Album Review: Sorcerer – “In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross”

sorcerer in the shadow of the inverted cross

Beware the odd soul who claims not to have been attracted to Sorcerer‘s long-overdue full-length debut by at least some of its peripheral components. You might have been drawn to In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross by any combination of things: its sinister-sounding title; the gloomy, barren fortress on its cover…or, more likely, by the fact that it arrives some 26 years after the band’s formation. (To be fair, the band was broken up for 18 of those 26 years, but still…26!) But compelling as all of these may be, none of them really have any bearing on, you know…the music. So how’s that end hold up? As it happens, pretty well.

Here’s the thing about Inverted Cross: it’s got a little something for everyone—even those who may not be into the traditional, epic doom sound the band deals in. Make no mistake, there’s plenty of that style to go around here (take the standout title track, for example) but there’s also quite a bit to appease folks who might like things a bit more upbeat. Rockers like “Exorcise the Demon” or “The Gates of Hell” bump the tempos and hit hard with steady, driving rhythms and impressive, precise guitar work. It’s songs like these—where the band goes faster and/or shorter than you might expect to play against its genre type—that end up working the best.

That’s not to say that the epic doom sound doesn’t work for them, though. Sorcerer strikes a terrific blend all throughout this thing, bringing in both the requisite apocalyptic-sounding flourishes and a more upbeat side that keeps your interest throughout. The proverbial rug that ties the room together is vocalist Anders Engberg, and the powerhouse performance he puts on throughout. Engberg would be a perennial contender on Candlemassian Idol, were such a thing to actually exist; stylistically, he fits in perfectly as a kind of hybrid of Messiah Marcolin and Robert Lowe, with occasional flashes that jump past both frontmen—and doom metal in general—and almost remind you of someone like Dio or, strangely, Foreigner’s Lou Gramm. He’s captivating as all hell, and to put it simply, Inverted Cross would have been half as enjoyable as this with someone else behind the mic.

Of course, certain parts do work better than others, and some of the songs tend to feel long and tedious even by doom metal standards. “Prayers for a King” manages to take the most attractive of harmonized lead guitar parts and stretch them out into a bit of an over-long mess. And at 8:32, “Lake of the Lost Souls” is the longest thing here by almost a full minute, and easily the most tedious. Aside from an admittedly awesome bridge and solo section—which, for a split second, almost make you feel like you’ve begun a completely new song—it’s a trudging, overly weighty tune whose abuse of doom tropes and unnecessarily cheesy chorus make it tough to stay focused throughout.

Still, for the most part, it’s a nice listen, and an album that works as well in 2015 as it likely would have in the band’s original, late-’80s/early-’90s run. Slot this one in alongside Crypt Sermon’s Out of the Garden, and you’ll have a nice little slab of classic doom with which to occupy yourself. In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross may not be perfect, but for a long-awaited first full-length stab at things, Sorcerer haven’t done too badly.

Keep it heavy,

-Dan


In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross is available now on Metal Blade Records. For more information on Sorcerer, visit the band’s Facebook page.

Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.

2 thoughts on “Album Review: Sorcerer – “In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross”

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