Review Summary: No longer the best kept secret in epic doom metal…
…and rightfully so because Sorcerer once again have proven why they are one of the top acts in a genre that when it clicks, boy it delivers. Having taken them 27 years from their formation to release their debut in 2015 – one of the better traditional metal albums of the past 20 years – the Swedish act has since then shown an unexpected prolificacy which fortunately hasn’t impacted the quality of their output.
Having read a couple of reviews for this album, a common misconception among them is that it is not easy to go wrong with epic doom metal. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make justice to either Sorcerer or a number of legends/significant bands ranging from Candlemass and Solstice to Solitude Aeturnus and Scald (check Will of the Gods is Great Power
). It doesn’t make justice to the inspired songwriting and the catchy riffs but most of all, the convincing atmosphere on albums like Nightfall
, New Dark Age
and The Crowning of the Fire King
, because, given the time, this is the appropriate company for the latter.
Sorcerer’s sophomore effort is a highly evocative effort that is cleverly based on great guitar work and accentuated by an amazing vocal performance which borrows elements from Ronnie James Dio. Just listen to Anders Engberg’s vocal lines towards the end of “The Devil’s Incubus” or the way he complements some of the guitar solos/leads and it is textbook Dio. However, Engberg is far from being a copycat as his own tone and approach place him among the best modern “metal” vocalists. Going back to the LP’s atmosphere, the combination of instrumentation and clever use lyrics which are simple yet easily understood and effective, make up for a highly evocative outcome.
Moreover, Sorcerer’s brand of epic doom is based on Leif Edling’s gospel and includes elements of NWOBHM but at its core, it lives and breathes Dio-era Rainbow and Martin-era Sabbath. As a result, The Crowning of the Fire King
is a varied effort which moves from energetic – bearing in mind the genre – cuts such as “Sirens”, “Abandoned by the Gods” or “Crimson Cross” to epics like “Ship of Doom”, the title track and “Unbearable Sorrow”. What makes the album special is the fact that even the longer tracks are not tiresome. This is the result of strong songwriting combined with a colorful vocal approach and infectious leads and solos which owe a lot to ‘70s heavy rock. Sorcerer are not afraid to sacrifice heaviness for melody, so those of you who are fed up with doom metal bands who try to be heavy by playing one goddamn riff with insane amounts of distortion in order to hide their inability to create interesting music, are in for a treat. Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgren’s riffs at times feel like waves crushing a longship while being melodic and exciting at the same time.
Overall, The Crowning of the Fire King
has the potential to be among your top choices when you are in an epic doom or traditional metal mood. Whether it is a better album than the band’s debut remains to be seen as only time will tell. Personally, I slightly prefer the somewhat heavier approach of In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross
but Sorcerer once again prove why they are one of the premier epic doom acts of all times. Simply put, modern traditional metal cannot get much better.