Having discussed the history of Sorcerer in Part One of this interview, Anders Engberg and MetalTalk’s Paul Hutchings move on to the reason for the conversation: Reign Of The Reaper. The official video for the title track was released just over one hour ago.
According to the press release, most of it was written in 2022, but was any of it from earlier sessions? “We had some songs,” says Anders. “I can’t say leftovers because we always vote for the best songs to come on an album. We decide on the format of the album. So this time, for Reign Of The Reaper, we were going to do 50 minutes of music at tops because we wanted to do a single vinyl. It became 47 minutes, but that’s because of which songs are on which side and stuff like that. We had to shorten a couple of songs to fit the album.
“We’re not used to writing short songs,” he laughs before continuing. “But when you have some leftovers, we say we can use them on the next album. But the next time you’re supposed to be starting writing, there’s all these new ideas. We’ve grown, and we listen back to those songs, but we seldom use them, really. I think this time, we had 15 ideas or something that we’ve boiled down to eight. There are some leftovers from this also.
“But I think the next album, we will write new stuff anyway because those ideas are old. Maybe we take a bridge or something and use it in a song. Maybe in the future, we can release unreleased demo songs or something like that. We haven’t talked about that, so I’m just brain-farting now.”
If you’ve heard the first single, Morning Star, you’ll probably agree that it is the obvious first choice. It’s a real classic Heavy Metal song. “We felt that this is the first thing. It’s the real banger. It was decided with no objection.”
Is there a challenge in putting together the running order for an album? For me, Reign Of The Reaper flows organically. “We don’t write songs for an album,” Anders says. “We write songs, and then we decide. We were at 15 ideas. But out of those 15 ideas, there might be three songs that are pretty similar or in the same vein. We have four tracks on each side, and we need to have a certain flow. We always vote. We put up the songs that we like, and then it’s a democratic process. If the voting turns out to be that two or three songs are very similar, we do it over again because everyone realises we can’t have all these. It’s difficult to fit them in. So that’s the process of choosing.
“This time, it was Kristian who sorted out the order of the songs. He came back to us and said, how do you feel about this? And it fitted perfectly. There’s a nice flow to the album.”
Reign Of The Reaper is probably Anders’ most impressive vocal performance so far. He’s definitely getting better with each release. I ask him if he’s taking more care of his voice as time moves on or if he just sings as he feels. “I just get on with it,” he smiles. “I’ve been doing this for over 30 years now. I have some born talent into it. But you know, when I listen to some singers that have been touring a lot, they have no voice left. We don’t tour. So that’s why my voice still is OK.”
“But it’s aged. If you listen to In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross, and up to now, I think you can hear certain changes in my voice. I can’t explain it. I get older. I’m 55 years old this year. I’m lucky to be able to do what I do, but it’s also a struggle. It’s not like I pull out notes like they are nothing. You need to focus and be good to your voice.”
In August, the band had their first personnel change when Richard Evensand stepped down, and Stefan Norgren took over. It was an amicable arrangement, with Richard in need of a change and more time with family. How has Stefan fitted in? “I’ve never met a bigger man,” Anders says. “He’s huge. He’s over two metres high. I’m just kidding, but he’s really a big guy.
“I was the tallest, I thought. But when I saw the band photo, I was Number Three now. I think even Peter is longer than me, though, and I’m 185cm, so we are a pretty long band. When we started looking for a new drummer, we wanted someone who had recorded music before, and we wanted someone our age. Not necessarily 55, you don’t have to be as old as me, but around there. It’s not easy to shoulder what Ricky did on the last album on this one, but Stefan is a fantastic drummer, and he is a bit of a fanboy from the start.
“He and his wife sip red wine and listen to Sorcerer, he told me. So that’s nice. I think his wife is even more of a fan. We just welcomed him, and we rehearsed. Now, a few weeks on and it sounds great. You know he is a fantastic drummer.”
Although Sorcerer have not released a huge number of records, Anders has worked with many other musicians. How does he feel about the release of an album? “The process takes forever,” he reflects. “Are we there yet? I’m like an anxious kid who wants to get there”. He holds up a copy of the new album to the camera. “We got the actual physical copies today, so I got the special edition CD just arrived today. So today was the first time that I could look at it and see the result.
“That’s a fantastic feeling, of course. And, of course, you’re excited, and you want to hear what people think. Our closest friends, of course, have heard it and our management. The record company love this, and so there are a lot of things that we hope fall into place with this album, and widen the audience a little bit and also see if we can take this old band somewhere.”
I congratulate Anders on a fantastic album, which I’ll be reviewing for MetalTalk very soon. As we conclude, he tells me about the signing session that the band are doing to celebrate the release of the album.
“We have a meet and greet kind of celebration release in a rock club in the centre of the city. But we’re not going to play. We’re going to play the videos and sell merch, sell records and sign it if anyone shows up.”
He adds a salutary note, though. “For a town and a country that is really packed with musicians, there is also a kind of a lack of interest. It’s weird, but I think it’s also saturated the market a little bit. It’s a small country, 10 million people.”
Sorcerer will return to Hammer Of Doom in November to headline the first night. “We’re very happy with that. It’s our fourth time there. So that’s going to be awesome. We’re going to have fire and stuff. It’s going to be huge. I hope we don’t burn! We don’t have anything then until early next year.
“In February, we go back to Poland, and then we have some German festivals in April, and then also in the South of Sweden in March. We have a new booking agency, so we’ve got a lot of hope that they will book us into places, and hopefully, we can play there.”
Of course, the band were booked to play the ill-fated Manorfest, which we agreed to leave in the ashes of disaster. And at that point, it’s time for Anders to head to another interview.
He’s a great guy, and the new album Reign Of The Reaper is a truly classic slab of Heavy Metal. Hopefully, the band will get across to the UK again before too long. If they do, we will be there.
You can read Part One of the interview, where we discuss the band’s history, here.
Reign Of The Reaper can be pre-ordered from Metal Blade Records.