One of the earlier bands to emerge from the Scandinavian lands, Swedish doom metallers Sorcerer are slowly finding their way in the circuit after a self-imposed hiatus. Put together by bassist Johnny Hagel in 1988, the raw sound of the then-fledgling band combined with the individual talents of vocalist Anders Engberg, guitarists Tommy Karlsson and Mats Liedholm saw them become crowd favourites at their initial shows and share the stage with giants like Court Raven, Carnage and Entombed in the early nineties. This until Hagel took over bass duties with Tiamat which to Sorcerer’s disbandment in 1992. Barring a re-release of their earlier demos through BrainTicket Records, it took 15 years, a lot of conviction and a spot at the 2010 Hammer of Doom festival for Hagel and Engberg to regroup Sorcerer. With guitarists Kristian Niemann & Peter Hallgren and drummer Robert Iversen now lining up alongside Engberg and Hagel, Sorcerer have come out with their newest album titled “In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross”, and we’re assured that it isn’t just the name that’s fancy.
Metal Wani writer/correspondent Vaishali Jain recently had the pleasure of interviewing Johnny Hagel. Here is the entire chat –
Greetings from Metal Wani Johnny! First off, we would like to congratulate you over the very successful release of Sorcerer’s new full length album titled “In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross”. How are you feeling?
Thank you for your nice words. I am feeling great and it is really nice to finally have some new music out after all these years.
You guys recently released an official video to the track “The Dark Tower Of The Sorcerer”. Ever since the release of the video and the album itself, you must have received several responses from friends and fans alike. What are some of the best responses that you have gotten so far?
The response has been so good. When I write and record music I am almost in a bubble. I just do what I want to hear myself and then if there is someone else that likes it it´s like a bonus. I have never since I started with music got so good reviews for any album that I have played on. It is amazing to say the least.
This album is Sorcerer’s first release in almost ten years. Your fans have followed you through the journey from Sorcerer to Tiamat and back to Sorcerer again in 2010. How has the journey with the band been for the past five years?
We have taken the time to make a really good album and we didn´t want to rush just to get it out earlier. An album is something that you have to live with for many years and I don´t want to change anything that we did on this album. From the songs we choosed, the order of the songs, the playing, arrangement and production. There is a lot of hard work behind this album and when I read the reactions I feel that people understand what we wanted to do.
Reviewers from around the globe have coined the album as one of the best to come out in the Epic Doom Metal genre this year. The production is undoubtedly marvellous. Can you tell us more about the recording and the production processes of the album?
Every song on the album has been worked on in the same way. I did a rough recording of every song. Then I went to Kristian and he came up with new parts or we changed some parts that I had written. Then we did a demo that Anders got. Then he wrote lyrics and melodies together with a friend of him. After that we listened to songs and changed some small things. After that Robert recorded the drums and then we took it from there. I have to say that it was really smooth to work this way.
According to you, which song was the most challenging to record?
Maybe “Lake of the Lost Souls” as it is so slow, maybe the slowest song I have ever recorded. Generally the slower the song the harder it is I would say.
Fans have definitely noticed an evolution in sound of the band from what it was back when the band formed and what it is now. In your opinion, how has the overall sound and the mood of the band changed?
I think it would be strange if a band don´t change in 20 years. With new influences together with time somethings has to change. We want Sorcerer to be a heavy and epic band of course but we are looking forward and want to explore new ground within our style. In my opinion there is only two bands that don´t need to change and that is AC/DC and Motörhead.
Apart from “The Dark Tower Of The Sorcerer”, I personally loved the tracks “Lake Of The Lost Souls”, “Pagans Dance” and the title track “In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross”. How did the writing process for these songs come along? Also tell us about the different influences that also came into play while writing them.
You can read about most of the writing process in the previous answers. When it comes to writing music I just write what I write and I never think about if the song is inspired by that or that band. I wanted a diverse album with both some faster songs and some slower ones. One thing that Is really important for me is the order of the songs and I wanted an album feeling not just some songs in a random order.
Can you tell us more about the lyrical inspiration behind this album?
All the lyrics are fictional and tells stories about different people and things. I think you have to read them to understand what they are about.
According to you, which song has come out to be the strongest?
It changes every day I would say. Right now it is “Pagans Dance” and “Prayers for a King” but I really like them all. For me every song on this album is as important as the other ones.
I loved the album’s artwork! Apart from being dark and sinister, it does reflect the overall mood of the album. Can you tell us more about the artist and what inspired the imagery?
The idea for the artwork came from a picture that Anders had found on the internet. We all like the idea and we sent the picture with some other ideas we had to Jani who did the artwork. After a couple of days he sent his version back to us and we loved it. He then did some small changes that we wanted. I think it fits the music and the overall mood perfect.
After all the admiration “In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross” received worldwide, you guys must have already started planning out the band’s future. Is there any new material you guys are working on?
As I wrote earlier so are we working on new material already. It is going to be hard to follow up this album be we want the next one to be even better.
The touring leg looks pretty tied up for the band this year. Can we see you in India anytime soon?
I really hope we can come to India. If every metal head mail the promoters maybe we can be invited. I heard from the Opeth guys that playing in India is great. We would love to come.
Thank you so much for talking to us Johnny! We wish you all the best with your future ventures. Your fans down here in India would love to hear from you! Do you have message for them?
Thank you for the support and also thanks to our fans in India. See you soon.
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