Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: September 20, 2016
From the moment I first heard the Sorceress single from Opeth about a month ago my excitement for the newest chapter of Opeth grew to a level not acquired from the previous album, Pale Communion. The air and tone of the single Sorceress spoke to me and said, “This new album is going to blow you away!” Well, it did!
Coming from the extremely ’70’s influenced, proggy Pale Communion, Sorceress still maintains the ’70’s influence, while deftly blending newfound jazz influences and a return to dark and heavy guitar tones. Mikael admitted to broadening his jazz enjoyments from the dinner table style of jazz to the more intricate and experimental form of it a’la John Coltrane. This new, technical influence is apparent in most of the Sorceress album, most notably in the song Strange Brew. After the first two minutes the track barrels into synchronized chao – intricate composition laced with amazing leads layered on top of intense rhythms. In typical Opeth fashion, the 9 minute epic travels to many different places before returning to softer, more melodic moments.
The title track is the heaviest on the album opening with a very funky organ and bass groove that transitions into one of the best riffs I have heard from Opeth in a while. I really like the relationship between the strings and the drums on this tune. I feel like they play with each other and work well off one another to create an amazing tune!
The Seventh Soujourn also stands out for me with a middle eastern feel not present previously in Opeth’s work. The acoustic guitar mixed with hand drumming and emotive strings bring this instrumental to the forefront of Opeth’s experimentation. There seems to be no limit to Mikael’s creativity and musical expression.
If you go into this album still hanging on for a glimpse of the former Opeth from the days of Mikael growling, you will end up disappointed. Ever since Orchid came out in 1996, Opeth have never truly fit into one genre unless you consider it simply metal. From the beginning they didn’t strictly fit the death metal moniker because they would inject progressive moments and soft melodic bits within these brutal death metal songs. Always pushing the envelope, Opeth continues to defy being pigeonholed into one specific genre. Personally I consider Pale Communion to be on par with any ’70’s progressive album. Sorceress pushes that envelope even further to bring back the heaviness we love from earlier Opeth, maintains the ’70’s rock influence and still manages to inject jazz influences into these dynamic, progressive songs.
Sorceress gets 4.5/5 from me because it is a well-rounded, diverse and dynamic release. This could have been 5/5 if there were a few more heavy moments, however, I have learned to temper my expectations of Opeth’s releases to the extent of specifics. At this point I’d rather take a bigger picture view with the attitude that anything coming from this band WILL be an amazing composition of sounds. This leaves me excited for this new chapter in Opeth’s musical journey.
Opeth on the web: http://www.opeth.com/
Opeth on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Opeth/?fref=ts
Dwayne Wright (DJ Ddubs) is host of Metal Rises In The East every Thursday, 5 PM to 8 PM Eastern Time, only on Metal Nation Radio