Review & Full Album Stream: Lucifer’s Chalice, The Pact

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lucifer's chalice the pact

[Click play above to stream The Pact by Lucifer’s Chalice in full. Album is out Sept. 29 on Shadow Kingdom Records.]

There is a branch of doom and darker-tinged metal that remains steeped in olden ways. Released this past February as a digital offering by the band, the debut full-length from Lucifer’s Chalice, dubbed The Pact, finds wider issue through Shadow Kingdom Records and belongs to this branch. With influences culled from the early New Wave of British Heavy Metal — Cirith UngolPagan AltarWitchfinder General, youngest Iron Maiden, etc. — and classic Sabbathian doom, its four tracks feel as much ready to have the logo representing them scrawled sloppily on the front of a high-school notebook as flown proudly on a denim “battle vest” backpatch.

The Durham, UK, four-piece of guitarist/vocalist CW, lead guitarist SRM, bassist DH and drummer KShevil sound like they’d be just fine with either, if the songs are anything to go by. Earning immediate points by opening with the 11-minute “Hung at the Crossroads,” the hook and gallop of which serve as a table-setting representation of the band’s methods in general, The Pact unfolds brazenly and with a cassette-ready feel that has become cult metal in a way that is perhaps outside Lucifer’s Chalice‘s control, but nonetheless feels prevalent in their late-’70s/early-’80s vibe, persistent in spite of a modern production that’s telling of its actual time — i.e., now — especially in the drums, which if they were actually tracked in 1981 would have the snare likely be obtrusively loud in the mix and coated in reverb. Fortunately (mostly), that emblematic nuance of the era to which The Pact owes so much of its affect has been left by the wayside.

What’s been kept in place is careening riffs leading a charge topped by raw but proto-soaring vocals, and those elements provide the crux of The Pact‘s castle-storming, rusty-axe-wielding 36-minute charge. Though it begins with a mournful lead over a strummed central figure, it’s “Hung at the Crossroads” that begins the thrust in earnest, and the song moves fluidly through its extended runtime, gaining momentum as it works through its verses and chorus toward a slowdown just before the five-minute mark that brings a few minutes of doomier impression-making, to which CW‘s voice is well-suited in post-Candlemass fashion. Following a solo from SRM, a subsequent verse, and another lead, KShevil‘s drums signal a tempo change and the initial push resumes just before nine minutes in and holds sway for the remainder prior to the crash that brings on the sample from 1960’s The City of the Dead in which Massachusetts villagers burn Abigail Adams as a witch.

lucifer's chalice

That’s as fitting an intro as one could ask for the 10-minute track itself, which builds into a rolling first verse quickly and holds to a method ultimately similar to “Hung at the Crossroads” before it, with straightforward push and some underlying doomly swing in the drums to go with its horror-based Satanic lyrical theme, storytelling done in the second-person such that “The devil owns your soul/Hell will be your home.” Of course, the familiarity and blatant play to style is an important part of the aesthetic for Lucifer’s Chalice, and the band have that moniker to live up to, after all, so the adoption cliché isn’t necessarily unwelcome, particularly with the solo it leads to and the uptick in tempo past four minutes in, heading to a midsection that holds to its central modus where the preceding cut veered away and an end that is perhaps the most Maiden-esque stretch here, setting up “Full Moon Nights” and “Priestess of Death” as a shorter side two with another big finish and quick fade.

“Full Moon Nights” arrives with no less than Klaus Kinski as Dracula in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre from 1979, hearing the howling of wolves and calling it the music of the children of the night. Not a minor reference to make, but the song lives up to it with the fervency of its metallic shove, marked out by the kind of riff from which thrash would’ve taken influence three and a half decades ago and CW pushing his voice to and beyond its breaking point. A more turning progression arrives as the title-line is delivered, but it’s not long before Lucifer’s Chalice are heading forward again, and in the second half of “Full Moon Nights” the energy of their thrust picks up and is drawn toward another extended ending, this one consuming the full last minute and adding a sense of grandeur to counterbalance what’s still been a fairly raw production throughout. The Pact pays one more visit to the VHS shelf to break out 1971’s Twins of Evil for the sample that begins closer “Priestess of Death,” the hook of which is arguably the most memorable since “Hung at the Crossroads” and which reaffirms the devil worship of “The Pact” and “Full Moon Nights.”

As with those cuts, the source material is referenced in the lyrics, and it’s the guitars doing most of the heavy lifting in establishing the personality of the piece — a dual-layered lead as they move through the third minute is a standout point leading into more full-on thrashing and another precise, crashing run through the chorus prior to a surprisingly shredding solo. That gives way to a temporary slowdown that seems like it might be the band’s ending statement, but as “Hung at the Crossroads” did so skillfully, “Priestess of Death” also returns to its core to finish out, capping The Pact on a sudden but effective snap. Lucifer’s Chalice are hardly reinventing classic metal on their first record, but neither is that their intent. Rather, they pay homage to the Metal of Old with these four songs and in theme and purpose begin to stake out the approach they’ll hopefully continue to develop as they move forward, forging themselves in steel and casting outward with doom and pre-thrash malevolence.

Lucifer’s Chalice on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer’s Chalice on Bandcamp

Shadow Kingdom Records on Thee Facebooks

The Pact at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp page

Shadow Kingdom Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Lucifer’s Chalice to Release The Pact Sept. 29 on Shadow Kingdom

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lucifer's chalice

Pittsburgh imprint Shadow Kingdom Records has announced a Sept. 29 release for The Pact, the debut album from UK doomers Lucifer’s Chalice. That’s really all I need to know. I think on a dare you could probably find an imprint or two out there with as-trustworthy taste in doom and particularly that branch of it affected by a love of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but you’d definitely have to work to do so, and as the below-streaming 11-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Hung at the Crossroads” demonstrates, the Durham four-piece have a rawness underscoring what they do that is easy to tag as derived from classic metal.

The album, which the band gave an independent digital release this past February, is available to preorder now and runs through four extended tracks — arranged longest to shortest; not a one under seven minutes long — in 36 minutes. Doom for doomers? You bet your ass.

Word comes down the PR wire for the most ardent of those who worship:

lucifer's chalice the pact

LUCIFER’S CHALICE set release date for SHADOW KINGDOM debut, reveal first track

Shadow Kingdom Records sets September 29th as the international release date for the highly anticipated debut album of Lucifer’s Chalice, The Pact.

Hailing from the UK, with members concurrently doing time in such bands as Winds of Genocide, Uncoffined, and an ex-member of new Shadow Kingdom signees Horrified, the four-piece Lucifer’s Chalice play pure ‘n’ true DOOM for total doom MANIACS! Sounding as old as time itself, the eldritch atmosphere of The Pact is brewed in the foundational NWOBHM sounds of Witchfinder General and then steeped in witchcraft across the centuries and across continents.

Its heaviness is forlorn yet yearning, unrepentantly dark but searching for light, plumbing doom metal’s most abyssal recesses but equally brimming with the true metal spirit that defined the early ’80s metal scene: doom metal may be the chosen genre of Lucifer’s Chalice, but they inherently understand its total essence and the building blocks which made it in the first place, and thus span the whole panoply of metal and rock from 1977-1984. As such, across four epic-length tracks in a concise ‘n’ cutting 36 minutes, The Pact takes the listener on a moonlit journey across misty moors and through cobwebbed catacombs, from tragedy to triumph and back to tragedy again, inhabiting the subconscious of both the accuser and the accused.

Originally self-released digitally earlier this year, Shadow Kingdom now steps in to unveil The Pact to a larger audience for which there’s no returning from this covenant of TOTAL DOOM. Begin the journey with the EPIC new track “Hung at the Crossroads” at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp HERE, where the album can be preordered. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Lucifer’s Chalice’s The Pact
1. Hung at the Crossroads
2. The Pact
3. Full Moon Night
4. Priestess of Death

Lucifer’s Chalice is:
KShevil – Drums
SRM – Lead Guitars
CW – Rhythm Guitars and Vocals
DH – Bass

Lucifer’s Chalice, “Hung at the Crossroads” from The Pact (2017)

Tags: , , , , ,

On the Radar: Hog

Posted in On the Radar on July 27th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I gotta be honest, I don’t know what I like more about Hog, the free-for-all sludge or the name. It’s so simple, but it says so much about who the band are and what they do. If I came up to you on the street (wouldn’t that be awkward) and said, “Hey man, you gotta check out this band from North Carolina, they’re called Hog,” you’d have a pretty good idea of what you were getting into, right? I think that’s killer.

Hog have two demo tracks posted on their MySpace, “On the Eve of War” and “A Word is Born,” and yeah, they definitely sound like demos, but the recordings are clear enough for you to get an idea of what Hog are going for. They play a kind of post-Mastodon thrashing sludge (think Javelina, but a little riffier), hitting tempo changes on the quick to keep listeners on edge and making good use of R. James‘ lead guitar. They’re new school, yeah, and there are other bands out there doing this kind of thing, but I ask you, are they named Hog? No they are not. So there you go. Hog wins.

And it’s not like they’re annoyingly derivative. They just have some growing to do. According to the MySpace, they’re slated to head into the studio for a session with none other than Kylesa‘s Philip Cope at the helm. One imagines that someone of his boardly prowess should have no problem bringing the best out of a band like Hog, and that the righteous groove that caps off “A Word is Born” will be all the more lethal for time spent getting it right. Here’s looking forward to hearing how it all comes out.

Tags: , , ,