Kaaos TV conducted an interview with guitarist Fredrik Åkesson of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH prior to the band's July 30 performance at the Qstock festival in Oulu, Finland. You can now watch the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On his role in the songwriting process for OPETH's new album, "Sorceress":
Fredrik: "My role… Mike [guitarist/vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt] wrote most of the songs, as usual, but we collaborated on one song called 'Strange Brew'. So I was trying to get some ideas in there. I was sitting at my house, recording ideas. And we have a rehearsal room, where we rehearse — it's like a warehouse room with a studio — and Mikael was sitting there, recording lots of demos. And he asked me down on a few occasions to record some guitar solos and get some feedback. It was a pretty quick, focused writing session, I would say. But, once again, Mikael wrote most of it. But we sat down a couple of times and worked on some stuff. There was one we didn't finish as well that we worked on. So it was nice to be involved a little bit.
"I think everybody in the band contributes to the final product with their individual playing a lot. Everybody has a lot of freedom, going into the studio, to add on bass lines and drum fills and stuff like that. Martin Axenrot [drums] and Martín Méndez [bass], they have a lot of freedom to jam out and space out. Mikael makes really good demos, and we're, like, 'Oh, it sounds like an album,' when you listen to it, but then it's nice to hear that the final product takes it to another level."
On whether he sees each OPETH album as a natural progression from the record immediately before it:
Fredrik: "Yeah, I think we would like to… We wish it's like that. That's kind of the goal — to not repeat ourselves, especially for Mike, who writes the majority of the material. [The goal is to] always try to raise the [bar] and do something different from the one before. It's a bit what OPETH is about, I would say. Most of the albums, I think, are very different from each other. But maybe you can say this latest one relates a bit to the previous one, 'Pale Communion', and also 'Heritage'."
On how he would describe the musical direction of "Sorceress":
Fredrik: "I would say this one is a bit more heavy — a bit more progressive hard rock heavy. More direct, maybe, some songs. Some really catchy melodies, if you wanna put it that way. It's a bit more intense, I think, a bit darker and a bit heavier. Not going back to the death metal stuff, really, but still it's… some songs, I think, are the heaviest we've done, if you compare [the last] three albums.
"I think every song is very different from each other on the album. And I think there's a lot of songs, like the first single is gonna be [the] 'Sorceress' [title track]. I'm really looking forward to playing that live. It's a bit different for us; it's detuned and very heavy, chugging heavy. I think it's one of those albums — I've said this before, but I think, again, it's important — with the sequence of the album, you should listen from the top to the end. It's supposed to be like a little journey."
On whether OPETH had a clear direction in mind before beginning the songwriting process for "Sorceress":
Fredrik: "In a way, it turns out the way it turns out, but we talked a lot… In the beginning, Mikael was into doing something more doomy. I guess you can't really project what's gonna happen when you write, but we talked that we wanted it to be a bit heavier, some songs. And I think it is."
On how some OPETH fans still expect the band to incorporate some death metal growling into the new songs:
Fredrik: "We love that type of stuff, and we play it still — sixty percent of the show is from the older stuff, and it's a big part of the OPETH sound. It's not impossible that we'll do some kind of album like that again some day. It depends on Mike and what his vision is and what he feels like doing. So I can understand that. But once again, we're trying to do different albums. We've done nine albums with the growls. But I think still this music relates with the older stuff. There's a lot of similarities, stuff that is a bit similar. Just to put [the growling vocals] in there to satisfy that need would be kind of cheesy; it's not supposed to be there, and then it's gonna sound [forced]. I mean, Mikael screams a bit more on this one, but with the regular voice — it distorts a little bit more. But still, the element, like, more aggressive meets the more softer stuff, that yin and yang kind of thing, as it was before, with the growl and the clean vocals; that was kind of that thing, which is a very important part of the OPETH sound. But I think a lot of OPETH fans are open-minded and they enjoy both types of styles. I would like to think so."
"Sorceress" will be released on September 30 via OPETH's imprint label Moderbolaget Records through Nuclear Blast.