Sorcerer – Reign of the Reaper Review

Sorcerer are back, and boy howdy did I need the sanctuary afforded by their classic epic doom sound after marinating for weeks in Autopsy’s gore-encrusted catalog! For those not familiar, Sorcerer haunted the Swedish doom scene since the late 80s without seeing a proper release until 2015s In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross. Though I was a fan of their demos and compilations in the 90s, I missed In the Shadow entirely and didn’t come back on board until 2017s The Crowning of the Fire King. That album’s loving tribute to the Candlemass school of epic doom blew my mind and ended up my Album o’ the Year.  I still spin it often and it’s one of my favorite albums of the decade. Expecting great things, I was quite let down by their 2020 follow-up Lamentations of the Innocent and its mellower approach. Burned thusly by disappointment, I approached Reign of the Reaper with subdued expectations and modest hopes. I’m happy to report that Reign lands closer in quality to Fire King than it does to Lamentations. All the things that made me a fanboy of Sorcerer are back and the songwriting is more inspired and memorable. The magic appears to be back, but can it make me a true believer again?

Reign of the Reaper opens with a powerhouse run of songs that immediately restore one’s faith in Sorcerer’s ability to enchant and beguile. Opener “Morning Star” sounds like it fell off the Fire King truck — glorious, grandiose, it hits you right in the doom basket. Anders Engberg immediately seizes control and shepherds you with his amazing vocals as Kristian Niemann (Therion) and Peter Hallgren ply your mind with tasty and elegant riffs and the chorus is stunning and beautiful. Anders even throws in some harsh vocals near the end to put a fat cherry on the morose doom sundae. The title track is even better — dark and ominous, replete with a gripping black/post-black atmosphere as Anders delivers the vocal goods in dreary droves with another bleak, beautiful chorus. It hits like the Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath at points, especially albums like The Headless Cross and Tyr. “Thy Kingdom Will Come” is also excellent, with just a touch of Kamelot-esque power metal injected into the template. Come chorus time things get back to big dooming with Anders imploring you to “Hang the banners on the wall, together you will rise and take a stand.” Glory drips off this one like sweat off an AMG n00b submitting his/her first draft to the Editors of Grand Wengeance.

With so much top-notch material loaded upfront, it was never going to be easy to make the rest of Reign hold serve. There is an inevitable drop-off as the album spools out, but it isn’t steep, and very good moments are scattered across Reign of the Reaper. “Curse of Medusa” is Sorcerer doing their power/doom thing while throwing hooks in the road to snag your tires and it works. “Unveiling Blasphemy” is also quite good and reminds me of the best moments of Crypt Sermon. Even the very restrained power/doom ballad “Eternal Sleep” works thanks to an enormous vocal performance from Anders, though I want it to be both heavier and darker. There are no “bad” tracks here, just a few that don’t leverage the might and majesty of Sorcerer for maximum stargazing. The 47 minutes are predominantly of high quality though with some stellar cuts that outshine others.

Sorcerer have always been about the superb vocals of Anders and he does not disappoint here. The man has one of those voices that cuts right through the music and grabs your ears. He was born to sing this kind of epic fare and his rugged Tony Martin-esque style brings enormous gravitas and charm to the material. He never overdoes things or forces the issue, instead gracefully delivering the right levels of force and urgency. Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgren do themselves proud once again with a winning collection of doom, traditional, and power influences decorating their playing. The occasional foray into black metal is a nice tool in the kit that they should explore further in the future. All told, it’s the improved writing that wins the day here.

Topping The Crowing of the Fire King was never in the tarot cards, but Reign of the Reaper does reestablish Sorcerer as a top-tier epic doom act and heir to the mantle renounced by Candlemass. This kind of polished, smooth doom is in increasingly rare supply and when done right, it’s just so, so satisfying. Reign of the Reaper will provide much satisfaction so get thee to the Wizard’s Tower of Power.1

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: October 27th, 2023

The post Sorcerer – Reign of the Reaper Review appeared first on Angry Metal Guy.

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