I loved The Oath’s self-titled release last year. So it was with a deep sense of shock and confusion that I heard they broke up shortly after its release. Why would a band, with so much talent on its side and great songs to play, call it quits so soon? From what I can tell from interviews, the specific reasons are deeply personal and not open to public discussion. And that’s fine. It would be nice if more post-breakup musicians could exercise some discretion.
So in the shadow of 2014, what does Johanna Sedonis’ new band, Lucifer, bring us in 2015? I’ll admit that when I first saw the logo, I was kind of terrified. There’s a lot of boring counterculture-nostalgia out there in the world of doom-metal, and I worried that Sedonis was going to lean too hard on her admiration for 70s rock, thus leaving metal to a side role. Luckily for all of us, I was wrong.
So wrong, in fact, that I found myself enjoying parts of this album more than last year’s release from The Oath. The riffs hit harder, the songwriting is better and more consistent, and there’s less of an obvious reliance on hard rock. In its place is a clear reverence for Candlemass and Ozzy-era Black Sabbath. It’s funny that I should write these words however, since Sedonis herself actually describes the opposite in a recent interview:
I want it to be a different band and concept. The Oath had much more of a heavy metal, old school, doom, and hard rock influence with that NWOBHM influence very present. With Lucifer you won’t hear so much of the heavy metal side that The Oath had. It’s much more of a heavy rock sound than a metal sound.
Perhaps I’m missing something. There is at least a more effective sense of rise and crash with Lucifer, one that creates a different atmosphere that The Oath and that feels significantly heavier. One thing that is very consistent of course is Johanna Sedonis’ excellent voice and use of melody, engaging the listener and leading him or her through each track.
And it’s not just that her voice sounds good, that’s merely her birthright. But it has more to do with how she expresses each note, and the individual spirit she’s able to embody through her vocals. The doom vocalists in Candlemass, My Dying Bride and Electric Wizard stand out because they use their own sense of creativity to express themselves. This is what separates them from those who simply ape early-Ozzy or try to sound like some folksy “wizard/witch” or whatever. The same applies here, as Sedonis' vocal style is undeniably her own.
But some words should be reserved for the rest of the band as well. Apparently the guitarist goes by the name of “The Wizard,” which is wonderfully fitting for the current popularity of “magical” and “occult” themes- though to his credit, he uses Marshall amps instead of the Orange ones you’d expect him to use. Anyway, The Wizard certainly does work some magic with the strings and is well-supported by the rhythm section of Dino Gollnick and Andrew Prestdige,
So what we have in 2015 is a solid, satisfying heavy rock/doom metal release. There are moments where the atmosphere begins to drag on you, particularly once you get five or six songs in, but this may be up to how much you enjoy Lucifer’s nostalgic approach. Regardless, let’s hope this act is able to keep the magic flowing for more than one album this time.
Favorite Songs: “Abracadabra,” “Izrael,” “Sabbath," and "Morning Star"