Opeth – Sorceress (2016)

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OpethSorceress (Moderbolaget Records / distributed by Nuclear Blast, 30 September 2016)

 
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Abbey Road. “The White Album.” Widely considered to be hugely influential milestones in the history of recorded music. And yet the group responsible for these masterpieces began its career with mindless bubblegum-pop: stuff like “Love, love me do / You know I love you / I’ll always be true / So please love me do,” “She loves you, yeah yeah yeah / She loves you, yeah yeah yeah / She loves you, yeah yeah yeah yeah,” and “I wanna hold your hand / I wanna hold your hand / I wanna hold your hand / I wanna hold your hand.”

Certainly that’s a pretty extreme example, but the point here is that when a band experiences a seismic styistic shift, it isn’t always catastrophic, and can even be a positive thing. Naturally, when this occurs it can sometimes be unnerving to fans of the artist’s earlier work (and of course there have been plenty of moments where such a move did turn out to be a major misstep), but it never ceases to confound me, how often and how passionately hatred is spewed in the direction of Opeth for having developed a different sound over their quarter-century-plus career. This group of Swedes receives just as many nasty comments (particularly if the band is ever mentioned in the context of a metal festival or anything to do with metal music) for NOT making the same album over and over, as Six Feet Under does for essentially the exact opposite transgression.

The transition from death metal to progressive death metal occurred very early in this band’s existence, and it was the latter guise that caught most fans’ attention, gaining the ensemble a huge following. But throughout the course of a dozen full-length albums, gradually the elements of “death” had dropped away, and ultimately “metal” as well, landing Opeth squarely in the realm of “progressive” music, and leaving many earlier devotees feeling shortchanged. Nevertheless, in this reviewer’s opinion the band’s latest effort, last September’s Sorceress stands up quite well — when one judges it on its own merits, rather than attempting a side-by-side comparison with Still Life or Blackwater Park. And with that in mind, let’s jump right in.
 
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VOS Interview: Dethlehem!!

 
Good evening, readers! As I mentioned earlier today, local RPG-nerd-metal band Dethlehem are headlining The Pittsburgh Scene‘s second birthday extravaganza at Stage AE tomorrow evening.

Preparations have been underway for this show for quite some time — the Dethlehem guys have been sharpening their swords and patching their chain mail, as well as rehearsing their music. But during a recent practice, they were kind enough to allow me exclusive access to their underground lair to sit down and chat, and to find out what’s been happening with the band.

 
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Out Last Month: The Reticent – Le Temps Detruit Tout

 

The ReticentLe Temps Detruit Tout (Heaven and Hell Records, 29 May 2012)

 
Well, shit.

I hate when I feel so overwhelmed by all the stuff I’ve got going on, that I start forgetting about things I was planning on doing. Does that happen to you? It’s like, everything needs my attention, everything needs to be a priority, and some stuff just unfortunately ends up falling through the cracks.

For example: it was about six weeks ago that I wrote about The Reticent — that post was just a comment on a news item about a politically-charged message that the band’s mastermind (and sole member) Chris Hathcock had shared on his Facebook page. But, at the same time, I had mentioned the (then) upcoming album (the band’s third full-length) Le Temps Detruit Tout (“Time Destroys All”), and I did mention then that I was planning on writing a review for the album.

Well, two weeks later, the album came out (on Heaven and Hell Records, who also released the previous two — in fact, the band’s 2006 debut Hymns for the Dejected was the first album that label ever released). And since then another four weeks have passed, and now I find myself digging through some unfinished drafts, when I stumbled upon this one. Not only did I forget to finish writing the review, but I almost shared this too late for you to enter the contest to win a copy of the CD!

When I say almost too late, I really mean it — the contest ends tomorrow (Friday, 29 June), so keep on reading, but then hurry up and hit the link near the end of this post, for your chance to win!!

 
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Upcoming Shows: What To Do In Pittsburgh This Weekend (12-15 April 2012)

Hello, readers! How are you? I think I’ve officially recovered from the holiday weekend and am ready to get back into the swing of posting updates. Did you have a nice Easter? I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to Ghost, since I finally got around to picking up Opus Eponymous on CD almost two weeks ago. I like it a lot, but I’ve kind of got a funny feeling about it. I haven’t tried slowing it down or playing it backwards or anything, but I get the impression that there might be some kind of hidden evil messages or something. Oh well. Hey, speaking of which, they’ll be coming to town in just a few more days! In fact, they’re just one of a whole slew of awesome bands playing in Pittsburgh over the coming weekend. Just keep on reading for all the details on this show and tons more.

 
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Upcoming Shows: GHOST, Mastodon, Opeth

This news update is brought to you today by the department of IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME!

So you might remember a while back when I was whining about the fact that Ghost, having recently cancelled a U.S. tour, announced that they’d be returning to this country, and hitting several major cities but none that are near me.

Then I proceeded to whine some more, at every opportunity I could.  Mostly on Facebook.  Especially when some jerk a highly-esteemed fellow blogger bragged about seeing the show up in his corner of the country.  Well, obviously the band have been paying attention and they got sick and tired of my nonstop whining.  Because lo and behold, yesterday they put out an official announcement:

Children of America,

As whispered about these last weeks, we are in fact returning to haunt your vast lands again in April and May, together with Mastodon and Opeth.
Go to http://ghost-official.com/ to see the dates

Malicious wishes

/Papa Emeritus 1 and his Nameless Ghouls

The news gets better, because this tour is making a stop in Pittsburgh — on 15 April at Stage AE.  It appears that Mastodon and Opeth are alternating dates for headlining, and on this particular date it seems that Mastodon will be the one on top.  Not that it matters, because I wouldn’t mind seeing either one of them.  Hit the link above to see the full list, or just check it out right here, beyond the jump.

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New Cynic Song has Me Feeling Very Cynical.

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So it’s not often I see the interwebs so abuzz over an upcoming release, especially one that doesn’t have the words “Devin” or “Townsend” in the name, as they have been lately for the new EP Carbon-Based Anatomy, by Cynic (due 11/11/11 on Season of Mist).

I just got done listening to the advance sample, the title track — which was made available for free download (here) earlier this week — and I haven’t quit yawning yet.  I can’t believe how bent-out-of-shape folks have been about Opeth‘s latest being too un-metal or whatever (stay tuned for a separate post on that whole situation, coming soon), and yet people are somehow all frothing at the mouth for this?

Now, I’m fully aware that I’m too old and out-of-touch to really understand most current musical fads, but here is a band that has been around (off and on) for the past twenty-four years, and reportedly is now considered some sort of “progressive death metal fusion” hybrid (according to the Encyclopaedia Metallum).  I don’t really know what this song was, but I feel like I’ve been robbed of the past six-and-a-half minutes of my life.  I haven’t heard this much ‘pretty boy’ singing, synthy electronic ambience, and particularly, such an absence of anything metallic, since the last couple Muse albums.  I’m pretty sure my wife would adore this, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it (just ask LeVar Burton), so feel free to give it a spin using the link up above, and if by some chance this really floats your boat, you can pre-order the CD here, or pre-order the digital download here.