Lucifer’s Hammer – The Trip Review

This is shaping up to be quite the old timey week for your old timey tour guide, Steel Druhm. I’ve trudged through the retro death numbskullery of Inhuman Condition, the American power metal throwback style of Starlight Ritual, and now Chile’s Lucifer’s Hammer want to drag me back to the NWoBHM era for some hard rocking fun. Banging the gong of early 80s metal since 2013, Lucifer’s Hammer dropped two prior platters of Maiden/Satan/Saxon-centric material, and third release The Trip finds them doing what they do best – crafting simple metal ditties with a minimum of bells and whistles, but plenty of hooks. This they do rather well, making a sound that’s now over 40 years old sound reasonably fresh and decently vital.

At a very short 31 minutes and comprising a mere 7 cuts, The Trip is a lean, mean, metal machine. Songs all hover in that sweet 3-5 minute spot and the emphasis is on catchy refrains, fist-raising riffs and rousing guitar harmonies. The Satan-isms often run deep, yet the band avoids sounding too much like a mere copy cat. Opener “The Oppression” is clearly a homage to my firm but fair management style in the Skull Pit, and rolls along at an urgent, head bangable pace. It features that hybrid of metal and rock that NWoBHM was famous for, and it goes down easy as New York cheesecake. All the subsequent tracks follow along the impact crater plowed by it without much in the way of deviation. “The Forest of Tar Tac” is an upbeat blood shaker with a solid chorus and some slick leads, and “Land of Fire” reminds me of early Riot with its meat n’ taters, no-nonsense riffage and bad attitude. “All Stories Come to an End” could have appeared on the Angel Witch debut and fit in perfectly, catchy and smooth as it is. Elsewhere, the riffy gravitas of “Illusion” reminds me a lot of Sumerlands, which is big plus.

There aren’t any clunkers and the 31 minutes flies by fast and easy. Each track is catchy and anthemic and the writing is consistently good throughout. The band is talented and can write memorable, accessible metal tunes that stick in your head. I’ve heard a million songs just like these before and they certainly aren’t breaking new ground, but they do the style justice and deliver satisfying numbers drenched in nostalgia. As much as I enjoy The Trip though, it sort of feels like a sugar rush record: you like it right away but aren’t sure you’ll still want to be gorging on it after a week or two. It’s also a very short platter and feels a bit like an EP rather than an LP. Length and staying power aside, I’m enjoying it in its entirety.

The guitars by Hades and Hypnos are very period, sounding like they were exported from England circa 1980-82. They have those classic dual guitar harmonies and the riffs are simple, rock-based and meaty. Many of the solos sound like the came from an old Saxon album, and I’m fine with that. The guitar interplay is the star of the show and what keeps me coming back. It feels so classic that it hits me right in the age spots. The lads can play and weave some tasty, melodic moments with enough heaviness to win you over. Hades’ vocals are quite good. He has a rough around the edges yet smooth sound, sometimes reminding of Sumerlands’ Phil Swanson, but with a broader range, even getting way up there for some King Diamond-like falsettos at times. There’s a healthy bass presence at all times courtesy of Tyr. He’s no Steve Harris but he’s in the mix doing his thing well and the music is better for it.

On the one hand, a NWoBHM-style album in 2021 isn’t going to thrill a whole lotta folks. On the other hand, Lucifer’s Hammer is good at what they do, and The Trip is a very easy to enjoy platter of straight-forward, good to very good songs with no major hiccups. If you enjoy the odd dose of Satan and Maiden, this will get you moving and grooving. It’s good enough to get me going back through their prior releases, so I guess there’s always room for one more NWoBHM album from Chile in the vault of Steel. Recommended.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: High Roller
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 11th, 20211

Show 1 footnote

  1. There are three different release dates listed for The Trip so we went with the earliest.
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