Old fashioned is the new original.
The past decade has seen a number of older styles of rock and metal make a substantial comeback, but the peculiar case of the retro-doom meets 70s rock/proto-metal revival spearheaded by the likes of Ghost, Blood Ceremony and Castle has proven to have the widest appeal. Though a bit later to the scene, German and Swedish union project Lucifer has been a unique player with an eye to versatility that has seen some strong returns in media interest and concert attendance since their 2015 debut hit the shelves. Though originally a project that saw the involvement of former Cathedral guitarist Gaz Jennings, whom some might argue was instrumental in getting the band’s name out there, subsequent studio efforts suggest that charismatic front woman Johanna Sadonis is the driving force of this throwback to the days of darker psychedelic expression, though one would be remiss to say that Gaz’s replacement, multi-instrumentalist and Entombed drummer Nicke Andersson hasn’t been a major factor in the songwriting department.
This outfit’s fourth full length studio foray, plainly dubbed “IV,” follows the same general trajectory as its predecessors, consisting of loose jamming yet compact rock anthems with a dreary, Black Sabbath-inspired gloss. Curiously enough, other than the arrangement being a bit denser with multiple guitarists churning out those signature old school riffs, the generally bright and tinny character of this album carries a strong resemblance to that of Sabbath’s similarly titled fourth opus “Vol. 4”. The counterpoint of Sadonis’ generally attitude-steeped yet smooth and haunting vocal delivery makes for a unique level of friction with the instrumentation, which would tend to play to a shriller and more nasally male voice. The strategic employment of keyboards and spacey guitar effects introduces a bit of a lighter character to things, almost to the point of veering into the same Blue Oyster Cult meets Vanilla Fudge sound of Ghost’s early works, but on the whole the execution proves to be noticeably heavier, not to mention the regular guitar solo breaks are a virtual dead-ringer for early to mid-70s Tony Iommi.
Coming in with a gust of wind and the looming sense of an impending disaster, this album doesn’t beat around the bush and hits just about every classic doom and rock trope in just over 45 minutes. Though simply structured and formulaic in character, bangers such as the opener “Archangel Of Death”, the organ-steeped rocker “Mausoleum”, and the slow-creeping groove of “Cold As A Tomb Stone” compensate with a wide dynamic contrast separating the easy-going verses from the raucous chorus sections, and Sadonis demonstrates a mastery of switching between a meek croon and a bombastic wail in short order. Other standout moments include the dark, depressive stomp into Sabbath’s brand of dissonant doom after the model of “Hand Of Doom” and “Electric Funeral”, complete with the obligatory “All Right Now!” vocal ad lib for good measure. Catchy rocking anthems with a punchier feel such as “Louise” and the closer “Phobos” also make a respectable racket, loaded up with plenty of bluesy swagger and transitional rock meets metal goodness to rope in any addict of the old school sound.
While this fold has had a comparatively short history next to their fellow purveyors of traditional doom and 70s rock, their track records thus far has been a model of stylistic and qualitative consistency, and episode “IV” is no exception. In addition to the aforementioned charisma of the vocal work, Nicke Andersson’s drumming (in stark contrast to his seminal work with Entombed), is a near-perfect emulation of Bill Ward’s loose, jazzy yet thunderous attack, ditto Harald Gothblad’s imitation of Geezer Butler’s wandering bass lines. The sonic results are an album that will have most checking the nearest calendar to make sure that they haven’t time-warped 50 years into the past. It’s a foregone conclusion that anybody who is hungry for the sounds of yesteryear exemplified by the likes of Pentagram, Blue Cheer, and even the 1970s era of Heart will go for these songs, but even those who are more disposed to the heavier character of Black Sabbath’s output from “Vol. 4” through “Sabotage” should check these songs out.
Released By: Century Media Records
Release Date: October 29th, 2021
Genre: Proto Metal / Hard Rock
- Johanna Platow Andersson / Vocals
- Nicke Platow Andersson / Drums
- Linus Björklund / Guitar
- Martin Nordin / Guitar
- Harald Göthblad / Bass
“Lucifer IV” Tracklisting:
1. Archangel Of Death (03:35)
2. Wild Hearses (04:56)
3. Crucifix (I Burn For You) (03:51)
4. Bring Me His Head (04:25)
5. Mausoleum (04:51)
6. The Funeral Pyre (01:44)
7. Cold As A Tombstone (04:16)
8. Louise (03:56)
9. Nightmare (05:07)
10. Orion (04:47)
11. Phobos (04:20)
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German and Swedish aligned purveyors of old fashioned 70s hard rock with an early heavy metal and doom aesthetic Lucifer unleash yet another comprehensive expression of retro-rock nostalgia, proving yet again that the calendar year does not necessarily determine the value of a strong, blues-infused trip down memory lane