Well I seldom or never hit rock bottom but there has been some moments in life when you feel that everything goes the wrong way. But mostly I’m a happy camper. I think the closest I come to a struggle in life has been the pandemic... in Sweden we lift all restrictions on the 29th of September, just a few days from now and everyone hopes for a return to normality. For us in Sorcerer it was a catastrophic event, we had a new album coming out in May 2020 and I was recovering from Covid-19 (I spent 6 days in hospital). We thought that it wasn’t gonna last but what little did we know… so we stood fast and stayed creative and had a live stream release party and a livestream three band concert during a period that has been very dark for all of mankind. Keeping the momentum and struggle was the only way to get through this, taking the vaccine and pull through. So I guess that is my take on how to cope. Never give up how dark it seems… There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Sorcerer will be back even stronger than before.
SORCERER was founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 1988 by bassist Johnny Hagel, drummer Tommy Karlsson and guitarist Peter Furulid, soon joined by vocalist Anders Engberg and second guitarist Mats Liedholm. They were inspired by Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Metal Church, Judas Priest and Pink Floyd and combined their various influences to create their own heavy, doomy and (over the course of 30 years more) melodic sound.
SORCERER first established their name with their 1989 demo Anno 1503, which sold more than 1500 copies. The band got lined up at two Stockholm shows, where they shared the stage with Count Raven and Entombed. Richard Evensand joined the band as their new drummer. In 1992 the second demo The
Inquisition saw the light of day, showcasing a more mature sound and higher level of musicianship. With the band putting their own stamp on epic doom, SORCERER gained plenty of attention by the international press and built a strong reputation. Both demos are still iconic in the underground scene today. Later that year Johnny Hagel left the band and joined Tiamat. Shortly thereafter SORCERER disbanded.
Almost two decades later, in 2010, Johnny Hagel was contacted by Oliver Weinsheimer of the German Hammer of Doom Festival to do an exclusive reunion show. For this one-off occasion, Hagel and Engberg gathered some musician friends; guitarists Kristian Niemann (Therion, Snowy Shaw) and Ola Englund (The Haunted, Six Feet Under) and drummer Robert Iversen. The band played a set of classic tracks from the two demos, including Born With Fear, Queen In Black, Northern Seas and The Sorcerer. The Hammer of Doom show turned out to be a huge crowd pleaser. It got the band booked for Up The Hammers Festival in Athens, Greece the next year. With that, unwittingly a seed was planted to revive SORCERER.
In 2012 guitarist Peter Hallgren (Rob Rock, 220 Volt) replaced Ola Englund. With their line-up complete, the work on the first full-length album began. The band revisited the early demos, but also took the time to explore musical preferences and ideas to develop the Sorcerer sound and take it to the next level. Altogether the process of writing, arranging and recording of the album took two years, before it was mixed and mastered by Ronnie Björnström and Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth, Devin Townsend) respectively.
In 2014 SORCERER found a home at Brian Slagel’s Metal Blade Records – the independent label known for its varied metal roster. That collaboration was crowned with the release of the critically acclaimed debut album In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross in March 2015. In support of the album the band played several festivals, amongst others Sabaton Open Air (Sweden), Dutch Doom Days (The Netherlands), Hammerfest HRH (Wales) and RockHard Festival (Germany). Six months later the EP Black was self-released, containing three songs left over from the Inverted Cross sessions, as well as an acoustic version of the track Prayers For A King.
Because of favorable response to In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross, the band was eager and highly motivated to start writing for the follow-up album. On the shelf were plenty of unexplored ideas from the previous album to depart from, and swiftly the preliminary versions of ten new songs were born. The process of further shaping and refining the songs, carried on throughout 2016, and eventually led to the farewell of Robert Iversen during the recording of The Crowning Of The Fire King. Lars Sköld (Tiamat, Avatarium) filled the role as session drummer on the album. Early summer 2017, The Crowning Of The Fire King was ready for mixing. Because of the successful and pleasant collaboration on the previous album, it was a natural choice to work with Ronnie Björnström again. The mastering was expertly handled by Thomas ’Plec’ Johansson (Soilwork, Watain). To complete the formation original drummer Richard Evensand (Reignsaw, Therion) rejoined the band.
When released in October 2017, The Crowning Of The Fire King was hailed by the critics. They unanimously agreed that this album transcended not only it’s predecessor, but genres as well. Parallels were drawn with both Candlemass and Dio. The album spawned some of SORCERER’s biggest live staples, such as Ship of Doom, Sirens, The Devil’s Incubus and (title track) The Crowning Of The Fire King, which are representive for the band’s musical craftsmanship, versatility, sense of drama and majestic sound.
For SORCERER, the album The Crowning Of The Fire King proved to be groundbreaking. The band was offered spots on the bill of various renowned European festivals ~ Metal Days (Slovenia), Headbangers Open Air, Hammer of Doom, Bang Your Head (Germany), Ice Rock (Switserland) and Demonsgate (Greece) ~ and as headliner at Echoes From The Labyrinth Crete.
As the band prepared to go out on tour, founder/bassist Johnny Hagel decided to take a step back as an active bandmember. Although Hagel would stay involved with the band and in songwriting, Canadian bassist Justin Biggs (Descend, Cult Of Whispers) stepped in. In the fall of 2018 SORCERER went on a small headlining tour in The Netherlands and Germany.
Anniversary year 2019 was a milestone in more than one way. Not only was SORCERER celebrating their 30th anniversary (since the release of their first demo), also a long-aspired dream came true. The band finally crossed the Atlantic and were able to treat their American fans to a fantastic show at ProgPower Festival, Atlanta. This year also laid the foundation of their new album Lamenting Of The Innocent. With the intent of having a third studio album out before summer festival season 2020, the band commenced writing in January. Giving themselves a full year to realize the record and aiming for their sound to expand in every direction. Since the start SORCERER has been labeled ’Epic Doom’ – a tag that fits, but does not define them. On Lamenting Of The Innocent the band increasingly let their influences shine through, breaking up the epic doom with flavors of prog, post-metal, classic heavy metal and hard rock. The result: a diverse album with great melodies, an ambient big sound, big epic choruses, heavy riffs and harmonic twin leads, even some growling parts. The album features guest appearances of Johan Langquist (Candlemass) and Swedish cellist Svante Henryson (Yngwie Malmsteen). The bonus track Hellfire was mixed by the legendary Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth). To complement the album -and as an extra on the limited edition CD/DVD box- the band chose to do something extraordinary; for all nine songs videos were shot, revolving around the album’s theme the inquisition and witchcrazes.
On 29 May 2020 Lamenting Of The Innocent was released and exceeded all expectations. It hit the official album charts in 4 different countries (#18 spot in Germany) and was rewarded ’Album of the Month’ in magazines Deaf Forever and RockHard. The unexpected downtime due to COVID-19 threw a spanner in the band’s touring plans and bookings for Sweden Rock, RockHard Festival and Pounding Metal Fest Spain were postponed to summer 2021.
To stay connected with the fans in these unusual times, SORCERER broadcasted their Album Release Party during a 2 hour livestream. Highlight of the event was unmistakably the acoustic live set. For the occasion the band performed rearranged versions of the new songs Condemned and Deliverance and their classic Prayers For A King. Recordings of this concert were released as the digital EP SORCERER – The Quarantine Sessions in September 2020.
Today, SORCERER stands tall: over 30 years into a career that has seen them evolve from humble Nordic underground musicians to their current status as band with their own original signature sound and three acclaimed albums to their credit. The band is very much looking forward to return to action again with their biggest, most passionate and bombastic musical statement to date!