Every year SKAP awards scholarships and prizes to celebrate Swedish creativity across all musical genres. The awards ceremony takes place in tandem with SKAP's annual spring party which is organized with the composers in mind and creativity as the main focus.This year Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH was awarded an exclusive scholarship for his services to the Swedish and international music scene. Mikael was presented with the scholarship and diploma at an intimate event in the south side of Stockholm on December 9. "I'm quite honored to receive this," said Mikael. "Apparently, you can't apply for this scholarship, a board of legendary musicians decide that you're the right person for this award. "I had never even heard of SKAP before they contacted me. I'm happy and surprised there's some focus on heavy Swedish music and genuinely chuffed that they focused in on me. "Through time I've been handed some awards and whatnot, but this one resonates more in me personally. No glitz and glamour, just some appreciation for what we and I do musically. It's well appreciated!" OPETH spent the last few months of 2013 putting the finishing touches on the writing and recording process for its next studio effort, which will be released sometime next year. Speaking to the Swedish newspaper Expressen in September, Åkerfeldt stated about OPETH's plans for the upcoming CD: "We've been looking at [tracking the next album at] Rockfield Studios in Wales where QUEEN recorded 'Bohemian Rhapsody', but we haven't made a decision yet. But it will be an expensive album. There's a lot going on, lots of string arrangements that we haven't had in the past." Asked if the forthcoming effort will be heavier or softer than 2011's "Heritage", Mikael said: "Maybe a little bit heavier. Not death metal heavy, but hard rock/heavy metal heavy. There's also lots of progressive elements and acoustic guitars, but also more sinister-sounding riffs." Åkerfeldt also revealed that he was going to produce the new OPETH album himself, explaining: "I love the way DIO's 'Holy Diver' sounds, this early-'80s sound where you can still hear the '70s, but the production is heavier. Right now I'm into having a similar production that isn't retro but it still sounds like real instruments and it's heavier than 'Heritage'." "Heritage" sold 19,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 19 on The Billboard 200 chart. The band's previous studio CD, 2008's "Watershed", opened with more than 19,000 units to land at No. 23.
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