Album: Lucifer III
Label: Century Media Records
For the band Lucifer, there is no need for any introduction. They have established their name in the music scene with their unique retro-like metal, rock ‘n’ roll black mass, a vibe which continues with their latest release, Lucifer III. Relative to previous album gaps, the time between 2018’s Lucifer II and 2020’s Lucifer III has been incredibly swift. Returning with Johanna Sadonis is her drummer/co-writer/husband Nicke Andersson (Entombed, The Hellacopters), while guitarists Martin Nordin and Linus Björklund remain after joining once Lucifer II was completed, though bassist Alexander Mayr has since been replaced by Harald Göthblad after leaving in 2019.
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The album opens with the tune “Ghosts,” which fans will be quite familiar with as it has been in the band’s setlist for roughly a year at this point. Everything that the true fan-fanatics can expect from Lucifer can be found herein. The nostalgic songwriting with the wandering bass line, punchy drum sound, distorted guitar, and subtle use of keys all create the ideal base over which Sadonis lays her vocals. The guitar riffs themselves are relatively simple throughout apart from the inclusion of a few little lead runs that tie the sections together and a nicely written solo, creating a solid flow.
The following track, “Midnight Phantom,” contains a number of Lucifer’s trademark haunting vocal melodies and a more reserved instrumental sound, hearkening back to earlier Black Sabbath albums with its dense, muted guitar. However, that is completely contrasted against the larger-than-life chorus, reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s style with its use of harmonized male and female vocals. This, along with the song’s upbeat nature makes it one of the band’s hookiest songs to date.
“Leather Demon” is one of the tunes that was used to spearhead the release’s merchandising and it’s clear why, with the obvious nod to the tough rock acts of the late 70s to early 80s. The song melds bluesy guitar playing with rock ‘n’ roll swagger and even more catchy vocal melodies. “Lucifer” again shows a clear Black Sabbath influence that may also be reflected in the album art. The band waited until midway through their third album to release a self-titled track and this rollicking tune is a toe-tapping gem, with an addictive bass line that keeps the tempo alive for the rest of the band.
The guitar style in “Pacific Blues” is a huge asset on the track, with the harmonised guitars trading off solos in the final third of the song, counteracting the more formulaic vocal melody. “Coffin Fever” kicks off with an evil-sounding riff and Sadonis’ extra-hushed tone helps to create a brooding environment in the verses. The production of the vocals on this album is something to be marvelled at with the subtle use of reverb in the singing, including that little extra something without making the overall sound come off as too digitally altered. Many modern bands could learn a lot from this technique.
“Flanked by Snakes” is arguably the most energetic and cheerful track on the album, showcasing playful guitar work by Linus Björklund and Martin Nordin. Melodic riffs resemble Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore in style, accenting the vocals and creates a song that’s fun to move to. The most interesting track personally was “Stay Astray,” with its irresistible beat by Nicke Andersson’s drumming, simple yet acting as the glue that holds the track together as the rest of the band trades infectious guitar riffs and Sadonis’ charming, melodic vocals and rebellious lyrics work everything together with a retro vibe.
The album closer, “Cemetery Eyes,” shows the band slowing everything down and brings a mellow feel to the end. This music feels far grander than anything the band has done before with the way that it ebbs and flows. The refrain absolutely soars, making this track a sure hit if it gets thrown into the band’s setlist. It’s worth noting that the solo towards the end is extremely good.
In keeping with the numbers in their album titles, the story of Lucifer has truly completed its third stage. I really enjoyed listening to the album, as it took me back to earlier days with its powerful riffs and attention-grabbing melodies.
Rating: 8/10, 4 stars
2. Midnight Phantom
3. Leather Demon
5. Pacific Blues
6. Coffin Fever
7. Flanked By Snakes
8. Stay Astray
9. Cemetery Eyes