Plenty of artists tout their own forward thinking approach, but few truly keep their eyes on the horizon and their backs to the past like Opeth.
It seems like yesterday day that Mikael Akerfeldt and company shed their craggy death metal shells like cicadas molting, emerging renewed with 2011’s Heritage which was devoid of growls to the dismay of heshers young and old around the world. It’s an evolution that has continued, with the shock dissipating on 2014’s Pale Communion, and this dynamic, progressive, immersive sound truly settling in like a potent hit of LSD on Sorceress, their twelfth release.
In retrospect, the first two albums in this phase of Opeth’s career depict musicians trying to find the balance between the understated and driving with Heritage guilty of too much of the former and Pale Communion seeing the band putting the pedal down while missing the mark with its overall balance. Sorceress, on the hand, masterfully strikes gold with its well-honed dynamics, and a vibrant balance in style and approach. Groove-laden chugs add rich texture to the titled track and plodding technicality drives “Chrysalis,” but there is also new found patience that can be heard in the drifting outro to the latter and a delicate intro of “Strange Brew” that play out like the measured breath of a yogi, calm and focused. It all adds up to a flow that, regardless of the tempo or tone, is electric.
Simply stated, Sorceress is a masterpiece. It is one of those rare albums that captures a band at their peak. While it is easy to lament the progressive death metal Opeth buried with Watershed, doing so is futile. These are different times and a different band, perhaps the best of those playing heavy music today.
SkullsNBones Rating (Out Of 5):