With consideration for all of the culture and technology that’d come from Sandviken, Sweden over the last several decades no one could accuse the municipality (nor their neighbors in Gävle) of high volume heavy metal music output, at least certainly not in the 80’s or early 90’s when nascent extreme metal began to blaze its way through every seeming suburban Swedish town. Sorcery began taking their first stabs at extremity as early as 1986 after choosing a more ‘current’ extreme metal path and leaving behind their trad metal/heavy rock-based projects. Though they’d found a very extreme and esoteric style of brutal thrash by the time their 40+ minute 1987 demo ‘The Arrival’ hit they’d go through somewhat severe transformation before releasing their Merciless-meets-Autopsy feeling debut full-length ‘Bloodchilling Tales’ in 1991. Considered a classic by the dedicated, and surely an underrated moment for Swedish death metal by the masses, that debut left the band frozen in time from 1997 ’til 2009 after struggling with ever-shifting line-ups and roles that blurred the future of the band. Welcomed with open arms by the ever-growing worldwide epidemic of ‘comeback’ old school death metal fanaticism upon reformation, Sorcery have provided three full-lengths since that are presented with honor for the old ways; It’d be fair to say they’ve never shown any interest in ‘rocking the boat’ or risking alienating the fans that show up specifically for their take on classic Swedish death metal. ‘Necessary Excess of Violence’ is another stone on that ever-sharpening path and its value is aimed squarely at fans who’re pleased with the way forward.
Does that mean you can expect ‘Arrival At Six’ (2013) part three? No, if anything can be divulged from the long list of musicians who’ve cycled in and out of Sorcery since 1986 is that the two remaining primal members vocalist Ola Malmström (ex-Fear My Solitude, ex-Outremer) and guitarist Paul Johansson (ex-In Aeternum) are entirely versatile in response to the ideas and performances that new band members bring to the fold. Johansson in particular has shifted from guitar (80’s) to drums (90’s) to bass upon reformation and now back to guitars since 2012. Just from the outside looking in it appears like a band driven to create death metal and willing to do whatever is necessary for their records to strike the right iron. ‘Arrival at Six’ felt like it hit some of the same spirited punch that Autopsy had with their reformation with some punkish songs and a generally less ‘serious’ take on that ‘Clandestine’ sound. ‘Garden of Bones’ (2016) flipped their sound towards a more lead-driven and semi-melodic sound akin to early Unleashed but it was quite often passed along by reviewers quickly, who’d generally come to the faux consensus that it was just another Swedish death metal record; Sorcery have never been exactly like their peers and at the very least it’d never sounded like the goal was to buddy up and sound just like the bigger Stockholm names and the fire of thrash and 80’s death metal riffing links each of their records together despite different vocal tonality.
‘Necessary Excess of Violence’ noticeably moves a few steps away from the punkish growls of Stockholm towards the nigh melodic ideas of Revolting or Evocation‘s ‘Tales From the Tomb’ and with blunt vocal phrasing that is occasionally reminiscent of Entombed A.D. (‘Dead Dawn’ mostly) without sounding too different from the changes made on ‘Garden of Bones’. This is one of the louder records Sorcery have put out and some of that comes from an almost obnoxiously crispy distortion sound that can range from nuclear hurricane to spindly chunking depending on the song. That said it is still a bit painful to maintain a full listen at high volume due to a slightly digital sounding rhythm tone. Malmström is noticeably less distant in the mix than the previous record and this louder and clearer voice allows for a more direct listening experience that comes dangerously close to joining that Murder Squad spectrum of loud and nasty Swedish death purist narrative (“Of Blood and Ash”). Though it provides a set of improvements made beyond ‘Gardens of Bone’ and features all of the signature aspects of Sorcery‘s post-reformation era ‘Necessary Excess of Violence’ is nonetheless eternally fated as an above average release from a band that is easy to box into into a ‘typical Swedish death’ sound from a superficial point of entry.
“The Darkest Part of You” storms in with a decent melodic death metal groove reminiscent of the early pre-Göteborg scene as they’d begun to move away from the Florida and German influence of the day. It resonates in this sense briefly but, quickly becomes a loose for what twists and turns are taken on ‘Necessary Excess of Violence’. Additionally, “King of Nothing” is my personal favorite track here; A song that quickly provides itself as Side B‘s big melodic highlight because it contains some smaller strands of DNA still shared with “The Darkest Part of You”. These greater melodic events are among the more repeatable songs on the album but the majority of Sorcery‘s sound isn’t always so blatantly melodic, or at least driven so heavily by melodic lead guitar parts. I might be overstating the impact of those melodic death-tinged pieces on the full listen but they do stand out pretty tall amongst the very standard (but still freakish) type of ‘Swedeath’ worship that comes out elsewhere on a regular basis.
It bears some reinforcement and accolades that Sorcery continue to stick to their guns and make pure, raw death metal that could only come from Sweden. With this third record beyond the reformation of the band it becomes clear that they aren’t focused on approximating their original sound, creating a caricature of Swedish death metal, or changing to stay up to date with trends or certain tastes. Although I find the steadfast persistence of the band admirable enough, I wouldn’t say this fourth Sorcery record is anything more than a good time between some solid melodic ideas and its hot-buzzing death metal heaviness. My long term and repeat listening sessions yielded positive results but only a small handful of songs within really stand out enough to be memorable. Moderately high recommendation. For preview purposes I’d suggest the two songs mentioned prior (“The Darkest Part of You”, “King of Nothing”) as well as “Of Blood and Ash”
Nightmares in the house of your lord. 3.75/5.0
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