Lucifer’s Hammer - Time is Death

Lucifer’s Hammer Time is Death cover
Lucifer’s Hammer
Time is Death
Stormspell Records
2018
7.5
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Borrowing its rather ambiguous and suggestive moniker from the classic Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle sci-fi novel is Santiago, Chile’s Lucifer’s Hammer, a most faithful and un-presumptuous traditional heavy metal trio (elevated from a duo), which last month released a shockingly tight, compact and melodic sophomore, “Time is Death”, following comprehensively rocking offerings in the form of an EP, full-length debut and garage-days like cassette demo dating back to 2013.
 
Propitiously stylish metal monikers prevail as front/ax man Hades, lead guitarist Hypnos and dual battery, bassist and skins defiler Titan lay down seven accessibly elaborate tracks totalling just under forty minutes, with the seven-minute titular opener strongly evoking early 80s/Bruce Dickinson era Iron Maiden, notably at 04:44 when a highly melodic and old school styled guitar harmony paves the way for a stellar and oh-so-catapulting lead break prior to a gripping as well as wickedly synchronized return to form/sweetly plucked, clean wind down. Gregarious soupçons of Satan and Grim Reaper (how convenient!) abound, especially on the next and shortest number, “Prisoners of the Night”, thanks to its wry opening cymbal taps and rawly rendered fist-pumper of a guitar riff which brings to mind the latter’s “Never Coming Back”, as it possesses a similarly raucous and surging (as well as immutably congenial!) energy. Its care-free albeit hellish chorus is further cause for gleeful rejuvenation whilst the astounding barn-imploding solos make me want to join in the cacophonous screams of the Damned rising from the very pits of Hell!
 
The gritty and sand-paper rough level of production only serves to ratchet the album’s homey, golden era flair whilst the bass and drums prominently rise to the fore; in fact, the bass lines often compliment the tracks with their own nifty, merrily galloping and plump undertow, much like the bar-setting Steve Harris. Hades’ silky upper mid-range, somewhat baritone vocals fit said seeking bass lines, boxy yet mercurial drums and pumped up, as well as engaging, guitar riffs like the pitchfork in Grant Wood’s American Gothic; suffice to say, the baneful and malefic lyrical content behoves the pentatonic and minor scaled instrumentation in the same manner as fellow Latin trad metal stalwarts Iron Spell, Wild Witch and Sweet Danger.
 
Furthermore, compared to the official 2016 debut, “Beyond the Omens”, attention to detail is even more pronounced and ratified; in other words, the guitars are more fluid and fiery while the rhythm section has duly stepped up its game. Other crafty innovations apply, such as the caustic tremolo riff markedly defining “Lady Dark” or the kick-ass triplet based wheel roller, which is the intensely memorable and catchy “Traitors of the Night”, another radical sing-along chorus, coming-of-age bass-heavy bridge and super soulful solo section withstanding (excuse the overt garbling but can you tell I'm excited?!).
 
Slick sweep-picking and a snazzy introductory solo, along with Hades’ diabolical yawping – I can just picture him sardonically wringing his hands – make closer “Dreamer” a decidedly apropos curtain drawing finale... unsurprisingly, Lucifer’s Hammer has pleasantly cooked my goose. Although I initially figured “Time is Death” as the Chileans’ strongest release, it’s safe to say all their recordings are worth any well-bred metalhead’s time. It goes without saying I’ll be keeping both eyes out for future fire n’ brimstone developments.

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