For the most part, Sorcerer’s second full-length album picks up right where 2015’s In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross left off. In addition to featuring an equally lofty title, The Crowning of the Fire King preserves the epic doom template as well as the polished production job, melodic yet mysterious guitar leads, building drums, and cleanly delivered baritone vocals. But rather than completely repeating the formula of that long-awaited debut, Sorcerer’s follow-up is somehow even more epic.
While Sorcerer’s previous album featured a couple traditional/power metal tracks amidst the Solitude Aeturnus-styled doom, The Crowning of the Fire King is completely void of anything resembling speed. With the exception of “Nattvaka,” the token two minute acoustic interlude, every single song on here is a slow number complete with sprawling lengths and theatrical structures that perfectly match the fantasy oriented lyrics.
But what really makes Sorcerer unique compared to their peers is the absolute lack of melancholy in their music. The lyrics may contain fantastic tales of slavery, war, and oppression but the delivery has a triumphant, determined tone rarely found in epic doom. Even a track called “Unbearable Sorrow” isn’t anywhere near as forlorn or agonized as a Candlemass song with that name would sound. I suppose it only makes sense considering the members’ links to power metal groups like Lion’s Share and Therion.
Even with the emphasis on triumph and melodicism, the album’s long song lengths and consistently slow tempos can make this an exhausting listen. The songs are dynamic enough to avoid sounding monotonous, but they do sound similar to each other at times. This is especially true during the first half, as the long-winded nature of “The Ship of Doom” and “Abandoned by the Gods” can make the album feel more bloated than it actually is.
Fortunately, this issue is one that fades with repeated listens and there are excellent songs on here. With the possible exception of the mid-tempo riff friendly “Sirens,” “Crimson Cross” is probably the most accessible track of the lot thanks to its particularly memorable chorus. The title track is also the album’s strongest long-running number as the choral vocals toward the end result in the album’s most effective climax.
The Crowning of the Fire King sees Sorcerer further developing their triumphant brand of epic doom, resulting in an album that requires more patient listens than their debut but may ultimately offering a greater reward. Songs may run together but the professionalism and strong performances of the members keep this from feeling played out. It is nice to see Sorcerer refusing to rest on their laurels and I hope they have their best work still to come.
“Ship of Doom”
“The Crowning of the Fire King”
The Crowning of the Fire King can be purchased here.