Opeth – Sorceress
Out: September 30th, 2016
Opeth Line up:
Mikael Åkerfeldt | vocals, guitars
Martín Méndez | bass guitar
Martin Axenrot | drums
Fredrik Åkesson | guitars, backing vocals
Joakim Svalberg | keyboards, synthesizer, mellotron, backing vocals
First of all, let me start this review with what everyone is really dying to know. There is no screaming; so if that’s all you wanted to know, better slap on those old Opeth albums and remember all the good times.
However, if you’re not adverse to the steady progressive metal path Opeth has been carving into their legacy since Heritage, you’ve come to the right place, because Sorceress their 12th album, delivers the fucking goods.
Starting with ‘Persephone’ an instrumental track which utilises acoustic guitars and a female vocal to create an atmosphere of fragility and tenderness. It’s the perfect opener in the sense that it invokes the themes of lost love and heartbreak which are prevalent motifs throughout the record.
Reigning back on the acoustic guitars and progressive noodling of previous albums; the title-track sees Mikael Akerfeldt spit venomous lyrics about some unknown woman over an undeniably biting doom metal riff. It’s simple in design but is destined to become a fan-favourite in the ensuing years with the head banging chorus section and overall sense of dread it induces through your ear holes.
Upping the ante even further, ‘The Wilde Flowers’ continues the heaviness of the title-track but transmutes it into a full-fledged progressive onslaught. Morphing and twisting with acoustic passages, softer sections and one of the catchiest choruses on the album; it’s quite engrossing for the sheer musicianship on display, and as the last 30 seconds mutates into the carnival from hell; it’s honestly nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Next song and recently released single ‘Will O the Wisp’ shifts gears and is the first indicator of how wide-ranging this album is about to become as it utilises acoustic guitars and Akerfeldt’s warm vocal performances to create a dreamlike masterpiece of subtleness and multi-layered textures. The exquisite guitar at the end of the song is particularly noteworthy as it carves through the rest of the sounds which meld themselves around it.
‘Chrysalis’ and ‘Sorceress 2’ follow on from this and only solidify the general adventuress of this album before ‘The Seventh Sojourn’ breaks out another instrumental song in the vein of other classic Opeth instrumentals. Beginning with an entrancing drum section before becoming a total Middle Eastern influenced behemoth it makes you feel as if you’re watching the desert blow sand all around you. It’s quite beautiful.
Subsequently ‘Strange Brew’ contains the most apt Opeth title ever as it features some of the most diverse sounds of the bands career. Going from a simple, yet beautiful piano section before it’s fused with the DNA of classic metal and Akefeldt’s somewhat minimalistic vocals. It casts a mystic spell over your ears and will force you to reply it time and time again, just to understand the level of love put into it.
Ending with ‘Era’ before throwing back to the first song on the album. It’s a stunning prog rock number with some fantastic drumming from Martin Axenrot and a classic Opeth solo which rounds off an album which has been nothing short of a work of art.
Basically, this album is everything Opeth has been threatening to make since they threw away their death metal influences in favour of the less restricting prog genre. While not as heavy as those death metal albums, this album still manages to be the heaviest, most cohesive of their progressive metal era. Put simply, Sorceress is an undisputable masterpiece, probably their best since Watershed.
10 evil witches out of 10!
03. The Wilde Flowers
04. Will O The Wisp
06. Sorceress 2
07. The Seventh Sojourn
08. Strange Brew
09. A Fleeting Glance
11. Persephone (Slight Return)
By Kaydan Howison
Check out some of the released tracks below….