OPETH. Enough said, right? I mean, I’m sold. But maybe I’m biased. And I’m sure The Maestro would never accept a one-word record review. So let’s dive into the Swedish Prog Juggernaut’s twelfth full length album Sorceress, which drops September 30 via Nuclear Blast Records. Now, before the train leaves the station, we need to go over the basics. Obviously, keep hands and feet inside the car and all that jazz. The most important rule is to leave all comments about growling vocals at the door. Yes, I own a red baseball cap that says “Make Opeth growl again”. Yes, I wake up in a cold sweat knowing that there will never be another Still Life. But if I can be cool with Sorceress featuring clean vocals exclusively, you can too, savvy? Good. Now let’s enjoy the ride.
The album is sandwiched with two takes of the song “Persephone”, an acoustic interlude with subtle spoken word. The brief, yet beautiful intro leads us to the title track. Kicking off with a funky, keyboard groove reminiscent of the ’70’s prog that has so heavily influenced their more recent records. This fuzz riff is met by a brick wall of guitars that take slow chugs on an evolution through grinding syncopation. And the chorus section will have you in disbelief that the group plays in standard tuning. Never one to keep things one-dimensional, the album featured a sequel track. This time, the story of the Sorceress is told with acoustic guitar, falsetto vocals and mellotron.
Third on the disc is “The Wilde Flowers”, a jammy number, with phenomenal interplay between guitar and keys, with more emphasis on the guitar. As in that guitar solo. It screams. So much so that things have to cool off a bit, bringing us to the ballad “Will O the Wisp”. But things don’t stay mellow for long. “Chrysalis” is a powerhouse effort, with smashing riffage, and epic atmospherics. This high octane monster is one of the clear standouts. A middle-eastern feel engulfs “The Seventh Sojourn”, with a winding melody that entices the listener to yearn for more. Keys take the lead for eerily enigmatic “Strange Brew”; however, guitars slowly enter the dynamic and draw full focus after about two minutes.
Thereafter, the room explodes into an inferno of wailing leads as “A Fleeting Glance” shifts the dynamic further, matching classical themed guitar lines against anthemic areas of organ. If things haven’t gotten real enough up to this point, “Era” smashes the paradigm. The track stands as an amalgamation of all that the disc has offered, taking a gorgeous piano intro into a building force of guitar and drums, only increasing when the vocals hit and take it to a magnificent peak.
Overall, I’m reminded a bit of Ghost Reveries when I listen to this one. Not to say that the group is rehashing their old gold, but that they have touched on influence from one of their most beloved albums. Or maybe at this point, the group has found the perfect balance between the sound of previous years and their newer themes. Either way, Sorceress feels like an OPETH record, even sans death metal. It’s a standing statement to a quote I take from one of my closest friends “Everything that is, or ever will be good in metal has already been done by OPETH”. With that, I ask if I even need to tell you how much you need this one?
STANDOUT TRACKS: IT’S OPETH, EVERY SONG IS GOOD!!