Metal and witchcraft have always gone hand in hand, a bond which is further reinforced through Sorcerer’s upcoming album “Lamenting of the Innocent.” A concept album centered on the various agonies of the witch trials, Sorcerer presents their third full-length opus in the same style of epic doom they have pursued since their inception. Soaring choruses above meandering guitar melodies lead into irresistible solos, effortlessly portraying the dimensions of mournful sorrow and lament that come forth from doom metal’s darkness. Inspired by the likes of Candlemass and other early genre founders, “Lamenting of the Innocent” explores a variety of tempos and emotional atmospheres in an expansion of doom’s reach, drawing from heavy metal in its riffs, and keeping a consistent vibrance in clear vocal deliveries. Front-man Anders Engberg fills his role with a dark charisma, confident at the head of a vocal-heavy mix which calls back to the characteristics of early heavy metal, a production choice which leaves Sorcerer’s material easily accessible without abandoning the heavier tones of doom.
Sorcerer’s story is a story of survival against all odds, and the power of passion persisting across decades. Initially formed in 1988, Sorcerer released only two demos before ultimately splitting up in 1992. But these demos had heart and spirit, gaining acclaim in the underground and a loyal fan following that survived well into the 2000s. In 2010 an offer for a festival placement brought original members Engberg and Johnny Hagel back together, soon to be joined by a number of other talented musicians to fill out their ranks. And so Sorcerer was reborn, going on to take their place on the big stage at a number of festivals before finally releasing a full length album in 2015, titled “In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross.” Since then Sorcerer has expanded their sound, drawing in more elements from modern heavy metal while retaining the thick stylistic delivery of doom metal titans. Their craft has always had a focus on not just the in-studio sound, but how the music will hold up in a live performance, a trend which continues well into “Lamenting of the Innocent” with its emotional variety and breadth of intensity.
Another familiar face returns to the lineup for “Lamenting of the Innocent” as one of Sorcerer’s original drummers was welcomed back into the fold. Richard Evensand played drums on Sorcerer’s second demo, and brings with him percussive consistency and undeniable musical chemistry with the rest of the band. His steady hand meshes particularly well with Justin Biggs’ bass, a connection demonstrated best in “Age of the Damned.” Calculated bass marches in time with percussion before the chorus swells to its peak, a sound which has defined Sorcerer’s identity among their epic doom compatriots. Such a focus on the chorus is also evident in the build up to the soothing repetition of “Path to Perdition” in a timeless wave of strength and well-timed execution.
The general expansion of Sorcerer’s sound includes bigger melodies, more solos, and a kick in speed across tracks such as “The Hammer of Witches.” Some atmospheric oddballs such as the spoken-word prayer chant opening the title track “Lamenting of the Innocent” also give Sorcerer a dimension of new effects that prove their creative energy is as strong as ever. The sonic changes rest primarily in the hands of guitarist Kristian Niemann, who joined the band in 2010 and has been with Sorcerer ever since. Niemann’s solos come through particularly strongly in the album’s first half, including both “Institoris” and “Where Spirits Die,” offering a relatively rare opportunity for the chorus to take a backseat to the guitar-driven melodies. Unfortunately, the balance of new tricks to Sorcerer’s well-established sound is slightly skewed, with the band unloading most of their fresh material in the front of the album. Shorter tracks and refreshing speed fill the first half but leave little surprise outside of the same rich melodies in the latter half, making a somewhat tired flow from song to song as the album progresses.
Given the musicianship and chemistry shared among members, even for a vocal-focused band, the production oversights the creative energy of Biggs’ bass. Composition also neglects some of the deeper drums that would best compliment the established doom atmospherics comprising “Lamenting of the Innocent.” But as far as the history of epic doom goes, Sorcerer has delivered yet again. “Lamenting of the Innocent” also holds a guest appearance from none other than Candlemass vocalist Johan Langquist on the track “Deliverance,” making the connection to their roots complete with this contribution from the iconic vocalist. As much as Sorcerer has looked to evolve, they have also looked to their foundation. Even at the points this balancing act seems to have been executed with little foresight, there’s no question that Sorcerer shows no sign of slowing down or losing the creative streak that has propelled them to release three solid albums in the last five years.
Released By: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: May 29th, 2020
Genre: Epic Doom Metal
- Anders Engberg / Vocals
- Kristian Niemann / Guitars
- Peter Hallgren / Guitars
- Justin Biggs / Bass
- Richard Evensand / Drums
“Lamenting of the Innocent” Track-listing:
- The Hammer of Witches
- Lamenting of the Innocent
- Where Spirits Die
- Age of the Damned
- Dance with the Devil
- Path to Perdition
Sorcerer once more uses the canvas of epic doom to paint a tale of the human condition, this time through the lens of The Inquisition. Evolving their sound to lean on the tenets of heavy metal on top of melodious riffs, the big choruses and dark clouds that mark the spirit of doom persist in “Lamenting of the Innocent.”