@Hammerfest VIII, Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park, Pwllheli, North Wales, March 11 2016
Traditional doom metal is best experienced in a dark basement venue, lit by flickering candles – the pizza shop and merch market in sight of Hammerfest’s Doom stage didn’t quite conjure the same atmosphere. Yet Sorcerer’s Friday afternoon slot was so enthralling, so mesmeric, that their fans were transported to whatever medieval crypt or misty cemetery was lurking in their own imaginations.
Much of that was down to singer Anders Engberg, whose range and sheer power was a joy to behold: the veteran vocalist was on a mission to capture souls at this festival, and he must have left Wales with a long line of new acolytes in tow.
His bandmates too, brought us a lesson in epic doomsmanship, with guitarists Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgren filling the room with spectral riffs and sublime solos. And while songs like Northern Seas may not boast the planet levelling, downtuned fuzz so beloved of contemporary Sabbath worshippers, their axework sounded sinister, and at times, utterly crushing.
The Swedes’ music isn’t trendy at the moment; they’re unlikely to attract many Electric Wizard-worshiping hipsters, for instance. Yet on tracks like The Dark Tower of the Sorcerer – just one of this set’s highlights – the band demonstrate a grasp of songcraft often missing from 21st century doom.
The quintet may well have taken 26 years to follow up their first demo with a full debut (last year’s In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross), but they now seem determined to make up for lost time – with Hammerfest evidently a key part of the plan. And for those lucky enough to be present, this was a magic show which will live long in the memory.