Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.
In this case, the necessity was moving on after Gaz Jennings departed Lucifer in 2016 which left founder member Johanna Sadonis bereft of both a guitarist and songwriting partner. The invention comes with a stunning new album, Lucifer II, borne out of a new creative partnership with Nicke Andersson. Andersson, who starred with Imperial State Electric and The Hellacopters among others, played – through necessity again – bass, drums and half the guitar on the album before Robin Tidebrink arrived to add his immense 6-string flair.
Lucifer version 1.0 was billed as a doom-metal band, with a low, slow, heavy sound and their first well-received release, Lucifer I, stuck to this one dimension.
Now Lucifer version 1.1 is a different animal. Whilst maintaining their doomer, stoner, fuzzy persona, they give so much more. Lucifer II is chock full of depth, intricacies, and nuances.
What both albums possess, obviously, is the excellent vocals of Sadonis. She has a power and purity sometimes lacking with male vocalists. She has the ability to knock your socks off with power and then in the blink of an eye melt your heart with tenderness.
If you were expecting Lucifer v1.0 on the new album then those thoughts are quickly dispelled with opener “California Son”. This is a straight up rocker. It is a great showcase for the new line-up with cracking riffs, great pace, and toe-tapping catchiness. Quality start.
“Dreamer” follows hot on its heels and tempts you in with tender vocals and a slow considered beat. Once within its grasp, the track grabs you by the throat to make sure you get the point and never lets go. The chorus isn’t so much singalong as screamalong at the top of your voice.
Check out vids for the two opening tracks below.
“Phoenix” is up next and the quality keeps on coming. Johanna Sadonis is at her emotional and powerful best on this track. It appears to be quite a tricky song to sing with pace and rhythm changes but she pulls it off magnificently. The guitaring is also top-notch. It’s a headbanging winner.
The first backward glance to Lucifer v1.0 comes with “Dancing With Mr D.” Slower paced but still with a fair bit of power. To say it’s plodding does it a great disservice but it disturbs the momentum created by the first 3 tracks a touch.
Lucifer themselves have admitted being influenced by 60’s and 70’s rock and this is shown none more so than on “Reaper On Your Heels”. If you heard this track back in the 70’s you’d have described it as “groovy, man”. Trippy, hippy and with a low groove this song exemplifies the classic rock genre of that time period.
Onward and upward with “Eyes in the Sky” and we’re tripping again, this time with a fuzzy feel to its opening. Mellow vocals take us smoothly to another dimension before the pace is suddenly lifted and Sadonis rocks out along with a tasty lick delivering a rocking kidney punch before gently returning us to earth via some more intrepid guitar work. One thing about Lucifer, you never clock-watch, waiting for the next track, there’s always something interesting going on.
“Before the Sun” smacks of early classic Heart, the band’s “Dreamboat Annie” if you will, but with more twiddling.
Classic 70’s riffs greet us on “Aton”, followed by an initial staccato vocal delivery. Add to the mix emotive fretwork and a sweeping chorus and you have a killer track. I told you it always keeps interesting….
The classic rock influence continues on “Faux Pharoah” as the band reinforces its knack of composing catchy tunes. Pure and intense vocals backed by more intelligent guitar work sweep you along in a haze of 70’s groove.
So, to the all-too-soon climax and “Evening Wind” is the perfect way to finish. This song has got all the band’s best attributes on show. Feel, emotion, classy vocals, great riffs, great solos, ripping bass and drums. This list is not exhaustive either.
As you may have noticed I rate Lucifer II highly, very highly. It’s out now on Century Media Records so follow the link below and add it to your classic rock collection, it won’t be out of place. In fact, it’ll probably shit on most of them.