The second album from German singer Johanna Sadonis’ band saw her relocating to Stockholm Sweden with new partner Nicke Andersson (The Hellacopters, Entombed) and a change to a much rockier sound.
Those familiar with the band will know that Lucifer started life as a collaboration with former Cathedral guitarist Gaz Jennings. Their eponymous first album, while excellent, was basically Gaz’s trademark riffs with Johanna’s vocals laid on top. To me, this sounds awesome, but as Johanna herself has pointed out in interviews recently, the sound limited the band to an underground doom audience.
After breaking up with former partner Lee Dorian (also ex-Cathedral) and leaving his label Rise Above Records, Johanna saw herself without a label and ultimately without a guitarist as the business relationship broke down. It seemed as if Lucifer were dead and buried.
But, as with most things in rock ‘n’ roll, nothing is ever truly dead, and now Lucifer are back, with a new live band and this second LP.
The first thing that struck me was a much more rock ‘n’ roll-oriented sound with only small pockets of doom riffing. The album also features a Rolling Stones cover (track 4, ‘Dancing With Mr. D’). This was done deliberately to help the band reach a wider audience, and judging by the amount of touring the band are doing, seems to have paid off. They may have lost some of their hardcore underground fans as a result, who may perceive the new material as hipster rock. It’s certainly rocky, and hipsters will probably love it, but ‘Lucifer II’ is just as dark and heavy as their first offering, only this time there is a little more emotional depth and variety of moods, with even occasional pockets of humour.
I bought the LP version and it also comes with a CD, so if you’re on the fence about which version to buy, I would go with that then you can rip to CD to whichever device you want for listening on the go. I think this will help sales as you get the incredible high quality vinyl and the convenient digital version bundled in. Very cool!
Johanna is on top form vocally and much more open and confident sounding than on her previous records (The first Lucifer album and the ill-fated band The Oath). To my ears, she sounds happier than she has been in years, and is finally free to do her own thing and work full time on her band. This is something all musicians would secretly love to do. More power to her and Nicke – I hope they can keep going in these tough times.
All the music was written, recorded and mostly played by Andersson, and he’s done a sterling job creating an authentic, modern rock record that still has that unmistakable classic feel without sounding like a retro tribute record. He has managed to mix his love of rock ‘n’ roll (such as the Stones) with the essence of Black Sabbath and other classic acts such as Deep Purple and Scorpions (the band covered the track ‘Evening Wind’ for
Andersson’s tight drumming and chilled yet heavy riffing style mixes perfectly with Johanna’s smoky, sexy vocals, particularly on the haunting single ‘Dreamer,’ which is simultaneously heavy and tender. The band makes good use of dynamics as this track shows, but choose not to use acoustic guitars. I did hear some piano in there though and the odd tambourine!
The Lucifer live band is currently touring, and you might be lucky enough to catch them live. Lead by Sadonis, with their old-school black leather image, Lucifer come across as a sexy, possibly slightly dodgy biker gang that are old enough to know better but young enough to make you stop and take notice.
It took a couple of listens to get into ‘Lucifer II,’ but it is definitely one of my favourite albums of 2018. It would be easy to see the blonde front woman and think ‘this is just another trendy occult rock band.’ Don’t! Lucifer are here to stay and they ain’t going anywhere!
‘Lucifer II’ is out now on Century Media Records.