My old computer science teacher once told our class that he liked Baja Blast Mountain Dew so much, he wished he could stick an IV in his arm and take it intravenously. Interestingly enough, that’s exactly the way I feel about blackened thrash metal. To me it’s like a drug: I don’t just want it, I fucking need it. It seems each continent produces its own unique strain and while I like Australia’s best, in recent years I’ve also come to enjoy the raw and uncompromising approach of South American bands like Invocation Spells and Witchtrap. Colombian duo Lucifera embody this same ethos and though they’re a new name to me, they’ve actually been around since 2008 and released three prior albums. The band claim fourth full-length La Caceria De Brujas is their “defining work,” but does it truly offer a satisfying fix for a hopeless blackened thrash addict like myself?
It certainly has the energy, that’s for sure. Lucifera operate at a frantic pace that reminds me of those crazy Swedes in Nifelheim, with most of these songs built from thrashy melodic riffs that dart around the fretboard with manic purpose. Rhythms veer between blast beats and thrash beats with the occasional slower moment to give everyone a breather. Despite the fast tempos, the performances are lock-tight and guitarist David HellRazor imbues his parts with a lot of character. “Sigillum Diabolia” has me grinning ear to ear with a complex speed metal riff that leaps forward with a sense of demonic glee, while the galloping verses of “Sortilegio” sound downright mischievous. Though guitar solos are absent, there’s plenty of evil melodies strewn about and even some windswept tremolos in the climax of opener “Arde En Llamas.” The whole thing has a malicious air that recalls Sarcófago and fits well with the album’s English translation (“the witch hunt”). It’s made all the more potent by the scathing high-register rasps of vocalist/bassist Alejandra Pacheco, which at times sound almost painful.
The trouble with La Caceria is that the band seem all too aware of how good their riffs are and repeat them too often as a result. Nearly every one of these eight tracks employs some minor variation of the standard ABABC songwriting arrangement, usually with “A” or “B” making an unnecessary comeback near the end. This soon makes things predictable and is aggravated by the fact that the average song length is nearly five minutes.
Fortunately there isn’t a bad track here and each one has a distinct identity. Instrumental closer “Evocación Del Caos” is the oddest of the bunch with its distant squealing notes, though it’s also overlong at almost seven minutes and probably would have served better as a penultimate track leading to a more direct closer. “Ceremonia Secular” says “fuck it” to the backlash Behemoth received and opens with a children’s choir anyway, after which it turns into a grand stomping epic powered by a riff which sounds a lot like Destroyer 666‘s “The Eternal Glory of War.”1
Through it all, the band bash their instruments like they just got out of prison and have a decade’s worth of pent up energy to get out of their system. The production is as extreme as the performances, with a blown-out sound that’s loud as fuck but somehow not as exhausting as you’d think. It all combines to make La Caceria feel like a true celebration of blackened thrash excess. While more varied arrangements and slightly more concise song lengths would help in the future, HellRazor is a madman when it comes to churning out engaging riffs, leading to plenty of times where I found myself playing air guitar and wistfully imagining I’d actually bought that black electric guitar from the music store back in high school. Lucifera probably won’t make many year-end lists with La Caceria De Brujas, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a blast to listen to. At the end of the day, this is a thrilling and energetic record that’s sure to please fans of Nifelheim, Miserycore, or anyone looking for a potent injection of blackened thrash directly into their veins.