's mouth, the Swedish version is where to start."
On the writing process for "In Cauda Venenum":
Mikael: "I couldn't stop writing this time. I don't know… I kind of opened a door, something like, we've been around for a long time. There's been times in our musical career, if you will, where I've been kind of struggling to come up with a concept or an idea on what I should do, for me, in the initial phases of writing to have some type of an idea. I don't necessarily have to stick to that idea in the end, but I need something to set me off, so to speak, and this time it was the Swedish language thing that set me off. I was writing so much that we couldn't fit everything on to the record, so we had the luxury problem where we had three bonus tracks, which are great, I love those songs. We just couldn't find a place for them on the record. The record is the longest record we've ever done, and there's three more songs, which means there's six more songs because they're in two languages. I couldn't stop writing. I didn't want to stop writing for a few reasons, because I enjoyed it so much, and also because once I stopped and delivered, there's going to be press trips, there's going to be tours and all that stuff that I enjoy less than writing music. That was it. But mostly because I enjoyed it and I felt I had more to give, if you know what I mean. Once I had roughly an hour and a half of material, I was, like, 'Shit. This is going to be a problem for me because they're all great. I like all the songs.' I didn't put out a record that's an hour-and-a-half long. It's a triple vinyl. That's a bit much to muster for most people, so I didn't want that for some reason. I just stopped when I felt, 'Okay, I have the first song. I have the last song and I have shitloads of good stuff in between. I guess we have an album so I'll stop now.'"
"In Cauda Venenum" was released on September 27 via Moderbolaget / Nuclear Blast Entertainment.