Dec 04

Opeth – Sorceress

opeth-sorceress

Opeth [Sweden]
Sorceress
2016
Full Length
Moderbolaget Records
Progressive Rock

After their last semi-death metal release, Watershed, in 2008, I’ve all but lost any remaining interest in OpethHeritage felt like a weird experimental release for Opeth to find ground in their new musical style, while I did not really bother listening to Pale Communion at all, half expecting that release to be equally weird and explorational. Yet with my recent preferences for all things mellow (and that hookalicious track Will O the Wisp, I decided to give Sorceress a slight listen, and little did I know I would be hooked onto what would become one of my favourite releases of the year.

That weirdness and quirkiness that Opeth has come to embody over the years is not only present on Sorceress, but shown in its full glory here. Opening Persephone is a soothing, acoustic intro, which I wished would have lasted longer (and half-hoped would be a style that spanned the entire album), but quickly shifted to the album proper with the title track. Mikael Åkerfeldt has always been one vocalist who has impressed with both his menacing growls and his beautiful clean vocals, and on Sorceress (like on Heritage and Pale Communion) the entire album is in clean vocals. I especially like during moments where he pushes his vocals, like on the title track.

Music-wise, the band is stellar both on execution of the music and in the songwriting, easily shifting between time signatures and alternating between the more mellow and the more aggressive moments. The twin guitars of Åkerfeldt and Åkesson are often impressive, in the way their leads intertwine and complement each other.The thing about Opeth is that, whatever genre they may venture into, their style is unmistakable. Some moments like towards the end of The Wilde Flowers harken back to the heavier era of Opeth‘s discography, while songs like Will O the Wisp and The Seventh Sojourn brings some folkish moments to the table, showcasing the versatility of the band’s songwriting.

If Bloodbath‘s 2011 Bloodbath over Bloodstock was any indication of Mikael Åkerfeldt’s ability to do growls anymore, it is further exemplified on the deluxe edition of Sorceress, with a live recording of The Drapery Falls as a bonus track. Hearing tracks like these, it is certainly a strategic move for Opeth to move away from their death metal roots, and further explore their penchant for progressive rock.

My foray and upgrade of listening equipment could not be more timely, as it brings out the production quality of Sorceress, with every detail being clearly presented, especially so on softer moments on tracks like The Wilde Flowers, while the intimacy on songs like Sorceress 2 is both beautiful and haunting at the same time. Then again, one couldn’t expect any less from Opeth, with some of my favourite-sounding recordings being released by these Swedes.

I am not a big fan of progressive rock, and apart from hearing names such as King Crimson or Camel being thrown around, it is hard for me to draw any comparisons for Sorceress. The only thing I know is that Sorceress has opened my eyes and broadened my mind to the acceptance of a wider range of musical styles, and Opeth indeed sounds much more focused on the style that they want to achieve over here. It’s time for me to revisit Pale Communion and Heritage.

Opeth on the internet:
Official website
Facebook
YouTube
Moderbolaget Records

Aug 21

Blood Incantation – Starspawn

Blood Incantation - Starspawn

Blood Incantation [USA]
Starspawn
2016
Full Length
Dark Descent Records
Death Metal

There hasn’t been many releases of late that have really caught my attention, particularly in the extreme metal realm. The last extreme album that I fully enjoyed was Moonsorrow‘s latest record, which was more of an atmospheric trip rather than what we tend to qualify as “extreme” of late, what with the fast and heaviness of death metal, hardcore and its offshoots. But here we are with American death metal band Blood Incantation‘s debut full length album, Starspawn.

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May 08

Nucleus – Sentient

Nucleus - Sentient

Nucleus [USA]
Sentient
2016
Full Length
Unspeakable Axe Records
Death Metal

The early 90s was a great time for death metal, with different regions spawning different takes of an umbrella genre. Yet among the wide variety of death metal that was produced, the American style has always been the least intriguing, with my favourite bands coming instead from the Scandinavia and European regions. Now in 2016, it is nice to hear of bands such as Nucleus that have decided to follow in the path of the Finnish with their debut full length album, Sentient.

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Apr 28

Moonsorrow – Jumalten aika

Moonsorrow - Jumalten Aika

Moonsorrow [Finland]
Jumalten aika
2016
Full Length
Century Media Records
Folk/Pagan/Black Metal

I’ve heard of Moonsorrow since their 2007 album, V: Hävitetty, but being young and impatient back then, the band’s brand of epic metal failed to capture my attention. So it was with little knowledge of the band’s sound that I chance upon this Finnish outfit’s seventh full length album, Jumalten aika. With all the band’s release up till 2011’s Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa drawing critical acclaim, it is with little surprise that fans of the band hold high hopes for the record, especially with the long 5-year wait.

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Apr 17

Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise to Sundown

Spiritual Beggars - Sunrise to Sundown

Spiritual Beggars [Sweden]
Sunrise to Sundown
2016
Full Length
InsideOut Music
Stoner Rock/Metal

My love affair with Spiritual Beggars started back in 2010 when ex-Firewind singer Apollo Papathanasio joined the lineup, with myself being a fan of his works while he was in Firewind. While Return to Zero was a simple, rather straightforward hard rock album, Earth Blues saw Spiritual Beggars incorporate some elements of psychedelia into their sound, which left me rather excited when the band announced their ninth full length album earlier this year, Sunrise to Sundown. The beautiful artwork hinted towards an even more psychedelic direction, but is it a hint towards the band’s musical direction?

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