Review Summary: Institutionalized sorcery
After fifteen years of hibernation, one can safely say that Sorcerer are among the most successful comebacks of the past decade. 2015's In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross
not only catapulted the band into the pole position of the international epic doom scene, but also managed to revitalize a genre that desperately needed new references, even if they were resurrections from a distant past. Despite keeping strong links with canons previously established by Black Sabbath, Candlemass or Solitude Aeternus, Sorcerer's debut album displayed a somewhat contemporary and captivating outfit. Not that it brought anything new or innovative, but its seductive songwriting coupled with the band's top performances placed the album ahead of the pack. Their place in the sun was reinforced two years later with The Crowning of the Fire King
which showed a larger than life approach, positioning Sorcerer in more melodic and comprehensive territories. Their sophomore not only cemented the band as one of Sweden's most reliable exports in recent years, but also showcased the band's unwavering willingness to expand their epic doom formula. Anders Engberg's vocals have matured splendidly and Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgren's guitar work has risen to a whole new level. At this point, Sorcerer were at their creative peak displaying an unshakable confidence in both their aesthetic approach and technical skills.
In the band's own words, Lamenting of The Innocent
intends to be an artistic expansion in every direction, aiming to capture the same vibe as on The Crowning of The Fire King
while evolving the formula into a more wide-ranging and diverse aesthetic. The concept suits the band's thematics, revolving around inquisition and sorcery, both from a personal and Church points of view, thus mirroring the laments occurred in a time of oppression and great terror. Therefore, the intention and concept are suitable for a band that through its third release seeks to further solidify its position on the international scene. However, ambition is not always able to materialize perfectly, whether by external, internal or artistic factors. And, in my opinion, Lamenting of The Innocent
doesn't fully achieve the band's declared intention. If, on one hand, songs such as the title track, 'Institoris' or 'Path to Perdition' meet the band's high standards, on the other hand, we also come across a handful of more ordinary, generic moments. 'Deliverance', 'Age of the Damned', 'Condemned' or 'Dance with the Devil', although not mediocre, don't possess the virtues of the band's most recent past. It seems that somewhere during the creative process around stylistic diversification, the band lost focus and inspiration, and instead of taking a step forward, the Swedish lads started spinning around, getting bewildered along the way. A bit like Whitesnake in Slip of the Tongue
, who were also unable to deliver the best follow-up to their colossal predecessor. I believe Sorcerer would benefit from focusing the album around the triumvirate 'Lamenting of the Innocent', 'Institoris' and 'Path to Perdition', making these the cornerstones from which the entire artistic structure would emerge. This focus would have given a greater overall solidity while avoiding the dispersion and inconsistency present in the album's second half. However, despite these remarks, Lamenting of The Innocent
is by no means a failed act, as it achieves in certain moments the splendor of its predecessors, and those glamorous moments are indeed brilliant. 'Institoris' majestic chorus, the epic swing of 'Lamenting of the Innocent' or closing track's opening solos are some of those segments worth highlighting. On the other hand, Sorcerer's melodic epic doom foundation remains well-preserved, thus ensuring that the fanbase stays loyal to the band's witchcraft crusade. As expected, the musical performances meet expectations. Anders Engberg remain at the top of his game and the guitars, although overall less inspired, are still among the best the genre has to offer.
I have to be perfectly honest and say that Lamenting of the Innocent
isn't the outcome I was expecting. I wish the band had consolidated the spirit of the previous album while taking a step forward by presenting some stylistic novelties. I know it's not an easy task as inspiration is not a button that we can press whenever we need to, however I feel Sorcerer has the potential to do better, and because I'm sure of it, I will always be too demanding when it comes to this band. That being said, I don't want my little personal disappointment to question Lamenting of the Innocent's
intrinsic virtues, since those qualities are evident and undeniable. And although I feel the band has settled down and institutionalized for now, I strongly believe their epic story will soon reveal more interesting chapters.