Saw the news earlier, really curious what went down as he's been in the band for as long as I've known of them; I'll be seeing them on Thursday with Mastodon, so it's doubly surprising that it happened at the start of the tour.
Lately? Sorry to break it to you but Heritage rleased over ten years ago and almost half of Opeth's career has been in the prog rock era.
Of the five records Axenrot played on four were from Heritage and beyond and Watershed was already heavily showing were the journey was going.
It was a huge joke at the time that Lopez, the jazz and psychodelic influenced drummer left his position to Axenrot, the death metal drummer right when Opeth stopped playing death metal and became a psychodelic band.
I have no idea how he kept doing that for 13 years.
Also, I am aware- at least besides whatever the "prog rock era" is supposed to mean. Rush peak? King Crimson peak? Between the Buried and Me peak? That time I let my girlfriend pay for dinner peak? Can be interpreted a lot of ways. In my opinion they have really gone off the deep end with the latest albums. They have some good passages here and there still, they probably always will, but having listened to them since Blackwater Park I do not find their more recent change in direction interesting or unique. I certainly used to, but that's just my opinion.
I was never too fond of Axe in Opeth, Lopez was much better for Opeth IMO. I don't mean to say that Axe isn't a great drummer, not at all, but Lopez' style was more "organic" and had more groove in it and it suited Opeth very well, when Axe was more of a straightforward death metal machine.
I don't believe in Lopez returning to Opeth and that's a good thing in my opinion, since Soen is doing some very good stuff these days.