REVIEW: LUCIFER – “III”
Joahan Sadonis’s initial metal cred came from the excellent but short-lived The Oath before she hooked-up with Cathedral’s Gaz Jennings for ‘Lucifer I.’ Having seen Lucifer on tour for their first record, I was struck by how Sadonis’s powerful voice and towering stage presence belied her petite stature. Despite casting a powerful spell to live, I was slightly underwhelmed by the “occult rock” band’s first record and looked forward to future releases.
‘Lucifer II’ saw a completely revamped band dropping Jennings and the doom metal sound. What remained was an altogether sunnier ode to Mephistopheles that took considerable influence from Sadonis’s new guitarist, drummer and romantic/songwriting partner Nicke Andersson’s (Entombed) work with The Helicopters. The record, taken on its own merits, was, by and large, a success, but with ‘Lucifer III’, the band has crafted a far more adventurous endeavor. The record finds the band tightening up their songwriting and their sound, synthesizing the unholy sounds of both records to great success.
Interestingly, ‘Lucifer III’ is at its best when it reincorporates some of the doom elements that the band all but abandoned on their second record. The dark minor-chord stomp of “Midnight Phantom” is an early stand-out. The sublimely catchy doom via punk rock intro gives way to the atmospheric serpentine riff of the verse, before exploding into a huge chorus rife with glam rock tambourines, handclaps, and flanged background vocals.
“Leather Demon” sets Sadonis’s expressive, “voice of a fallen angel” vocals to moody acoustic guitars that build into an effectively restrained chorus. The approach pays off in dividends when the middle-eight takes the tune to the next level with its chugging guitars and awesomely retro guitar solos courtesy of Andersson and fellow axe-men Martin Nordin and Linus Björk.
On the stand-out opening track “Coffin Fever”, the band once again builds an elastic minor-key dirge into a supremely catchy chorus. Midpoint, the band detours into a “Sabbathian” shuffle that winds down into a thick slow groove accented by ominous acoustic guitars and a guitar solo worthy of the Sabbath name.
Elsewhere, the hard-rock crunch of “Pacific Blues” with its pentatonic guitar runs opens-up a bit allowing the rhythm section of Andersson and bassist Harald Göthblad time in the spotlight. The Uriah Heap-esque swing of the better-late-than-never band name branded “Lucifer”, taps into a similarly retro vibe. Harkening back to the proto-metal of their previous record, it’s the best of the tracks in this style, and while it’s no “Iron Maiden” it might be a “Night Ranger”.
With ‘Lucifer III’, the least sinister band named after good ol’ Beelzebub have released a somewhat safe, retro-minded, hard-rock record that builds on its predecessor and highlights Johanna Sadonis’s devilishly good vocal talents.