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Sorcerer - In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross

    Ian Jane

  • Sorcerer - In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross

    Sorcerer - In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross
    Released by: Metal Blade Records
    Released on: March 24th, 2015.
    Purchase From Amazon

    Sorcerer, who have been around since the late eighties and who hail from Stockholm, Sweden, are lead by vocalist Anders Engberg and feature Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgren on guitar, Johnny Hagel on bass and Robert Iversen on drums. They play a pretty traditional style of Dio-era Black Sabbath inspired metal and they do it very, very well. This latest album, In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross, brings the bands sludgy, doomy sound to the masses in a big way with some slick production values and really impressive musicianship.

    The complete track listing for In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross is:

    The Dark Tower Of The Sorcerer / Sumerian Script / Lake Of The Lost Souls / Exorcise The Demon / In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross / Prayers For A King / The Gates Of Hell / Pagans Dance

    The opening track (preview it in full via the video linked below) has all the elements of a classic metal track, from the riffs to the pounding drums to the perfectly pitched vocals that totally play off of the fantasy/Dungeons And Dragons type of content you might expect. As heavy as these guys get, there's a LOT of technical proficiency on display here, meaning this will appeal to prog and technical metal fans just as much as it will to the disciples of the heavy.

    Sumerian Script sees the band lay down a heavy groove right from the get go and then build on it nicely. Again, there's a very obvious Dio influence here, you can't help but notice it, but you're not likely to complain about it either because it sounds great. Engberg croons on about sacred caves and evil rising and the path of doom while the rest of the band just do a really great job of playing some classic heavy metal for the vocals to work alongside. Lake Of The Lost Souls starts off with a nice instrumental intro that's heavy, then mellow, and then heavy again - it kind of keeps you guessing as to where it's going to go, the one constant being the drums, which have a really huge sound here. There's a power metal influence here, maybe some early Manowar coming into the sound a bit sans the Viking stuff, but it keeps that slower, sludgy sort of doom thing going on throughout. It's definitely heavy, but it's not at all fast. It runs almost nine minutes and for lack of a corner term, it's epic.

    Exorcise The Demon picks up the pace immediately, throwing a catchy guitar riff right in your face from the opening second and then using some weird vocal effects to create an ominous mood over which Engberg's operatic vocals are constructed. This is good stuff, it's again showing a heavy Dio influence with some prog-rock buried ever so slightly underneath - and it throws in some ominous occult style chanting into the mix to keep you guessing and it's got weird demonic orgy noises in it at around the half way mark.

    The title track, In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross, has a sort of Judas Priest influence in it, think Metal Meltdown, but it's much darker and far less silly than that - it's just that the riff seems to have maybe been inspired by that track. It is, once again, a song about… evil, about turning your face from God, the book of lies, burying your faith and the repercussions of such a lifestyle - 'now the time has come to pay the price.' Like everything else on this album it's heavy but technically impressive and somewhat operatic in its execution. This is a stand out track, just a really solid slice of seriously accomplished heavy metal playing and strong vocal work.

    Prayers For A King again starts off with some Sabbathy guitar playing, setting an appropriately dark tone, before slowing down for the vocals to come up front in the mix with some 'quiet' playing underneath. Engberg sings about battlefields and broken arrows and bloodstained sheaths, and we wind up in some obviously Scandinavian territory. This is like a musical version of a Viking war/folk story and it's pretty great. Engberg never really has any serious backing vocals on any of the tracks here, demons notwithstanding, but here you almost wish he could harmonize a bit with some other players just to spice it up a bit and give it a bit more of its own sound. That complaint aside, this keeps the album's standards high. The Gates Of Hell is faster than anything else on the record, and it's also a fair bit shorter than anything else on the record. It stays within the sound established by the earlier tracks but it pushes things forward in terms of quickness and tempo while never breaking from that classic metal sound.

    Last but not least, the album finishes with Pagans Dance, building slowly but surely and name-checking the 'sacred oath' before building quickly and very deliberately to some more Sabbath/Iommi riffing. This track ends things right, with just under eight minutes of chunky, weighty and dark traditional metal. It ends the album as it began, with technically impressive, well produced music with amazingly powerful vocals overtop. These guys know exactly what they're doing and they do it well, playing a sound that may not be quite as trendy or hip as other styles of metal popular these days but tapping into a timeless, classic sound. There's not a bad track on this record, the whole thing is remarkably well done and surprisingly consistent. These guys haven't been the most prolific band around, but hopefully In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross is a sign that we'll see more from Sorcerer sooner rather than later.

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