Review Summary: Germany takes its first steps into the realm of heavy music, with mostly positive results.Every week for the foreseeable future (or until I get bored of the project), I will be reviewing a handful of albums from a given year. They may be albums that I feel are overlooked; that are in need of a review; or are just something that I want to write about. This week: 1970
In 1970, heavy rock was making the transition into heavy metal, marked most famously by the debut of Black Sabbath. In the future, Germany would be a big name in metal, from Running Wild and Helloween to Kreator and Destruction. But before the Teutonic hotbed warmed up, there was a five-piece from Hamburg called Lucifer's Friend, and they were determined to kick ass.
Lucifer's Friend were:
John Lawton - vocals
Peter Hesslein - guitars, percussion, backing vocals
Dieter Horns - bass
Peter Hecht - keyboards, piano
Joachim Rietenbach - drums
opens with a scream, a guitar riff and some elephantine horns that sound almost exactly like Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" (released in the same year). But Lucifer's Friend don't sound all that much like Zep. They do however, sound of a hell of a lot like Deep Purple. They had the keyboard tone; the jammy instrumental sessions; the singer that wasn't afraid to go high (although John Lawton is no Ian Gillan). It would be forgivable to hear this album and assume it's some Mk. II-and-a-half line-up of Deep Purple that did an album between In Rock
The nice thing is that Deep Purple were a great band to emulate. Lucifer's Friend
is chock full of strong riffs and fluid basslines (courtesy of Dieter Horns, who is the one member that I will say is better than his English counterpart). They also differentiated themselves by being a bit stranger and darker. They didn't consistently go for devilish imagery that their name implies, but the eponymous closing track details a visit from some kind of demon not unlike the one in Black Sabbath's self-titled song. Then there's the bizarre hard rocking biblical track, "In the Time of Job When Mammon was a Yippie." That mouthful contains the lyric "Screw me I'm a tuba/Free as a beanstalk/Coogan flipped for, get down on your knees and love/Love the man." Maybe this has to do with English being their second language, psychedelic drug use. Regardless, you won't find much like that in their British or American contemporaries.
Overall, Lucifer's Friend
is not the most essential proto-metal album, but it's worth looking into for anyone that has an interest in metal's origins. The band has a great groove and instrumentation that should satisfy any fan of the era's hard rock bands. This is the album that put German heavy rock on the map, two years before Scorpions debuted and right as Krautrock was about to hit its peak. Come take the hand of Lucifer's Friend.