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Opeth - Sorceress CD (album) cover

SORCERESS

Opeth

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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3 stars This is a rather disappointing album for the old school Opeth fans. There are only traces of their former heaviness in these songs. But unlike the enchanting and bleak softness of Damnation, Sorceress displays a more commercial type of softness, sacrificing their cutting edge inventiveness for something far more approachable to your regular unreflective listener with untrained ears. There's a lot of focus on keyboards and clean vocals, leaving the guitars to the background at times, highlighting the old 70's prog rock approach. While Akerfeldt is certainly a genius at capturing that retro quality, it seems his creative juices were fresher in Heritage and Pale Communion in this regard. After a couple of spins, the only songs that stand out are Sorceress and Strange Brew. Still, these songs don't stand up to even some of the weaker tracks on the two previous albums. It is still a good album, since this is Opeth after all and they have polished their production to perfection, whatever kind of music they may choose to play.
Report this review (#1613508)
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can't say enough good things about the most recent release from Opeth. I suppose one should come to expect flawless musicianship, compositions and production from Sweden's prog-metal masters and Sorceress is no exception. Continuing in the growl free, "full on prog" vein that the band embarked on with Heritage, Sorceress is perhaps the most eclectic Opeth album released yet. Influences such as Gentle Giant and Caravan are readily detectable on this release. There are plenty of heavy moments and fret board flying pyrotechnics but there are also lovely breakdowns with melancholy and simple playing. Opeth has made a career as a band steeped in contrasts (growls vs clean vocals, heavy sections followed by ethereal light ones, even the death metal/pure prog "halves" of their discography); and Sorceress continues this tradition beautifully. I had the fortunate pleasure of seeing Opeth at Radio City Music this past weekend for an epic concert. The Sorceress material that was played (Sorceress, The Wilde Flowers and Will O' The Wisp) all delivered perfectly well in the live setting (standing toe to toe with classic material from Deliverance & Damnation, Still Life, Blackwater Park et al). This LP is my favorite effort of the post death metal phase of Opeth's career. My personal highlights from the album are: Sorceress, Will O' The Wisp, Era, Strange Brew and The Wilde Flowers, but candidly the entire album is breathtaking. While not quite a concept album, the album takes on the weighty subject of lost love and the myriad feelings one can experience as a romantic relationship erodes/dissolves/ends... The "duality of man" aesthetic that Mikael Akerfeldt has always been a master of is again on full display. Fans that won't accept Opeth without growls, should pass here for obvious reasons. Prog fans in general though would do well to seek out this record. It is a brilliant utterance from one of the most talented bands in music. Kudos to the band and all involved in the production of this masterpiece. A hearty five stars!!!
Report this review (#1614072)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sorceress is a very versatile album, as most Opeth albums are. In Sorceress, Opeth explores new areas the band has never been to and experiments with different styles. The first single and title track sounds like progressive grunge as the chorus has a very "grungey" sound and it reveals an upbeat, powerful style without the previous usage of growls. The Wilde Flowers is a little cheesy, but the second half of the song makes up for it and the chorus grows on you. The lyrics aren't the best which is fairly consistent throughout the album. Will O The Wisp, the second single, is a nice folk sounding song. It's very smooth and relaxing and has good melodies. Chrysalis is a pretty wild song and definitely needs a couple of listens to really understand. It is very upbeat and then like The Wilde Flowers, has a calm ending which transitions nicely, directly from some solid soloing. Sorceress 2 is a very mysterious song. It's very short and features soft and beautiful vocals. The Seventh Sojourn has a tribal theme and is almost an instrumental with the exception of the ending. The ending is very mysterious and sounds like Sorceress 2. It's also the highlight of the song as the tribal sounding majority, with its repetitiveness, does not have much replay value. Strange Brew is the best song on the album. The intro is very relaxing and then about two minutes in it breaks into absolute chaos. The tempo is extremely fast and it's very satanic sounding. Then the vocals come in very strongly followed by some fierce soloing that just matches perfectly. The piano on this track is so haunting as the song slows down again. And then that killer guitar hits again and it's just chilling. Everything synchronizes so well with the vocals and transitions so nicely. When it's all said and done, this song will go down as one of Opeth's greats. A Fleeting Glance is another good one with the vocals having a very light and finessed touch while matched with clean electric and acoustic, and a nice bass line. It's just a very well flowing song. Then the chorus hits towards the end of the song matched with guitar of the same melody and then a short but sweet solo. The ending is performed with great bliss and tops off a lovely listen. Era is not a highlight of the album, but it is a great ender and really sums up not only the album, but where Opeth is right now musically, "The end of an era, one starts a new.". Sorceress is an album that rocks hard at times and shows off beauty at other times. However, it does this in a manner that we have not seen before with Opeth. The transitions in this album are stellar and the melodies are as good as ever. I do not see Opeth in decline whatsoever as they are evolving and transforming their style each album.
Report this review (#1616987)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2016 | Review Permalink
Progfan97402
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I ordered this album and received it on the day it was released (September 30, 2016) and have gave it a few good listens and I am very convinced this could very well be the best album they've done since Mikael Åkerfeldt dropped the death metal growls (starting with Heritage). My copy is the American pink vinyl pressing. I was very amused the label Moderbolaget (Opeth's own personal label) spoofs the swirl Vertigo label of the early '70s. Not that the logo looks anything like Vertigo's, but the appearance and layout on the b-sides of both discs look exactly like the old Vertigo b-side, except for the logo, of course, the same white label and printing arrangements. It's blatantly obvious: Mikael Åkerfeldt is paying homage to the swirl Vertigo label, as he owns quite a few titles from that era of the label, which unfortunately costs a king's ransom, not just the hyper-rare stuff like Ben or Dr. Z, but even Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, and Gentle Giant, especially if they're UK pressings (I did get lucky and acquired an original UK swirl of Gentle Giant's Acquiring the Taste for just $20, the least I paid for a UK swirl original). Given Åkerfeldt is probably not exactly broke due to the success of Opeth allows him to spend ungodly money for those rarities (rarities high on my want list, but can't afford them if copies show up).

This album alternates between heavier stuff, and more acoustic stuff. The heavier stuff is actually heavier than their previous two albums, but if you're expecting a return of the monster growls, you won't find them here. It's basically a continuation of the heavy prog style explored on the previous two, although with more of an edge. At times I get reminded a bit of Anekdoten (a band that I'm sure Åkerfeldt is big on), especially that grungy approach. Aside from the label, the band is making tributes again, with "The Wilde Flowers", an obvious reference of the pre-Soft Machine and Caravan band, and "The Seventh Sojourn" which I'm sure is a Moody Blues reference (although the music has a strong Middle Eastern feel to it). Occasional reminders of Deep Purple surface, but with Åkerfeld's own voice. The opening "Persephone" has a rather medieval feel, reminds me Jan Akkerman's foray into medieval music occasionally found on Focus albums (like "Delitae Musicae" and "Elsbeth of Nottingham"). I am certain the death metal purists have pretty much screamed "Treason" at this band already (especially Pale Communion), forgetting there's always been underlying progressive rock elements (even during the growls), something brought more in the forefront of recent. For the rest of us, this is a really great album of heavy prog, and by far the best they've done in the post+death metal phase.

Report this review (#1617424)
Posted Friday, September 30, 2016 | Review Permalink
horza
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I must confess from the outset that Opeth are one of my favourite bands. In this age of streaming and downloading music they are one of the few bands that I actually purchase the CD's - in this instance I went for the Deluxe Edition. As I get older I recognise influences and try to place where I may have heard certain melodies before. As my wife observed today whilst we were listening to 'Sorceress', it must be pretty hard for bands to be totally unique. We have both been fans from the days of 'Ghost Reveries' and have been to see the band a few times since then. The album opens with 'Persephone' and my wife immediately drew comparisons with Metallica's Black album and its acoustic/classical musings. The next track is the title track and the sound seemed a bit 'muddy' to me. I have listened to it on 3 different players and the organ/bass opening section was, in my opinion, a tad turgid. Look, I'm not a musician - I love this band, maybe I just expected a bit more clarity and prowess. What the hell do I know - then again I bought the damn thing so I can express an opinion. 'The Wilde Flowers' sounded ( I kid you not Rudy) like 'Gangsters' by The Specials. Listen to both songs and tell me I'm wrong - I dare you. It's there I tell you. Anyway, next up is 'Will O The Wisp' by Opeth Tull. Now I like Tull, I always have. I had my first Indian meal back in the days of yore just prior to seeing Tull play in Edinburgh. This song could have been written by Ian Anderson - I like it a lot. Did I mention that Opeth are one of my favourite bands? So far, on this album, they are a couple of my favourite bands. All this may change in days to come - as the album carves out it's own space in my head. 'Chrysalis' is an enjoyable rocker, the first standard rock song so far. I'm not saying who it sounds like - you might think I am exaggerating if I go down that path. 'The Seventh Sojourn' is my favourite track - North African/ Eastern influences on this one - Myrath/Orphaned Land - no problem there. 'Strange Brew' doesn't sound like Cream - what were the odds of that? A quarter of the way in the track comes to life and finds it's Opethosity. 'A Fleeting Glance' has dainty harpsichord at the beginning and borders on a revisitation to Tull. I wasn't inspired. 'Era' also has a low key intro before coming to life. This album will no doubt become another favourite of mine, given time. I consider this to be their most commercial album to date. I have to say that I really miss the musical virtuosity of their previous keyboard player. In my opinion Per Wiberg was far more influential to the Opeth sound than Joakim Svalberg is. His keyboard sound was better and I bet Per's set-up is different. Again, just my opinion. No doubt Joakim is a great player too, in his own right. He is in Opeth after all. By the way I'm not blaming the keyboard player any shortcomings this album may or may not have. I'll get my coat - see ya.
Report this review (#1617942)
Posted Sunday, October 2, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'll cut to the chase. This is another fine addition to the Opeth cannon and, given some time, will grow on you. Even if you are one of those Opeth fans that doesn't like anything post-Heritage, I suggest you give it a whirl.

There are three aspects of this album that I think make it the great album it is: Flow, Diversity, and Heaviness. Let me explain....

Flow - One thing that really surprised me after my first listen was how well the songs went together. You can tell that a lot of work went into deciding the order of the songs on this album. It's not that the songs sound similar; quite the opposite. Instead, it's something akin to (using a Zappa term), conceptual continuity. There are small but substantial elements of previous songs that bleed into the next tracks. It's almost subliminal, but it is there, and makes the album very enjoyable to listen to.

Diversity - As I mentioned briefly above, the songs are all quite different. Each song brings a new color and feeling to the narrative of the album. I think they did a great job mixing the more rocking songs as acoustic tracks, possibly more so than the previous two albums.

Heaviness - Yeah, it's not death metal, and some may argue it's not metal, but it's definitely heavy music. If you listen carefully, the lyrics are quite dark, touching upon the pain and suffering one can experience from love and being in-love. And, the music follows suit. There's a doom-like element pervading the album, and some very intense moments (the last minute of The Wild Flowers is a great example).

In closing, I think this is a great album that all Opeth fans should give a chance. Continued listens will pay out in dividends. It's also the type of album that you really need to listen to from start to finish. Give it a chance!

Report this review (#1618327)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sweden's OPETH is one of the most innovative groups on the contemporary progressive rock scene. The band's new album, "Sorceress", shows that Mikael Akerfeldt & Co still follow the tradition they started back in 2011 on "Heritage" (the rejection of growling vocals and extreme trends in general, because of which their fan base has been - slowly, but steadily - decreasing since then), further widening their stylistic horizons. "Sorceress" includes more musical genres than "Pale Communion" (soon after the release of which - as a result of declining sales - the band was expelled from Roadrunner Records), and is more varied in this respect. On the other hand, however, what has been said doesn't mean it is better than its predecessor. Three of the eleven tracks, that the new album is made up of, are calm ballads, only featuring acoustic instruments and voices. Three more compositions are art-rock-like songs, occasionally deploying elements of quasi-Jazz-Fusion. All of them have a full-band sound (at least most of the time), although they are quite transparent structurally. In other words, these are pleasing compositions, but are almost instantly accessible. The same words are relevant to 'The Seventh Sojourn', an instrumental piece, belonging exclusively to the so-called World Music genre. To be precise, it sounds very much like the traditional music of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. Only the remaining four tracks are multi-sectional compositions and are full of intricate, highly progressive, arrangements. Stylistically all of them represent Prog-Metal with either acoustic or semi-acoustic art-rock interludes, but without anything that would suggest Symphonic Progressive of the first water (which may be rather heavy at times, of course), as opposed to the music on either of the band's two previous albums. The only vintage keyboard instrument that plays an important role here is the Hammond organ, besides which most of its solos have a Deep Purple-ish feel to them (yeah, just like in case of the latest Kansas release). Well, it's time to make a sort of conclusion. While stylistically less consistent and cohesive than most, if not all, of the other studio albums from the band's discography, "Sorceress" has a lot of commercial potential. All in all, I find it to be a good release, but by no means a masterpiece. Please don't go mad on experimentation, Mikael! If the tendency to simplify the band's music will continue, Opeth may face the fate of Marillion. Finally I must note that "Sorceress" entered the Top 10 of the Official UK (Top 100) Albums Chart earlier this week, which is, commercially speaking :-), the band's highest achievement to date.
Report this review (#1619303)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars I would call Sorceress an instant classic album with amazing musicianship. Previous albums featured the magical and powerful contrast between extreme metal and softer moments, but Sorceress goes retro-prog with a 70s feel that will make many people feel at home. Sorceress sounds more like an extension of Pale Communion, Damnation, and Heritage where the progressive roots started to plant a foundation for the second generation of Opeth. With a highly saturated metal market and a preference for 70 era of rock, Opeth have transformed into a heavy Progressive Rock group leaving their extreme metal tendencies and growls in the dust. I have grown to love Sorceress and this new era after repeat listens, but it required me to leave my expectations behind. If you approach Sorceress as a Progressive Rock album, it is loaded with vocal harmonies, subtle music variations, and the complex compositions that only Opeth can create. Sorceress is an album I expect to hear often, and that is a great measure of success.
Report this review (#1630548)
Posted Monday, October 10, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Instead of being Opeth's latest product, Sorceress is easily a release that could have been the transition between Watershed and Heritage, as it's one that slides between their metal and prog eras. With far more touches of heaviness than either of their last two outputs, it still isn't the return to form that, at this point, everyone should have given up on. Opeth has generally tended towards diversity over their lengthy career, and Sorceress is on the more eclectic side of their spectrum. There's an even balance between metal, prog, and acoustic pieces, one that has always been present, but now it is distributed differently, the styles generally split into separate tracks rather than lumped into one ten-minute epic.

So is it actually good? Well, my main gripe has to be the Tool-esque excess of interlude tracks. The intro and coda (the two Persephones) are two dinky, unnecessary acoustic pieces. Worse yet are back-to-back Sorceress Two and The Seventh Sojourn, the former an unremarkable, somewhat creepy bout of acoustic noodling with quiet vocals, the latter a Middle-Eastern tinged, really un- Opeth instrumental that just goes on for too damn long. All of these four songs add nothing to the album and distract from the real content.

Stylistically Opeth changes it up often enough to keep the rest of the album fairly interesting. The heaviness is there, not a dominant element, but undeniably present in several songs. Title track Sorceress kicks off with some keyboards that make you think you're in for some more 70s prog rock worship, but when the heavy, chugging riff kicks in, you know you're in for something a bit different, not to mention better. Wilde Flowers and Chrysalis, both of them dramatic and bombastic, have prog metal overtones but fall more in the hard rock category. (The solo section in Chrysalis is nearly indistinguishable from Dream Theater.)

Opeth goes a bit folk here as well; I must point out Will o the Wisp because it is the best acoustic song. A simple piece, musically reminiscent of Harvest, the lyrical department is more geared towards the likes of Burden. Vague but emotional, and in a voice that imitates Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Akerfeldt seems to sing of the mistakes and regrets of a long life. I feel like this is one that's eventually going to become a classic of their softer sets.

The prog songs are closely tied in with the insufficiencies in the songwriting. When Opeth tries to be more structurally unconventional, it often feels disjointed. Still, they manage to get across a solid track without it being too detracting from the overall experience. Strange Brew, the longest song with its may twists and turns, is a major culprit here. While not without good ideas, its flow was, well, less than ideal, and it could have been a highlight if not for the Watershed-era start-stop dynamics. A few songs seem to build up to something and then just end, namely Sorceress and Wilde Flowers. In these specific cases it's not a big deal, though somewhat dissatisfying. The general sound of the album is still derivative of 70s prog, but less so, the similarity mainly in the keyboards.

The verdict: Sorceress is pretty good. It's the best of their new era so far, close to Pale Communion in terms of overall quality, but its diversity and the return of some of the heaviness improves it, even if the songwriting and the excessive interludes aren't exactly the best things Opeth have done. The consistency between tracks is poor but there are definitely some highlights that make the release worthwhile.

Report this review (#1632175)
Posted Friday, October 14, 2016 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars If there was still any doubt that Opeth have moved on from their death metal roots for good then Sorceress should finally make things clear once and for all. I'd heard rumours that they were getting heavier again, even returning to metal. Well...

...Well, yes, there are times when Sorceress is heavier than Heritage and Pale Communion, even the odd glimpse of metal. The title track was the first song to be given a public airing in advance of the album's release and after its Mike Ratledge (Soft Machine) style keyboard dominated intro it slips into a tantalizingly heavy groove but still packed full of melody. However, overall anyone still yearning for the Opeth of old is going to be once again disappointed. Those of us who are happy to go along for the ride, myself included, with Mikael Akerfelt's vision of beautifully crafted prog with way more than a nod to the genres golden seventies heyday are in for another treat.

Diversity is the key word here. There are moments of acoustic beauty like Persephone, Sorceress 2 and Will O The Wisp - a greater tribute to Jethro Tull I never heard. The Wilde Flowers - this was the original name of legendary Canterbury band Caravan which I suspect supplied the inspiration, though it doesn't sound much like them being considerably heavier than that band ever got. The prog references keep coming in the song titles - Chrysalis (the famous record label). The song is one of the heaviest here, not dissimilar to The Baying of The Hounds in parts, which itself had a strong seventies heavy rock groove. Like many Opeth songs though it has plenty of dynamics with quieter sections. The Seventh Sojourn was a Moody Blues album title (an eastern flavoured instrumental here apart from some late entry ethereal vocals) and Strange Brew was a Cream Song, you get the picture.

Despite the diversity of material here Sorceress flows well and still unmistakably sounds like an Opeth album. The production is similar to Pale Communion - organic with plenty of bottom end. Some have complained PC was a bit muddy and will no doubt have similar feeling about this but it sounds great to me on my vinyl copy and very sympathetic to the seventies vibe the band are going for. The musicianship is of course excellent and once again the keyboards play a key role though there's still plenty of space for the guitars with some heavier riffing and some very tastefully played solos. No growl vocals of course and Akerfeldt's voice is now so good he can rely on his clean singing entirely and perfectly suited to the material on Sorceress.

Opeth have released another brilliant album of beautifully crafted songs and I expected nothing less. I'd say it's the best of the last three. No it's not a prog metal album per se but has moments where it's heavier than anything they've released since Watershed which may go some way to appeasing older fans not too happy about their direction of late. Where they go now is anyone's guess and nothing would surprise me, even a U-turn back to full on metal of some description though I suspect the death growl vocals are long gone for good.

Report this review (#1632525)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2016 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Opeth have moved away from their gloomy growling and have lost a few fans, who have willfully fallen off the bus but so is art! I read some bitter comments from some fans who regret the departure of growling death-metal leanings and who despise this softer side. Yes, the grunting is all gone but outside of a few acoustic gems, the tracks here are pretty weighty and energetic. The previous album "Pale Communion" was both a critical and artistic success and certainly consolidated Opeth's new found prog energy. Mikael Åkerfeldt has taken the decision to follow his muse and push the envelope of his craft, to become even more musical than ever before and screw the naysayers! Good on ya!

This new Opeth album is the owner of perhaps the most gorgeous cover art in recent memory (Anubis-A Tower of Silence has finally met its match!), a proud turquoise peacock in full peachy regalia, a perfect depiction of the stunning music found inside. I don't believe much in sorcery or coincidences for that matter but one never knows for sure. The songs here almost all have references in their title to some direct or indirect prog music. "Persephone" is a classic Wishbone Ash tune, among others. "The Wilde Flowers" were a pre-Soft Machine Canterbury group featuring Kevin Ayers and members of Caravan. "Chrysalis" a major record label (Jethro Tull among others). "The Seventh Sojourn" is a Moodie Blues album title. "Strange Brew" is creamy Clapton song. "Era" is a synthesizer band. "Will O' the Wisp" is a Leon Russell album or Ignis Fatuus (its Latin name), the title of the debut White Willow album. "Sorceress" is a Return to Forever song. "A Fleeting Glance" was a song by Gowen/Miller/Sinclair/Tomkins on their "Before a Word is Said" album. I know, it's the wind or weather balloons . Okay, for my next trick?

"Persephone" sounds almost like a modern version of Concerto for Aranjuez, just as romantically inclined and cinematographic, images of crimson-burnt Andalusian sunsets, hushed voices and imaginary castanets. This bleeds right into the impetuous "Sorceress", a feverish tune with rampant keyboards and metallic guitar rasps shoved along by an impatient bass and chaotic drumming. Nothing too complex, just hard-edged heavy prog that thunders along, unobstructed and violent. Bassist Martin Mendez shuffles the low end with aplomb, the other Martin (drummer Axenrot) wallops assuredly, this is no cotton-candy prog! Keyboardist Joakim Svalberg screeches acrobatically and finally Fredrik Åkesson crushes his axe when needed and then caresses it seductively.

"The Wilde Flowers" starts out as a phosphorescent blow torch, 'a funeral pyre' of gravity and despair, tormented by contrasting emotions and textures, a sense of hopeless doom one minute and fluttering expectation next. Pooling e-piano adds to the sonic torture, leisurely introducing the volcanic and slightly demented finale which reeks of Red-era KC.

One can detect the overt respect for Ian Anderson on "Will O' the Wisp", mandolin-like sounds and a vocal that has that unmistakable nasal twang that made the gallery minstrel so respected, I mean how can you not like this , even if it's a tribute ? Thousands of Floyd, Yes and even KC inspired bands but not too many prog artists out there who could clone Jethro Tull. Well, Mikael does it and does it reverently well. The elongated and fluid guitar solo is not anywhere near Martin Barre, so no danger of impending lawsuits. Ironic then that the next track is titled "Chrysalis" and sounds really nothing like Aqualung, though it's a chugging affair that has some orbital synthesizer asteroids, a brittle guitar that 'seeks out the moonlight' and a turbo-charged rhythm section thrusting the thing along. Halfway through the scorching tendency evolves into a moodier enclave of glistening guitar, twinkling e-piano and wistful, melancholic singing.

"Sorceress 2" starts out as an acoustic guitar reverie, with airy vocal pleadings, miles (or kilometers, if you prefer) away from doom-metal, actually nearer to Roger Waters more than anything, a lovely pastoral ditty. A perfect set- up for the Middle-Eastern leanings of The Seventh Sojourn", with percussion straight out of the Casbah, a caravanserai of acoustic pleasures, sand-swept orchestrations with a myriad of thumping support, swooning and swerving as the palm trees sway in the wind, all that is missing is a few well-placed "Ay-wah"s to make this a Saharan delight. The hushed choir blows in like a sirocco of pleasure and contentment.

A severe sense of dislocation emanates from the opening bars of "Strange Brew", before a seductive guitar riff rings the bell of reality, only to open the door into a jungle of beastly rhythms, paranoid synth gurgles and cannonading guitar salvos. Axenrot pounds mightily and with purpose. Ooh, Mikael is pissed off as he suddenly screams his anger, overwrought guitar in tow, all wrapped in Hendrixian ennui, a very clever wink to the Purple Hazer while still keeping it an Opeth song. This is the longest track here and exudes both impatient contrasts and depressive propensities that keep the listener on edge. Grueling and sweaty, the rivulets of rage pool at your feet, unbeknownst to any deliverance. The final fragility is unbearable.

At the outset of "A Fleeting Glance", there is a Beatles-like harpsichord pattern that is straight out of the Magical Mystery Tour, a "meek shall inherit the earth" theme that goes berserk with stop-start machine gun riffs, acoustic medievalisms set to only confuse and ultimately enthuse. The lead guitar virtuosity is quite outward as the notes come avalanching out of the speakers, suddenly folding right into the next fantastic song "Era", an ornate and elegant piano leading the way, Svalberg getting to show off his classical chops, but then shoves a surging organ into leading a claustrophobic charge of furious guitars, a mellotron howling madly and a rabid rhythmic assault. Definitely more prog than prog-metal, this is still bruising and pant-inducing stuff, regardless of what the negative pundits may say. Ya want heavy? There are tons of leaden stuff out there (in fact way more choices than prog). A slight return to Persephone kills this peacock off, a fine goodbye indeed.

I enjoyed this album as much (if not more in the future) as "Damnation" and "Pale Communion", my other two Opeth albums, so I guess I am showing my true colours. In all fairness to appease some of the hardcore fans, , Opeth needs to be relabeled (a thing I hate personally) to Heavy Prog, instead of the current Tech/Metal tag. Just a thought.

4.5 witches

Report this review (#1633321)
Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opeth at its best! After heritage and pale communion is sorceress the fusion of the new style. I can`t stress a song, because you need some more passings. The cover describes the music: silent folk parts and heavy parts with the mark of Opeth in the garment of the seventies. There is only one criticism: the bass sound in the song "sorceress" - you need a very good stereo system, otherwise it roars a little bit. Sorcress is essential, I don`t understand the many negative critics. Opeth changed their style, but that was necessary, otherwise it becomes boring. The new style is different, but it`s OPETH forever. 5 Stars for a precious album.
Report this review (#1634946)
Posted Sunday, October 23, 2016 | Review Permalink
ProgShine
COLLABORATOR
Errors & Omissions Team
2 stars Huh, wow, just wow. But don't get my 'wow' wrong, it's a bad wow...

I always respected Opeth because they paved an original road for them (and many other bands) with their mix of sounds. There were all sorts of crazy talk since they decided to move on with Heritage and I never really cared, I liked the way Opeth was going. I thought Heritage was an amazing record and Pale Communion a solid 4 stars effort.

When Sorceress was announced I didn't jump or sunk in expectations but I wanted to hear the album for sure. So, I finally did through Deezer and... well, Mikael lost it on this one. No doubt about it.

More than half of the album is based on Progressive Folk with moments like 'Sorceress 2' being really bad with cringing falsetto vocals (and once again the falsettos on 'Era). And what the hell is the Indian-kinda-of-thing on 'The Seventh Sojourn'?... I am actually really flabbergasted with how this album ended up. In its vas majority the album is Folk, 75% of it being no Rock at all.

The good moments are on the Hard Prog moments like 'Sorceress', 'The Wilde Flowers' and especially 'Chrysalis'. 'Strange Brew' also has its heavy moments but it actually becomes boring with all the jazzy and atmospheric moments.

Mikael keeps saying that the band moves on, and I like that concept and thought that the band was doing that so far, but Sorceress is not moving on, Sorceress is about copying the past (others and Opeth's own past) and going into a direction that is not even that interesting, let alone a 'forward moving' kind of direction. And I am not alone with this thought, only this time I will have to agree with most of the negative reviews. Just can't understand with the high rating on PA, but then again, PA has long lost its touch...

I am not sure, but I believe Opeth burned all the 'fan credits' they still had with this album... bad move.

Report this review (#1636223)
Posted Thursday, October 27, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Review #36. First of all, I should mention that I never cared much for Opeth. Their older albums are simply annoying to my ears. But when their leader Mikael Akkerfeldt started hanging around with Steven Wilson, something started to change. There has been a huge change in their music, starting with the album Damnation (2003). Every new release of theirs shows that the change in their style and sound is style in progress, so we still don't know where it is going to lead them.

I got only 3 of their albums my collection; Damnation (2003), Heritage (2011) and this new one which was a present from a friend in the vinyl edition. (Thank you Dimitris). I consider Damnation as an important and good album, and the same stands for Heritage. But I must admit that Sorceress caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting it to be that good! You can buy the album in the double (picture disc) vinyl edition, which is including 11 songs in total. The CD version is also double, including 16 tracks. The second CD is kind of a bonus one, including 2 extra studio songs and 3 live ones.

The album's opening track is the Folky Persephone, a beautiful and melodic tune, followed by the rather powerful Sorceress. Next comes The Wilde Flower, another strong tune that is reminding me of something, but I can't figure out what. Will O the Wisp is a cool and melodic tune, followed by Chrysalis, maybe the most powerful song of the whole album, and a very good song. Sorceress 2 is a very slow tune that in some parts is reminding me of Pink Floyd. Then comes the best song on the album in my opinion, which sounds like it was taken out of another band's album; probably Myrath's. The Seventh Sojourn is an Anatolian-influenced hypnotizing tune, which caught my attention from the first spin. Strange Brew (nothing to do with the same-titled song recorded by Cream), is a total Prog tune, which I don't really like to be honest. I rather prefer A Fleeting Glance that follows. Era is another powerful Prog song, which is not adding something new to the album, without being a bad song. Persephone (slight return) is closing the album, and it is a low tempo melancholic short tune. In a few words, Sorceress is a good album, including some fine moments, some nice tunes and a couple of powerful Prog songs. I don't know how the Opeth fans will react to this release, but I'm perfectly pleased with it. Favorite songs (so far): The Seventh Sojourn, Chrysalis, Persephone, Sorceress. 3.5 out of 5.0 stars for me.

Report this review (#1636489)
Posted Thursday, October 27, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is always a pleasant surprise to hear a new album by Opeth, the Swedish band of Metal Extreme Progressive that since the 90's has proven to be a different group and very creative with respect to their peers.

Sorceress, his new production is no exception. Following a trend more inclined towards progressive rock of the 70 as in his previous work "Pale Communion", showing that it is increasingly far back to its origins Death Metal.

My favorite tracks:

"The Wilde Flowers" for its textures and changes of rhythm, in addition to its excellent choir and its great closing. Magnificent.

The beautiful "Will O The Wisp" that reminds me of the "Harvest" theme of his masterpiece "Blackwater Park" with acoustic guitars that bewitch you with their melodies.

The intensity of "Chrysalis" which will be a high point in the live performances if it is included in the setlist of the promotional tour for its dynamics.

"Strange Brew", which is probably the best composition for its originality, its introduction of piano, its dark atmosphere, its abrupt change reminding us to the technical riffs of the homonymous song of his disc "Deliverance", his great solo of electric guitar and its dramatic closure.

The ending with "Era" is excellent, transmitting emotionality as in his more conceptual discs of the past.

In short, the master Mikael Åkerfeldt has returned with impeccable work, without fillings, recovering the thread that was missed in his most recent experimental work. Definitely a candidate to be the best record of the year.

Report this review (#1666756)
Posted Sunday, December 11, 2016 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. OPETH's latest was recorded in 12 days at Rockfield Studios in Wales, by far the quickest they've been in and out of the studio. I would say this is the most diverse album this band has done, a bold move. I like ProgShine's final words in his review because I was thinking the same thing "I am not sure, but I believe Opeth burned all the "fan credits" they still had with this album... bad move." As much as I applaud a band for trying to progresss or change things up, I feel a lot of stuff on here doesn't work. Yes there's some amazing music on here but like the album cover it seems to be an album of one extreme to the another. The song titles seem to pay homage to bands, album and song titles and a record label. Just knowing what a huge Prog fan Akerfeldt is I'm not surprised.

"Persephone" is mostly nylon string guitar with some female spoken words late. Hmmm. "Sorceress" caught my attention right away with those nasty keyboards as the drums pound away. Soon the guitar is helping out and we get heavy riffs after a minute as the vocals kick in. Catchy stuff. A calm around 3 minutes with outbursts of drums then the vocals return as it kicks back in like before. Another calm before 5 minutes with intricate guitar only then some filthy organ joins in. Nice. Then drums as it builds. "The Wilde Flowers" was the first song written for the album. The lyrics are pretty dark but the music is catchy. Like the previous song we get the contrasts between mellow and heavy. A rampage of sounds ends this one.

"Will O The Wisp" opens with strummed guitar and vocals. There's a real JETHRO TULL vibe with this one. I like the guitar before 3 1/2 minutes. "Chrysalis" is heavy with passionate vocals. Yes they are kicking ass and taking names right here. Some excellent organ runs after 4 minutes. It then settles down before 5 minutes with laid back vocals eventually joining in and it stays this way to the end. "Sorceress 2" is a track that Akerfeldt says reminds him of LED ZEPPELIN's "Black Mountain". Picked guitar and some atmosphere as high pitched vocals join in just before a minute. I really like the mood of this one.

"The Seventh Sojourn" was inspired by the band FAMILY and their song "Summer '67". The strings here and throughout the album are done by Will Malone who surprisingly produced the first IRON MAIDEN record. Strummed guitar and percussion before strings and a fuller sound arrive before 1 1/2 minutes. A change after 4 minutes as we get intricate guitar, piano and distant sounding vocals. "Strange Brew" is inspired by that CREAM tune. Akerfeldt was listening to "Disraeli Gears" a lot during the recording sessions to this one. He even tried to get the same guitar tone. The middle section of this song was inspired by MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA. We get reserved vocals and a mellow sound to start as the piano is played slowly. Suddenly it kicks in hard as all hell breaks loose after 2 minutes. It settles as Akerfeldt cries out the vocals after 3 minutes. It kicks back in instrumentally before 4 minutes. This is heavy with some killer guitar. The vocals join in then we get a calm before 5 1/2 minutes. Again it kicks in hard. Powerful stuff before a calm ends it.

"A Fleeting Glance" like the song "Wilde Flowers" has dark lyrics but a lighter sound including harpsichord and lighter vocals. I'm not really into this until we get some depth to the sound after a minute although these sections will be contrasted. There's a surprisingly uplifting passage before 4 minutes that makes me smile. "Era" according to Mikael is a 80's heavy metal tune that's hard to play. Piano to start then it kicks in heavily after a minute. Vocals around 2 minutes. A hard rocking tune but I'm not a big fan of it except for the guitar before 5 minutes. "Persephone(Slight Return)" is a minute of piano and spoken female words. It's like the ending of "Era" really and there's a nod to Hendrix with the song title.

This new OPETH era of growl free music hit it's high for me with "Pale Communion", I'm not saying they won't reach those heights again but for me "Sorceress" is a step back even though it is a good album. There's just certain things about this record that bug me for some reason. Things that I wouldn't expect from an OPETH album. I would think traditional Prog fans will really dig this one though.

Report this review (#1671794)
Posted Saturday, December 24, 2016 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Sorceress" is the 12th full-length studio album by Swedish progressive metal act Opeth. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in September 2016. It's the successor to "Pale Communion" from 2014 and it features the same lineup as the predecessor. Mikael 'kerfeldt (guitars, vocals), Mart'n M'ndez (bass), Martin Axenrot (drums), Fredrik 'kesson (guitars), and Joakim Svalberg (keyboards).

Stylistically "Sorceress" continues the progressive rock/folk direction from the last couple of releases, and just to get it out of the way, there is nothing on this album which is related to their progressive doom/death metal past. This is purely 70s influenced progressive rock with strong folk leanings, and the occasional nod towards 70s hard rock and jazz rock/fusion.

The material on the 11 track, 56:35 minutes long album is generally well written and relatively memorable. There's great dynamic on the album with both hard rocking louder parts, mellow melancolic folky parts, and epic moments. "Sorceress" is predominantly to the soft side though. Tracks like the title track, "The Wilde Flowers", and "Strange Brew" feature some hard rocking moments, but there are several very mellow emotive tracks featured on the album too. The predominantly instrumental "The Seventh Sojourn" is a standout track, as a result of the middle eastern influenced melody themes. The limited edition of "Sorceress" features the two studio bonus studio tracks "The Ward" and "Spring MCMLXXIV" (and a couple of live tracks) and both tracks are good quality compositions, which could easily have made it unto the standard edition of the album.

"Sorceress" is a well produced album, featuring an organic sounding production. It's a sound which suits the material well. So upon conclusion "Sorceress" is a another quality release by Opeth. To my ears it doesn't reach the heights of "Pale Communion (2014)", because the melody lines just aren't as interesting or as memorable as much of the material on that album. It doesn't sound like "Heritage (2011)" either, because it's more structured and less progressive in nature, so on the positive side Opeth have again managed to release an album with an individual identity. On the negative side there aren't that many tracks on the album which stand out as highlights. The quality is as mentioned good and there's a professional touch to both compositions, production, and musicianship, but I'm missing some musical magic here. In the end "Sorceress" sounds a bit too safe and derivative of the band's influences. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#1683162)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
Necrotica
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sometimes it's hard to determine if a review is really going to sway people anymore. With a number of bands, especially ones with established fanbases, it often seems like people's minds are set pretty quickly on a new album or project. But the real fun happens when a group has a polarizing impact on its audience; there's an odd pleasure in watching a bunch of critics fight each other on a band's quality or musical direction, preferably with some popcorn on standby. And since 2011, Opeth has been one of the most interesting bands to witness for this very reason. Their 2003 record Damnation might have been an interesting deviation from the typical progressive/death metal formula we know them for, but hey, at least Ghost Reveries and Watershed brought those elements back! Surely they wouldn't switch to a different style for good, right?

Right?

Ok, so most of us know what went down after Watershed. But, for the people who aren't aware, I'll give the rundown. Essentially, Heritage was a major switch for a band who were mostly rooted in extreme metal at this point. Sure, the progressive rock stuff was always there from the beginning, but from Heritage onward, the band decided to abandon metal altogether to create something more rooted in the golden age of progressive rock. The title of the album was pretty apt, as it seemed like a deliberate tribute to the band's 70s roots. What fans didn't expect, however, was that the band stayed on this path up until the present day. Pale Communion ended up being more of a prog throwback than its predecessor, and the band started sounding more and more like a stylistic pastiche who forgot their original musical identity. So when these elements started popping up again on the new record Sorceress, many people's minds were already set and the fanbase battlegrounds were established as usual. So what's the point of reviewing something if that's the case? Well, hear me out on this one.

Right from the get-go, Sorceress plays out like a long buffet of musical stylings. It's really fun hearing Opeth go from genre to genre on this album, as the record sees them tackle folk, progressive rock, progressive metal, jazz, 70s classic rock, classical, blues, and more. This does lead to some disjointedness from time to time, but the adventurousness of Opeth's songwriting is what anchors them here. You almost have no idea what to expect when the introductory folk number 'Persephone' sets the tone, but the following title track is much more effective at giving an overview of the experience. Technical drumming marries bizarre keyboard motifs, until a doom metal riff drives the distorted guitar playing. It's like a funeral march, but with a heightened sense of fury in Mikael Akerfeldt's mean vocal performance. Say what you will about the musical content, but I simply can't deny how strong Akerfeldt's singing is on this album. From the mid-range Ian Anderson-esque performance he gives on the light folk rock ballad 'Will O' the Wisp,' to the raspy high notes he provides on the title track and 'Chrysalis,' the man's dynamics and range have improved over time.

But these aren't the only strong points of Sorceress. Go a little deeper, and you'll find the aforementioned 'Will O' the Wisp,' a simple acoustic guitar piece that evolves into a beautifully melodic and emotive electric guitar solo. The blues tone melds perfectly with the acoustic framework, and the rhythm work is suitably subtle underneath the great melodies. 'Sorceress 2,' despite the lazy title, is also a highlight here. It's entirely driven by vocals and acoustic guitar work, and the blend of major and minor keys creates a fascinatingly unsettling piece of music. And if there's anything that this album has shown me, it's to never underestimate the versatility of Opeth's band members. Just listen to the incredible buildup and climax of 'Strange Brew' (nice Cream reference, by the way), in which Joakim Svalberg's eerie keyboards create a suspenseful vibe before anything else kicks in. The piano work keeps building and building' and the guitar work comes in briefly' and then the band just goes ***ing nuts. The playing is controlled and precise, but the discordant keyboards and Martin Axenrot's nimble drumming create sort of an organized chaos. Eventually, the track erupts into a gloriously bluesy metal section with amazing guitar solos topping it all off. The entire song is a masterpiece of atmosphere and dynamics, and the musicianship is top-notch the entire way through. This is easily the album's centerpiece.

But as one might imagine, not all is perfect here. First off, the lyrics have taken quite a huge nosedive from previous Opeth efforts. Remember those amazing stanzas the band would write in the old songs? Here's a sample from 1999's 'Godhead's Lament':

Marauder Staining the soil, midst of stillness Beloved fraternity to an end Red eyes probe the scene; All the same Stilted for the beholder Depravity from the core Handcarved death in stoneladen aisles

And now look at an excerpt from 'Will O' the Wisp':

When you're tired of waiting And time is not on your side When you're tired of hating me You no longer want to hide; Stuck to the failures of your life Marred with the sorrows of your strife

Not that simple lyrics are necessarily bad, of course, but there's a lot of cheese to sift through on Sorceress. The lyrics tend to be both cliched (especially on the title track) and corny, which is a far cry from Akerfeldt's previous work with the band. Also, as I stated, things do get disjointed once in a while. There probably could have been a better way for the band to transition from the beautiful folk of 'Will O' the Wisp,' to the abrupt metal intro of 'Chrysalis,' or from 'Persephone' to the weird groove of the title track. The album's structure seems a bit confused and unpredictable, which proves to be both a good and bad thing in the end. While it keeps the listener guessing, it also means the record struggles to find a real concrete direction to take.

Still, part of the fun with Sorceress is the variety. It's a true musical adventure, and while the derivative moments of Pale Communion rear their heads here and there, the diversity on this record is crucial to replaying it over and over again. This may not necessarily be the best Opeth album I've heard, but it's the most fun I've had with an Opeth album in a long time. Many of you may have your minds made up already, but for those on the negative side of the fence, I recommend giving the record another listen. You might just find a few gems and a few surprises lurking within this glorious mess of an album.

Report this review (#1718105)
Posted Saturday, May 6, 2017 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I still remember the impact 'Ghost Reveries' had on me when I first heard it back in 2005. It was Opeth's eighth album, but the first I had come across, and it totally blew me away. I then sought out the earlier albums and was intrigued to see how much they had changed over the years: what would that mean for the future I thought? This is their fourth album since then, and features the same line-up as 2014's, 'Pale Communion', namely Mikael Åkerfeldt (guitars, vocals), Martín Méndez (bass), Martin Axenrot (drums), Fredrik Åkesson (guitars), and Joakim Svalberg (keyboards). But, of that line-up only Mikael was a full member on 'Reveries' (Martin played on just one song), so in many ways this isn't the same band, so perhaps it isn't surprising that the band have moved in such dramatic fashion from their death metal days. But what does that mean for the fans who followed them?

I found that I kept thinking of classic Uriah Heep, but on steroids, as the guitar is that much sharper and the solos more powerful, but the way the organ keeps thing moving and repeating motifs is very much of that style. When I told someone, I was finally getting around to listening to this album, which came out in September last year, he said that he would be very interested in hearing what I thought of it. In the end, I told him that in many ways I think this is a good album, but it's not Opeth. And there's the rub, looking at the cover art does one really notice that the peacock is displaying his tail feathers on a mound of skulls? The skulls may be where they have come from, but are they now a bird with an annoying cry? Do they look good, but there is little substance and no taste?

Musically this is all over the place, but early Seventies is where it is most at home, and songs such as the acoustic "Will O The Wisp" would be more at home on a classic Jethro Tull album than Opeth. But, and it's a big but, take the word "Opeth" off the album cover then I and probably all other reviewers would be looking at this in a different light. What will fans be wanting when the band play live? Will it be the older material or this? I know what I think. This should probably have been released as a solo album by Mikael, as there is too much risk of disengaging fans who have been with the band for years. The question is, how many of them will turn up for gigs, and how many will buy the next album? I enjoyed this on a pure musical level, but it isn't what I expected at all.

Report this review (#1741903)
Posted Saturday, July 8, 2017 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The prog-rock Opeth seems here to stay, especially with Sorceress, which offers a panoply of classic progressive inspiration, performed through the down-tuned and sometimes aggressive--sometimes nostalgic--Opeth style. Will you like it? Probably. Will you love it? Maybe not this time.

Sorceress succeeds on many levels. Foremost is in its production and style. This is a masterfully produced and performed album. The instrumentalists are generally underrated in our discussions here, but their work throughout Sorceress is first-rate. Next, is the diversity in songwriting, dynamics, and nuance. There's a lot here for lovers of artistic rock to enjoy and discover. From the thick, fuzzy, bottom-heavy title track, to the gentle acoustic moments and simple accompaniments to Akerfeldt's wonderful singing voice found throughout. While there's never metal chugging-- the band gets heavy in many songs; on the flip-side, though they never breakout into a Scandinavian peasant dance--the band indulges themselves quite a bit in an eclectic combination of folk, fusion, and the lengthy spaces between highlights.

And this is sort of where Sorceress lets me down. The songwriting has a handful of outstanding moments, but it can't grab hold for its entire running time. Some songs feel like interludes, and a few like experiments that almost work. Likewise, Akerfeldt's lyrics are noticeably less interesting this time around.

If you're grooving with Opeth's musical direction, or if you love the prog classics which Opeth is taking inspiration from, then Sorceress is a worthy purchase. If you pine for the days when Akerfeldt would destroy your brain with impossibly intense metal--it's time to say goodbye to Opeth once and for all. If you're like me and think Heritage and Pale Communion are the band's best albums--Sorceress is a solid record (almost a 4-star).

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Report this review (#1867238)
Posted Tuesday, January 16, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars With "Sorceress" the band further consolidated their transition towards epic melodic Prog-Rock/Metal leaving all initial Death-Metal influences behind them. The music incorporates the elements of Art-Rock, Folk, Classic Rock, and even World-Fusion melting together both electric and acoustic sounds. The tracks showcase plaintive piano or acoustic guitar prologues, complex compositional developments, intricate dynamic shifts, lush string arrangements, strong riffs, solid groves, and gorgeous organ-guitars duels. There are no metallic fury or death growls even at the most bombastic and savage sections of the songs. Akerfeldt uses only clean melodic singing throughout the album or even soft-spoken voicing over mellower passages. As well as the progressive character of the songs unfolds primarily via his intelligent songwriting.

Yes, OPETH are becoming less and less "Metal", more "Progressive", more discreet and elegant melodically. It's not a problem at all. However, I have to admit that the band is somehow wasting its individuality as the nostalgic nods to the Giants of the 70's Prog-Rock are becoming too obvious.

Report this review (#1933470)
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2018 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Twelfth album from one of my favorite prog-metal bands!

And after the mediocre Heritage and the better Pale Communion, my expectations with Sorceress were high. In addition, the band said that this album would be heavier and harder. That is not necessary if the quality of the music is fine, but's that was like a comeback statement. Moreover, that is always interesting.

But to my surprise, Sorceress is an strange and convoluted album which mixes ideas of the two previous works with some heavier influences from the past. And that makes the harder songs like Chrysalis and Era sound just wrong! We have riffs from the past, but without the growls and a Mikael trying to sound high pitched, like a some kind of Dio impersonator... Just wrong and inadequate.

I rather prefer the Pale Communion style, where the band improved the work made in Heritage despite being faithful to their new style. Sorceress is a sad failure in my opinion and a clear step back in their career.

Conclusion: Sorceress have some good ideas, a pair of good songs and great instrumentation, but it's overall a rather mediocre album only recommended to die hard fans the Opeth's last stage.

Best Tracks: The Wilde Flowers (Heritage style but better), Strange Brew (prog and cool) and Spring MCMLXXIV (very 70's prog rock with great Hammond organ)

My rating: **

Report this review (#1949915)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars After 2014s fantastic Pale Communion, it must've seemed like Opeth had really found their footing and identity in this new era of their career after an arguably rocky start with 2011s Heritage. As a massive fan of everything Opeth has ever done, I have to be honest and say that Sorceress is my least favorite Opeth record. While I say that, it's certainly not a stinker and there's plenty of great songs on it, but there are some issues, often times similar to some of my gripes with Heritage. For starters, I have to say that they really missed the mark with the production. After the sonic bliss of Pale Communion, we're given a very muddy, compressed and bass dominant sound here. In turn, it kind of gives off a sort of Acid Rock sound which is kinda neat, but even with that in mind it's a pretty poor mix. If it had the production value of its predecessor I really think this album would be vastly improved. I also think as a whole, the songwriting doesn't sound as focused and while I love their current drummer Axe, some of the grooves on this album sound kind of uncomfortable and stiff. The album starts pretty strong but really levels out towards the end. The opener Persephone is a nice softer acoustic mood setter that brings us straight into the title track which is awesome. It opens with a nasty Canterbury esque organ (that unfortunately is sort of battled by the all too dominant bass in the mix). We go into this heavy chugging riff bringing us into a head banging verse. The Wilde Flowers is another great driving track. The atmosphere and sheer beauty achieved during the later half of this song in the "tired of waiting" section is stunning, possibly my favorite moment on the album. Will O The Wisp is a great melodic folky tune reminiscent of something out of Jethro Tulls folk trilogy. Chrysalis is a real heavy rocker opening up with frantic playing and a sense of urgency in the vocals. Things mellow out into a really nice ending playout acting as a nice release from the tension the song built before. Sorceress 2 is a really soft and intimate tune which for me sort of acts as a bridge between the first and second half of the album. However, this is where the quality of the songs start to dip for me. The Seventh Sojourn is a pretty cool idea and it's generally pretty nice for a couple of minutes, but it just kinda builds and fizzles out with no real payoff. The next song Strange Brew doesn't really work too well for me either, the song structure feels very jagged and touch-and-go. Even with these flaws, I just don't think the actual music is very memorable on this one. I can say the same for a Fleeting Glance which is a little better, some nice harmonies towards the end, but once again it's just not some of Opeths best and most memorable work. Era is a bit better, theres a nice memorable hook but unfortunately by the time I get to this track I usually got one foot out the door already and I'm feeling kind of dissatisfied. Sorceress is a strange album, it has the worst production of the bands career and the material is quite mixed ultimately resulting in what I think is their worst album. However, the worst Opeth album still warrants itself a comfortable 3 stars. But perhaps a 3 star album doesn't look all that great sandwiched between two 5 star albums.
Report this review (#2436319)
Posted Sunday, August 9, 2020 | Review Permalink

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