LABEL: Nuclear Blast Records
AUTHOR: Paul Hutchings
Nine years ago, the opening band on a three-band bill in Wolverhampton was a group from Berlin called LUCIFER. Their singer Johanna Sadonis, with her Nicks/Joplin moves and delicious vocals, caught the eye and ear, whilst the band’s seventies-tinged sound proved a hit with those early enough to be in the venue. A heady mix of occult doom, hard rock and eerie heavy metal, they more than held their own against the other two bands on the bill, Swedes Tribulation and a certain band from Yorkshire, one Paradise Lost.
Roll forward nearly a decade and LUCIFER remains as captivating a force now as they did then. Only Sadonis remains from that line-up, although the current band have been in situ since 2019 and have performed on the previous two albums, “Lucifer III” and “Lucifer IV”. Alongside Sadonis or as she is now known, Johanna Platow Andersson is husband Nicke Andersson, a veteran of Entombed and The Hellacopters, as well as guitarists Linus Björklund, Martin Nordin and bassist Harald Göthblad.
Consistency is the name of the game with LUCIFER and on “Lucifer V” the band, now predominantly Swedish based, provide another example of why so many rate them so highly. They’ve never hidden their influences, with Sabbath, Pentagram and Blue Öyster Cult amongst the more obvious ones. Whilst they have improved with each album, it’s no exaggeration to suggest that “Lucifer V” may well be their most advanced and sublime release yet. There is little to criticise within the album, retaining its driving riffs, subtle calmness, seventies vibe and overall retro sound.
LUCIFER paint imagery with their music, and they do so with aplomb here. There’s the Alice Cooper riff that opens the album, introducing the vibrant “Fallen Angel”, a song guaranteed to get the foot tapping and the head nodding. It’s a fine introduction to the album, and one that is sure to grab the interest of those who may not be familiar with LUCIFER. As the album progresses, the styles and tempos vary, flickering from the crushing doom-laden Sabbath riffage on “At The Mortuary” to the melancholic “Slow Dance In A Crypt”, which features fuzzy guitar and enchanting layered vocals. It’s almost pop in many ways, yet the darker edge that LUCIFER bring makes it a much more sinister track.
What makes LUCIFER special is their ability to embed haunting melodies that are furnished with flicks and twists that remind you of their history; they can hang an eerie hook or play music that becomes an earworm within seconds – see latest single “Maculate Heart” for evidence of the latter. One listen and you’ll be humming it for ages. But underneath all of this are fantastically constructed songs that suggest on every listen that the analogue era which LUCIFER strongly protect with their sound is a better place than the digital time which sees bands able to construct music without instruments. Their combination of heavy rhythm section, soaring guitar work and warming vocals do everything that you need them to do.
From “Fallen Angel” through to the no-nonsense rocker “Strange Sister” and the brooding finale “Nothing Left To Lose But My Life”, there’s nothing but infectious heavy music here. Every band feels their latest album is their best (unless you’ve just released “St. Anger” of course!). It’s just feasible that LUCIFER have climbed to the top of their mountain. They certainly show no sign of coming back down anytime soon!