James Sloan – All instruments/songwriting
01. Athamé of Flame
02. The Sorcerer’s Sorrow
03. Drowned in the Spring of Life
04. Dead Spirit
05. The Sleepless Eye
06. Mirror of Voices
07. Livre des Esperitz
The Sorcerer’s Sorrow will be an exciting release for anyone who has otherwise been following James Sloan’s work as the guitarist for the US Black Metal band, Uada.
For this project, the musician has chosen to go it alone, setting his compositions to the story of a tortured alchemist who “desperately seeks answers to escape the pain of existence through esoteric practices – finding nothing but a path to total self-destruction.” Indeed, the band itself is named after a divination stone – The Anachitist; which was described in the 16th century as a raw diamond that would be used to conjure spirits from water.
Taking all of the above into consideration, James Sloan has enveloped this project in a yearning, searching melancholy that permeates each of the seven tracks on offer. The opening track Athamé of Flame starts with the familiar black metal building blocks of tremolo guitar and blasting drums, but the raw, punk aggression often associated with the genre is removed. Instead, everything is shrouded in a reverberant fog that rolls deep and feels thick with foreboding dread. Committed listeners will notice beacons of melody set behind the threshold, beckoning them to enter. It is here, within the darkness, that they will be rewarded.
In amongst the aural misery, Sloan’s ability to infuse each dank composition with subtle, tuneful hooks is an impressive skill and gives The Sorcerer’s Sorrow a pulse of heart-wrenching optimism that wrestles with the sonic torment.
He places progressive melodies and occasional, bluesy guitar lines among the oppressive, blackened doom. On Drowned In The Spring Of Life, this extends to a moment of soaring guitar wizardry that erupts from the fretboard as if it has made an escape from the murky soundscape. In a powerful turn, it is dragged back into the darkness, chewed up and regurgitated alongside the albums miserable howl of a vocal.
This is not good-time music, but it is good music.
Overall, The Sorcerer’s Sorrow is an introspective experience. Esoteric and heavy. This is black metal but with enough subtle influences from outside the genre to make it a compelling listen with repeated appeal. It is the sort of album best experienced in solitude, but it is likely you will also want to talk about it and share it with other music fans; such is the quality of performance and production.
Not for the faint-hearted but definitely recommended.