Review Summary: Banal death metal made worse by atrocious production.
Titled "Of Lucifer and Lightning", Angelcorpse's new album features Jesus Christ being eaten by a noticeably emaciated Satan on the cover. Also on the cover are random lightning storms, dragons that seem to be coming out of Lucifer's ears and, of course, a crucifixion. When I flip to the back, I'm greeted with typical satanic song titles, that is to say, random uses of Latin phrases and variations on blasphemy. It's safe to say this is not off to a good start.
It can't be that bad though, right? Research tells me Angelcorpse are a respected death metal band, and from the few tracks I've heard off their last albums I'd be inclined to agree; there was definitely something there. Sadly, "Of Lucifer and Lightning" has very little going for it.
Musically, Angelcorpse are sort of a mix between early-era Deicide and Morbid Angel, though with a very, very slight black metal influence (so very slight that, naturally, I probably should have avoided mentioning it). What you get with "Of Lucifer and Lightning" is pretty much what you'd expect based on the cover and song titles; adequately conventional death metal that's slightly brutal, slightly technical but very, very tedious. To attest to this, it took me nearly three listens to make it all the way through.
Nearly every aspect of this album leads me to believe it was rushed, something that really shouldn't be the case since this comes after a six year break. There's plenty of variation on each track, but it's been done so much better in the past. In fact, from the very few Angel Corpse (they've since deleted the space) tracks I heard prior to this album, they did their own sound much better than they're currently doing it. The guitars are straight up Azagthoth, while the drumming is technically apt, but relatively forgettable and uninspired. The bass is more inaudible than you'd expect and the vocals, when heard, are probably the best and worst aspect of the album. You'll notice I said "when heard", and here's why.
"Of Lucifer and Lightning" sounds like it was recorded in a garbage can. While surely it was the trash receptacle of the Morningstar himself, it's not doing the band any favours. What the production and mixing of this album does is prevent the listener from actually enjoying any of the stronger parts of the album. What you hear for your first few listens is horribly muddy, muffled death metal. There's a muddled snare, some kick drum and then the leads. The guitars are way too loud and actually bury both the vocals and the drums (and the bass, but that goes without saying). The guitar work is always relatively complex, but it's occasionally grating and somewhat irritating to listen to. The vocals are relatively demonic, ranging from a croaky snarl to lower gutturals. The variation in the vocals department is excellent, but good luck hearing it. Credo Decimatus
may or may not start the album off with a spoken word part, and the lower gutturals that would normally accent the croaks are almost always inaudible.
If the music was better, the production would at least be slightly forgivable, but it's not. This album is as typical as it gets, and when you pair that with the abominable presentation which is not limited to the production (the cover and song titles are ridiculous), it's hard to find a reason to listen to this. Obviously if you're a fan of the band it's worth listening to, but it's also pretty safe to say that you'll probably be upset that this took six years.