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This, Angelcorpse's 2007 comeback album, seems a somewhat divisive one among fans and critics alike. I recall 'Of Lucifer and Lightning' was Terrorizer's album of the month upon release, scoring a hefty 9 out of 10. However, a quick glance down the MA reviews indicates not everyone was pleased with this one. In particular, the production comes under heavy fire, as does the supposed lack of new ideas. All I have to say is this: bollocks! 'Of Lucifer and Lightning' is a mighty piece of empowering extremity, and a worthy addition to Angelcorpse's discography.
Musically, this is still instantly recognisable as Angelcorpse; not surprising, considering the reunion of the original lineup. Gene and Pete have, of course, always been there; the latter continues to conjure some of the finest death/black guitarwork in existence, while the former remains one of the most distinctive and destructive vocalists in the genre, arguably sounding better here than ever before. Add to the gang a returning John Longstreth, sounding much tighter than before, and you have a crack squad of death metal maniacs ready to crush some skulls.
And crush they do! Angelcorpse have wisely stuck to what they're good at, and if you're familiar with their previous albums you can probably skip this paragraph. For those who have not had their ears violated by the wonderful racket that is Angelcorpse: imagine Morbid Angel without the experimentation, without the melody, without the epics and with vastly superior, utterly ravaged vocals. Angelcorpse do not fuck around, and if you like your death metal with plenty of proggy sections and clean vocals, you're going to be very disappointed with this album. Of course, why anyone would seek out a band called 'Angelcorpse' and expect anything but blasphemy and carnage is beyond me. This is shitloads of trem picking, tonnes of blastbeats, an endless stream of vitriolic lyrics and a handful of very heavy mid-paced chug sections. If that sounds like your kind of thing, you will treasure this album and all others by this band; I guarantee it.
Regarding the production: it's not awful, but not perfect. It's the one aspect that has changed dramatically since the last album, and something that took me a little while to warm to. Whereas 'The Inexorable' had a fiery, vicious quality to it, like a whirlwind of razorblades, 'Of Lucifer and Lightning' has a murkier, darker sound to it. The guitars are muddy and, as another reviewer pointed out, a lot more Morbid Angelesque than before. The drums, in contrast, sound a lot less punchy and heavy than in the past. While I greatly enjoy the churning, oily guitar tone, I must admit I'm not a fan of this drum sound; it's probably the only element on this album I would consider particularly negative. Helmkamp's vocals have, thankfully, not been touched, and though his bass doesn't stand out too much, there's plenty of bottom-end coming from the guitars anyway.
Overall then, 'Of Lucifer and Lightning' is a worthy swansong for Angelcorpse. No, the production's not top-notch and they're basically delivering the same goods a third time in a row, but when the goods are this damn... well... good, I can't see a justifiable reason to complain. Imagine how upset you'd be if Motorhead did a prog album.
It is a real shame that this was Angelcorpse's last release, as although Helmkamp's Kerasphorus and Palubicki's Perdition Temple both offer high-quality brutal metal in spades, the former lacks the latter's demonic riffing and the latter lacks the former's unmistakable voice. Come on guys; shake hands, make up and give us a few more slabs of iron, blood and blasphemy!