He wanted to write a masterpiece. This was the declared aim of Mikael Åkerfeldt in the creation of "In Cauda Venenum". He moved on a terrain unknown to him: for the first time the Swede recorded an album in his mother tongue. In an interview, he explains how this decision affected the thematic orientation of the lyrics and why an English version of the album appears alongside the original version. Åkerfeldt also reveals what prog means to him. He has little to do with the term as a genre. Nevertheless, the 45-year-old sees the progressive idea as essential for the constantly changing career of his band.
Almost two years after the release of their twelfth studio album "Sorceress" Opeth toured around the world. Actually Mikael Åkerfeldt wanted to take a break at the end of this cycle, concentrate on his family, gain distance. "But if I have an idea, I can't wait to get to work," he explained in the run-up to the Listening Session in Donzdorf, Württemberg, home of the Nuclear Blast label. There we meet him to talk about "In Cauda Venenum", Opeth's thirteenth studio album. Åkerfeldt has never been a man of leisure when it comes to music. The maximum waiting time between two albums his fans had to bridge was three years. After the turn of the millennium Opeth released new records even in the annual cycle. They never repeated themselves. With each work, they add new facets to their oeuvre and continue to develop. This time, too.
As I said, Åkerfeldt actually wanted to give himself and the band a break. When he drove his children to school one morning, the time-out was over from one moment to the next: "About halfway I thought to myself: I should sing in Swedish! I felt my foot drop down on the accelerator pedal to deliver my kids faster and get to the studio faster. That was the trigger." Åkerfeldt is not initially concerned with content at all. "I didn't have lyrics from the beginning. Only music that I imagined would be covered by Swedish vocals. I was interested in how this decision would affect the music. Would she even change anything?"
Unconsciously Opeth steered through their mother tongue at least in a thematically more modern direction than one is accustomed to from the band bathing in natural metaphors. Longtime followers might stumble in amazement over words like "algorithm" and "online". Even political references emerge. The song "Svekets Prins/Dignity" contains a New Year's address by the murdered Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (1927-1986). The lines "Barricades of wealthy youth/Protesting their inborn truth" ("Banemannen/The Garroter") refer to current youth protests. "I didn't have any cool words to hide behind anymore," laughs the person in charge. "Suddenly I'm writing more contemporary lyrics. I love all the words in English. I used to build complete texts on one beautiful word."