Sorceress – A Track By Track Review

Opeth have always been a group associated with the word “innovation”. Formed in Stockholm, 1990 the band has been known for their unique sound incorporating extreme metal and elements of prog rock, jazz, fusion while constantly reinventing themselves with each passing record. Starting with the now classic, Orchid. Released in 1995, Opeth have managed to stay relevant for over 25 years, maturing as a band and belting out 10 more phenomenal albums that adorn the shelves of ardent vinyl collectors and the average music consumer alike. Back in 2011, the band caused quite a stir following the release of their 10th Studio album, Heritage. Opinions regarding the record were largely polarized, as die hard Opeth fans distanced themselves from the new sound that the band was pursuing primarily due to the absolute lack of growled vocals and extreme metal elements, while others embraced the new sound, calling it a bold step forward. 2014’s follow up, Pale Communion also garnered somewhat polarized reviews, but was generally much more well received than Heritage. Mikael Akerfeldt, the front man and creative nucleus of the band has always been focused on creating music that speaks to the soul, rather than focusing on technicalities, a tradition he has maintained for 11 albums. Sorceress, is no exception.

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Persephone – The album kicks off with a soothing acoustic intro, dual finger picked guitars gradually build up and sustain a melody while in the later part of the track we get to hear a recital which serves as a form of prelude to the lyrical content in the later part of the album.

 
Sorceress – Starting off with an unusual synth riff and transcending into drop tuned guitar chugs, the track marks Opeth’s first venture into down tuning and is arguably the heaviest track of the album. Akerfeldt’s baritone vocal range seems perfect and in line with the flow of the song, complementing the riffs beautifully until the track eases down for a proggy midsection, which followed by a verse breaks into the outro. A solid track with a lot of ambitious elements.

 

The Wilde Flowers – Reminding one of some of the riffage used in 2014’s Pale Communion, a more conventional track, the third number off the album feels like a relatively straightforward song until a few minutes in. A strong synth melody carries the main riff into the midsection. Fredrik Akesson really shines as a guitar player on this track ripping out flashy solos with some of his trademark bends and stretches. The track is concluded by another soft section building on vocal harmonies which suddenly becomes engulfed by a wall of riffs in a classic Opeth fashion.

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Picture Courtesy: Stuart Wood

 
Will O’ The Wisp – The second single released off the album and the most well received by far. Will O the Wisp is a dreamy Opeth track oddly reminiscent Blackwater Park Era’s Harvest while also containing some classic Jethro Tull influences, which clearly show throughout the track. A relatively simple song which is thoroughly carried by a beautiful melody complemented by Akerfeldt’s brilliant vocals.

 
Chrysalis – Another powerful track, this track marks Opeth’s complete departure from their Original sound. Bludgeoning guitar riffs and powerful drums kick off the number while moving on to showcase Akesson’s superb solo and new Keyboardist Joakim Svalberg’s synth work, which was prominently featured in the very first teaser of the album. Blending in well with the new sound of the album, Chrysalis feels like yet another reinvention of Opeth while sounding completely new.

Checkout The Title Track ‘Sorceress’ Below:

 

 

Sorceress 2 – The sixth track off the album is a clean, calm number yet again sounding very fresh compared to Opeth’s past catalogue while being oddly reminiscent of all things Opeth. An articulated acoustic guitar melody carries the song while we hear Akerfeldt’s tranquilizing vocals which create an incredibly pleasant atmosphere. It is the shortest song on the album barring the Intro and Outro tracks.

 

The Seventh Sojourn – The freshest track on the entire album. The Seventh Sojourn is largely instrumental piece crafted amidst oriental melodies and tasty Afro-Cuban percussion, some might recall the use of such percussion back in Heritage, courtesy of Peruvian percussionist Alex Acuña. This track feels unlike anything Opeth has done before, a completely new approach for the band. Although whether it fits the overall aesthetics of the record might be debatable for some.

 

Strange Brew – By this point, all the previous tracks of the album already grow in on the listening experience as a whole, and then this track kicks in. This is Opeth at their absolute progressive peak, starting off softly in an acoustic section and then breaking into a proggy barrage of riffs and drum fills, then cooling down a bit while Akesson lends some guitar licks to the song giving it an even more odd structure and feel, additionally the soft outro feels out of place with the rest of the song, however it leads one to conclude that the track has been quite aptly titled. “A strange brew” indeed.

 

A fleeting Glance – Giving off a very lightweight vibe the track starts off with yet another acoustic intro breaking into a very peppy synth jig with Akerfeldt noodling vocals over them, almost in a playful and childlike fashion. The drumming that follows also fits in really well with the context of the track, giving it an overall folk-rock feel. The mid-section is neatly broken up into some riffage reminiscent of earlier tracks such as “River” and “Haxprocess” but then in an element of surprise turns into a completely different direction. Overall, an upbeat song.

 

Era – The last full length song on the record, the track starts off very softly once again breaking into some heavy riffage but in a manner quite unlike conventional Opeth, it concludes that they have strayed far off from their original sound and this element shines throughout the track, the tonality, the overall structure of the song feels quite unlike Opeth. This track is outshined by the presence of other phenomenal tracks on the album, by comparison it is blunt. Although in an album context it does serve a purpose.

 

Persephone (Slight Return) – The final track of the record starts off from where Track 1 had started off. Although not meant to be interpreted as an individual track it serves as a form of closure, effectively sealing the deal on this rollercoaster of a record.

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Picture Courtesy: Stuart Wood

 

Overall impression:

Opeth started to sound different following the release of Heritage which was mixed by Steven Wilson, notably opting for a warmer, more organic sound. This pinnacle was reached in 2014’s Pale Communion which was a pleasantly well produced album. However, Sorceress fails to deliver in that regard. Although it sports an incredibly bass heavy mix, quenching the thirst for heaviness desired by long time Opeth fans, it doesn’t sound as good compared to Opeth’s recent work, almost bordering on being muddy at times. The drums are loud and compressed, and added to the bass tracks produces an incredible low end presence, often at the expense of other instruments, after listening to the album through a setup that has a relatively flat response, the low end simply comes out as being MASSIVE. Although this might not be such a deterrent factor for a lot of listeners out there, added to the fact that the band had originally intended it to sound this way.

Sorceress, is an amazingly well done record. It is heavy, progressive, fresh and has some great moments and nuances throughout the course of the entire record. Arguably Opeth’s best output in recent years, compared to records like Heritage and Pale Communion, Sorceress effectively concludes the birth of the new Opeth. A complete reinvention of their sound while still retaining classic Opeth elements. Yet another stellar record added to their impressive catalogue spanning 26 years.

 

The album quite deservingly gets an 8.5 out of 10.

 

Written By: Nilanjan Mukherjee (Guest Writer)

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Kryptos – Burn Up The Night Review

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There’s no need in introducing Kryptos as they are one of the greatest heavy metal acts to have come out of the Indian subcontinent. Formed way back in the September of 1998 by Nolan Lewis (vocals/guitars) and Ganesh Krishnaswamy (bass) in Bangalore, they have released three albums till date. Their fourth album is about to be released via AFM Records of Germany and Planet Caravan is lucky enough to receive a promotional copy of the album before the scheduled release.

The album cover instantly reminds one of the artworks of Accept’s albums. Coming to the songs, the album doesn’t waste any time before going into heavy riffs right from the beginning track “Blackstar Horizon” Like the previous album, here also the sound is categorized by a bridge between traditional heavy metal like Priest, Accept and German thrash like Kreator and Sodom. Nolan’s vocals are indeed very much like the Teutonic thrash acts. The next song is the previously released and well-received single “Full Throttle”, where the raspy vocals have been very well supported by the twin guitar attacks by Nolan himself and Rohit. In all of the tracks, the guitar duels sound spectacular. The next two songs somewhat drab, but the outro of “The Summoning” and the main riff of “Unto Elysium” are impressive. The heaviness again makes a comeback on the heavy metal energy loaded “One Shot to Kill” which is easily the strongest contender for the best song of the album. This is clearly up to the mark of any international metal bands.“Waverider” also has a catchy riff and the same intense rough vocals and the solo has been brilliantly put in at the middle. The concluding two songs also carry the same energy and vibrance, with the title track having a marvelous guitar duel.

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Photo Courtesy: AFM Records Germany

It looks like Kryptos are getting better with each album and this will probably be the best Kryptos release till date, though that may not be the opinion of everyone. But people looking for an old school heavy metal rush will definitely dig this album.

And finally, this is what the guys of Kryptos have to say about the album: “It’s been 18 years of absolute pedal to the metal and here we are on the cusp of our most pounding release yet. Grab a beer, put on your denim and leather and rock the fuck out to this with your closest mates.”

Band Members:

Nolan Lewis – Guitars/Vocals
Rohit Chaturvedi – Lead Guitars
Ganesh K. – Bass
Anthony Hoover – Drums

Tracklist:

01. Blackstar Horizon
02. Full Throttle
03. The Summoning
04. Unto Elysium
05. One Shot To Kill
06. Waverider
07. Prepare To Strike
08. Burn Up The Night

 

Written By: Spirit Crusher

RISE ABOVE: Know the Bands!

With just three days to go, we at Planet Caravan decided to put forward some information about the bands in the lineup, so that you know exactly what to expect at this gig on the 17th. We got in touch with all the bands and they helped us to compile this.

Blakhole:
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Genre: Punk

Hometown: Kolkata, India

Members:
Protyush Paul –Vocals
Somadatta Mazumdar –Bass
Indraj Ghosh – Guitar
Shakya Chatterjee-Drums

Blakhole was formed way back in 2011 and is probably the only existing punk band of Kolkata.They  have played in quite a lot of local gigs. “Blakhole, as a band, doesn’t really plan far ahead. At least hasn’t so far. We would like to play together and keep creating music that makes us happy right now. We definitely want to put out a physical release sometime in the future. As for gigs, we love ’em – the sheer rush, the nerves. It is the ultimate high. We’d like to play live as much as we can; there’s nothing like it”, says Somdatta, the bassist, ‘Rise Above’ is gonna be special. It’s the debut venture of CPS(Calcutta Punk Society) and hopefully, the first of many. The city needs its dose of DIY gigs like it regularly. Blakhole promises to give all that we have got. It’s gonna be fun. Hey ho, let’s go!”


The Neighborhood Thrashers:
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Genre:
Thrash Metal

Hometown: Kolkata, India

Members:  (They prefer to be called by their aliases)
Cazz Bhai – Bass
Assholeman – Vocals
Anonymous – Drums
Straightedge  – Guitars

The Neighborhood Thrashers or T.N.T as they prefer to call themselves are the new kids in town who want to thrash hard. “We just want to keep on making thrash metal and performing, getting signed, releasing stuff”, says the guitarist, “RISE ABOVE , our debut gig, is gonna be a fast, offensive, neck breaking, in your face experience!”

Xplikator:
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Genre:
Thrash Metal

Hometown: Kolkata, India

Members:
Peter Sarkar – Vocals
Swapnanil sardar – Guitar
Soumava Chatterjee – Bass
Chirantan Ray – Drums

Xplikator will also be playing their debut gig this Saturday. “We plan to play as many gigs as possible so the people of the “scene” have a better understanding of us and of course we’ll continue to write and record new music” says the band, “We’re super pumped to be playing at RISE ABOVE, the first ever punk gig of the city. Be there to support the local bands. See y’all in the pit!! \m/”


Dreadhammer:
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Genre: Thrash Metal

Hometown: Kolkata, India

Members:
Rishav Bhattacharya – Vocals, Guitars
Arya Datta – Guitars
Suprovo Chowdhury – Bass
Rohan Bakshi – Drums

Dreadhammer is also one of the new entrants at the scene. ”To be really honest, As far as future plans go, we don’t have anything planned and we aim to keep it that way.  We are just going with the flow and working on our fresh approach to Thrash Metal. But we are working hard on ourselves, getting a little better every day and I think that’s what matters. But, we might drop an EP sometime around next year though.
Rise Above by CPS will be our first gig. The first time people will see us playing live. This is gonna be a very special moment in all of our lives. People responded really well to our first original ‘Might Of Chaos’ and that was very overwhelming for all of us. We’ll make sure not to disappoint. We’ll be playing our second and never ever heard before original at this gig. So quote me on this one. ‘Rise Above is gonna be a fucking old school metal marathon!’”, says Rishav.


Armament:
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Genre: Thrash Metal

Hometown: Kolkata, India

Members:
“War” – Vocals – Indranil
“Famine” – Guitars – Vivek
“Conquest” – Bass – Sayan
“Death” – Drums – Subham

Armament has been round the Indian metal scene for quite some time now. They launched their EP “First Strike” last year which had been a huge success in the metal community of India, and even abroad.
Here’s what Indranil Dasgupta, the front man, has to say: “It’s been a while we have come out in front of you guys and evidently the last time was one of the special times we have shared with the EP launch. The guns are loaded once more and this time with a darker force. Annihilation is assured for the weak. We are really looking forward to the rise of new communities that support heavy metal music in its purest form. The guys in Calcutta Punk Society are working their asses off to pull this one off; a first timer for them. Kudos to these guys for they only pushed the band to go up live again! As for future gigs, we are taking it one at a time to be honest.  As for the army, we will have some cool merch on the day. With lineup changes, it has been a little tough to do live gigs but composing new stuff is what drives us and we will be coming up with the new poison pretty soon. As for a final message, it’s an honour to say it again ‘Warriors… It’s Time to Choose Your Weapons.’  See you fucks this weekend \m/”


Falcun:
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Genre: Heavy Metal

Hometown: Kolkata, India

Members:
Vocals- Abhishek
Guitars- Samrat ,Anirban
Bass- Nilavro
Drums- Bob

Initially formed as a supergroup comprising the members of Mortar and Armament, Steelbird was a band that used to cover heavy metal songs of the likes of Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate. Later they changed their name to Falcun last year and came up with two widely acclaimed originals “Eye of the Storm” and “Child of Prophecy.”
“Falcun is concentrating on making plenty of songs before even thinking about an album. We need to get our lineup fixed and tight. Hopefully this gig will be a boon”, says Samrat, the guitarist “We are much honored to get in this lineup with our brothers Armament and some old faces. I am also personally very excited to see this influx of new bands and their determination to get a gig done. Hopefully these kids will stick true to their music and not give up when they get the reality about Kolkata’s audience.”

So what are you waiting for? Get your passes ASAP!

RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1767707520111391/

– Spirit Crusher

Review of ShredxXx’s Debut Album

ShredxXx has been around the hard rock and heavy metal scene for quite some time now. Finally they will be releasing their debut album produced by the renowned Amuze Records of Kolkata.

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The album begins with their already much known single “Homuragama” which was released almost about a year ago. Although, this is a slightly changed and, a much better-produced version. The way the sitar and the guitars are synced is indeed mind-blowing.  However, the demo sounded much better, according to us. The second song is “Turbulence” and this takes on a power metal sound most likely influenced by Helloween and the rough and gritty voice of Sankalan makes its entry along with occasional screams and growls. This is the first part(chapter) of the song titled “Pride of Man”.
The extended intro of the next song really sounds like the album having a “Resurrection” and the occasional harsh vocals continue into this song. The track ends with an acoustic outro. “Defiance” again picks the tempo up a notch and the drums are noteworthy here.  This song, with the progressive ending, is definitely our favorite song of this album.

Up next is the Priest and Maiden influenced “My Bitch”. The sitar bridge at the middle sounds good but the cymbals somehow do not sound right at this portion. Finally “Epilogue” provides us with a touch of Indian classic music with brilliantly played sitar by Swarnabha. In all the songs the bassist Swarnava has built up the backbone very well.
The songs are no doubt great progressive compositions but a few mistakes here and there can be pardoned. We surely hope that they will get better with time. Moreover, the most noteworthy thing about this album is the brilliant quality of production. So if you are a lover of old school heavy metal with a pinch of progressive sound should definitely buy this album! This will be released at the launch event organized at Jamsteady this 16th.

RSVP here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1034658466647597/

All the best to team ShredxXx! May this album become a success!

Tracklist:

1) Homuragama
2) Pride of Man: Chapter 1: Turbulence
3) Pride of Man: Chapter 2: Resurrection
4) My Bitch
5) Defiance
6) Epilogue

Members:

Sankalan – Vocals
Swarnabha – Sitar
Prithvi – Guitar
Swarnava – Bass
Bob -Drums

– Spirit Crusher