Tag Archives: Heavy Metal

Lamb of God – Self-Titled

By Samuel Stevens

Release Date: June 19, 2020

Genre: Groove Metal

Label: Epic Records

The Richmond, Virginia based groove/heavy metal legends, Lamb of God, have returned with their first body of original work in five years. Originally scheduled for a May 8th release, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed certain aspects of the aforementioned album resulting in the band and their label to delay the album by six weeks to make sure they could fulfill everything for the fans. The brand new self-titled release marks the band’s eighth album, and the first since the departure of their long time drummer Chris Adler. The album features newcomer Art Cruz, also of Winds of Plague and ex-Prong on the drums. Lamb of God recorded the album at Dave Grohl’s recording studio, Studio 606, in Northridge, California. The group also partnered once again with their longtime producer Josh Wilbur, also best known for his work with Korn, Megadeth, Gojira, and Trivium, to produce the ten track album.

Lamb of God began the writing process for the album’s ten tracks a few years ago before they took a break to hit the road after an offer they could not refuse came their way, to join Slayer as main support on their final expansive world tour that was dubbed, The Final Campaign. Vocalist D. Randall Blythe took an approach to the lyrical side of the album drawing from early punk, and wrote with his mind on past and current world affairs. There isn’t any one track on the band’s self-titled record that’s about any specific individual. Instead the band examines past and current topics in the world rather looking at the causes of these problems from a wider perspective.

Lamb of God opens up with the track, “Memento Mori.” Beginning with a haunting intro with slow methodical guitars, with Blythe clean singing quietly over top, until the track explodes to it’s truest form. “Memento Mori” touches on the topic of not being consumed by your cell phone, computer, and/or television. It’s important to remain engaged with the real world in front of you, stay informed, and not just live in and consume a digitally filtered representation of our own reality, to help yourself maintain a positive mental state. “The hardest hour, the cruelest sign / I’m waking up from this wretched lie / I fight it the same, don’t waste this day / Wake up, wake up, wake up / Memento mori.”

“Checkmate” is a ferocious track brushing upon the wide-angle perspective of modern world events that could be perceived that they occur because of political activity. Hatebreed’s own Jamey Jasta appears on the track “Poison Dream” and Testament’s frontman Chuck Billy appears on the track, “Routes.” The song “Routes” is a monster of a track from it’s fast thrash-esque riffs, to it’s bombardment of drums, or the lyrical content. The song was inspired by Blythe’s time protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, between 2016 and 2017. It was vital of Blythe to have an Indigenous American voice represented on the track, and by enlisting Chuck Billy, who is of Pomo Native American heritage, he achieved that need. “A black snake beneath the ground, extinction dripping from his mouth / Poisons water, hearts of men who choke the sky and rape the land.”

The eighth studio album from Lamb of God is best described as a joint piece of work of each of the band’s five members contributions, blended all into one singular sound spread among ten blistering tracks. Both guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, fan the flame on the album with their endless barrage of riffs, taking what Lamb of God are best known for, and unimaginably, raising the stakes like ever before. Bassist John Campbell is evidently looming at large behind it all with his rhythmic sections on the tracks, while drummer Art Cruz brings a new perspective with his recent addition to the group and some fresh and exciting dynamics to the drumming. Vocalist D. Randall Blythe is still as angry, insightful, and informed as ever. He’s never been one to hold back his voice in the past on major world events, or his previous incarceration, trial, and acquittal of manslaughter in the Czech Republic, that was the main lyrical focus on their previous album, VII: Sturm und Drang. Blythe once again faces these subjects of the human nature head-on, on the newest set of material only as Lamb of God can in the past, present, and future. It’s more than certain that Lamb of God will satisfy any metal fan who listens to this timeless piece of work.


Check out photos from when Lamb of God opened up for Slayer in Winnipeg in the Spring of 2018!

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/

North American Crusade 2020: Black Label Society, Obituary, & Lord Dying

By Samuel Stevens

North American Crusade 2020 featuring, Black Label Society, Obituary, & Lord Dying

March 10, 2020

Burton Cummings Theatre

Lord Dying - Erik Olson
Lord Dying. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.
Obituary - John Tardy
Obituary. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.
Black Label Society - Jeff Fabb
Black Label Society. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.