End of April. eclipsed sits together with singer/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt and guitarist Fredrik Åkesson on the sunny balcony of a Berlin hotel not far from Alexanderplatz. The new album "Pale Communion" is ready for prelude, but Opeth have to postpone the release until the end of August. Reason: Band boss Åkerfeldt commissioned his house artist Travis Smith to do a three-part cover painting that brings back pleasant memories of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Pictures At An Exhibition", but was not finished in time.
eclipsed: Mikael, your last album "Heritage" represented the most radical break in Opeth's history. What has this change achieved?
Mikael Åkerfeldt: For the first time in our career we lost a lot of old fans who didn't want to follow our way anymore. At the same time, many new guys from the rock and prog camp came to our attention. We were of course very surprised by the large number of negative reactions, but from my point of view it would have been commercial suicide to continue with the same formula as on "Ghost Reveries" and "Watershed".
eclipsed: Constant change and the development of new paths are core elements of the Opeth philosophy. This artistic freedom must be very satisfying.
Fredrik Åkesson: That's really a privilege, but I personally always need a little longer to get used to Mikael's creative leaps of thought. But his visions only brought the best for the band, so I trust him completely.
Åkerfeldt: We could easily record a pure Death Metal record again, and nobody would be surprised. But I'm not so sure anymore whether this stylistic diversity is really so beneficial for us or whether it might not even be a hindrance for our further career. One thing's for sure: I don't want to be in any other position.
eclipsed: At any rate, expectations do not seem to have played a role in "Pale Communion".
Åkerfeldt: (laughs) We are still doing everything we can to be unsuccessful. We just don't want to be predictable. What good is a huge following based solely on commercial calculation? This is not my approach, and it would greatly dilute the creativity of the moment. I write music first and foremost for myself, and it would be a betrayal of my own personality if I did not continue to grant myself these freedoms.