For this week’s installment of LP Release Tuesday, fans of Opeth will see this once technical death metal band change its sound entirely. On their latest outing Heritage, the band throws away their former technical death metal sound for a deep record of progressive rock and jazz fusion. Yea, we were surprised too. Opeth isn’t the only band releasing an album this week that changes things up. The always fantastic Tony Bennett is showing fans his second foray into duets, appropriately called, Duets II. Tony’s new record also features the last known performance of the late Amy Winehouse, among other surprises. Post-Hardcore outfit Thrice is releasing a new album this week after three years of absence, and indie rock group Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are attaining their indie cred with yet another record garnering “that” sound. This week looks good folks, and let’s starts it off with an artist most of us know. Here’s this week’s LP releases:
Her new album Night of Hunters, like Opeth’s Heritage, has taken a radical shift in the previous stylings she once was known for. Instead of Amos’ whimsical chamber pop, this time around we see her expanding into classical territory as she describes, “a 21st century song cycle inspired by classical music themes spanning over 400 years.” Four hundred years is correct, because the album features songs that cascade listeners with harps, cellos, horns, violins, and every other orchestral instrument under the sun. It's Beethoven meets Tori Amos. What more could you ask for?
Major/Minor sees the group delving deeper into their post-rock tendencies, making for another experimental album that fleshes away from past efforts. Already receiving rave reviews from outlets like Absolute Punk, Alternative Press and Blare, these favorable reviews have definitely been helped by the band's willingness to change their style over the years. Whether or not you feel that Thrice has become more accessible, or just better songwriters, there’s surely one thing that’s clear-- the band has taken off onto new heights and isn't stopping anytime soon.
Now with Duets II coming out this week, consider this his 10th revival. Singing with Lady Gaga, John Mayer, Faith Hill, Queen Latifah, Willie Nelson and Carrie Underwood among others, Bennett is quickly throwing himself into pop culture again. Another major breakthrough for this record, as we pointed out last month, is that this is also the last recording Amy Winehouse made before her untimely demise. All I have to say is that I’m glad Amy had her last performance with Tony Bennett, a man whose career spanning over fifty years, has touched millions of lives.
It’s now been four years since their last effort Some Loud Thunder, and Hysterical has finally made its way out. On their first album in four years, the band continues on the path of simplistic indie rock that most casual music fans won’t be able to get into, but have also expanded into some new territory. Prolific indie producer John Congleton takes the reins on this outing, guiding the boys through this album's sonic sound by taking them to a whole new level of creativity that will surely keep fans wanting more.
Metal fans, like indie hipsters, might see this as the group seeking to attract a wider audience, but I see this as Opeth's chance to further themselves away from this tired genre. Instead of continuing with technical death metal sounds, which they’ve done since their debut album Orchid in 1995, band leader Mikael Åkerfeldt has taken his group to an entirely different music hall, where the acoustics are better than anything they’ve entered previously. As Mikael stated in an interview, “It will be our 10th album/observation. I dig it; we all do. In fact, it feels like I've been building up to write for and participate on an album like this since I was 19.” It’s amazing that after twenty one years of creating death metal, Opeth is finally taking this major leap of faith that’s throwing them away from the proven sound that’s made them lots of money. But, I guess it’s time for change and it’s certainly welcome.
I’m not saying that their previous albums have been worthless, even though I am not a fan of metal, but I will say that this foray into jazz fusion and progressive rock will help them garner that truly remarkable recognition they’ve been working for since their inception. Being a “technical death metal” band does have its drawbacks, but now Opeth has finally taken their musical abilities to new heights and will subsequently see new fans emerge who will take in everything they have to offer.
That is the most wonderful thing about music in general, though. Most groups make their name by simply releasing the same style of music over and over again throughout their tenure. Yet, it’s those who make certain leaps of faith that make the process of art, worthwhile. Variety is the spice of life.