Sorcerer - The Crowning of the Fire King

Sorcerer The Crowning of the Fire King cover
The Crowning of the Fire King
Metal Blade Records
The state of doom these days is rather bleak, which under normal circumstances, should be good news, but the current reigning kings of it, Candlemass, seem to have fallen in disrepair, without their natural leader and with Mats Leven doing a good job, but making it sound more Crux, than Mass. Below and Mirror, bizarrely both Metal Blade acts too, have done well in recent years releasing neat albums, the latter album of Darkology (while not doom, but power/prog) containing a couple of seminal – slower numbers that would have been “fine” contenders… (ie “Beyond the Grave”), but where’s Solitude Aeturnus? Disbanded! As well as Sabbath – allegedly.
Where are a few other of the past glories of the genre? MIA, or worse yet, “in the grave”, or releasing sub-par material. The newer doom stuff seems to regurgitate old riffs and sound abysmally recorded, with harsh vocals that lack theatricality and splendor, what really made me “enjoy” the more “epic” side of doom, a lot of the aforementioned bands followed.
One of the past glories of the scene, Sweden’s Sorcerer, decided to come back after almost 20 years in hiatus back in 2010 and since then produced a superb sophomore to their demo made “debut”, from the 90s and an also quite spectacular follow up EP. Thankfully, instead of getting lost in the sepulcher zone the Swedes, mustered up another ten or so songs in relatively no time, when compared with their 20 year “break” and are back “only” a couple of years since their last album and EP.
“Sirens” and “Ship of Doom” were the first two songs their debuted on 7" and digital single and are both spectacular in different ways.
“Sirens” is a stronger, more typical heavy metal composition with a heavy backbone that makes it stand out despite being mid tempo, as it grooves along nicely.
“Ship of Doom” is proper “doom” slow and lamenting in its desperation – sailors – lost in the sea for years in their personal odyssey… despite being some ten minutes long, it never gets boring, recalling the best of Tony Martin era Sabbath in places (who the band’s singer Anders Engberg has collaborated with). Superb.
“Abandoned by the Gods” keeps the tempo slow but charges up the riff, with lots of electricity, while keeping the epic element also on par with everything else, in a track that can proudly challenge the Sabbathean primacy or even look Edling’s best creations straight in the eye. Anders really does this “Martin’esque” bluesier husky tone on the edge, which bodes super-well with the underlying melodies. Fantastic solo as well, reminiscent of Martin era Sabbath or some early Dio material (ie “Egypt”).
“The Devil’s Incubus” has riffs that almost flow like lava in a morbid and foreboding atmosphere that reeks of sulfur, while Engberg sings of an eternal night and a nightmare without end, from which he cannot wake… ahem, you get the idea.
“Nattvaka” roughly translates to “Night Vigil” and it’s a rather soft acoustic instrumental that offers a nice break from all heaviness, without breaking character.
“Crimson Cross” is all about inquisition, more power than doom, but with a sinister riff and never raising above mid-tempo and fittingly epic.
The epic title track, “The Crowning of the Fire King” is cool and has a cold intro only broken by a short lead that goes on for more than a couple of minutes and is quite Solitude Aeturnus inspired. It soon after launches into its chorus that’s oddly out-worldly, almost as a hymnal; it doesn’t quite break from the verse, while you can certainly tell it’s “the chorus” since it also repeats. The solo is superb and a bit more “prog” inspired than you’d expect… I like how they tinker, with the form, but very smartly and successfully.
And with a title like “Unbearable Sorrow”, what would you expect? A double bass, hard pounding borderline thrash tune? Nah. It starts of, with some really silky vocal that reminiscent of very early Robert Lowe at his best and while it never gets either too heavy or too epic, the sad atmosphere sinks it “into the depths of sorrow” (see what I did there?!)…
“Disciples of the Dark” and “Bringer of Misery” are two songs reserved for the “special edition” and both are rather energetic, riffy affairs. The former has even some chants, like those Ghost used in “Year Zero”, but it soon gets down to serious business with a meaty riff and some delightfully epic vocals about the disciples of the dark, who bear the devils mark, you know “typical 14th of February stuff” to impress your other half with… hey babe, want to see my mark? Why – why are you calling 911…?!
The latter is a bit faster, probably one of the most up-tempo moments (which doesn’t mean it’s fast – by any means). It’s pretty epic in a couple of places and has a bizarrely satisfying chorus in one that sings about misery, etc. My only and big qualm about these two is that they are only available I guess on the oblong, digibooks, you know those silly 2cm longer in height digis you can’t put next to the rest of your collection in many CD storage furniture… those. Whoever in Nuclear Blast (??) who I think first popularized them, thought they were a good idea?! Damn! Somehow to my horror it seems to now be catching on… please Metal Blade, “stop the madness”. Few of us are still buying albums to listen to them most of the “vinyl-maniacs” buy em to ebay em, anyway, please, be listener “friendly” at least.
That “qualm” aside, I must say that even though I’m not sure if I have found my album of the year for 2017, I might have found one of the top 5 contenders… need to review what else has come out in this mad ride of a year… Well done, you Swedish Devils’ you!