Lucifer strike back, take aim at doubters with alluring magic, swaggering power on great ‘IV’

As far as the music world seems to have come with welcoming all types of people under the umbrella as artists and not just, like, white dudes, there’s still a long way to go. Every time I get an email that specifically pushes a “female-fronted” band in the subject line, it feels like they’re selling a gimmick rather than the legitimate artwork. And there remain women who still don’t feel fully embraced by the metal community at large, no matter how their numbers have grown.

Johanna Sadonis, vocalist for doomy and swaggering throwback metal band Lucifer decided to take that sentiment and use it as a “fuck you” statement to the music business in general that still seems to treat women as some sort of token or something precious instead of legitimate, true creators. So, she’s crucified on their cover of the band’s killer new record “Lucifer IV,” perhaps the most confident and direct record of their run. It’s an incredibly bold and attitude-filled shot that drips with anger. Sadonis didn’t just pour that disgust into the artwork as she and her band—guitarists Martin Norldin and Linus Björklund, bassist Harald Göthblad, drummer Nicke Anderson—rip through 11 tracks and 46 minutes on their follow-up to last year’s great “Lucifer III,” channeling their magic, charisma, and power.

“Archangel of Death” is a punchy opener, a good indicator of what’s to come as Sadonis calls, “I was born the child of winter.” The chorus pops, which is a common theme on this record, things get a little meaner later, and the track comes to a fiery finish. “Wild Hearses” is a great song title, and it’s doomy and bluesy as it shoves out of the gates, with the vocals sounding alluring and sultry. “We’ll arrive by hearse, you and I,” Sadonis declares as the guitars blaze, the chorus jolts, and the punches are pain you’ll savor. “Crucifix (I Burn for You)” is an easy pick for lead single as it could slip into rock radio playlists, if those were still a thing, and utterly thrive. The chorus is tremendous and coated with evil sugar, while the guitar work makes blood bubble and drive like a river. “Bring Me His Head” starts with the drums taking the lead and start/stop playing making the adrenaline surge. The song is defiant and swaggering as Sadonis jabs, “Don’t break me down,” with the song driving to a delirious end. “Mausoleum” kicks into high gear right away with the keys lathering and the hair standing up on the back of your neck. “You fear the dark, it has no end,” Sadonis calls as the guitars rip out, organs swell, and the final moments land some haunting blows.

“The Funeral Pyre” is a strange interlude built with acoustics and sweeping synth, leading into “Cold as a Tombstone” that has steaming riffs and a chugging pace. The track has the vibe of a ’70s Heart jam as Sadonis wails, “Stone cold, you’re no friend of mine.” The soloing is tremendous as the steam rises like a hot shower on a dark winter’s night. “Louise” has Sadonis in deeper voice through much of this as she lures you into her trap, with this feeling like it trickled into your ears from four decades ago. “Why don’t you call me?” Sadonis wonders as the track digs its claws into flesh. “Nightmare” is thunderous with spooky keys and a fun pace. “Take your hands off me, I beg you please,” Sadonis cries desperately as the keys trickle, and the track picks up steam and blazes to its end. “Orion” is a decent track, but it’s the weakest of the bunch simmering in mid-tempo verses with the chorus making the blood rush harder. The guitars open and send beams of light, and the track burns out and right into closer “Phobos” that’s instantly more aggressive. “You’ve been searching to destroy,” Sadonis accuses as the chorus blasts in, and the soloing tears holes in the sky. The track gets heavily psychedelic and dreamy as it reaches its second half, and the final gasps breathe lightning, leaving you gasping heavily.

Lucifer keep creating solid building blocks each time out, and “IV” is a rock-solid entry in their catalog, one that really lets Sadonis soar as the voice of the band. The tracks are a little deadlier, and Sadonis takes aim at the patriarchy more than once, demonstrating she is a force who is not to be crossed. This band keeps getting better with each record, and hopefully this is the one that will catch on with even more people, swelling their following like they absolutely deserve.

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