New Album, New Label
Lucifer are back and about to release their fifth abum on Nuclear Blast Records (their first on this label) called V or”Five” due out 26 January. The band are comprised of singer (and only original member) Johanna Platow Andersson who hails from Germany. The rest of the bands are from Sweden (the band are based there now) and include drummer Nicke Andersson Platow (of both Entombed and The Hellacopters) and is also married to singer Johanna since about 2016. There are 2 guitarists in Linus Bjorklund and Martin Nordin and on bass is Harald Gothblad. The lineup has been stable since the third album.
The band’s influences are obvious in places, but, and this is important, they sound like themselves. They use those influences to create something interesting, unique and dare I say fun! Imagine some 60s psychedelic, with slabs of doomy Sabbath riffs, mixed with massive 80s chorus and hooks and sounding like they are actually on the whole from the 1970s. It is a potent mix. All the previous albums are good, in fact each seems a little better than the last so the question I suppose is have they done that again?
The album has 9 songs and is just under 40 minutes, like the albums of the 70s! The production is superb, I would say this sounds sharper clearer and better than all the ones before. It still sounds old but everything is crisp so that everything is heard and when each instrument steps forward it stands out nicely. Opener “Fallen Angel” has a NWOBHM vibe, a mix of Maiden gallop and Diamond Head riffage and prog. The chorus is pure pop, so damned infectious and yet it still rocks.
First song in and I can already hear myself doing an impression of Austin Powers saying the expression “groovy baby“. “At The Mortuary” opens with a huge Sabbath-style riff, doomy as fuck guitar line with church bells tolling away ominously. All very dark and evil until the groove steps in. The chorus could have been written by Desmond Child if he was into the occult, but the guitar tones leading out of it are total Iommi. The switch around from the dark to light, the heavy to poppy are impeccable. The drop-down is suitably creepy and I do love the line “there is no shame to put your arms around a memory” after it.
Dark AND Uplifting?
“Riding Reaper” has a lovely twin guitar opening leading into the lyric “it’s the night of the hunter” and is a more straight-ahead rocker with some sweet harmonies going on in the background. One of my favourite songs on the album is “Slow Dance In A Crypt” which is a lovely yet very dark ballad and has a hint of BOC about it. There seem to be keys on this but I have no idea who is responsible for them.
Johanna sounds so damned alluring on this, enticing and sensual yet filled with potential danger. At times she almost whispers making it creepier and the chorus is superb. If Steinman had ever written with Alice Cooper then this could have happened. Strong and melodic I want to dance with her, even though I have a feeling it might not end well (actually having 2 left feet it would be probably a disaster for us both). Dark and uplifting at the same time. Superb composition!
“Bring It On”
The wonderfully entitled “A Coffin Has No Silver Lining” has a riff that reminds me of Rainbow specifically “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” running in and out whilst the chorus is pure 1980s hard rock meets AOR. “Maculate Heart” lulls the listener into a false sense of security with a gentle guitar intro before the drums thunder in quickly to be replaced by the whole band and Johanna belting out “bring it on, all you got” kind of summing up what the band are doing to us.
This has definite early/70s Heart about it, certainly it sounds like an Ann Wilson-style power vocal. The song has a chorus to die for (then I suppose you could go literally “dancing in a crypt“). Great stuff. “The Dead Don’t Speak” has that 60s feel about it mixed with BOC and goes from folky to creepy to commercial at the drop of a hat. I think the drums on this are particularly good, Nicke shines throughout.
“Strange Sister” is more a hard rocker with solid riffs, powerful vocals where she gets a little more gritty and throws some belts. It drops down to a more evil sound before we get the guitar solos and then back into the riff. Great rocker. They end the album with “Nothing Left To Lose But My Life” (they write some great titles) which has in keeping with the theme a very doomy opening, haunting with the song really being driven along by Harald‘s bass work which works well with the vocals.
Both guitar solos are full of emotion and feel. The song becomes more urgent sounding before fading out wth what sound like air raid sirens. The thing that gets me listening to this is how brooding it sounds yet at the same time there is a playfullness going on. It is hard to say exactly how they do that but it is a hell of a good trick.
This is in my humble opinion the best album they have made. The songs are all strong, the riffs are cool, the solos short and on point and the whole thing is fun. Yes, it is doomy, has a gothic feel at times but they can write a brilliant chorus as is shown throughout the album. It sounds so fresh yet managing to pay huge respect to the bands they obviously love from the 60s, 70s and even 80s. Great vocals and playing with a production that enhances it all beautifully. It is very early in the year to say this, but this is already a strong contender for a top 10 spot at the end of the year. It is utter quality. Recommended with bells on!