Beyond the Crypt


After just having done another review that was for a reissue from the same era, […]
By Mike Peacock
March 21, 2022
Sorcerer - Beyond the Crypt album cover

After just having done another review that was for a reissue from the same era, I was apprehensive about diving into this one. However, within the first few chords all traces of apprehension were washed away and replaced with a level of excitement and anticipation. Admittedly, it is rare for me to get excited about remasters because I know I'm faced with trying to objectively balance critique of the content with that of the sound as well as trying to reconcile standards from bygone eras with modern expectations. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by "Beyond the Crypt," a reissue from Philadelphia psychedelic rock/proto-metal band SORCERER (Not to be confused with the Swedish Doom Band of the same name)

Reissued on October 1, 2021, by Heaven and Hell Records and remastered by the legendary Jamie King, "Beyond the Crypt" is a seven song manifesto of hard rock tunes originally recorded between 1989 and 1990 and released as a demo. And while the overall quality of the recording definitely shows its age and the limitations of the original source material, this is one of the very few examples I've come across where I was able to look past my audio hang-ups because the songs are just so damn good. Worth noting that Mr. King did a remarkable job of bringing some brightness, punch and clarity to the project, which I'm sure was no small feat considering the definite garage vibe this album has.

SORCERER explore a myriad of styles within this effort. At its heart, this is a classic rock inspired album with a heavy dose of progressive musicianship. I'm not sure if it gets into proto-metal territory, but it definitely gets close. I'm immediately reminded of bands like YES, RUSH, DEEP PURPLE, and JETHRO TULL (without the flutes, of course). All of the instruments can be heard in the mix, and each contribute equally to the overall feel.

The album's opener, "Sorcerer," starts off with a trippy/psychedelic keyboard that sounds like a cross between the Castlevania video game and X-files soundtracks. But when the drums and guitars kick in stadium rock style, you know it's on. And then we are introduced to some absolutely epic lead work but guitarist/vocalist Sam France that really takes things to the next level as well as some powerful vocals and great melodic hooks.

The next track, "The Equinox," also starts off with some cool keyboards (courtesy of bassist/keyboardist Mike Selcovitz) that takes us straight into another melodic guitar passage and some intense vocals that get really gritty and are just on the verge of screams before launching into a fretboard tapping solo of epic proportions. "Rock Me" is a pretty straight forward party track with some awesome bass lines while "Freak Out" ventures into bluesy groove territory that has a HENDRIX/GUESS WHO vibe with awesome wah guitar, funky bass, and solid drumming from Steve Burdziak.

Perhaps what surprised me the most is FRANCE's smooth vocal delivery on the more ballad-stye songs "The State I'm In" and "Man in the Mirror." There is a certain Klaus Meine quality to his voice in these particular songs, and combined with the chorus clean guitars he was really able to take into SCORPIONS territory. I literally thought I was hearing "Holiday" for a split second. I'm not sure if that was intentional, but it was definitely a welcomed surprise.

Considering this was written and performed by high school kids and intended as a demo, I'm impressed by the musicianship and the effort that initially went into recording this. Each member shows a level of talent, maturity, and musical diversity not often achieved by musicians of that age, especially given the genres that are referenced here. I'm still reeling over the epic guitar solos, FRANCE really shreds. I enjoyed this effort so much I'm intrigued to dig in and learn more about the band, of which there seems to be little info. This was a work that was worth remastering, and I hope it brings the band a new level of respect and awareness even if they're no longer active. I'd be interested to see what each of the members is up to now.

8 / 10









"Beyond the Crypt" Track-listing:

1. Sorcerer
2. The Equinox
3. Rock Me
4. The State I'm In
5. Freak Out
6. Cheap Romance
7. Man in the Mirror

Sorcerer Lineup:

Sam France - Guitar/Vocals
Mike Selcovitz - Bass/Keyboards
Steve Burdziak - Drums

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