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Opeth - Sorceress CD (album) cover

SORCERESS

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.69 | 497 ratings

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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.

Nightfly | 5/5 |

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