Lucifer V

Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Fallen Angel
02. At The Mortuary
03. Riding Reaper
04. Slow Dance In A Crypt
05. A Coffin Has No Silver Lining
06. Maculate Heart
07. The Dead Don't Speak
08. Strange Sister
09. Nothing Left To Lose But My Life

When the Devil invented rock 'n' roll, this is almost certainly what he had in mind. Not entirely surprisingly, "Lucifer V" is the fifth album by LUCIFER. Like its predecessors (doomy debut "Lucifer" possibly excepted),  it sounds like a candlelit riot in some ornately decorated but seedy dive bar, a street or two away from the gates of Hell. It has an indecent amount of swagger and sass, and LUCIFER vocalist Johanna Sadonis has never sung with more bewitched bravado. The fourth album to showcase Sadonis's songwriting partnership with real life squeeze Nicke Andersson, "Lucifer V" still has slender roots in the world of thunderous doom; but really this is a much more refined hybrid of spooky classic rock and occult metal, and as sharp and stylish as the contents of a vampire's fly-in wardrobe.

Aside from a slight sharpening of their compositional blade, LUCIFER remain largely unchanged from the thunderous hard rock entity that was born on "Lucifer II" 2018. The only major difference this time around is that "Lucifer V" feels more celebratory and more defiant than any previous album. Sadonis's star quality continues to shine, but her bandmates have risen to meet her. Exemplified by delirious opener "Fallen Angel", this is LUCIFER with the gloves off and basking in the spotlight.

Not that evil is ever too far away. There's a traditional SABBATH-ian spirit inherent in songs like "At The Mortuary" and "Riding Reaper", but despite ticking many of the boxes that classic rock diehards demand, LUCIFER have an edge that cuts through any coziness or cliché. Equally, it's obvious that they take immense satisfaction from indulging their Hammer Films horror fantasies. "Slow Dance In A Crypt" is a macabre waltz with dive bar piano and Sadonis gleefully deadpanning her way through a tale of doomed romance: sinister, soulful and sexy, it's a master class in gothic melodrama. In contrast, "A Coffin Has No Silver Lining" is a cautionary tale with its heart in the '80s, and with a lethal AOR hook; while "Maculate Heart" brings beauty and beastliness together, switching from a plaintive, folk intro to driving, garage rock with hazy, soul harmonies. LUCIFER pull off a gorgeously pompous rock shuffle on the darkly funky "The Dead Don't Speak" and head out to the old-school highway for the spiky "Strange Sister", before bringing the house down with the loping, black-hearted blues of "Nothing Left To Lose But My Life", wherein a dazzling turn from lead guitarist Linus Björkland steals the show. As they fade to black, Sadonis and her crew are lost in a spiraling death-dance, as sirens wail, and Satan, laughing, spreads his wings. That's rock 'n' roll, folks, and LUCIFER continue to make it look and sound as cool as Hell.

Author: Dom Lawson
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