Opeth
Sorceress


4.1
excellent

Review

by Ben Kuettel STAFF
September 28th, 2016 | 1149 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Opeth conjure forth Sorceress, showing an eagerness to traverse exciting new musical realms in their characteristically eclectic manner.

It has been clear for the past decade now that Opeth have largely shifted identities, even if the band don’t necessarily see it that way. Frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt recently stated that Heritage from 2011 wasn’t a huge change, outside of a few new production techniques. While an understandable justification, many fans would disagree. What those who detest this new evolution need to realize is that there is simply nothing wrong with changing interests and inspiration. Åkerfeldt didn’t stifle his new passions for uninspired outputs just to please fans, or funnel them into a side or solo project. He harnessed his main band to journey through these new visions unapologetically. While many would (and did) voice their disapproval, his actions are commendable given where the inspiration took him. Heritage remains divisive to this day, but is truly a hugely accomplished modern rock album that lived up to the even more meditative Damnation from nearly a decade before. Despite Åkerfeldt’s statements, it was a brave move, and an innovation that also thrives within Sorceress. Metalheads need not bother to hope for a return to the sounds of Blackwater Park or Ghost Reveries here; Opeth continue to look forward, with a hugely diverse offering of musical styles at play.

The most compelling aspect of Sorceress is in how well it flows. While Pale Communion successfully functioned as an idiosyncratic collection of melodic tunes, Opeth have shifted focus for a more cohesive offering. Make no mistake, while sprawling and volatile, the band sounds impressively focused here. The dynamic presence plays a crucial role, as grandiose progressive rock will gracefully transition to a softer, ethereal soundscape flawlessly. These changes ebb and flow throughout the record, paying no mind to the individual song transitions themselves. This lends to a nice characteristic of unpredictability, especially with adventurous cuts like “The Wilde Flowers,” “Chrysalis,” and “Strange Brew.” While a minimal use of their metal side is present, these prog epics contain plenty of driving qualities, and see the band at their most energetic in quite some time. As fun as they can get, these do occasionally descend into self-indulgence. The title track sounds like a Ghost song until the second half, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it takes a while for it and “The Wilde Flowers” as well to get going.

Softer sides of Sorceress largely save the more ambitious cuts from lingering in their weaker moments for too long. The gorgeous middle section of the album sees Opeth challenging genre boundaries for melodious odysseys traversing the boundaries of folk, progressive rock, and psychedelia. “The Seventh Sojourn” takes the doom-laden, occultish nature of “The Grand Conjuration” and transforms it into a ritualistic, jaunty folk instrumental. While it stands as one of the band’s strangest creations yet, they make it work, in part due to the majestic outro. Overall, comparisons to the past are difficult, as they are clearly intent on continuing to explore exciting new musical realms in their characteristically eclectic manner. While not every experiment works, the lighter sections remain pleasant to listen to if nothing else, but are usually elevated above easy listening material to be truly special. Even the simplistic “Persephone” intro and outro tracks function as sublime bookends, with the similar “Sorceress 2” in particular channeling the most beautiful aspects of Heritage and Pale Communion.

While Heritage is the strongest of this new trilogy, as well as laying the blueprint for this current era, Sorceress is able to push the adventurous qualities further to outstanding effect. The instrumental performances are top notch as always, with each band member’s contributions feeling crucial. “Strange Brew” just wouldn’t be as exciting if not for Martin Axenrot’s incredible drumming, and the soulful guitar playing of Åkerfeldt and Fredrik Åkesson’s make “Will O The Wisp” and “Sorceress 2” as remarkable as they are. Some still lament the loss of metal in their sound, but at least “Era” and the tumultuous title track harness a heavy rock sound successfully. It’s not the same, but Opeth have no one to answer to, with Sorceress embodying the dynamic and exciting qualities that the band have always excelled in.




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user ratings (597)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
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What is this new devilry?...

Dalton DuBois (1.5)
Utterly devoid of the progressive magic it tried so hard to capture...

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Weirdness for the sake of it isn't the same thing as "experimentation", and it certainly isn't an ar...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SnakeDelilah
September 27th 2016


18631 Comments


first

Digging: Sorority Noise - You're Not As ____ As You Think

emester
September 27th 2016


7977 Comments


worst


Digging: Venenum - Trance of Death

Titan
September 27th 2016


16464 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

the early bird gets the worm

Titan
September 27th 2016


16464 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

evan bro how do you feel about this album

cryptologous
Contributing Reviewer
September 27th 2016


1309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love you for this, agree hard. Really enjoyed this prog-rock trilogy.

Digging: Fen - Winter

emester
September 27th 2016


7977 Comments


Turd

hope that suffices

cryptologous
Contributing Reviewer
September 27th 2016


1309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

aye emester, you like this one?

emester
September 27th 2016


7977 Comments


turd

take that for what you will

FullOfSounds
September 27th 2016


13712 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

the early bird gets the verm

Digging: Satellite Jockey - Falling

FullOfSounds
September 27th 2016


13712 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

jesus this album's stats are all over the place

cryptologous
Contributing Reviewer
September 27th 2016


1309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

divisive/10

TheMrAlexK
September 27th 2016


6729 Comments


FRONT PAGE OOOOHHH

This is a great review though, ghost pos

brainmelter
September 27th 2016


3617 Comments


damn didn't expect this to get shit on this hard

Digging: Guided by Voices - Bee Thousand

Futures
September 27th 2016


9079 Comments


give me my old soundoff back you tyrant and stop deleting them

Polyethylene
September 27th 2016


4677 Comments


band is awful agreed

beefshoes
September 27th 2016


6742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So weird.

For me, this is a giant step forward from the last record with the main reason being that they're not just recycling old ideas. Pale Communion sounded dead because the record was essentially nothing but a tribute album, and it seemed as if they went into the studio without any passion. This on the other hand, sounds like they went into the studio and genuinely had fun writing and recording the record.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2016


15086 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1 | Sound Off

Stream here: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/premieres/hear-opeths-progressive-lovelorn-new-album-sorceress-w442549



Thanks for the kind words crypto and Alex!

Digging: Sleepmakeswaves - Made Of Breath Only

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2016


1443 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

The capacity of human intelligence seems to limit the capabilities to expand upon any possible creative aptitudes. Indeed, if one cannot even notice the facets that the ingenuities around him are comprised of, how can he be expected to fashion a beast of his own? This inveterate sense of constraint is a great blow to the veracity of mankind’s abilities. It restrains us and holds our minds to the ground below, averting any possibility of rising above ourselves to something greater; something not fathomed by the conventional mind. This concept of seeking to go beyond one’s self, known as “transcendence”, is essentially a gateway to unlocking pieces of ourselves that can lead to some of the most elaborate and significant creations of our world. For many, this quest to transcend and form creations that were once considered unthinkable and overwhelming consumes life. Certainly it is rare to find such people, but when they are found, creative barriers are destroyed.

Digging: Sunless - Urraca

Futures
September 27th 2016


9079 Comments


staff can delete soundoffs can't they jac

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2016


1443 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah dude Talons you got a case to answer



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