Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review of Sorcerer's In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross

In a way similar to Hell from the UK, Sweden's Sorcerer is a band that didn't get their due despite releasing a few influential demos back in the day. Original vocalist Anders Engberg and bassist Johnny Hagel reformed the group with new members in 2010 and have finally released their debut studio album a good twenty-seven years after their formation. While I haven't heard their early demos, Sorcerer's debut is packed with new material showing a band that knows what it wants and has the hunger to get it.

Sorcerer plays epic doom not unlike Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus, but their style is more unique when compared to its peers. The production is cleaner and the aesthetics are still theatrical without going too far over the top. There is also a degree of power metal influence as the guitar tone shows Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate influence and the vocals opt for a cross between Symphony X's Russell Allen and Harry Conklin's work with Jag Panzer. In a way, the presentation is more polished but the vision itself is more down to earth.
With that in mind, the songs are fairly diverse. Most of them go at a slow building pace but they still find ways to stand out as songs like "Sumerian Script" and "Lake of Lost Souls" feature quiet verses and elaborate structures while others such as the title track put the riffs and soaring vocals on full display. Other tracks such as the faster paced "Exorcise the Demon" and "Gates Of Hell" show off their power metal side quite effectively.

This album is quite solid and the band puts on a good performance, but the actual songwriting isn't quite as memorable as it feels like it should be. The songs are structured well but the rarity of more aggressive riffs or catchy choruses does lead to things running together at times. Fortunately, it all sounds pretty good and "The Dark Tower Of The Sorcerer" in particular has classic potential as it aims to be doom metal's answer to Rainbow's "Stargazer."

With Sorcerer's full-length debut being so overdue, it is a relief to see its few shortcomings having more to do with budding potential than stagnancy. Despite the members' ages, this has the feel of a new band and gets me curious to see how their demos sounded. Hopefully they could make things even more dynamic with a followup effort.

"The Dark Tower Of The Sorcerer"
"Sumerian Script"
"Lake Of Lost Souls"
"In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross"
"Gates of Hell"

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