Thursday, October 9, 2014

…the Morning Star descending: Lucifer’s Fall – ‘S/T'

Potentially the most “traditional” sounding doom album to be released this year belongs to Lucifer’s Fall—an offshoot of Adelaide, Australia’s amazing doom outfit, Rote Mare. The band’s self-titled debut is not a complete stylistic shift from what Phil Howlett has produced in the past with Rote Mare, either in the band’s earliest incarnation as a solo project or as a fully realized metal band. Howlett’s vocals and distinctive riffs betray a complete departure. Despite the stylistic similarities Lucifer’s Fall finds Howlett delivering an overall cleaner vocal delivery and, occasionally, even belting out some over-the-top banshee wails to maximum effect.

The seven tracks of ‘Lucifer’s Fall’ have an authentic, old school feel that draws equally from the conventions of both doom metal and traditional heavy metal. Howlett, credited as Deceiver, and Rote Mare drummer Ben Dodunski, known on this recording as Unknown Unnamed, prove that in addition to perfecting a dreary snail-paced crawl, that they are also masters of mid-tempo metal. The end result is a selection of tunes that remain unmistakably doom while eliciting a fist-pumping, head-banging response—an approach to doom metal, in spirit, that they share with Maryland’s mighty Iron Man.

What really stands out on this album is the lead guitar playing of Howlett. While it may not be a virtuoso performance of technical shredding it never fails to remain creative and melodic. Howlett manages to hit the right note at the right time and with the right tone. The opening notes of album standout “The Suffering Wizard” are nothing short of sublime. It is a lazy, melodic intro that is—at the same time—razor sharp, not too dissimilar from many of Jerry Fogle’s standout leads on Cirith Ungol’s first three albums.

While the bulk of the album resides comfortably in the mid-tempo range, there are a couple of faster paced tunes to get the blood pumping. The near-instrumental “The Summoning” is a scorcher with propulsive drumming, galloping riffs, and occasional interjections of the song’s title as the tune’s only lyrics. “Unknown Unnamed”, despite the drawn out, languid intro is also imbibed with a fair share of adrenaline.

Executed without pretense, ‘Lucifer’s Fall’ is a terrific album that should appease fans of doom metal and old school metal alike. While comparisons to Rote Mare are inevitable and not completely unfounded Lucifer’s Fall is irrevocably its own beast. Hopefully Howlett will return to his work with Rote Mare and continue to further develop Lucifer’s Fall. Both bands are highly recommended.



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