Opeth's Martin 'Axe' Axenrot talks new album Sorceress

(Image credit: Stuart Wood)

When it came to recording new album Sorceress, Opeth opted to look to the recent past.

In doing so they decided to head back to the iconic Rockfield Studios, the site of not just their own 2014 Pale Communion record, but also countless classic sessions from Black Sabbath, Robert Plant, Oasis and tonnes more.

"It's a very nice calm place in the Welsh countryside and since you're away from everything else you get very focused on what you're doing," says Opeth drummer Martin 'Axe' Axenrot - recently crowned the world's best prog drummer by MusicRadar users. "It's also very inspiring when you think of all the legends that have recorded there."

So, did the return to this home of rock giants have a big impact on Axe's kit sound, we wonder. Perhaps not as it turns out. In actual fact his working relationship with engineer (and Royal Blood producer) Tom Dalgety was more of an influence than the room that he was tracking in.

I played one of my favourite drum kits. It's a custom hand made DW drum kit with maple/gum shells that I think sounds fantastic.

"We always have quite a clear idea of how we want things to sound even before we enter the studio, so the challenge is usually to try to find that sound," the drummer explains. "I do think the collaboration between us and Tom was even more important this time, since he was also doing the mix that I think turned out really well."

The record, the twelfth to come from the prog giants, saw Axe track all of his parts in just three days. But that didn't mean that there was no room for a little experimentation.

"We experiment with different snares and drumheads and stuff," he explains. "This time I played one of my favourite drum kits. It's a custom hand made DW drum kit with maple/gum shells that I think sounds fantastic. It sounded so good so I actually forced them to build one more kit, exactly the same that I'm gonna use on our US tour.

"I love to experiment, but it all comes down to how much time you have and this time we only had 10 days booked, I think, for the recording of the whole album. Drums and bass were recorded live together and put down in three days. And as I said before, the sound was pretty much already decided before we entered the studio, so there was not so much need for experimenting this time around."

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Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).