By Samuel Stevens & Kyle Erickson
Release Date: May 29, 2020
Genre: Heavy Metal, Doom Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
The Swedish epic doom metal band, Sorcerer have never let the sub-genre define them and continued to stride past it on their third album, Lamenting of the Innocent, by incorporating many new elements from other sub-genres of metal to their always evolving sound. Lamenting of the Innocent is best described as a semi-concept album. The members of Sorcerer wanted each individual track on the effort to stand out on their own, which they were successful in doing that such feat. However all the tracks do revolve around the similar themes of witchcraft and the hunting of witches that specifically occurred in the 14th and 15th century. The album draws most of it’s inspiration of these themes from the book, Malleus Maleficarum, which is most commonly translated to Hammer of Witches, originally published in 1487 by German author and inquisitor, Heinrich Kramer, best known by his Latinized name, Henricus Institoris.
Sorcerer have integrated a couple of different elements into the songwriting of this record, which include the experimentation of different tempos throughout the album and the integration of growls into their music, which are provided by the band’s newest addition, Justin Hagel (bass). Justin also contributed to some of the songwriting on tracks such as, “Institoris” and “Age of the Damned,” and helped with some of the lyrical writing on Lamenting of the Innocent. Sorcerer’s previous contributor Conny Welén returned to provide to the album’s songwriting as well. Lamenting of the Innocent was again entirely produced by the members of Sorcerer, but mixed and mastered by Swedish musician/music engineer, Ronnie Björnström (Bone Gnawer, Paganizer, Revolting). The album’s bonus track, “Hellfire” that is only included on the digipak CD version was mixed by, Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth).
“We had a lot of experience with and without producers, and these days, you can do so much at home,” says guitarist Kristian Niemann.
Following a minute long, melodic intro track titled, “Persecution,” the album shifts into high gear with the album’s lead single, “The Hammer of Witches.” The track sets the album’s recurring theme in motion with a song about Catholic churches and knights hunting innocent women who have been accused of witchcraft to cleanse villages of Satan’s collaborators. These women would later be put to trial and some even executed by being burned at the stake. It’s stated that the song does not represent the entire effort as a whole. The song is the arguably the fastest track on Lamenting of the Innocent and showcases the band’s ever growing evolution of sound and songwriting abilities. “Tonight determined by glory / A mission so holy / Reveal the disguise / We’re chasing through the shadows in search for a sign / When our fear, we ride / Eradicate the darkness in the search of divine / We will turn the tide / Burn witch, burn.”
“Hammer of Witches is not very representative of the album as a whole. It’s the fastest and most direct song on the whole album, it’s maybe a curious choice for a single, but it’s very easy to get into,” continues Niemann.
The album’s title track, “Lamenting of the Innocent” is about exactly what the title suggests, mourning the loss of the innocent women some 500+ years ago who lost their lives after being accused of being witches. The song, “Institoris” is about Henricus Institoris, the main inspiration behind the album’s theme and his journey through Germany to investigate and write about witches, while overlooking many of the trials of the accused women. While as the song, “Condemned” is about a woman who was accused of being a witch, now jailed and waiting for her execution. It touches on the agony she is feeling while she is looking out the cellar window where she’s being kept, watching the town’s folk building the pyre where she will inevitably be executed upon.
The album’s second single, “Dance with the Devil” brings back the bands haunting and menacing choir background vocals that were prominent on many of their songs on the band’s two previous albums, In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross and The Crowning of the Fire King. The third single, “Deliverance” features both, Candlemass vocalist, Johan Langquist and renowned Swedish cellist, Svante Henryson. “Deliverance” is the most simplest and slowest song on the album, being best described as a heavy metal ballad. The track has no drums whatsoever, it’s all melodic guitars, cello, and a duet vocal performance by Anders and Johan.
The final track on Lamenting of the Innocent, “Path to Perdition,” opens with a blistering guitar solo, before the track reveals it’s true form. Lyrically, “Path of Perdition” brings the whole album and it’s theme to a perfect close. The track revolves around the anger of the town’s people forcefully taking the town’s priest from the church to his eventual placement onto a pyre in the town square, as he had done to many innocent women before. Half way through the track, it takes a bit of a turn to describe what the priest is going through himself. The band wanted to contrast the priests divine delusion of grandeur. How he wouldn’t cross into heaven, but rather transcend to a realm of nightmares tailored to his own depravity.
Sorcerer were originally set to have an album release show in Germany, but because of the events currently happening around the world, they had to resort to a live stream event on Facebook last weekend on Saturday, May 23rd instead. Regardless of the events currently having live music on hold, the band is eager to get on the road, rather that is this fall or some time in 2021, but do have some plans in place to provide content for the fans online until they can get back out on the road.
We were supposed to have a release gig in Germany…and then do a couple shows in Germany and Holland, and then Sweden Rock Festival, but of course, all of that is on hold now. In the fall, who knows now, because people are starting to think that maybe 2021 is when touring will continue, so who knows? …If we don’t have any gigs to play we’re probably gonna try to get as much stuff out on Youtube as we can, like playthroughs or stream through the rehearsal room, where we put the camera up and play the songs, we’re gonna do stuff like that,” says Niemann.
Read Kyle Erickson’s full interview with Sorcerer’s Kristian Niemann here.