Lamenting of the Innocent

Epic doom isn’t really my thing. Well, it never used to be. Sure, one of my favorite vocalists of all time is Ronnie James Dio. I have no children, so the closest I have is my black cat and his name is Dio, so that’s the best tribute I can give. Side note: I picked him up the same day Ronnie James Dio passed… I also loved his work in Black Sabbath, specifically Heaven and Hell. His work in the re-formed Sabbath, known as Heaven & Hell, was also a highlight for me. Other than that, the genre never really tickled my fancy.

In 2015, Swedish magicians Sorcerer changed that with their album In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross on Metal Blade Records. It hit me. It hit me hard. I loved it so much that I was terrified of the follow up The Crowning of the Fire King. I just knew there was no way to make an album on par with the previous. I was wrong. Not only was it on par, but it was better.

In 2020, Sorcerer has to fill their own fucking shoes and up themselves with Lamenting of the Innocent. Remember, I was terrified for them to follow up In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross. I was even more terrified for them to follow up The Crowning of the Fire King. This hot streak can’t last forever, can it?

First and foremost (after the 3 paragraphs of an intro), this album is over an hour long, which immediately ruffled my feathers. I hate albums over an hour long. Although, their previous was, so I need to just suck it up and dive in. If there’s one way to immediately grind my gears, though, it’s by testing the limits of my poor millennial attention span.

What were we talking about? Oh, the album. The first track is called “Persecution (Intro),” so you know what it is. It’s a minute long, priming one for the first official track, which is called “The Hammer of Witches.” While not the shortest full track on the album, it’s close. Bold strategy. It starts out with a relatively simple, catchy, galloping riff very reminiscent of that one band mentioned above. It’s not long before the soulful vocals of Anders Engberg soar out of the speakers and captivate. There’s a great chorus with some gang-shouted vocals, a quick clean guitar flourish, and likely the reason many enjoy this genre, some stellar lead work. It’s actually a bit too short. Yeah, it’s over 5 minutes, but I thought it had to be at least 8 to qualify for epic doom.

The next track on the agenda is the title track, “Lamenting of the Innocent.” It starts out with a powerful stomping riff before dropping out into only clean guitars and vocals. Naturally, that doesn’t last long. The segue into the chorus with a clean guitar, then the brilliant lead work before the vocals take over is masterful. It helps that the hook itself is solid. Wait. Do I hear some death growls? Right before the chorus kicks back in, some brief death metal vocals enter, there’s a blast so quick you’ll probably miss it, then back into the chorus. As is always the case with this band, the solo is fantastic, if not a bit short. The way you know a track from this sub-genre is well written is when it’s nearly 9 minutes and you’re engaged the entire time. It’s clear why “Lamenting of the Innocent” was chosen as the title track.

After the title track, we have the official shortest track on the album (besides the intro). So far, they’ve done a solid job of splitting up the longer and shorter numbers. However, this is only track 4. The riff from “Institoris” has a riff that could have been on In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross.

I wanted to skip ahead a little bit and mention track 6, which is called “Deliverance.” It’s definitely more along the lines of a ballad. It’s not the first or last track on the album to match that description. If Sorcerer didn’t absolutely own this style, it would be a problem. It’s a little over 5 minutes and you’ll hear absolutely no heavy riffing. In fact, it’s mostly just clean guitars and vocals. However, Johan Langquist of Candlemass makes an appearance. I believed it wasn’t Anders on first listen and it turns out I was right. It’s almost maddening how good this band is at every trick under the epic doom umbrella.

I’m skipping ahead again, but I am doing my best to not make this review into a short essay. The last track I will mention is “Path to Perdition,” which is the nearly 8-minute closer. I’m talking literally one second short of 8 minutes. It starts out with about a minute-and-a-half of a lead, which sounds like Kirk Hammett’s version of the “Star Spangled Banner.” I like to imagine the lead guitarist was just soloing while he was being recorded, they were waiting for him to break into the song, and were just like; “Eh, leave it.” The main verse riff, once again, sounds like something off In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross. The lead trade off about 4 minutes in, which leads back into the verse riff briefly, then back into the chorus, is stellar. If you didn’t get the idea yet, Sorcerer are pretty good at writing songs… 

One minor gripe is the production. In fact, it’s the only gripe. However, what I’m about to mention, I could only hear wearing my Bluetooth workout ear buds. For the most part, it’s clean, but there’s a little hiss on the symbol crashes that really distracted me on the first listen or so, but after a short amount of time, I barely noticed it. This takes nothing away from the rest of the record, however because Sorcerer have done it again. This is killer. The instrumentation is top notch. The vocals are brilliant. The melodies are timeless. It’s a combination of their last two records, so if you enjoy the epic doom sub-genre, you need to pick this up. Is it better than their previous two? It’s a tough case to make, but the fact that the conversation is even possible tells you all you need. It’s not necessarily bringing anything new to the table, but that doesn’t matter when the songs are this good. If you’ve heard them, you won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t, what are you doing with your life? Oh, you just got married? Your wife had a baby? None of that matters. I own physical copies of their previous two records and will not only be owning this one as physical CD, but feel like it’s well past time for owning a shirt, too. Go pick up The Lamenting of the Innocent along with the rest of their discography… and do it now.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
June 24th, 2020


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