Back in the day, there was a Swedish band called Sorcerer who released two demos which received high critical acclaim. However, the band members ended up going their separate ways. Fifteen years later the stars aligned into the proper configuration, and Sorcerer reunited to put out their first proper album from Metal Blade, In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross.
Early on, it’s obvious Sorcerer were contemporaries of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus and take a lot of inspiration from Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus. As The Dark Tower of the Sorcerer opens, we’re greeted with a crunchy guitar and bass combo before Anders Engberg enters with his soaring vocals. As the song’s six minutes unfold, the guitar soars to create a truly "epic" feeling. If the rest of the album is half as good as this first song, we should be in good shape.
We’re in good shape, indeed. Sumerian Script continues in much the same fashion as the first track, with an almost power metal-esque guitar solo in the middle before slowing way down in to a spoken word/quiet interlude setting you up for the finale’s explosive finish.
Lake of Lost Souls slows the pace down, and Engberg delivers one of his most emotive performances on the album. When the heaviness returns on the chorus, Johnny Hagel (the only other original member) practically takes the lead with the bass. The song’s final three minutes change over to a near-acoustic melody before one of the finest wailing guitar solos I’ve heard in a while. This song might be the highlight of the entire album.
Sorcerer experiment a bit on Exorcise the Demon with some choral elements and overlay effects. While this might be my least favorite song on the album, it does add some variation to the proceedings. Otherwise, Sorcerer stick with mixing slightly faster songs (the title track, Gates of Hell) with the slower and doomier material (Prayers for a King, Pagans Dance) ensuring the listener never gets bored at any time in the album’s fifty-four minutes.
If there’s anything at all to nitpick, it’s that the songs do sound a bit dated, but given Sorcerer’s unique history, it makes complete sense. In short, if you’re a fan of Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, or more modern epic fare like Primordial or Darkest Era, you owe it to yourself to at least give In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross a listen. Hopefully Sorcerer are back full-time, because I would love to hear more from them in the future.