Kristian Niemann, guitarist of the epic doom metal band Sorcerer, is thrilled that the band is about to release their third album Lamenting of the Innocent, on May 29th via Metal Blade Records. He graciously agreed to an interview with him to talk about the new album, and so I video-chatted with Kristian from his home in Stockholm, Sweden.
Sorcerer was formed in Sweden in 1988, however disbanded shortly afterwards in 1992 after recording a few demos. Then in 2010, Johnny Hagel (bass) was asked to perform a set at Hammer of Doom in Germany. Enter Kristian Niemann.
“John said he’d check if he could find some guys, because it had been a long time since they went their way. He had kept up with Anders [Engberg, vocals], and then they asked a couple of us to do it, to fill out the formation, so we just did a couple festivals and then we decided we should probably decide to make an album. We had such a good time playing together and great chemistry, and here we are. We’ve had a couple lineup changes but yeah, this is the third album in five years now,” says Niemann. He describes the band’s sound as “slow, groovy, melodic, heavy metal with big choruses and a lot of hooks.”
Niemann, best known prior to Sorcerer as a member of the bands Therion and Demonoid, is no slouch on the guitar. He credits his dad showing him a live video of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” as the inspiration to pick up the instrument in 1985.
“When I saw that video, I was like, holy cow! That was the catalyst; That was the moment where I was like, shit man, I need to play!” He hasn’t stopped since. Following a two year stint in Los Angeles to study jazz guitar, he returned home to Sweden and joined Therion shortly thereafter.
Now in Sorcerer, Niemann is ready to bring their music worldwide with the release of their upcoming album, Lamenting of the Innocent. He is joined on guitars with Peter Hallgren, with new additions to the lineup Justin Biggs (bass) and Richard Evensand (drums) rounding out the outfit. The lead single from the album, “Hammer of Witches,” is available now. Niemann describes the song as the “fastest and most direct song on the album, very easy to get into,” but he does point out that it’s “not very representative of the album as a whole,” as they wanted to continue expanding upon their sound and adding more elements to Lamenting of the Innocent. “There’s more of everything; more layered guitar, more keyboards, the drums are a bit bigger,” he says, “We have some growling on this album for the first time as well, so that’s another new thing. More is more, as the English say [laughs].”
Lamenting of the Innocent was almost entirely self-produced, which Sorcerer has done for all of their albums. The band knows what they like, Kristian affirms, and they are confident they can deliver an album that will sound good. “I think it’s because we’re all old guys now [laughs]…we had a lot of experience with and without producers, and these days, you can do so much at home.”
Kristian and Peter both write their song parts separately and do extensive demoing, then send them off to Anders for vocal mixing. “For the most part, my songs are my songs and Peter’s are Peter’s”, he says, “for the next record, we are actually hoping to write songs together more, especially with Peter and I. That would be fun, we want to try that.” After sending a demo off to Anders, Anders adds vocal melodies and rearranges the song structure. It’s a balancing act between everyone involved to figure out how to best make the song shine.
Niemann is especially proud of the title track on Lamenting of the Innocent. It was one of the first songs written for the album and when the song came together, it was a promising sign. Hoping to ride the wave of the critical success of their previous album, The Crowning of the Fire King, Niemann was pleased that they managed to produce something so dynamic in the early stages of writing. “The chorus was just so epic,” he told me excitedly. “When I first heard it, I was like, ‘Holy shit, if that’s the level we can produce right now, this will be a good record.’ I knew we were in good shape. That’s a special one.”
Sorcerer were supposed to have a short tour run in Germany that started on May 29th, the day the album is set to be released, but with the present global pandemic, all tour dates are currently postponed. The band will instead seek to do some playthroughs of the album on Youtube, as well as videos interacting with fans or seeing the band in rehearsals until the all clear. “We’re just taking it day by day,” Niemann states.
When I asked Kristian what some of his proudest career moments were, he was quick to list several moments with a big grin on his face. In his previous band, Therion, they had played at Wacken in front of 60,000 people. They also once performed the Russian national anthem to a large crowd in Moscow. Those moments definitely resonated with Kristian. However, he considers Sorcerer getting signed to Metal Blade Records and the fan interactions he’s had over the years as the things that make him the proudest. “We didn’t think it [getting signed] would happen when we recorded our first album, and then we got hooked up with Metal Blade, and that was just amazing, because that’s a legendary label.”
With just a few weeks to go until the release of Lamenting of the Innocent, Kristian is eager for people to finally hear the band’s hard work. “Everyone’s really excited and trying to do their thing to push the band forward, we’re really trying to get some momentum going with the band…we have some great chemistry in the band, and that really helps, too.”
I had one final question for Kristian to finish the interview: What inspires him? His answer was simple, and the best one I could have asked for.
“Just a profound love of music. It’s the last thing I think about at night and it’s the first thing I think about when I wake up.”