Sorcerer – Reign of the Reaper (Metal Blade)

Friday, 15th December 2023
Rating: 10 / 10

Rare is the day that a band can release four consecutive albums in the metal realm that satisfy passionately the following of not just the critics, but a burgeoning fanbase beyond the musicians themselves. Such is the case for epic doom metal outfit Sorcerer – as this fourth album Reign of the Reaper carries itself once again as a pivotal recording that continues to elevate these Swedes as some of the best contemporaries keeping this cult-like subgenre front and center. Let’s break down key ingredients that bolster the longevity of these eight latest tracks into that nexus of pioneers who established this style during the 80’s and 90’s.

It all starts through the almighty riff – cascading through airspace, the right assembly of note sequence or chord progression combinations elicit that goosebump factor. From there the cast of bass, drums, and vocals add the soul, the despair, the emotion of hope against the odds in varied textures based on the needs of the specific arrangement present. Subtle drum fills into mid-tempo double kick work as the bass lines deepen the epic, somber atmosphere, allowing the sledgehammer Tony Martin-era Sabbath like presence of Kristian Niemann and fellow guitarist Peter Hallgren to execute mesmerizing rhythms/lead breaks on the stellar opener “Morning Star” – possibly the greatest Sorcerer song delivered to date. Elements of the devil himself vocally as well as musically creep in to segments of the title track, while vocalist Anders Engberg uses his resourceful bellow in lower to mid-range capacity for the majestic “Unveiling Blasphemy”. Consciously focusing on shorter or faster material next to the expected epic doom traits gives a bit more explosive energy when taking in songs such as “Thy Kingdom Will Come” as well as the exotic flavoring across “Curse of Medusa”. Beyond the main construction / execution of this material, it’s the finer details that take Sorcerer to that upper echelon of metal artists – lead breaks that have thoughtful positioning, rising/descending vocal melodies in key spots, extra background vocal support, and keyboard use that supplements the main instrumentation.

While the previous record Lamenting of the Innocent showcased another superior gear Sorcerer could reach in terms of epic doom metal, Reign of the Reaper veers a bit more into heavier, focused channels almost as a distant relative of what the band does best. Those who love classic Candlemass, Black Sabbath, Solitude Aeturnus, and Memento Mori require this veteran act also in their collections.

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