Talking (and writing) about Opeth is getting harder but funnier at every new record the band puts out. Since the very first one, Orchid, this act from Stockholm kept on evolving their peculiar style. Sometimes they did that in subtle ways, while some others the changes have been resounding. See the transition from Watershed to Heritage, for example. Well, Sorceress falls in the first category. It didn’t radically overcame what Pale Communion was, still with a lot of illusive changes Opeth cooked another succulent, exciting dish for us to taste.
Sorceress represents the band’s most difficult record technically speaking and possibly also their heaviest one after the Heritage breakdown. Telling the truth, it looks like Opeth are challenging themselves trying to get every album more complex and elaborate than its predecessor. This time they nailed it unbelievably well. They also seem way more confident with their compositions as well as with the direction the music is leaning towards. Even with several changes of pace and mood shifting throughout the whole album you can still notice an invisible wire pulling all the smallest pieces together, providing solidity and unity to Sorceress.-That partially failed on Pale Communion– All this tightness arises with a superlative performance of every single player as well as overall musicianship and chemistry in the band. Especially keyboardist/organist Joakim Svalberg improved his role, offering the best performance he ever did since he joined the band in 2011. You can admire him in glorious shape on tracks such as the psychedelic Strange Brew or the sparkling The Wilde Flowers, which also features some serious too-fast-to-be-Opeth guitar solos.
Sorceress displays some terrific neo-folk influences as well, which moves away from what we’re used to hear from Åkerfeldt and friends, talking about acoustic material. But that’s not enough. The Seventh Sojourn offers an unusual appeal with an all Al Di Meola recalling melody and the insertion of extravagant scales with a firm Egyptian/mid-Eastern smell makes this very tune the most evil of the entire Opeth’s discography. -it’s a tough call, though, between the latter and Closure, from Damnation–
But, do you know what I really liked of this latest album? Hell, they may be playing rock now. They may have left metal behind. But fuck, anytime they want, Opeth can still have an amazing drive! Try and give Era a shot (En. The best number of this work) and make sure to be aware for an outstanding performance of drummer Martin “Axe” Axenrot on an outstanding, incredibly catchy song. Fabulous.
Ok, I admit it. Sometimes I possibly missed some good growling vocal, and probably in a couple of tunes it would have been the icing on the cake. However, I assume they’re not going to perform that kind of extreme singing anymore, I’ll get accustomed to it, I guess.
That being said, I feel Sorceress is the most complete, better-working album the band has ever crafted in years. If this is gonna be the road they’ll be taking for years to come I’ll fully embrace the call. In the case it will not, well, I’ll be even more excited to see which cards they’ll still have to play.