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SORCERER The Crowning Of The Fire King

By George Mihalovich, Pure Rock Patroller
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 @ 12:28 AM

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The Crowning of the Fire King

Metal Blade Records

The term "doom metal" conjures up adjectives such as gloomy, foreboding and apocalyptic; stylistically it offers heavy riffs on downtuned guitars, slower tempos, extended song structures and occult subject matter. Bands that immediately come to mind as definitive for this metal subgenre are BLACK SABBATH (arguably the originators of this style), CANDLEMASS, SOLITUDE AETURNUS and a handful of others. At this point, it seems reasonable to add SORCERER - who proudly proclaim their music as "royal epic doom" - to the list.

Without undertaking a major history lesson, SORCERER is one of many bands that built a reputation in the late 1980s, culminating with the release of their eponymous debut in 1995. Unfortunately, as often happens in the music business, they weren't able to sustain the momentum to continue at that time. Fast forward to 2015, when original members Anders Engberg (vocals) and Peter Hallgren (guitars) returned with a revamped SORCERER lineup to deliver the outstanding full-length In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross.

On The Crowning Of The Fire King, Johnny Hagel (bass), Kristian Niemann (guitars) and session drummer Lars Sköld joined Anders and Peter to create another collection of material steeped in the best traditions of doom and classic heavy metal. Most of the tracks run over five minutes (with four in the eight to ten-minute range), but the fact that the music is not too dense (able to breathe) and has melodies that tie everything together help to make this an accessible record - as opposed to one that could tend to meander. It still takes a bit of investment to get the most out of The Crowning Of The Fire King; in other words, it will pull you in on the first listen, but requires a few more spins to be fully appreciated. Quick reference points include Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (CANDLEMASS) and a more progressive and expansive Headless Cross or Tyr (BLACK SABBATH) ... and maybe even a little SAVATAGE. Comparisons notwithstanding, it's clear that SORCERER has something of their own to bring to the table. To get a feel for what The Crowning Of The Fire King is all about without a song-by-song rundown, watch the video for "Sirens" on KNAC.COM. If this isn't enough to bring you under their spell, visit the Metal Blade Records YouTube Channel to view lyric videos for four of the album's tracks - including "Ship Of Doom" and "Unbearable Sorrow".

The stellar songwriting and individual performances are supported by the crisp and powerful production (mixing by Ronnie Björnström and mastering by Thomas "Plec" Johansson). SORCERER is undoubtedly a worthy ensemble, and the rhythm section provides the vocals and lead guitar the solid platform needed to take the disc to the next level. Anders Engberg (who has also recorded with LIONS SHARE, SECTION A and 220 VOLT) takes full advantage and utilizes his range, power and emotion to convincingly handle the material. When the vocals are not in the spotlight, Kristian Niemann (ex-THERION) steps in with an impressive array of licks that you would normally hear on an instrumental guitar record or in a more technical metal style. It's not necessarily what one would expect in the context of a doom metal CD, but it works well and adds additional interest and depth. For example, Kristian shows his versatility on "Nattvaka" (a short but moving acoustic instrumental piece) that leads into "Crimson Cross" and an extended lead guitar break.

All told, The Crowning Of The Fire King is doom metal of the highest order; no, scratch that. It's is a well-crafted effort that is good enough to transcend subgenre to stand on its own as an excellent metal album.

4.5 Out Of 5.0 Tolling Bells

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