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Opeth - Sorceress CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.70 | 637 ratings

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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.

Insin | 4/5 |


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