Did you feel you had more fluency in the studio, with one album behind you already in the producer chair?

Mikael: Maybe. Maybe just with the songwriting I could spend more time on it and I could do better demos, because I bought a new little studio thing, ProTools, I could work more with the songs and change thing. I guess I felt to some extent when I was writing the songs—the funk part, it sounds like a psychedelic funk band, that we have in “The Lotus Eaters”—normally a couple of years ago I would be like, ‘It’s cool, but we can’t have it.’ Now it’s like anything goes. I always had that mindset, but I guess secretly, if it was too outrageous, maybe not. This part I think wouldn’t have ended up on the album a couple of years back. It just felt… ‘Fuck it. Let’s do it.’

I can hear it too, because it sounds like a part you wanted to put in there for years.

Mikael: Yeah, and the same with the detuning guitar. A lot of people are thinking we’re destroying the songs. That we’re destroying the beautiful memory of the songs. But that was the idea.

Fredrik: That was a spontaneous idea. That wasn’t planned.

Mikael: Yeah.

Fredrik: You asked me to go into the studio room and actually detune it in real time.

Mikael: The song is a sappy sentimental ballad, I wanted to sound like a mid-‘70s, Uriah Heep song. I love the song, but I just wanted to make sure that people know that we know it is a sappy sensitive fucking pretentious ballad by detuning the guitar. (laughs)

Listening to it, I said, ‘Wow, Opeth wrote a power ballad.’

Mikael: I’m a big fan of power ballads. That’s what I like. I also like the fact that the first song is obviously quite mellow, then it’s a good 20 or 25 minutes of intense metal, complicated stuff, with the funk thing, quiet talking in the end of “Lotus Eaters.” The “Burden” song is a kind of breather. Just lean back and enjoy. It’s a very vocal, melodic song.

Which is why it was surprising to me that “Porcelain Heart” would be the single. I thought they might want to push you towards “Burden” to do a clean song.

Mikael: I think that’s going to happen. That’s one of the things that our A&R guy, Mike Gitter, he wanted to hear that song an additional extra time, the “Burden” song. All of us thought that he is going to say something like, ‘I’m not sure if this is good for the album.’ I was getting ready to fight or whatever. But then he said, ‘Yeah, maybe this is a single song, that we can push to classic rock radio or whatever.’ Which made me really happy. We’ve always had those elements. On every album I think that there’s a song that you could play to your grandmother. I think it’s about time that we try it. If they want to push it towards a classic rock thing—that’s what we all listen to anyway. I wanted “Isolation Years” to be a single but they said no. At the end of the day I don’t really care. I like all the songs, they can pick whatever they want.

Trying to sort of grasp the concept of the album, I’m thinking there’s something to do with time, familial relations, but outside of that I’m sort of reaching.

Mikael: I’ve decided that I’m not going to talk about the lyrics for this album, or the titles, why I chose the titles. I’ve done a number of concept records which are just kind of fictional or whatever, easy to talk about I guess, a few personal albums like Deliverance and Morningrise actually is very personal. Then I kind of dabbled with the occult on the last record, which is a bunch of bollocks that doesn’t really mean anything. Now on this album I wrote lyrics that I feel I can’t really talk about them. I don’t want people to know the lyrics. I’m going to try to convince everyone at Roadrunner that I don’t want the lyrics to come out. We might have them coded, just to piss people off. I don’t know what we’re going to do but I certainly don’t want to talk about them. It’s the first time I actually did lyrics that are personal to the level that I feel I can’t talk about it. But people are going to make out what I’m singing. Then, even if they would have the lyrics, at least they can’t quote me on the lines, saying ‘What does it mean?’ Even if they pick out the lyrics I can say ‘No, that’s not what I’m singing.’ Lie. (laughs)

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