So let’s kick this bloggy thing off with a look at Opeth’s new album ‘Sorceress’ (Moderbolaget / Nuclear Blast), which sees Mikael Akerfeldt and co continue their headlong journey into pure unadulterated prog rock, leaving their extreme metal roots well behind them.

‘Sorceress’ is once again a melting pot of influences but on the whole comes together as a much more cohesive album than predecessors ‘Heritage’ and ‘Pale Communion’ despite the musical diversity. The album ebbs and flows but is always underpinned by a continuing sense of menace and unease throughout its eleven tracks.

You will find liberal dashes of classic heavy rock through the galloping, keyboard-laden Chrysalis (recalling the halcyon days of Uriah Heep) and the weighty title track. Other songs have a pastoral, almost folk-y vibe, notably Sorceress 2, which has faint echoes of Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’, and Will ‘o’ the Wisp which strongly recalls Jethro Tull circa ‘Heavy Horses’. Seventh Sojourn is an instrumental infused with strings and a Middle-Eastern vibe, which segues seamlessly into the angular, modern prog of Strange Brew.

The album is peppered with some glorious, almost bluesy guitar solos. The sound quality strikes just the right balance, and is best appreciated, along with the stunning album artwork, in the vinyl format (obviously). Overall ‘Sorceress’ is simply a great prog rock album, and as such is a record in which to immerse and lose yourself.

But what manner of beer should best accompany such a complex and multi-hued album? Well, you could maybe grab a mixed six-pack of different brews to drink over the course of the album but that is just irresponsible, as Mrs Mac pointed out to me in no uncertain terms after I did just that. No, what you need is a beer that you can really immerse yourself in as much as the music. Something dark of heart like the titular Sorceress herself.

So if you are lucky enough to still be able to find a bottle or two, I would suggest settling down with the limited run ‘Double Cascadian Dark Ale’ from Manly’s 4 Pines (http://4pinesbeer.com.au/ ). Continuing a recent superb run of form with their Keller Door releases, this mighty (8% ABV) and multi-layered brew effortlessly blends dark roasted malts with lashings of Pacific North-West hops. The result of this alchemy is an aroma that’s mostly about the roasted malts followed by an initial subtle hit of dark chocolate and molasses. This then gives way to tart citrus and stone fruit flavours from those wonderful hops before leaving you with a bitter, resin-y finish. All capped off by a lovely warmth from the high ABV.

This is a stunning beer, but if you can’t locate one then never fear for there are some other fine alternatives in a similar vein:

Cheers

Jimmy Mac