Thursday, October 6, 2016

Opeth - Sorceress (2016)

The transformation of Opeth continues with the release of "Sorceress", the band's 12th studio effort, and the 3rd that many would consider to be a part of the new era of the band, an era without harsh vocals and more rock elements. Say what you want about this change, but the band has adapted well, without losing their keen sense of making stunning and magical music. It is still Opeth, even if it is a different Opeth from before.

As per usual when it comes to Opeth, much of the magic in "Sorceress" lies within the vocals. While I do think that Mikael Åkerfeldt does not have one of the most unique vocals in metal, but he certainly knows how to utilize it in the best possible way, all to give the music that extra dimension. Those vocals makes a song like "Will o The Wisp", a fairly slow acoustic song, way more magical than what it normally would be. A truly beautiful piece of art.

And that is most of the first half of "Sorceress", a good pack of songs that are more magical than the next one. Most of these songs have its roots in 70's prog rock, and even some jazz fusion is brought in here to spice it up a bit. The only exception to the rule is "Chrysalis", a up tempo song that has a lot of groove in it, and aggression as well. It is without any doubt the most memorable song of the album, and for really good reasons. The tempo changes, the melodies, the instrumentation, yes everything about this song is simply great. A clear highlight of the album.

After "Chrysalis" though, things go from exciting and interesting, to sleep mode. "Sorceress 2" and "The Seventh Sojourn" are both extremely slow paced songs, completely killing the mood that the first 5 songs had helped build up. It is a weird break in the album that just does not fit at all. It ruins the album completely, just putting in two songs that are just wasting valuable space with practically nothing. It is boring, boring, and a little more boring.

Fortunately, those two songs are the only duds in "Sorceress", because we are right back on the saddle again with the longest track of the album, the just under 9 minute song "Strange Brew", a very progressive songs that is built with a lot of different layers, from slow mood building parts, to extremely technical (and close to confusing) madness. I really could not think of a better title for this song, because this is indeed a "Strange Brew", but a very tasty one, offering some really neat and interesting stuff, and also the heaviest parts of the whole record. It is kind of strange that this is the longest song, and I think it reflects "Sorceress" nicely, because it is not all that progressive, it is more direct in its approach. This is something that some may like, and some may dislike, but I think that most will be indifferent about it, as long as the music works (and it does).

While the ending of the record is kind of forgettable, it is still a nice listen, and it fits nicely with the image of the  album. A nice, spiritual sound that is experimenting a little here and there with all kinds of tricks, but never goes overboard with it. All in all, I think that the band has created a really nice record that is varied in its sound, yet cohesive. "Sorceress" is a good continuation down Opeth's mellow path, but it is not without its twists and turns. The uneven song material is hurting the album badly, and keeps it from reaching the same heights as its predecessor "Pale Communion". As for the lack of metal in it, I could not care less about it, because Opeth has evolved with dignity, transforming their sound that is reminiscent of the past, yet groundbreaking and interesting. Nonetheless, it is still a good album that is a worthy corner stone of the Opeth legacy, even if it is still a below average Opeth album.

Songs worthy of recognition: Chrysalis, Will o The Wisp, Strange Brew

Rating: 7,5/10 Wilde Flowers

More reviews of Opeth
My Arms, Your Hearse
Still Life
Blackwater Park
Ghost Reveries
Pale Communion

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