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Sorcerer's Anders Engberg: "I think history is the best storyteller of all, the truth is often more dramatic than fiction. The fight between good and evil has been around since the dawn of time and for me that is very interesting to sink my teeth into"

Interview with Anders Engberg from Sorcerer
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 13 May 2020, 11:06 PM

Mankind has always been fearful of what it can't see, however, when the Church back in the day hunted down young women, accusing them of being witches, fear took over sense, logic, everything. One of Sweden's Doom Metal pride, Sorcerer, took an impressive step in their way to generate big time dramatic events with a new album, “Lamenting Of The Innocent”, released via Metal Blade Records. For the occasion, Steinmetal chatted with lead vocalist, Anders Engberg, concerning the new album, religion, lyrical concept, sound and more…

Hello Anders, it is a great pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. This Covid-19 pandemic sure did a number on the world, yet I have been hearing a lot that the actual factors that made this pandemic so influential, or better said with a hefty PR, is the media and the fright created by the governments. Conspiracies can be nourishment for those who crave I assume. What is your take on all this mess?

I think we can rule out any conspiracies, maybe negligence by researchers/people in China. I guess we will know in time what really happened. This is now a virus that will stay and become a problem like the flu and others over a long period of time, as soon as possible a vaccine is needed to stop the deaths of thousands.

Once I listened to Sorcerer, and to be honest, it was my first time listening thoroughly to the band’s material, I had recollections of the first time I heard you sing in Lion’s Share’s “Fall From Grace” album, their last album to feature you on vocals and that was amazing. It seems that time only made you an even stronger vocalist. With Lion’s Share back in action, have you been in contact with guys, merely just checking what is going on?

Thank you! I can say that my voice has gone a bit more distorted by the years but it has grown on me, I like the way I sound today. I only have a little contact with Lars Chriss through Facebook and that is all.

After Sorcerer defined itself as one of the rising stars in Epic / Doom Metal, at least in my view, yet I know that there will be many, including your label, that will be in agreement with me, you guys pushed forward and here we are with the sonic “Lamenting Of The Innocent”. Though every album is a proud achievement, I assume that once you listen to the album, probably you already did again and again, it sends an electrical shard down your spine, am I correct? How has the media been treating the album so far?

We are very happy with how this album turned out. We had two really successful albums before and was a little anxious about writing the new material. We knew we wanted it to be more varied than the two before and to us we have succeeded with this goal. I love this album and listen to it at least once a week, when it was new to me every day. The media has the same view as we have, luckily, they think it is the best so far in general.

Through the awesome artwork it is rather easy to understand that put into focus the Witch hunts of the Middle Ages, quite tragic events caused by fanatics that became the real monsters behind atrocities. What is your criticism towards those past events and the religious organizations of that dark era? What is your view on religion of the present, has it made any real progress of understanding? Does it still serve a purpose nowadays?

In this album we wanted to have a conceptual approach, not in a chronological sense like “Operation Mindcrime” that was and is very hard to achieve so we chose to build songs around the theme of the witch hunts and the "Malleum Mallificarum" - The witch hammer. So each song stands on its own and most of it is purely fictional but there is some authentic stuff in there too.

In the lyrics we take the side of the accused women but there are some songs telling the story from the church side. I am an atheist, but I find religion interesting and how it affects mankind in so many ways. I think it for the most part is an evil thing that starts wars and other craziness in the world. I think religion has served its purpose, we are all connected today by the internet so most of us are enlightened and aware. But sure there are areas where religion plays a big part in everyday life… this has to end if you ask me.

What I liked about “Lamenting Of The Innocent” in general, though it is tagged as Epic Metal, is that it is heavily emotional, dramatic and moving with its atmosphere. It is even possible to feel a fracture of the pain and suffering of those who were burned alive. Other than instrumental and songwriting aspects, which we will discuss about, how would you say that Sorcerer captured the essence of tragedy through “Lamenting Of The Innocent”?

I think that this has been a part of Sorcerer since the beginning. I always loved drama in music from bands like Rainbow, Black Sabbath and so on. To create an atmosphere in the songs is a conscious choice we make, it’s our sound. Because of the conceptual story in this album it gets even clearer because we center around this theme that has so much mysticism and drama in itself.

Let’s say that “Lamenting Of The Innocent” does have the right motifs to be called Doom Metal, plenty of Black Sabbath as a chief influence, of course the heaviness of Candlemass. However, the album shares a few twists on the way. Is this the way of Sorcerer to find a pathway out of its comfort zone into areas that were unknown to it previously? What made you challenge yourselves, what was the true cause that rattled your cage?

It was a conscious choice to be more versatile than before, we really wanted to progress in our writing also two new members in Justin Biggs and longtime return from the past; Ricky Evensand also contributed to the way the album sounds. So when we decided to do the conceptual album the songs were chosen to fit the album and have a nice flow through it all.

I had no idea that you could growl, I thought at first that it was a guest vocalist, yet I don’t think that Johan Längquist can growl. It was surprising yet spot on. What ran through your head prior to deciding about it?

Ha ha! It’s not me growling it’s Justin. I could never do that. So that is another thing we brought into the mix with some short outburst of growl from Justin and we really think it adds on to the whole concept.

Songwriting wise, each song feels like a part of an overall play, a script that is morbid, screams of disbelief and agony, as if you tried to answer your own questions of why these events had to happen while on the way bashing the ones responsible. What can you share about this songwriting process? What kind of lessons did you learn from the previous albums?’

I think history is the best storyteller of all, the truth is often more dramatic than fiction. The fight between good and evil has been around since the dawn of time and for me that is very interesting to sink my teeth into. We use a method in the band of writing songs in our own home studios then putting up ideas on dropbox for me and our co-producer; Conny Welén to play around with, we usually twist things around and change arrangements of the ideas coming to us because of melodies or other inputs. Then when we demo all tracks, we choose from the demos which ones are going to end up on the album. Usually we have much more material than could ever fit on a 1-hour album. WE are old in the game and have been doing this for a long time so there is no need for a producer coming in from the outside to help us. We just do our thing.

The self-titled song was the first tune to grab me both by neck and heart, even without emphasizing the screaming and moaning of the victims, the sorrowful riffs and powerful chorus took over my senses. That is quite a prospect, certainly one of the album’s mightiest strongholds. How do you perceive this song? Was it challenging to create it?

We actually finished this song first of all the ideas we were spinning around and as soon as we had the chorus, we knew that this was a killer in the same vain as "Fire King" from the last album. Big and epic. It is always challenging to write great music but somehow, we have found the recipe to create hooks and heavy riffs that people but us likes, we are very happy for that.

No doubt that what made this release, other than the impressive material, is the studio work, the effort of Ronnie Björnström. This guy spawned a Doom Metal album and how it should sound in 2020. Such power and clarity of high level are a rare commodity. What is your appreciation of the sound of the album? Do you believe that Sorcerer found its true sound?

Ronnie is a master of his profession; we have worked with him on all the albums and we will continue to do so in the future. It has now come to the point that he is a part of our sound so, yes we are very proud to have him aboard. In think LOTI is the best sounding album of the three, it is a combo between the first with big drums and "Fire King"’s modern tight sound. So best of both worlds. We will certainly look for this kind of sound in the future too.

I assume that the only logical tour that could be ignited in the coming future is to support Candlemass? Seems quite natural for me. What are your plans anyway after all this is over, with hopes that there won’t be a second wave?

All shows that were booked to promote the release are either postponed or cancelled to next year. This is frustrating of course but we are in the same situation as all other in the entertainment industry. We are trying to focus on the release of the album and then our booking agency needs to get to work for 2021. Playing with Candlemass would of course be a great honor.

Talking about the pandemic, since you can’t really tour at the moment, have you been putting thought into the possibility of streamed shows or at least getting in touch with the fans? I know that there are plenty of bands doing that nowadays. What is your position on that?

There will be a streamed show around the release date, I can’t tell you more right now because there is a lot that has to fall in place to make it work but, yes we will do a live stream.

Anders, it was amazing to have you for this interview, you guys really touched something in this Metalhead's Metal heart. Thank you for that. All the best.

Thank you for reaching out to us and I hope we see you and our fans out on the road soon!

Best regards
Anders


 



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