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Opeth guitarist Fredrik Åkesson on his role on the new Ghost album: “There are a lot of Brian May-style parts”

Tobias Forge and Fredrik Akesson
(Image credit: Matthew Baker/Getty Images; Future)

Fredrik Åkesson was initially hired to perform a handful of lead parts on Ghost’s Impera, but the Opeth guitarist quickly ended up tracking all of the guitars on the album, as well as being left in charge of the re-amping. 

He describes the experience as the most intensely layered production he’s ever worked on – likening Tobias Forge and producer Klas Åhlund to one of the greatest producers of them all, Mutt Lange, who famously orchestrated the multi-million selling classic Hysteria with Def Leppard one piece at a time.

A vast amount of gear used was across the 12 tracks on Impera, but the majority of the rhythm tones were created using four guitars, three amps and a handful of pedals. 

As Åkesson tells Total Guitar: “There was an Explorer going through my Olsson Little Hill 100-watt – an amp I helped design and which we used on the last Opeth album – a Strat and a Les Paul through my Friedman BE-100, then a Flying V going through Tobias’ Mesa/Boogie Mark IIC+ with an MLC Vanilla Sky pedal in front.

“There were actually quite a few different Strats with us, like my 1970 model that I bought from John Norum, Tobias’ 70s Strat which you hear during the intro for Call Me Little Sunshine and another mid-80s Fender. We also used the MXR Sugar Drive a lot, which has a Klon-style circuit.”

For the solos, Åkesson took advantage of some late-'50s Marshall Plexis that belonged to the studio, with an old Yngwie Malmsteen favourite in front for extra scream. It’s a classic sound that, to his ears among countless others, has stood the test of time.

“There are a lot of Brian May-style parts on this album, with four-piece harmonies dubbed three times each plus octaves,” he says. “I’d never recorded so many layers of guitars... It was fun!

“For most of the solos I borrowed an old DOD Preamp 250, made in the 70s. It’s the same pedal Yngwie Malmsteen used with his Plexis back in the day on his early albums. It sounded great – such a warm and saturated lead tone!”

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Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences. He's interviewed everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handling lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).