Written by: Blackie Skulless
I actually discovered the Chilean heavy metallers Lucifer’s Hammer a few years ago when Time Is Death was the latest release, and when first looking back, I remembered not caring for it and forgetting about it. What a fool I was! This year when The Trip dropped, not only did I find it to be wonderful, but something seemed oddly familiar. I quickly remembered, dug up the old albums, and found that not only was I extremely wrong prior, but they’d still evolved since then. Of the three full-lengths, this is the album where I believe Lucifer’s Hammer truly realized their potential.
Throwing back to the heavy/power types of the early ‘80s, this is a very refreshing dish of old news brought to its best new heights. The secret probably lies a bit in the brevity of seven tracks barely crossing the half-hour mark, which means that they’re all rid of any extra topping and unnecessary embellishment. No, this is built primarily on memorable and clean riffs that don’t feel any need for aggression, with the sharpest moments lying within the higher falsettos. Oddly enough, outside of those, the vocals are actually pretty tame, coming in cleanly but swiftly at an octave that compares well with the warmer guitar tones.
Of course, masterful execution like that from an old style is something that happens quite often, and can’t be the only thing used to make traditional metal great. The Trip has wonderful writing tactics as well, with clean transition and driving passages that engrain themselves quickly. “Land Of Fire” had me sold the first time around; its blitzing drum splats under more somber vocals and wonderfully melodic leads made for such a great track. The emotion in the delivery alone is very flattering, which can be said about a lot of this.
What’s also incredible is how much the guitars take the forefront without taking away from the vocals, allowing for so much to be done in such little time. A handful of the songs here ride out on leads, which is a tactic that I don’t think gets utilized enough in heavy metal as a whole. Picking other standouts here is difficult because almost every song nails everything I’m explaining. If “Land Of Fire” isn’t the tightest track, it could be “Illusion” for starting on the intense note before transitioning into a steady speed-chugger and a soothingly smooth chorus. Man, even that repetition-riff in the bridge is flawless! Closer “A Believer In You” is another emotional piece that brings the bass and drums together to their heights which back the flawless chorus wonderfully. Lots of rock ‘n roll vibes here as well.
But you really can’t go wrong with any of this. I kick myself regularly for failing to understand this band a few years ago, wondering how a concept so easy to grasp didn’t sit with me the first time. All of their albums are worth visiting, but this is an exceptional priority. Think early Satan (NWOBHM) but with less grit and tighter straps, or perhaps Freeways with more metal orientation.
Lucifer's Hammer - The Trip was released June 5th, 2021
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!