Opeth was one of those bands that has more than twice as many ex-members as current ones. So it was worth noting the '07 departure of guitarist Peter Lindgren after 16 years.
"The decision has been the toughest I've ever made but it is the right one to make at this point in my life," Lindgren said. "I feel that I simply have lost some of the enthusiasm and inspiration needed to participate in a band that has grown from a few guys playing the music we love to a worldwide industry."
The "worldwide" reference may have been a stretch. Opeth, who hailed from Stockholm and took their name from a character in the Wilbur Smith novel The Sunbird, had success on the Finnish and Swedish charts but they hadn't made much of a dent in the U.S.
Ex-Arch Enemy guitarist Fredrik Akesson replaced Lindgren. "In my opinion he's one of the top three guitar players out of Sweden," explained frontman Mikael Akerfeldt. It proved to be a good choice.
"Watershed," Opeth's ninth album, was their highest-charting album to date, debuting at #23 on the US Billboard 200. The '08 effort was produced by Akerfeldt, who called it "a bit more energetic" than previous albums.
Their next set, '11's "Heritage," did even better moving 19,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at #19 on the Billboard 200 and at #4 in Sweden.
'14's "Pale Communion" slipped a bit in the U.S. selling just 13,000 copies one week out. But like "Heritage," it debuted at #19.
Sales and chart position aside, the key point of contention was that the album marked a significant change of direction.
"There's a lot going on, lots of string arrangements that we haven't had in the past," explained Akerfeldt, who tried to bridge the perceived gap between the group's Extreme Metal past and the present. "There's also lots of progressive elements and acoustic guitars, but also more sinister-sounding riffs."
Still, the critical blowback continued into the following year leading Akerfeldt to comment again.
"We don't treat this band like a money-making machine. We're not businessmen - we have a very pure kind of interest in music. I don't want to scare people off even further, but there are styles of music that I love, but haven't taken in yet."
Moving past the controversy, Opeth celebrated its past by launching "XXV Anniversary Imperial Stout" in partnership with Northern Monk Brew Co. The specialty beer marked the group's 25th anniversary.
Two years, and who knows how many beers after "Pale Communion," Opeth's twelfth album, "Sorceress," arrived.
"(It's) a fine little record," Akerfeldt stated, getting a word in before the critics. "It's both fresh and old, both progressive and rehashed. Heavy and calm. Just the way we like it."
"Sorceress" debuted at #24 on The Billboard 200 moving 16,000 album units in its first week of release.
1998 My Arms, Your Hearse
1999 Still Life
2001 Blackwater Park
2005 Ghost Reveries
2014 Pale Communion