NOTE: After this review was posted Wojtek Lisicki from Luciferion wrote to me and asked to correct a few things to make the review factually correct. As I only had a promo, I could not possibly have known all the facts. As such, I thank Wojtek for setting the facts straight.
When I read the lineup of Luciferion a "Gothenburg superband" notion immediately came to mind. Luciferion sees Wojtek Lisicki (guitars), Michael Nicklasson (vocals), Martin Furangen (bass) and Hans Nilsson (drums) join forces. For those of you who do not know (and I am sure there are some), Wojtek is the guitarist, main composer and mastermind of Lost Horizon (according to me one of the most relevant power metal bands these days). Martin also handles bass for Lost Horizon. Michael plays bass in Dark Tranquillity, and Hans Nilsson has been a very busy drummer in the Swedish scene having played in Liars In Wait (92-94), Crystal Age (94-96), Diabolic (96-presently active member), Dimension Zero (1996-presently active member), The Great Deceiver (97-01). How is this for a lineup? The mistake I made was to assume that The Apostate would be another Gothenburg metal album. Man, was I wrong or what!
It is often that extreme metal people get involved with side projects that showcase their softer sides (half of In Flames and just about half of Norwegian black metallers have a power metal, hard rock or gothic project). I am not saying the opposite never happens, but there are fewer examples (is this why I am struggling to come up with one?). Luciferion is as far away from Lost Horizon, as Earth is from Pluto. With this band Wojtek and the guys purge all darkness and evilness that can possibly be had in a man's soul (according to Wojtek, Luciferion does not propagate evil! The new face of the band deals with the same themes as Lost Horizon, but in a more extreme form). Yet, it is all done tastefully, at the most professional level of musicianship.
The album basically can be broken down in three parts. The first part is The Apostate itself, undoubtedly a concept story from what I can tell. Creepy Intro, crowd chants and a fair amount of narration set up the 6-part title track. With the first notes of machine gun drumming, pounding riffs, tasteful synthesizers and hellish vocals one learns what this is all about. Black/death metal with atmospheric twists is on display. Michael does most of the vocals in Luciferion. Wojtek contributed the ultra growls in the first and the second song. The vocals are not overindulgent (who even knew that Michael can growl?). Long instrumental passages are plentiful, and are the strongest points of the album. I do not totally dig the title track, as it is not flowing 100% for me with cosmic keyboard gaps and that slightly annoying, but essential for the story’s sake, narration. The end of the title track is a crazy chaotic shredfest reminding us that we are dealing with Wojtek Lisicki, a guitarist extraordinaire.
The Apostate continues with three brilliant tracks Become Or Be Gone, Destroying By Will and New World To See. If you thought that Dimmu Borgir is overdoing it with symphonics and keyboards, if you still can’t get over the fact Emperor is no more, if you like a more structured riffs in your black metal potion and are willing to accept progressive complex guitar structures, these tracks will blow you away. The music is quirky, jazzy, and at the same time majestic and demonic. It feels like thousand of hellish flies came out of darkness to sting an every inch of your body. At the same time, the music is strong and triumphant. Guitar skills are mind-blowing with astounding trading lead and harmony in New World To See being the crowning achievement. When someone says “the band sounds totally Finnish or Swedish” you almost know what to expect. Luciferion on The Apostate takes a Norwegian sound and infuses it with progressive spirit and technical guitars.
The second part is a Celtic Frost cover Circle Of The Tyrants, a track I didn’t care for too much, probably, because I am not a Celtic Frost fan.
The last five tracks come by way of The Demon Of 1994 demo/first album recorded and released by Luciferion in 1993 – 1994. The songs of the demo have later been perfected and re-recorded on the proper album Demonication (The Manifest). I’d give somebody $100 if he told me that Wojtek played an intense death metal before creating Highlander which went on to become Lost Horizon. The Demon of 1994 is not as complex, twisted or atmospheric as The Apostate. Instead, it is an immediately catchy and groovy headbanging riff festival with thick drums and wanking bass (Rebel Souls). You could think music sometimes borders on playful (The Voyager), if it wasn’t for some Satanic lyrics that I could make out. Some of the best leads are found in Rebel Souls and Satan’s Gift. They can be both delicate or jump all over the fretboard. The music can be as melodic as it gets (the opening of Hymns of Immortals) without the obvious flowing melody. Short and fiery Graced By Fire shows how much Luciferion has changed from where they started. What sounds now befitting Emperor, Zyklon and Aeternus could share the stage with Marduk and Immolation 10 years ago.
I don’t think the tag Surprise of the Month can be applied more appropriately. Both from the standpoint of the style of music the band plays, and how well they do it. This is definitely worth searching for.
Killing Songs :
Become Or Be Gone, Destroying By Will, New World To See, Rebel Souls, The Voyager, Satan's Gift, Graced By Fire
|Alex quoted 81 / 100|
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