The new Opeth album just landed in my lap. I can't wait to play it again - listening to it through recording-studio speakers in Sweden, it struck me as awe-inspiring and exactly the kind of paradigm-shifting move they need to make at this point in their career, and I'm curious whether that impression will linger on hearing it through iPod headphones. It's simultaneously their most prog and their least metal album to date, but it's guaranteed to make the faithful fill their jeans with huge, milky loads of Åkerfeldt-love. The sonic palette's really broad - acoustic guitars, female vocals on the first track, church organ, oboe, Mellotron, etc., etc., plus some of the heaviest riffs Opeth's ever played. The second track, "Heir Apparent," starts off with a riff straight from Dio-era Sabbath before going through about six other moods in its just-under-nine-minute running time, including possibly Opeth's single fastest, thrashiest break ever. Plus, it justifies its title by featuring solo spots for both new-ish drummer Martin Axenrot and very new guitarist Fredrik Åkesson. In a way, Axenrot's drum break about two and a half minutes into this track - and, indeed, his playing throughout - is just a giant "fuck you" to anyone who might bitch about Martin Lopez's absence. (I gotta admit, before I heard the record, I was in that number myself.)
Got the Hellhammer demos collection, Demon Entrails, too. Which is nice, but frankly, Tom G. Warrior's past doesn't interest me nearly as much as Mikael Åkerfeldt's present, and future.