Let The Witch Hunt Being... Anders Engberg Speak's Out.
Swedish Doom Metal act 'Sorcerer' return with their finest album to date, an epic journey of Doom Metal from start to finish with twists and turns that makes this a superb album for the style of music they are creating. Sweden has some great bands as we know it with the top Doom band been 'Candlemass', the Swedish godfathers of Doom Metal.
There are so many categories in metal these days, but 'Sorcerer' are true Epic Doom Metal and yes there from Sweden. Formed back in 88, the band soon became well known around Sweden and Scandinavia throughout the years. Fronted by former Twilight/ Section A, Lion's Share, Therion and many more to mention Anders Engberg has a voice that for sounds close to Tony Martin or even Ronnie James Dio, 2 extremely powerful singers that were both involved with Black Sabbath.
I have known Anders old bands so I know a little bit about his history with previous bands, all great bands. I managed to do a Skype video that with him recently and we talked about his involvement with his previous bands and of course the new Sorcerer album 'Laminating the Innocent' which has recently been released on metal Blade.
Here is what Anders had to say to the following questions, hopefully 1 day I will get to finally meet Anders and have a beer. So sit back and read on, in the meantime check out this album out.
OK Anders great to finally speak to you, So let's start the interview of by asking you what you're 1st band was before you sang on the Twilight album 'Eye for an Eye' back in 94? That album was re released more than once and you also did the 'The Edge'.
"Well Jason my 1st band was a grange band and I think we were called 'Harmony Blade', but the 1st real band I joined that made an album was 'Lions Share' in 94. With the Twilight thing I was never a member of the band, I just did the vocals for the album, I was the hired guy or session vocalist for the album. Well 'The Edge' was actually demo tapes that had been put onto a CD and it was the same idea was did with Sorcerer and then they got released some how.
The 'Eye for an Eye', album was done by Tommy Hansen and I did my vocals at a friends house of Fin Zieler's with drum machines, the songs are good but not really studio material. (Ed: Do you speak to Fin? I haven't spoke to him in ages). No I haven't spoke to him in a long time, he went off the radar and then formed 'Beyond Twilight' , and later on the 'Zieler' album with Kelly Sundown."
For those that don't know Lions Share, just how many albums did you record with the band?
"Well I actually recorded 3 albums with the band, the 1st one, the next album was called 'II' and the 3rd was called 'Fall from Grace'. In total the band recorded 6 albums, their current singer is Nils Patrick."
After the Lions Share albums you did the 'Section A' album, who released 3 albums with you handling the vocals. The 1st album 'The Seventh Sign', in 2003 which was followed by 'Parallel Lives' in 2006, and then 'Sacrifice' in 2010, why did you leave the project before the release of the next album 'Walls of Silence' in 2016?
"Well Torben asked if I wanted to record the 4th album, but the 1st 2 albums were very guitar orientated, more solos then there should of been. I really didn't want to do another that was based on more solos in any one song, so I decided not to record the 4th album and let somebody else do it. I really like the 'Sacrifice' album, it's more metal driven."
What did you do after the Section A project, we didn't really about you recording anything else, unless I missed something?
"Well I did some songs for a band called 'Speaking to Stones', it was a project and I did 5 songs with them. It was called 'Elements' and it came out on Lion Music back in 2012 and that is very progressive, it was similar to Section A but more complicated. That record featured Mark Zonder ex Fates Warning on drums.
The band has actually recorded an album before I joined the band, and I had spent a lot of time write that record I sang on and it has lots of choirs on it. I was asked to do the next album but I declined as there was too much work to do on it and all the effort and time we put into really didn't pay off. If I am going to do a project that I need some kind of fee to live off."
What came after Speaking to Stone? Was it Therion? Also did you do the backing vocals for the live Evergrey DVD? I am pretty sure it is you on the stage?
"Yes it was Therion that came next, I did a live recording album for them in 2001/ 2002 and that was between Section A and Speaking to Stones. Yes I also did the Evergreay live DVD. I was at the Progpower show in the U.S. with them and I think it was in 2007 as a choir with 2 girls and me."
Moving on now, which singers have inspired you to become a singer? I guess Tony Martin is one of them?
"It all happened by accident really, a good friend of mine in school and we started to discuss music back and forth and I was always in musicals at school and he knew some friends who were in a band. He said why don't I try out for them, but I knew I couldn't sing like that and he convinced me to try out. After one rehearsal that was it I was hooked.
For inspirational ways I started to listen too Hard Rock and Metal in 81/82 there were some good albums coming out between 83 to 85, so singers that have inspired me were Rob Halford, Glenn Hughes, Geoff Tate, Eric Adams, Dio and Tony Martin. There were so many great singers back then. I don't have one singer that really stands out for me, there are so many good singers out there. (Ed: I don't what it is, but there is something mystical about your voice that reminds me of Tony Martin, do you agree?)
Well have been compared to Tony, but I think it is the music I play that is comparable to Tony's voice, I think it is the attitude that both he and I have when we come to sing, I think it could be the phrasing on how we sing the songs. I love all his album, he's one of the best singers out there."
OK Let's now talk about Sorcerer, I have the 1st CD you put out, so correct my if I am wrong, was that a demo CD?
"Yes it was more of a demo CD. it was released in 95 as a compilation album. John from Solitude Aeturnus asked if he could put it out and we were like yeah go for it."
So why did it take so long for you to actually released your 1st official debut album 'In the shadows of the inverted Cross' in 2015 and who else approached you besides Metal Blade for the release of that record?
"Well the band were dead and I had toured a lot with Therion & Lions Share, and I was fed up with all the traveling and it wasn't really my thing. My 1st child I wasn't there for him when he learnt to walk and I wanted to be there for my 2nd son, watching him walk and growing up and my wife back then for her sake, so I quit the whole live thing.
I also recorded the 220 Volts album in 2015 Johnny Hagel got a question from Oliver at Hammer of Doom festival who asked us to do a union show and I was in the middle of my career which I was a head of my department and music was something I did on the side.
I had not played live for years, I just did some covers show in pubs in Stockholm. So when Johnny called me up and asked if I wanted to do something I was like 'No way I'm too busy with work and family'. He said we would have to find the other guys. I was like no I don't want to do it again.
I put the phone down and 5 minutes later I called him back and said I would do it if we put together a really good band. So we went to 'Oktoberfest' and drink some beer and later on we got a really good slot on the festival about 8pm to play a show, this was before everybody got too drunk.
Actually 'Ghost' opened up for us, people came form all over the place, Greece, Italy and they all knew the lyrics better than me, 15000 people just screaming out the words was just amazing for us. We later on got to play in Athens at the 'Up the Hammers' festival and that was like 5-6 months after that show and it was a great success. So after the show we were at the air port and we said we should do an album. That is when we decided to record the album."
So why did you sign with Metal Blade and who else approached you for the 1st album?
"Well we wanted to sign with a well known label. We knew that Metal Blade has a great reputation and we do stand out from a lot of their bands they have signed in recent years. I guess you could say we are on the soft mnemonic side of their rooster (laughing). (Ed: I don't know what it is with Doom Metal, but they always have these depressing covers). Yeah well we do differ a lot, Doom Metal vocals always go under guitar chords and its like Sabbath's 'I am Iron man...' so you get that guitar sound with the vocals under the guitar tones, if you know what I mean.
We wanted to do something different, we build vocals and melodies on top of the guitars so we are not a traditional band like that."
So what songs from the debut album do you like and why? Did the album sell well for the band?
"Well I like the songs 'Lake of the lost Souls', and we play that song live a lot. It's a great song that is traditional Doom song with that Epic. I also like 'Prayers for the King', and 'Exorcise the Demon'. It was a success but not a such a success as today's album. We try to push every album we do and I was surprised to how well the debut album sold for the band."
So in 2017 you released the 2nd album 'The crowning of the fire King', who came up with the title of that album?
"Well we had a thing for long titles, but I think it was me that came up with the title, as I wrote most of the lyrics and my co producer Coney who has a studio and has followed me throughout the years and we had a list of cool titles so we had a good inspiration of titles to choose from.
The most hardest thing to write about are the lyrics, when you need to hook them up to a title of an album. So we go through the list of cool titles to inspire us and some are more Manowar than Manowar would ever be (laughing).
(Ed: The title sounds very mythical kind of thing like something related to Odin). Well I have always been interested in that like Vikings, dragons, warriors and fantasy stuff."
So what songs from that album do you like and why?
"Yes I like the songs 'Sirens', that is a killer song, also 'The Devils Incubus' I really love that album because it's just well put together."
Moving on now lets talk about the new album 'Laminating of the Innocent', what a great album cover, who did that cover?
"Well we wanted a cover that would stick out, something that doesn't look like a Doom Metal album cover. The cover was done by the same guy who does 'The Three Tremors' albums. The artwork was done by Dustin Markovich, who has also done video games artwork and much more, he is a very multitalented guy."
How long did it take to record the album and where was it recorded?
"Well the drums where recorded at 'Solna Studios' recordings which is owned by Wolf's guitarist Simons Johansson near Stockholm and we wanted to do the drums there because it is really easy for us to get there. We could easily carry our stuff there to the studio. Our rehearsal room is in the same building as his studio so it was just a walk with our equipment. It was also a new studio so we wanted to help him out and get his name out.
We had our mixing guy Ronnie Bjornstrom who came down and thwacked the drums for us and other than that it was me and Conny Welen at 'Stone Tower Studios', so we would change from each studio to record the album. So all the vocals were shared between the 2 studios.
The guitars and bass where recorded at home studios with the help of Fredrik Folkane from the band 'Unleashed'. There are a lot of guitars on the albums, especially acoustic guitars. The album was started from scratch and we had a lot of ideas and left over's from 'The Fire King..' album but I don't think we sued any of those ideas. I think we started in 2019 and it was finished recording by the end of the summer.
Then you have to fix all the cover artwork and the mixing etc... We do everything ourselves and we deliver a final product to Metal Blade and all they have to do is print it."
Does the artwork for the album reflect in the title and music of the album? If so in what way?
"Yes it does, It is a semi conceptual album and every song stands on it's own but they all revolve around the witch hunts 16th century. they loose the snap shots but still have the same subjects in them. We wanted to illustrate that on the album cover and we also wanted a powerful print that that we could put on a t shirt that looks really nice and stands out. I also think that he did one hell of an amazing job for this album cover.
The artwork shows the suffering of the innocent, with the woman chained down and a evil priest from the church that sent his wolfs out to the innocent witches and this happened all over Europe and Scandinavia. In the period of 30 yrs there were 60.000 people killed not only women but children and men too that were accused of witch craft. This was because of one guy 'Heinrich Kramer' who was a monk who was in love with a woman but she rejected him and in spite and out of wickedness he wrote this book that all women are witches called 'The Witch Hammer- Maleficarum' in Latin."
So what songs from the new album do you like?
"Well I like the title track 'Laminating of the Innocent', is a great song. Also 'When spirits Die', 'The hammer of Witches', the album is very diverse & varied in tempos and in expression. So it is hard to pick more than one or two songs that you can really like more than the others."
Has the band been receiving positive reviews, I am sure you have.
"Yeah the reviews have been great, 5/5 10/10 always cool reviews from Sweden as always and the press here in Sweden are always cool towards us, I don't know why."
I have seen one promo video for the album so far, have you or will you be doing more promo videos for the album?
"Well we have done a video for each song from the new album. We did 9 videos and you can buy this box set that and you get the CD with a bonus track called 'Hellfire' which was mixed by Max Norman, who is a really big fan. We did not to the whole 9 songs in 1 day, we split it up into 3 sessions, so we did 4 songs at 1 site and 4 songs at another site and 1 song 'Deliverance' was made in a barn made by Daniel Wahlstrom, who works for 'Heavy Groove Media' is a good friend of mine and and I played in a band with his younger brother.
(Ed: Why didn't Max record the full album?) Well we had already worked with our guy and we were very happy with Ronnie and he done the mixing for all 3 albums. I don't think we will work with anybody else, he's a great guy to work with. We like to be in charge and we wanted a guy who could mix our material.
Max has too much experience to do what we want him to do, he has too much to say."
How are things with deal with Metal Blade going since you're 1st album was released?
"Well this is the last album for Metal Blade, so we are in talks about doing more albums with them. We are hoping to sign to them for another 3 albums."
Since lockdown which has really hit the music scene hard, I presume you have plans to tour that you have had to put on hold.
"Yes we had plans to tour but like you said the music industry has been hit hard and then the pandemic and we had booked to play 'Sweden Rock', 'Rock Hard' and some small clubs booked around the Rock Hard festival in Germany. Then we had a 2 week mini tour booked so everything has been moved over till next year 2021. I think any band who wants to tour before 2021 is not possible and it is very unsure. I think humanity will learn from the Cronovirus."
So Anders in between lockdown do you have any other projects that we should be aware of that you or any other band member are doing?
"Well I have a project I am doing with my co-producer Conny Welen on bass, and Wolf's drummer Johan Koleberg and Unleashed guitarist Fredik Folkare, and we are called 'Tingod' and it will be like Black Sabbath, but more of the up tempo stuff like Tony Martin. I have always sang metal and I do what I feel comfortable with. People come to me with ideas and I just do the vocals for them. I do Progressive or Doom or just melodic stuff and I think it is a good thing to do for a vocalist.
I also have another project I am doing with Conny that is more acoustic and a bit bluesy a little bit like Whitesnake back in their day."
What labels will you be approaching for the 'Tingod' project?
"Well Conny is a very talented guy who can play drums, guitars, bass, and vocals and it is something that we has been wanting to get out of his system for some time now. He also played bass for the band 'Mezzrow' and he also played in the band 'Hexenhaus' with Mike Wead from 'King Diamond'. He has written all the songs for the Tingod album, so Johan, Fredrik and myself helped him put them into songs."
If Sorcerer had the chance to tour with a band, who would you like to tour with?
"Well I think it would have to be Candlemass and the original singer is back in the band, Johan Langqvist who did the 1st album. We have done very well with this new Sorcerer album we are on the Germany charts at number 18, which is great for us. We are also high in the charts in other countries too, so we will try to go as many club shows as possible and it is time for us to step up and have some support bands below us."
Well Anders it's been a pleasure doing this Skype interview, I would like to wish you all the best for the future, be safe and I hope we finally get to meet one day. DO you have anything to say to your fans reading this?
"Yes I would like to thank our fans and you for the support in the band and for sticking with us throughout the years and hopefully we will get through this pandemic and we would love to come to the UK and play there, we only played in Wales at a festival 'Hard Rock Hell' which was a good festival. It has become hard for us and any band to play the UK due to you all coming out of the E.U. with Brexit. So we will see what happens in 2021.
Take care Jason and yeah I hope we meet soon in the near future, be safe my friend."
Thank you to Anders Engberg & Andy @ Metal Blade UK.