Vocalist Johanna Sadonis has understandably been Lucifer’s main attraction from the get go, but I must admit that guitarist Gaz Jennings was my person of interest when first hearing about them. Cathedral’s 2013 disbandment certainly hurt and the Carnival Bizarre-lite approach of 2015’s Lucifer I was a nice way to fill that void. But with Jennings having since departed, there’s even more pressure for Lucifer’s second outing to carve out a less derivative path. Thankfully Lucifer II (Twocifer?) successfully lives up to the debut and then some.
Much like Avatarium’s post-Edling direction, the band is more upfront about their 70s rock and psychedelic influences this time around. The debut’s driving tempos are almost completely phased out in favor of the upbeat garage rock rhythms of “California Son” and steadier mid-tempo fare like the bluesy “Before the Sun.” There’s also a touch of keyboard and the guitars boast a subtler but still ominous character that allows the vocals to take center stage and inject more attitude into the otherwise ethereal delivery.
These shifts may result in a less aggressive sound overall, but there’s still plenty of doom on Lucifer II. The band’s take on “Dancing with Mr. D” may ironically be the best demonstration of the style as the Rolling Stones deep cut comes out like a lost Sabbath tune if you slow it down just right. Elsewhere, “Reaper on Your Heels” and “Eyes in the Sky” offer plenty of that hazy four on the floor magic(k) and “Faux Pharaoh” closes things out with the album’s most massive riff set.
It’s a little funny how Lucifer went from a Cathedral spinoff to another fixture in the ever-growing occult doom movement, but you can’t complain when the band is so good at both sounds. Lucifer II is about even to I in quality songwriting and is just as breezy a listen, leaving the “winner” up to personal preference. The transition shouldn’t be too jarring for established listeners and fans of groups like Avatarium, Psychedelic Witchcraft, and Blood Ceremony are strongly encouraged to check this one out.
“Dancing with Mr. D”
“Reaper on Your Heels”
“Before the Sun”