“In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas Luciferi Excelsi”?
Not quite. But I was just looking at that superb album art with the demonic clergy on full display. So what do you want me to conclude?
But this is Sorcerer of course, and they do prefer to navigate in the lit soundscapes of the metal multiverse. The murky and smoky depths of the pit where their ritualistic brethren dwell are – not quite their thing, methinks. In this light, “Ave Voluptatis Carnis” might be more to the mark. In conjunction with the Malleus Maleficarum if you get my drift.
Because their newest piece Lamenting of the Innocent serves that hefty storyline of the unholy inquisition, specifically those witchhunts that people still talk about today. The Holy Catholic Church of bygone times in full, evil splendor. Something they’d rather forget these days.
The RMR deckhands already took an insane liking to Anders Engberg‘s high-octane wail on In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross. One of the real surprises of the past decade, after a hiatus of some 20 years. And, by Jove, they pumped up the volume somewhat fierce.
But nothing prepared us for the follow-on The Crowning of the Fire King. That record delivered some awesome Doom and Heavy Metal. Truly meaty fare, mostly at mid-tempo levels that netted them a straight 10/10. A rarity on RMR.
And this means that Lamenting of the Innocent has some pretty big shoes to fill.
So, witching hour it is and true to the record’s credo, The Hammer of Witches gets the album off the ground in true Sorcerer fashion. We particularly fancied that juicy growled chorus “…burn, witch, burn…” from Justin Biggs. Pretty good for somebody who claimed that this was – and I quote – “…out of my comfort zone…”. Just sayin’.
But immediately after that lusty start into the hazy realm of unchecked evil, Sorcerer hit us with the title track. A powerful ballad that solemnly marches forward on a relatively simple structure. This one’s got some real meat on its metallic bones, though. And we particularly liked the growled interlude1) with its blast beats, plus those tasty solos that we couldn’t get enough off. And a damn sturdy metal ballad it is.
But here’s where the storm clouds come in.
This first immediate slowdown did not bother me much – yet. It syncs pretty perfectly with the terrors of the witchhunt, burning stake, chains, screams, and all.
But after the pretty cool Institoris, doom-laden yet relatively speedy, as is Sorcerer‘s wont, Innocent hits ye with yet another two slow-motion pieces. Deliverance – the second one – features Candlemass’ new/old vocalist Johan Längqvist. True, slow-cooked it is, but that’s one tasty track by the way. All the more so after Engberg chimes in towards the end.
You see, Sorcerer delivered mid-tempo pieces and balladry before, and abundantly so. Yet, it’s this hot and cold, this stop-and-go thing that took a wrecking ball to the flow. At times this felt like some traffic jam, a chewy procession down the tracklist that somehow squished the urge to hear more. An urge that was very prevalent on Fire King for instance.
That said, Lamenting of the Innocent really has an experimental edge to it. The band expertly moved the record down that thorny road without ever hitting any one of those reefs that lurk right under the surface of that very particular shallow sea. Yet, the record never leaves those hallowed grounds of doomy Heavy Metal2).
And why not use that slow, heavy, pounding beat when the lyrics talk about the harbinger of death, no less. It gets you that much more spice to your turntable than the proverbial high-pitched Heavy Metal screaming about the demon, hell, and damnation.
So, in the end, Lamenting of the Innocent turned into a truly unexpected piece. Sorcerer moved away from serving a mighty portion of streamlined tracks, to a new path that embraces a variety that wasn’t there before.
This preference to mingle slow-motion metallurgy with fast-paced pieces really went a tad over the top this time, though. And it took a lot of the excitement that we enjoyed on former works straight out of the equation.
On the other hand, nothing takes away the stellar musicianship, the artfully placed lyrics with a high-quality delivery that we grew used to over time. And let’s not forget. Innocent is a true Sorcerer piece. And they are the masters of that tasty mix of Doom and Heavy Metal that makes us turn up for seconds. Down that experimental road or up mainstream hill, it makes no difference.