Opeth's Mikael ÅkerfeldtAnne C. Swallow

Mikael Åkerfeldt Speaks On Deleted ‘Death Metal’ Opeth Album And His Lack Of Interest In Contemporary Metal


Had things worked out differently, Opeth‘s 2011 studio album could have retained close ties to the band’s death metal past. In a new interview with Revolver, the band’s vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt spoke of writing a death metal leaning new album during that timeframe and ultimately deleting it before going on to create what eventually became “Heritage“.

The decision to do so came in part not only from Åkerfeldt‘s waning interest in contemporary metal, but also a suggestion from a bandmate. When asked about why he decided to largely walk away from the heavier elements of the band’s music, he stated:

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“The last death metal I bought because I was interested was ‘Domination‘ by Morbid Angel. That’s 1995 — a long time ago now. I’m not saying it’s just been bad releases since then — of course not — but that’s the last time I felt like I wanted to hear what’s new. And Morbid Angel was always ahead of the other death metal bands. I saw David Vincent just the other week and I thought, ‘There he is — the death-metal king.’ And I tell him, ‘You’re the fucking best. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have a band.’

So death metal certainly means a lot to me. But our death metal, if you will, culminated with the ‘Watershed‘ album. And then I was done with it. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t do anything better. I wasn’t listening to anything with screaming vocals anymore, apart from the old shit. So I wanted to get closer to the person I am. You saw the records I bought — there wasn’t any death metal in there. Dokken was the closest. [Laughs]…”

He later added:

“…I can still play death metal when I want to — I do when we play live — but it just came to a screeching halt. And I almost made a mistake. I almost wrote another record like ‘Watershed‘, but I was stopped by Martín Méndez, our bass player. He said, ‘This is not what you should be writing.'”

When asked if everyone was on board with the decision to move away from death metal, he replied:

“I think Fredrik, who had only been on one album at that point, was a bit shocked. Because he’s a metal guy. But not the other guys. We bonded so much during the writing of ‘Heritage‘. But I did write a good 30 or 40 minutes of ‘Watershed‘-type Opeth music. But when Martín spoke up I just said, “Thank you,” and deleted it. And started ‘Heritage‘.”

The full interview can be found over at and finds Åkerfeldt delving into the band’s forthcoming new album “In Cauda Venenum“, why he decided to record it in secret and why he eventually decided to record it in two different languages. That record will be in stores on September 27th.