Opeth – Sorceress (2016)

Riddle whispers

Sorceresss is Opeth’s twelfth studio album and the fourth with only ”normal” singing, no growling, which I clearly prefers. As usual the lyrics are like small fantasy stories. They send me me spinning into another dimension. A very nice feeling. 

According to the internets the lyrics are actually about Mikael’s divorce. That may be so, but they still talk to me as they are small poems from a forgotten time, a time still to come.

The album is softer than most of their earlier work, this is heavy influenced by seventies progressive bands like early Genesis and classic hard rock like Sabbath, Zeppelin and Maiden.

The first song, named after the Greek goddess “Persephone” is a short instrumental track played on classical guitar and flute with spoken words by a female. It’s like a traditional folk song, and I like it a lot.

There are some great tracks on this album. The second title track “Sorceress” is started by complex drums and synthesisers as taken from the playbook of early Genesis. Then a minute into the track we are hit by the heavy wall of guitars and bass. It is magnificent. Heavy but beautiful. Mikael’s singing is the cherry on the top of the cake. You’re a harlot. A favourite song.

“The wilde flowers” is still heavier, more like modern hard rock, maybe Maiden. The lyrics are sung in a higher pitch, more forced but obviously controlled. Mikael is a masterful singer, thereof there are no question. I like the complex structure of this song, as often used by the band. The fast paced guitar solo is worthy any poodle rocker. However this song is a tad too repetitive for my taste.

I like the next song “Will of the wisp”. It starts soft, Mikael singing over an acoustic guitar. Now we are back in the progressive rock era of the seventies, somewhat Zeppelinesque.

“Chrysalis” is the name of the record label Genesis was signed to in the seventies. Coincidence? I think not. Is it an illusion, am I crazy? Around one minute into the song, starting at 55 seconds, there is a musical pattern that is similar to a part of “Svekets prins” from “In Cauda Venerum”. The second part of the song is very Genesis, maybe an homage even?

“Soreceress 2” is an song sung by a bard in the Royal Palace of Caemlyn. As made for Thom Merrilin. Change of tone, no time to rest… “The seventh sojurn” is an instrumental that could have been penned by George Harrison with all the exotic instruments. Is it a sitar? Really?

“Strange brew” is a strange… brew. Musically it is super complex, Opeth flexing their muscles. I love these track where the boys immerse themselves in the music like they are inside a fairy tale. The next track “A fleeting glance” reminds me of one of my favourite bands, old Marillion, but with the Opeth touch. The guitar solo is not up to the level of Steve Rothery’s, but it is still nice.

Of the remaining songs “The ward” is a nice short tale and “Spring MCMLXXIV” is a great track that makes me think of 1974. It’s heavy and powerful with a great guitar work and some cool organ at the very end. This is a great ending to a very interesting album. The quality of the songs are even, not too much ups and downs. Maybe it’s lacking the clear peaks that some of their other works have? Nevertheless an album I will play often.

My rating: 7/10

Side A:

  1. Persephone
  2. Sorceress
  3. The wilde flowers
  4. Will o the wisp

Side B:

  1. Chrysalis
  2. Sorceress 2
  3. The seventh sejour

Side C:

  1. Strange brew
  2. A fleeting glance
  3. Era
  4. Persephone (Slight return)

Side D:

  1. The ward
  2. Spring MCMLXXIV

Best songs: “Sorceress”, “Persephone” and “Spring MCMLXXIV”

Released on September 30, 2016

Media 1: Limited Edition box set, 2LP gatefold, Rosewood, 2CD, DVD and more
Media 2: Limited Edition box set, 4 x 10″ vinyl, Clear, Germany 2018  

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