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Dreamer, What have You Done With Your Life?! - 81%

CHAIRTHROWER, October 9th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Century Media Records

Those questing for lucidly hip female helm-ed heavy psych indelibly possessed of a brash, huskily swaggering mien akin to Devil Electric, Cauchemar, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Black Road, Ruby The Hatchet, Dusk and Galactic Soldiers, or, rather, a vaguely sinister but equally pentatonic, estrogen fueled Black Sabbath, stop right there...and take giddy, devil horn tossing stock as I've just what the good ole (rock n' roll) doctor ordered...

Merrily cursed with an inane, however conducive, moniker which elicits chuckles every time, the easy-going and laid-back, internationally rocking quartet soulfully driven by none other than comely German temptress Joanna Sadonis (of The Oath fame), Lucifer once again infernally chimes the bells of Hades with an enneiadic, roughly forty-minute sophomore release aptly christened Lucifer II.

Already on the sunny, organ-tinged, snake rattling opener, "California Sun", a couple of fairly benign aspects come to light. For one, Sadonis' voice is as powerfully crooning and evocative as ever, somehow expressing a friendly, open exuberance as opposed to sombre heel-grinding lugubriousness. In other words, unlike Satan's Hallow front woman Mandy Martillo or Savage Master's Stacey Peak, whose awesome feral exhortations and tremulous caws would send FM radio heads meekly scurrying to the nearest Sam the Record Man (were it still around), Sadonis' smoky and impassioned lounge-befitting hymns, alongside the more fervent, embattled likes of A Sound Of Thunder's Nina Osegueda and Unleash The Archers' Brittney Slayes, exude a highly accessible vibe ideal for everyday rock fans...ironically oblivious to the wonderful World of "heavy metal" (or, in this case, "heavy psychedelic rock"). Essentially, her sly, classy style works best on cryptically gnarled fare - such as most of Lucifer I's second half, including the vamping, acid-blotter evoking sleaze'r "Purple Pyramid" (my preferred Sadonis track overall), juxtaposed as it is over campy Sabbath-ian themes - kiln roasted Hell rock for the masses, if you will!

Also, the pronounced shedding of minor-keyed harmonies and abundance of previously minimized "fly-by-night" solos lends the sequel a breezily encroaching "heavy psychedelic rock" vibe over and beyond a genially malevolent surround (and/or atmosphere). The middle of the album, that is, succeeding the rejuvenating, coming-of-age, foot-stomping, sing-along liberator, "Phoenix", whose crepuscular bridge shimmer readily harks back to the delirious days of Captain Beyond, Blue Oyster Cult and Lucifer's Friend (cozily enough!), drags along a little too cheerfully for my tastes, what with the weirdly appropriate (and shagging) Rolling Stones cover, "Dancing With Mr. D", batting clean-up. Despite its cleverly grim title, I'm not eagerly biting into doves either over the slackly ushered, maddeningly wan "AM" radio-friendly/60s sound-a-like, "Reaper On Your Heels". (Urg, the next thing you know, He'll be riding frocks and coattails!)

Ultimately, Lucifer II is starkly brighter i.e. less ominous and dark than its predecessor, with just a smattering of mystically nuanced, hard-driven humdingers such as the eerily mellifluous and slow-churning "Dreamer" - a poignantly retro, mournfully clean ringing dead-ringer for the Dio-fronted Sabbath gem "Children of the Sea" (from 1980's Heaven And Hell masterpiece) also filling the second spot in the rotation as the aforementioned Lucifer staple, "Purple Pyramid" - as well as the late, full-tilt, lumbering boogie-fest, "Before the Sun". Oh, make sure to keep an ear out for the wizened Tony Iommi-ish guitar solo intersecting the former.

Another high point meriting attention is the kooky and lumbering "Eyes in the Sky" which, with its creepy cadence and languor, would fit right in Dario Argento's witch-y, kaleidoscopic and hallucinatory (as well as mirror infested) 1977 horror yarn Suspiria. Halfway through the swirling, colorfully chaotic madness, a maniacally energized tempo surge - akin to when the film's house literally (and absurdly!) comes down - jolts the listener for a spell before a lazy, albeit even-keeled, return to form.

The line-up has been dramatically altered as well. Supporting Sadonis' brand of wickedly rocking charms are newly engaged ax men Nicke Andersson (an active member of Death Breath and Entombed, on top of being Lucifer's active drummer), Robin Tidebrink (the band's original stand-in live guitarist) and, in the grand tradition of April Wine and BOC, a third with the inclusion of Martin Nordin. A fresh, competent bassist in Alexander Mayr completes this, ahem, hellish line-up.

A pair of psychedelic, five-minute closers seal the tomb, er, deal. On one hand (of glory), "Aton" feels a bit like filler and simply recalls "Eyes In The Sky", but in a coy cabaret manner despite its honky-tonk-like blues soloing. On the other, "Faux Pharaoh" is along the same sordid, smashing lines as past psychedelic worthies from 2015 such as "Izrael", "White Mountain" and "Total Eclipse". That said, Lucifer II's light and fluffy middle tracks prevent me from surpassing the high score I ascribed to Lucifer I. It's still a fun listen though, proving equally meritorious whether you're driving to Salem or sitting at a round, candlelit table conducting a séance.

Worth mentioning at the outset, the band has made terrific progress, album cover-wise, with its singular reprise of The Scorpions' "Evening Wind", released towards the end of last month. (Visually, it's much less drab than a simple band name plainly laid over a blank, nondescript background.) Here's to hoping Lucifer retains its liberating chthonian grace while permanently adopting such groovy Uncle Acid/Devil's Witches schemed artwork.