Love, loss and learning to move on: the story behind Opeth's Sorceress
Following the collapse of his marriage, Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt almost reached breaking point. New record Sorceress sees him exposing the agonies of love and rebuilding his life
At Opeth’s Union Chapel show in London, in November 2012, Mikael Åkerfeldt was painfully thin and visibly exhausted. The night itself was a triumph, a recital of the finest songs from Heritage alongside classics, but he was plainly at a low ebb, unusually nervous before the performance and noticeably reticent during it. He now admits he was suffering from some form of depression at the time, following the break-up of his marriage the year before.
“I see pictures of me now, and then pictures from before the big changes in my life – the musical change around the Heritage record and the huge change in my private life – and my eyes are different. I can barely recognise myself. It’s all in the eyes. I can’t even remember what went through my head back then,” Mikael says today.
Opeth went on to release and tour Pale Communion, an album that showcased the chemistry between the band’s latest and arguably greatest lineup across some of Mikael’s finest songs to date, but it is on new album Sorceress that he finally seems to confront the extremes of emotion that he went through during and after the divorce. Speaking with him now, he is much happier, having made it through considerable turmoil and avoided an outright midlife meltdown.
“I guess Sorceress is a more personal album,” Mikael nods. “Since the divorce, it’s been up and down for me, and it’s not all been negative, but the experience did inspire me to a certain extent to write these songs.”