Category Archives: Kyle Erickson

Sorcerer – Lamenting of the Innocent

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.


Check out more from Sorcerer:

https://www.facebook.com/sorcererdoom/

https://twitter.com/sorcererdoom

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnzkV495SPI8qT07AlswhPg

https://www.instagram.com/sorcererdoom/

A Conversation With Sorcerer’s Kristian Niemann

By Kyle Erickson

Photo by Jon Alexandersson

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.”


Check out more from Sorcerer:

https://www.facebook.com/sorcererdoom/

https://twitter.com/sorcererdoom

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnzkV495SPI8qT07AlswhPg

https://www.instagram.com/sorcererdoom/

Q&A With Saint Asonia Front Man, Adam Gontier

By Kyle Erickson & Samuel Stevens

PR BROWN / UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP

So, you guys [Saint Asonia] just released Flawed Design, which is awesome. You also just announced you’re doing the headlining Ontario shows with The Standstills before going out on tour later this year. What made you choose The Standstills?

They’re friends of ours. We’ve played a few shows with them in the past. Last year I did a Canadian Music Week thing at The Horseshoe in Toronto and they were a part of that. They’re just a great band. They’re super great people and we get along with them really well. When we were booking these shows their name came up and it was pretty easy and great to have them open up these shows, for sure.

You guys just wanted to start off at home before going out to the U.S. I assume?

Yeah, that’s right. I mean we were originally trying to do something a little bit bigger in Canada, at least in Ontario to do a few more shows sort of starting up here, but yeah we have the three shows in Toronto, Ottawa, and Peterborough. We stopped it there and it seemed to be a good few shows to get started, get our feet wet because we haven’t really been out for awhile. It made sense to do all that at home too, to keep it a little bit easier with friends and crew, yeah.

In May you’re going out with Black Stone Cherry and Alterbridge. That should be a really kick ass tour.

Yeah, that’s going to be great, man. We are really looking forward to that. Alterbridge is awesome, Black Stone is awesome as well. I mean, we’ve done a lot of tours with them. I’ve done a lot of tours with them in the past. Yeah, really, really good bands. It’s going to be a great tour. We’re stoked for that.

Apart from the new album, you guys also have some new members. How does it feel finally having Cale in the same band?

It feels great man. I mean it’s been along time coming. You know we grew up together and we played music together growing up. Our plan was always to be in a band together or something like that. It just made sense, you know. At the same time our original bass player, Corey, started working with Seether full time, so it just kinda made sense. I asked Cale if he wanted to be a part of it. Yeah, it was a no brainer all away around, you know, and made really good sense. It feels great now that we’re actually doing it. It’s been a great time so far and looking forward to touring together, for sure.

Did you guys get Cody through Cale, or how did that work out?

Yeah, I mean Cody plays drums in Art of Dying, you know. Cody and him are band mates in that band and aside from that we’ve been really good friends with Cody, he’s from our hometown of Norwood in Peterborough. We’ve known him for years and years and Art of Dying isn’t, at this point, doing all that much. All the guys are doing separate things. So yeah, with Sal from Staind being our drummer, there were some conflicting tour dates and that sort of thing. It just made sense for us to get Cody to jump in full time because Sal has a lot on his plate.

Cody hasn’t done any live shows with Saint Asonia yet, correct?

That’s right, yeah. We did do an acoustic thing in Massachusetts in Foxborough a couple months ago, but that’s just about it.

So it will be awesome getting you out on the road with you guys then.

Yeah, oh yeah, for sure.

Is there a song off Flawed Design that you’re looking forward to playing live?

I mean we’re kinda working our set out right now for these Ontario shows. They’re headlining sets so they’re pretty long. We’ve been trying to figure out what songs from the new record we want to play. I mean one song we’re all excited to play live eventually is “Ghost.” A lot of us feel like it’s our favourite one to play. Once we get some sort of steady, long headlining sets, we’ll probably put “Ghost” in there.

Ghost” is one of my favourites off the album. You wrote with Dustin Bates from Starset on that one, right?

For sure! Yeah, Dustin and Keith Wallen from Breaking Benjamin.

Oh, Keith wrote on “Ghost” as well?

That’s right, yeah. He wrote on “Ghost” as well as on “Beast.”

I think Keith Wallen is one of the underrated songwriters out there, so I’m glad he was able to be featured on Flawed Design. How did that collaboration come about?

You know, same type of deal. We know Keith really well because of Breaking Benjamin and that sort of thing. When we were putting songs together for this record, writing songs, we wanted to branch out and co-write with different guys and there was just a handful of guys names that came up and Keith was one of them. A lot of the time you get messages from different guys saying “Hey, it would be great to sit down and write some tunes together,” and it’s not all the time you are able to follow up on that. I think I got a message from Keith to co-write, that was pretty much it when we started writing the record. We flew out to L.A. where he was and sat down in the studio and wrote a couple of tunes.

I’m really glad that collaboration worked out. “Ghost” and “This August Day” are probably my two favourite songs off the album.

Thanks man. Yeah, “This August Day” is a really fun one to play too. It’s a bit of a different vibe for it and that’s what we were trying to basically accomplish, you know by writing with others like Dustin.

Was there anybody you wanted to work with that maybe the timing didn’t work out or just really didn’t end up coming of it?

You know what, not really. I mean there was a handful of guys I really wanted to write with and fortunately I was lucky enough that I was able to write with them. I sat down and wrote a song with Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace and I’ve always been a big Our Lady Peace fan. So that was really cool and you know, it was really fortunate to be able to co-write with guys like that and be able to reach out and make something happen. So we wrote a song, it’s actually not on this record, but we’ll end up using it for something down the road.

I’m really looking forward to hearing that song with Raine. “The Hunted” with Sully Erna of Godsmack had quite awhile to get released, so I’m sure this one will be great as well.

Yeah, that was awesome. I mean that song has been around for a long time and we kinda tweaked it, that sorta thing with a new producer. Yeah, really cool to have Sully on the album.

After your done your tour with Alterbridge and Black Stone Cherry, Staind is going to be on tour in the Summer with Disturbed. Should we expect a big Saint Asonia tour in the fall?

The plan is to go out, actually we’re announcing a big tour tomorrow [March 3, 2020], so yeah we’re pretty close to announcing that and that’s gonna put us out for July, August, and September as well for three months. Yeah, that’s going to be great. Staind is going to be out with Disturbed, that’s right. So I think when Mike goes out with Staind we will have somebody basically fill in for him. We’ve always pretty much assumed at some point he was going to go back out. Mike and I have had lots of talks about that. It’s great to see him going back out and I’m glad he’s doing that kinda thing, but he’s always a part of this band, for sure.

There’s a couple of festivals coming up this Summer like Sonic Temple and Rock Fest in Cadot. Would Mike be doing double duty on those sets or would you still perform with a touring guitarist?

I think we will have our other guy filling in for him, but at the same time we have talked about having Mike come up to do a couple here and there. Playing on the same day, you know [Laughs], it will be a little bit tough for him. Those days are going to be long as he puts a lot into that set, but yeah, he will get up with us, for sure.

It was a real pleasure talking to you Adam! I look forward to seeing you guys on tour later this Summer and I hope you have a great year!

Right on, thanks man! I appreciate it! Take care!