It seems my time has come at last! I’ve been following LUCIFER loosely since their inception, when they drew the attention of one of the Musicalypse journalists when they had opened for PARADISE LOST way back in 2015 or so. His reviews were very positive, so when “Lucifer III“ came out last year, I was enthusiastic to listen. Now, a mere year (and a half) later, the band is already back with “Lucifer IV,” set for release via Century Media on October 31st, 2021, so as I said, it is my time to be the reviewer and boy am I excited to check this album out.
The album opens on a really dank note, “Archangel of Death,” with drums and bass punching all around before the clever guitars come in to engage the listener until Johanna Sadonis‘ vocals arrive. The guitars make sure that the song never gets boring and the use of bass is absolutely fabulous – it’s deep, dark, dirty, and driving… many of the best D-words to describe this particular style of grungy music. They go right into the BLACK SABBATH sound with the wonderfully-named “Wild Hearses.” Sadonis impresses listeners immediately with her low tone, sucking us into the depths of that dirty bass and drumming. Sadonis is nigh seductive with her mysterious, deep sound. Also, props to these guys for always having some clever wordplay in their lyrics and song titles! “Crucifix (I Burn for You)” starts darkly before pepping up a little, though Sadonis is ever-present in her depth. This one has a truly catchy chorus, worthy of a single, so it came as no surprise that I found this track YouTube as well. Props to the fun solo as well.
If you want to be swept away with a catchy rhythm in the first few seconds of a song, you’ll surely be drawn to “Bring Me His Head,” which has both a danceable and singalong-able chorus that smoothly transitions to and from rockin’ verses. “Mausoleum” is a high-mid-tempo groover, with gentle but prominent vocals. Some subtle organs in the back add texture, while the slick soloing on top of the strong rhythm is a definite highlight in this one, as well as the unexpected change to a lighter sound towards the end. “The Funeral Pyre,” on the other hand, is a very autumnal instrumental piece, which explains its short 1:44 playtime. The funky bass drives “Cold as a Tombstone” forward, as Sadonis makes sure that she keeps her hold on us from start to finish. Of note, when I spoke of the lack of interesting vocal melodies in Anette Olzon‘s new release, “Strong,” it was this sort of thing I’d love to see her try – Sadonis takes her voice all over the lyrics, from high to low, from vibrato to wavy, to smooth to gritty and back several times within a song. It’s never boring (and I bet Olzon has the skill to do it).
“Louise” takes us in a cheekier direction, as Sadonis teases us and the bass moves around. While I love the way she sings the chorus, admittedly, I thought she was saying “new weed” and not “Louise,” which in a way felt more appropriate to this stoner-licious music. “Nightmare” starts on a frightfully ominous note, which well-suits its name. Was this album intentionally scheduled for release right before Halloween, because if so, they nailed the time-of-year for this release dead-on. It’s just so doomy and mysterious and will be perfect to put on during those chilly autumn afternoons.
If ever a band makes sure the drummer and bassist aren’t forgotten, it’s LUCIFER. Case-in-point: “Orion.” The beginning of the penultimate song is punched forward by really fun musicianship from the rhythm section. Simple key notes haunt the entire song, giving a little eeriness to the background, while Sadonis soars around, riding the waves of the guitars. The feel is both rocking and easy to dance around to in a sludgy, stonery sort of way. The transition between “Orion” and “Phobos” is as smooth as can be. The latter works as a very strong closer to the album, with wailing guitar, driving bass, and such creative drumming. The faster tempo works to its advantage as the album’s finale, as Sadonis sings about “the heart of the mountain” and that dirty low end is sweetly mixed in with the soloing and vocals. The instrumentalists take their time to jam their way out, creating a truly strong end to a great sonic journey that will likely leave listeners wanting more.
LUCIFER seem to be pure gold when it comes to laid-back stoner grooves. The intricacy of their playing overtop of the ever-changing rhythms keeps each song interesting, while the ever-exploratory musicians never give you a moment’s chance to get bored. If THE DOOBIE BROTHERS aren’t quite groovy enough these days to be the soundtrack to your zen trance, LUCIFER might be just what the sound doctor ordered. Surely, their BLACK SABBATH forefathers must be impressed.
- Archangel of Death
- Wild Hearses
- Crucifix (I Burn for You)
- Bring Me His Head
- The Funeral Pyre
- Cold as a Tombstone
- Johanna Sadonis – vocals, keyboards
- Nicke Andersson – drums, guitar, bass
- Martin Nordin – guitar
- Linus Björklund – guitar
- Harald Göthblad – bass
Century Media Records