Nuclear Blast records
For more than quarter of a century history Opeth became a synonym of unpredictability. Endless experiments with sound and genres made this band one of the most progressive among extreme bands (or one of the most extreme between progressive bands – as you like) and it gained a lot of fans rightfully. Yet, everything changes, and first Opeth ceases to be «death», and since Heritage album it ceases to be «metal», leaving for itself only the «progressive» definition.
So those metalheads who expected brutal riffs and extreme vocals (including me) can stop reading this review right now. Because there is nothing of it in the new album Sorceress.
The album opens with acoustic “Persephone”, melancholic and quite simple, which is contrasting with other content. Then goes self titled “Sorceress” with deep bass, heavy guitar riff and great intro. Here I want to pick out keyboardist Joakim Svalberg’s work, who changed Per Wiberg in2011. It can be hardly underestimated: this is great work from professional with his own style. From jaunty near-jazzy passages in “The Wilde Flowers” to the classic piano sound in “Era”. But “The Wilde Flowers” is good not only by keyboards: powerful drums and progressive guitar line, which is more inherit to 70’s prog-rock. However, «unpredictability», you remember?
Acoustic “Will O The Wisp” slows down the tempo and seems like it gives a break to the listener. But he is hardly tired after two songs.
The shining example of «new» Opeth is the strongest “Chrystalis” with powerful performance by Mikael Åkerfeldt with interplay of guitars and keyboards. The first thing that comes to mind immediately is comparison with Blackmore/Lord, but it’s too perfunctorily.
Passing absolutely opposite to its predecessor, acoustic “Sorceress 2”, we’re get to the one more brightest track – “The Seventh Sojourn”. Oriental motive, real sitar and absolutely suddenness even for an album like this. The last minute of this song is preparing listener for the intro of the next track – the longest one (nearly nine minutes) and heavy “Strange Brew”. Slow and calm opening foretells the hit, that would be made by bassist Martín Mendez and drummer Martin “Axe” Axenrot. Guitar parts by Fredrik Åkesson and Mikael Åkerfeldt himself are gorgeous.
One more acoustic interlude “A Fleeting Glance” is changing by “Era” – reminder that Opeth played completely different music once. And the Sorceress ends with “Persephone (Slight Return)” – acoustic variation on the first track theme. Yet, a try to make some kind of ouroboros from an album looks a bit stretched.
Anyway, if to put aside my own expectations from Opeth (Fredrik Åkesson said in some interview that he does not exclude the possibility of return to death metal and growling), we have a good but uneven album. Acoustic songs are knocking perceptions and make an album looks like rollercoaster. But it doesn’t make Opeth music worse. That thing that musicians became more restrained and songs became shorter, for me it’s really good, because I think that another one Morningrise with 20-minutes “Black Rose Immortal” would be unnecessary. But we can’t even imagine what will Mikael Åkerfeldt prepare for the next album. Because it’s Opeth. Unpredictability.
(c) Droll (www.dailymetal.com.ua)
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