Lucifer II by Lucifer
Gotta start this one by sayin’ , I’m a complete sucker for female fronted rock music.. especially heavy metal music. Especially when its actually GOOD heavy metal music. And even especially more when its actually good 70’s inspired doom-rock variety of heavy metal music. Therefore, that bias and predisposition may definitely factor into this review. Just a fair warning. But, all that aside, this is still one HELL (see what I did, there?) of a phenomenal rock n roll record.
Having been a huge fan of Lucifer since their self-titled 2015 debut, I was really eager to listen to their follow-up, aptly titled Lucifer II; and I was the farthest thing from disappointed. I was actually nervous that they couldn’t top their epic, atmospheric, doom and blues, rock record. But they didn’t just top it, for my money, they blew it out of the water like a hellfire-spewing ancient volcano. Lucifer II sees itself recorded with a different lineup sans lead singer and mastermind Johanna Sadonis, Berlin-born and christian-raised turned occult and heavy metal fanatic, and it really shows. The addition of Nicke Andersson, heavy metal powerhouse and ex-drummer of the Almighty left-had path demonic metalers, Entombed, and shortly front project Helacopters; and 6-string sorcerer Robin Tidebrink; really shows the band pushing in a more rock n roll direction. The inclusion of these members and elements actually make Sadonis’ voice shine though more than the last record, which is interesting because there is more noticeably going on in the mix the second time around. Whereas Lucifer’s first record was much more atmospheric, slow, and sludgy; this is much more amped up. It’s in your face rock n roll. If I could appropriately compare their first record to Sabbath’s first record, Lucifer II would be running with the devil towards Master of Reality territory. It’s a lot more turned up, tightens up, sharp, and strong. There seems like there is infinitely more range and force to the music, making it a way more accessible record. And the contrast of that music to Sadonis’ absolutely beautiful vocals makes it all the more appealing, as if that was even possible.
The unholy trinity decide to kick things off with their lead single, “California Sun,” which hits you like a dirty 70’s motorcycle flying down a costal highway. Complete with a devil-may-care riff that’ll be in your head forever and had me wishing I’d wrote it.. this is a logic choice for the band to release as their single and opener. It completely embodies the vibe and sound of Lucifer in 2018, and it fucking rocks. Joahnna is undoubtedly showcasing her satanic Stevie Nicks qualities and the guitar just brilliantly grooves and shreds. And, much like Sabbath and their 70’s occult rock heroes, the bass doesn’t get lost for a second - in any song. When is kicks in, YOU KNOW. And it doesn’t stop. So, so far, we got an incredibly talented female vocalist fronting a vintage doom band called Lucifer, featuring just about perfect guitar composition, and a brilliant bass sound that doesn’t get lost in the ever so menacing background of heavy metal music, and oh; did I mention the drums carry every tune to exactly where they need to be? That’d be throwing up devil horns in your face as cymbals clash and the bass drum doesn’t give a goddamn. I’d say were off to a pretty perfect start.
To make things even more interesting, fresh off their hard rock evil motorcycle anthem, they decide to stack that against their “ballad,” Dreamer. Playing just like a bluesy Fleetwood Mac tune, Joahnna channeling her beautiful inner Satanic Stevie Nicks yet again, against the ever so prevalent and thumping bass groove that carries the the epic chorus complete with power chords and enchanting harmonies; there leaves not much more to be desired. I would say these two tracks played back to back greatly encompass and summarize Lucifer II in the best way, showcasing the hardest of their evil rock to the bluesy darkness inside us all.. and they’re catchy and as good as any song on rock radio in the last decade. And just about all the other tunes follow suit.
“Phoenix” introduces itself with more crushing guitar tone and hooks for centuries. A perfect follow up to the droning and bluesy second track, Phoenix kicks it up a notch or 6. You can’t help but notice how much more her catchy vocal patterns stand out more because of the blazing music played against them; and this chorus of hers could be chanted from mountain tops easily. Topped with a delicious solo you’ll just have to listen to to adequately understand. Which brings us to probably my favorite track on the record, Dancing With Mr. D. Yeah, that’s right. Not only do Lucifer dare to cover a Stones tune, they dare to cover a Goat Heads Soup-era obscure Stones track, and completely make it their own. Bringing the demon-vintage Lucifer signature sound to a classic rock tune never worked out better. The lyrics written by ‘ol Jagger & Richards are presented in a much more evil fashion this time around against the coffin-tight heavy metal background; it’s better than the original. And if you can listen to this song and not get up do a little voodoo hula dancing then I don’t even know who you are. Can’t help but think the Stones would be proud; well Keith would be, at least.
Some inner Bill Ward and first album-era Sabbath is heavily channelled fittingly through Reaper On Your Heels, a quite doom-y heavy hitter that’ll rattle your skull like a snare drum and eerily fade out into obscurity. Just when you think it’s over… we’re only halfway through. There is so much quality packed into this record that it feels like we’ve been listening for an hour, one hell of a good hour, witching hour, you could say. But, no; Lucifer is far from done establishing their reign of vintage heavy metal worship and spellbinding capabilities. Eyes in the Sky follows cohesively with Reaper on Your Heels, a very Sabbath-like and riff heavy! Starting a little slower full of howls and stoner riffs; the trio turn the tempo on its head about halfway through, and this tune becomes and all out metal assault for a solid minute; complete with yet another impressively ripping solo, they just don’t quit. Thank the dark lord below for that. And they aren’t leaving before they serenade us a little bit more with Before the Sun… a tune that can only be described as an ancient fable presented as a progressive blues ballad. Aton spices things up quite a bit as we close in on the conclusion of the record. It introduces elements of keyboards along with a bit more down-tuned heaviness than some of the others; truly playing like a classic heavy metal record with an epic chorus. And, yes, yet again, guitar solos that left me wishing I wrote.
As we enter the tomb of the Faux Pharaoh, the album’s epilogue, we are left with a haunting impression that Lucifer III is going to be a much grander record; as this one was to the first. It’s an absolutely classic tune, as just about all of the other ones are. I hope for Lucifer’s (the band and actual Lucifer) sake that this record is as well received as it should be, and helps launch the band into stardom; because it should. In a music world riddled with many retro / vintage sounding metal bands, Lucifer reign amongst the best. Imagine taking a little Blue Oyster Cult and Deep Purple, a lot of Black Sabbath, and throwing a little Janis Joplin and Fleetwood Mac in there, all under a black-magic infused spellbound ritual; you have yourself Lucifer II. I highly recommend this record is you are even the slightest fan of the golden age of heavy metal, or just a music fan in general. This is going in my top 3 records of the year, for sure.
Rock Rating: 5/5
Gym Rating: 3.5/5
Chem em out: