After much anticipation and expectation following the announcement of Opeth‘s twelfth studio album, the band decided to quell our eagerness with the title track for Sorceress.
It all starts with a melody in objectively inferior 4/4, but it compensates by including a swing feel and being in Messiaen’s second mode of limited transposition. This gives it a somewhat jazzy feel, especially with the odd distortion on guitar or keyboard sound, and a certain ambiguity as to what the tonal centre is, which is great. It goes a lot of places, but ultimately goes nowhere, as everything it tried to create crumbles once the first actual riff begins, which is a mere chord-chug riff.
Mikael’s voice – still no growls – is fine, but the lyrics seem very sketchy, unpolished and quite shallow; “I am a sinner / And I worship evil”. This is only strengthened by the quality of the lyric video, only slightly better than the awful trailers for Dream Theater’s The Astonishing.
The riffs on ‘Sorceress’ are very low, I wonder how low they dropped their guitars on this record. However, they seem to have fallen prey to the traps of palm-muting open strings because “that’s so hevy bruh”. The song craftsmanship definitely definitely suffers from it.
While it’s interesting to see Opeth go back to more heavy music, but this time from a completely different angle, I can’t help to think that quality is being left out. This is even more striking when you listen to their previous and legendary records; they were memorable, unforgettable, and truly special, while this barely sounds like “Opeth” anymore.
We’ll have to wait until the release of the full album to judge, but this single does not bode well. Of course, progressive metal and rock bands have a history of releasing their tamest songs as singles, and keeping their better ones on disc, but that train of thought didn’t prove to be rewarding with Dream Theater’s last album, so who knows…