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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Sweden

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Opeth biography
Yes, some people would consider OPETH to be a pure (melodic) Death Metal band but you have to differentiate a lot. The four guys from Stockholm/Sweden feature a lot of different elements on their albums. We have the aggressive death metal with Mikael's growls (which are not generated with help of a computer, it's actually his voice) with lots of breaks, mostly acoustic including Mikael's clear voice. Mr. Åkerfeldt himself always underestimates his clear voice and often points out that he is a novice regarding this kind of singing. But that's not true, false modesty is the term here. His clear voice is warm and simply beautiful. The whole music is guitar orientated, on the one hand we have great riffing for aggressive parts, awesome melodic solos and on the other hand acoustic breaks with admirable melodies with some Scandinavian folk influences here and there and of course Mikael's clear vocals. Sometimes you even get some PINK FLOYD or PORCUPINE TREE like parts or whole songs.

Sure, the band started out as a pure Death Metal combo regarding to their first release" "Orchid" but from their second release on the prog elements got more and more. The second album "Morningrise" for example features a pure Prog song with PINK FLOYD like parts as well as epic song lengths. Mikael Åkerfeldt who also is the indispensable head of the band, often mentions that he is a proghead and mostly likes bands like CAMEL and PORCUPINE TREE. No doubt, you can hear those influences on albums like "Still Life" and "Blackwater Park" but their highlight regarding to pure Prog for sure is their 2003 release "Damnation" which features an entire album in the style of PORCUPINE TREE. Not really astonishing regarding the fact that Steven Wilson of PORCUPINE TREE is a good friend of Mikael and Peter and even worked together with the band for their double release "Damnation" and "Deliverance". Steven Wilson also produced their album "Blackwater Park" which is regarded as their best work so far, not only by death metal fans but also by many others normally disliking death metal growls (like me). "Damnation" for sure is the album most of you would be interested in because it is a pure Prog album. But Mikael said that the band will not do something similar again, he even announced the next album to be their most heavy, we will see. Sure isn't that this release opened the door to new fans and certainly displeased some of their old fans coming from the death metal origin.

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Blackwater Park: Legacy EditionBlackwater Park: Legacy Edition
The End Records 2010
Audio CD$7.75
$6.74 (used)
Sorceress 2-disc deluxeSorceress 2-disc deluxe
Nuclear Blast America 2016
Audio CD$9.16
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Pale CommunionPale Communion
Roadrunner Records 2014
Audio CD$4.38
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Ghost ReveriesGhost Reveries
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Roadrunner Records 2005
Audio CD$6.51
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Sony Import 2007
Audio CD$4.14
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Still LifeStill Life
Remastered · CD+DVD
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The End Records 2007
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Audio CD$4.92
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OPETH discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

OPETH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.24 | 581 ratings
3.72 | 658 ratings
3.93 | 687 ratings
My Arms, Your Hearse
4.32 | 1451 ratings
Still Life
4.26 | 1489 ratings
Blackwater Park
3.76 | 837 ratings
3.95 | 1165 ratings
4.25 | 1392 ratings
Ghost Reveries
3.95 | 1068 ratings
3.84 | 1136 ratings
4.18 | 925 ratings
Pale Communion
3.81 | 300 ratings

OPETH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.11 | 109 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd Bush Empire 2003
4.09 | 193 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes

OPETH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.02 | 206 ratings
Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush
4.09 | 148 ratings
The Roundhouse Tapes
4.65 | 224 ratings
In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall
4.27 | 15 ratings
Live at Enmore Theatre Sidney Australia

OPETH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.55 | 40 ratings
Limited Edition Box Set
3.98 | 63 ratings
The Candlelight Years

OPETH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.14 | 21 ratings
Apostle in Triumph
4.50 | 43 ratings
The Drapery Falls
4.04 | 30 ratings
4.68 | 41 ratings
Still Day Beneath the Sun 7''
3.11 | 25 ratings
Selections From Ghost Reveries
3.26 | 39 ratings
The Grand Conjuration
3.03 | 21 ratings
Watershed - Radio Sampler
3.70 | 42 ratings
Porcelain Heart
3.63 | 43 ratings
Mellotron Heart
3.70 | 59 ratings
3.43 | 66 ratings
The Throat of Winter
3.67 | 86 ratings
The Devil's Orchard
5.00 | 2 ratings
Cusp of Eternity
3.75 | 8 ratings

OPETH Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.81 | 300 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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.

 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.18 | 925 ratings

Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars It isn't as though this wasn't expected. Opeth had been steadily drifting away from their death metal roots for a good long while by this point, with 2003's Damnation avoiding it entirely, so it's hardly an enormous surprise that Pale Communion finds the residual metal thoroughly flushed out of Opeth's sound. In its place stands a hard-rocking tribute to the heavy psych roots of progressive music, which I'm sure is a subject that the band and Steven Wilson collectively have a whole bunch of insight into - and indeed, their take on the style is an effective update of it.

Somehow, however, the proceedings feel hollow and soulless. It's not that I'm crying for the loss of their old sound - that wasn't my cup of tea either. It's just that it feels like this album feels like it's been carefully calculated to tick all the boxes on a heavy psych-prog checklist, rather than being an artistic statement that this style of music happened to be the right medium for. It's all very clinical, controlled... and suffocated. Sorry.

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.81 | 300 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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.

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.81 | 300 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by eddie_1976

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.

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.81 | 300 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Jester

3 stars Starting this piece 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 turn in their music, starting with the album Damnation (2003). Every new release of theirs shows that a major change in their music and style is in progress, so we still don't know where it is going to lead them. I got only 3 albums of Opeth in 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, but it seems 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.
 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.81 | 300 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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.

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.81 | 300 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by rattamahatta

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.
 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.81 | 300 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

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

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.81 | 300 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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.

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.81 | 300 ratings

Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Insin

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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