Opeth was spawned over 20 years ago, part of the young Swedish death metal scene that was influenced by American bands like Slayer and Obituary. As the northern European metal scene grew into one of the great world music scenes, Opeth grew in popularity and prominence. They continued to evolve their sound over the years, which has kept them relevant in the hyper-kinetic music world of the information age. That evolution has also pushed their sound outside of the death metal genre into a world all its own, with so many pieces to the band’s sound that it is impossible to describe succinctly. We’ll just call it rock. Good rock. Opeth is currently on tour for their 10th album, Heritage. The record dropped in the middle of September and quickly made an impact, reaching number one on the UK Rock Album charts and number two on the US Hard Rock Album charts. Upon its release, it was streamed in its entirety on NPR.org which is a testament to the band’s creative abilities. Conspicuously absent from the album are the trademark death growls from the death metal genre. Guitarist Fredrik Åkesson, guitarist and backup vocalist, said “Mikael [Åkerfeldt – the band’s frontman and only original member] said ‘we’re not going to have any growls’ and I was like ‘wow.’ But then I came over after I heard what it would sound like.” He continued, “I’m very proud to play on this album. I know this is different for some of our fans, but it is still Opeth.” Discerning Heritage listeners will hear a lot of classic heavy metal and hard rock influences, along with Opeth’s traditional sound and variety. They attribute the work of pioneers like King Crimson, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to their desire for experimentation with heavy riffs and clean vocals, and Fredrik stated that “Mikael listened to a lot of Alice Cooper.” The album can’t be considered throwback by any stretch of the imagination, and it includes a large amount of jazz, touches of Swedish folk music, ephemeral guitars and appearances by two surprising guest artists: Alex Acuna (the Peruvian Afro-Cuban percussionist from Weather Report) and famed Swedish flautist Björn J:son Lindh. Opeth’s current tour is a 39 show whirlwind around America. When we caught up to the band, Fredrick was looking forward to the next show. “We’ll be in Orlando,” he said. “I’m hoping we can ride some roller coasters.” After the spin around the States, they’ll be heading to Asia where they’ll visit China, Taiwan and Indonesia, among others. It is work ethic like that that makes it possible for a band’s career to span two decades and still produce quality albums. Fredrick let us in on the secret. “You have to be diplomatic to be in a band,” he said. “We never get annoyed with each other. Almost never,” he laughed, “It also helped that nobody has gotten super, psycho drunk on this tour.” Fredrick has been with the band for “four or five years,” he said. “And we spend so much time together, it helps that we’re really solid.” He brought up a story about a stop in Greece during a past European tour. “I woke up naked in Greece. I was in the hallway of the hotel and I was locked out of my room after a night of beer and ouzo.” He ended up having to sneak into a bathroom to find a towel he could use for temporary clothing, freaking out some poor woman in the process. “I don’t want to do that again.” Opeth has toured all over the world, including shows all over South America, India, Russia and Dubai. In that time, they’ve seen the concert scene in America change. “American’s used to be quieter and more polite, but now they scream more obscene stuff than even the Europeans.” More vocal crowds mean more electric performances, however, and Opeth has no plans on slowing down stateside. Opeth has been around a long time, and their constant evolution and experimentation promise that they’ll be around for plenty of time to come. For now, though, they only have one goal: “I hope everyone likes the new album,” Fredrick said. “It takes a complete listen.” Catch Opeth at Mr. Smalls Theatre on Halloween.