Oh that most contentious of metal bands, Opeth. Are these Swedish proggers the vanguard of classy, far-reaching metal or pretentious noodlers who couldn’t write a simple song to save their respective lives? Ever since these progressive death metallers dropped the death metal for a fusion flavored prog rock sound, the audience seems to have been split down the middle. Now nearing the release of Sorceress, their twelfth album and third since the stylistic overhaul they made with 2012’s Heritage, tracks are slowly being released, and if the two songs released thus far are to be taken as any indication, this album seems to be following their new sound as they have done for the last two records, albeit sporting some gradual changes in overall tone.
This track, “Will O the Wisp” essentially follows the sunnier melodic folk tone the band established on “River” from their last album Pale Communion (one of the best tracks from that record if I do say so myself). Unfortunately, this song here, at least outside of the context of the album, lacks the dynamics that Opeth are so well known for. And what seems weird to me is that I feel they had something more powerful written into this song and changed it for whatever reason. More specifically, the first two minutes of this track feel like a build to a crescendo that never happens. Right as the swell reaches its boiling point, there’s a cascading drum fill and… we go back to the same lite acoustic instrumentation we had just before, albeit with some jazzy percussion. I could’ve swore they were gonna burst into an epic guitar solo or heavy riff or at least something different. Opeth are both praised and maligned for their winding hedge-maze song structures, which makes this track feel repetitive when compared with classic Opeth tracks. Maybe this will fair better in the sequence of the album. Its pretty short by the band’s standards, clocking in at just over five minutes, a far cry from the 10 plus minute opuses found on their classic metal releases. I really like the folk sound of this track, the problem being that they don’t really take it anywhere.