Label: Nuclear Blast Entertainment
Release Date: 09/30/2016
The cover of Opeth’s 12th album is fairly unsettling – a majestic peacock picking at corpse remains like a vulture. Yet it’s a perfect visual of what this Swedish band has become. Some may pine for the metal gods of yore from their Blackwater Park era. Others might gravitate to the group’s more progressive and lyrical efforts begun with 2011’s Heritage and continued through 2014’s Pale Communion. Sorceress, as a whole, heads in a more accessible direction, merging bleak with beauty, resulting in a worthy amalgam of Animals-era Pink Floyd, Genesis a la Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Ronnie James Dio-led Rainbow.
“Strange Brew,” “Chrysalis” and the album’s title song pack good crunch, while the band allows itself to become a bit more complex and creative in its instrumental structure. The notes of “Persephone” and “Sorceress 2” recall a scene in the film version of Floyd’s The Wall where protagonist, Pink, having experienced a manic breakdown, tries to literally put pieces of his life back together. That’s what Sorceress does throughout, walk a tightrope of brashness and balance, somehow keeping the twain of both intact.
Singer and Opeth driving force, Mikael Akerfeldt, has gone on record as saying his sound has become more influenced by John Coltrane (!). While Sorceress certainly isn’t A Love Supreme, the band still gets props for thinking in proper movements instead of death growls.