There’s some interconnecting glue to the songs in terms of recurring musical elements.
Mikael: I guess what I wanted with the album was I wanted to make a dark sounding record, and it’s a lot of Arabic scales going on with a lots of major chords, and I think that might be what you’re referring to, similar scales. I wanted all the songs to stand alone, but also, obviously, there’s the way you sequence a record. A bonus song that’s not ending up on the record, it didn’t end up flowing with the other songs as well, so it just feels like these songs belong together, I guess, to me. I obviously wanted them to sound different from one another.
Tonally, it sounds like you’re slightly more aggressive. Dirtier.
Mikael: Definitely dirtier than the last album, which is a slick, like a Journey death metal record (laughs). Very slick sounding record. The new one is a bit dirtier. It has a lot to do with the guitar sound I think.
Fredrik: The main heavy guitars on this album, we weren’t sure in the beginning when recording, usually some bands one player plays both rhythms.
Mikael: Make it sound really tight.
Fredrik: But this time around we did two channels, each side, two different amps, so I was on the left side and he (Mikael) was on the right side I think. We played really tight together.
Mikael: Yeah, and when we went through all the songs, when I taught him how to play the riffs, because, you know I just play it, and he’s looking at how I hit the strings, as if there’s a ghost note, we’re doing the exact same thing. I can hear some mistakes or whatever you call them, that were not 100 percent.
Fredrik: There’s a bit of difference that makes it a bit dirtier.
Mikael: We also used a delay pedal, an analog delay pedal, Maxon. It’s really dirty, almost on the border into ugly delay sound, while in the past we always had clean nice crisp delay.
Fredrik: It is for more open, octave riffs.
Mikael: It’s more like a tape deck. I wanted this album to sound slightly dirtier than the last one and more, the last one was so slick and this one feels just more alive I guess.
How did he (Mikael) convince you to start playing PRS through Laney heads?
Fredrik: Well, I tried his guitars and I’ve always been a fan of the Les Paul shape and I use a singlecut PRS now. I really like ESP when I was playing with Arch Enemy, but I really like these guitars. Mikael got me into them, that’s very true. He was kind of like, ‘Don’t you really want to play PRS guitars?’
Mikael: It’s toy guitars and real guitars (laughs).
Fredrik: (laughs) I wouldn’t say that. But yeah I really like them. But I don’t play Laneys. I played Laneys for a while in the beginning when I joined Opeth. As of last week, I’m going to start playing Marshall amps.
Mikael: We had Marshall in the studio. We used Laney and Marshall and Mesa Boogie. Marshall sounded great, I think.
Fredrik: New model called GVM. Four channel amp, which is a bit different from other Marshalls. Four different channels and each channel has three different modes, so you can get a lot of different sounds from good clean sounds to old man’s rock, real metal stuff. It’s not modeling or faked or anything. A lot of different characters.
Mikael: Endorsements make it really easy. Laney has always been very supportive of Opeth, they’ve always had our gear shipped out or whatever and given us whatever we want basically. Same with PRS, it’s ridiculous, because it’s not guitars that you just found in a flea market. They’re pretty expensive, well-made instruments. They give us what we want.
Fredrik: I’m impressed by the way they tune all over the neck.
Mikael: You can hear, you just do any chord and you can hear every string in the chord. I haven’t found a guitar that I can do that. the first time I played a PRS I played an E minor or whatever and I said, ‘Wow I can actually hear every string in this chord.’ Even on really good guitars like Gibson or whatever it’s kind of like, it sounds good, but it’s kind of… it’s different. So I really like PRS, they’re really supportive of us. Same with Laney, for me I’m going to stick with Laney.
Fredrik: I felt that I needed to step out of copying Peter’s rig exactly (laughs).
Mikael: We never persued. I can’t even remember how we ended up with PRS guitars. All of a sudden we were endorsed, but I never wrote them. Said, ‘Hey guys, give me a guitar.’ All of a sudden we were endorsed. I think we ended up buying a guitar and soon enough we got some kind of deal going. Laney was just like, ‘Want some amps?’