Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt: “Yngwie Malmsteen’s records have been pretty fuckin’ shit for a long time... but the guitar playing has always been great”

Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt performs live
(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

As a self-avowed music and guitar nerd, Opeth frontman/electric guitar wizard Mikael Åkerfeldt always makes for an excellent interviewee, and now one of the most important voices in contemporary prog has shared his thoughts on fellow countryman Yngwie Malmsteen… and he certainly didn’t hold back.

“I hate him as much as I love him,” Åkerfeldt told MusicRadar. “I just want to shake him around, kick him in the ass and make him wake up to something. He is fantastic and he knows it. He has the most beautiful tone of all heavy metal guitar players, bar Fredrik [Åkesson, Åkerfeldt’s partner in tone]!

“I saw his latest video for his blues album, which I thought was appalling, cruising down the Miami streets in his Ferrari. That’s not what I think of when I think of blues. It’s pretty horrible.

“His records have been pretty fuckin’ shit for a long time, but the guitar playing has always been great. The last one I loved was Odyssey, but now I just sound like a disgruntled Opeth fan. After that, he went a bit cheesy and got really bad.

“I feel like he should take care of his career better and maybe calm down a bit, focus on writing great songs. He’s not giving himself the credit he is due; he just wants to carry on playing neoclassical at full distortion. But I still love him!”

Opeth are currently gearing up to release their 13th album, In Cauda Venenum, on 27 September. Malmsteen’s latest record, Blue Lightning - composed primarily of blues covers - dropped in March.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.