CD review: Lucifer's Friend - Black Moon

CD review: Lucifer's Friend - Black Moon
Lucifer's Friend is a very apt name for this band because the veteran outfit surely must be on a first name basis with ol' Beelzebub himself. Whatever deal evidently forged in fires hotter than here on earth is serving them tremendously well since this record sounds as fresh as the vegetables at your neighborhood market.

Black Moon is the third record (not counting a live set) from the band since their reunion in 2015 and arguably their best of the modern era. The core of the band remains intact --- made up of powerhouse vocalist John Lawton, guitarist Peter Hesslein and bassist Dieter Horns, founders all.

Lawton is ageless as he barrels through the rockers while still commanding the melodic segments that are informed by his vast experience with all kinds of music. Once again, Hesslein has crafted some great riffs and his solos still sizzle. To add to his workload, he tackles keyboards here as well. The bass lines by Dieter Horns slither all around, really enhancing the sound, not just helping keep rhythm.

Black Moon sounds jazzier in places, hearkening back to the days of Banquet, which is my favorite LF record so that works just fine for me. The title cut is a riff-heavy rocker that is faintly reminiscent of the ELP song of the same name only coming at you at double the tempo. The song is driven by the energetic drumming of new guy Stephan Eggart and Lawton proves he can still deliver the goods. Coming at the tail end of the song is a wicked trumpet solo that is completely surprising and at same time just perfect for the spot.

"Passengers" slows the pace slightly and goes a bit heavier with Hesslein's organ bringing memories of Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley to mind. "Rolling the Stone" and "Behind the Smile" are solid tunes but it's with "Palace of Fools" that the record ups the quality for the remainder of the songs --- Lawton sounds great on this one! Following that up is the excellent, "Call the Captain" a fast-paced high-flyer that is probably the most accessible cut on the record.

"Little Man" has got a real jazzy - Gino Vannelli feel to it and is one of the standouts of the set. A tasty guitar by Hesslein and Lawton's warm vocal propel this one to the top of the class. "Freedom" brings things back to the heavier side of things and will have you playing air drums in no time.

"Taking it to the Edge" is what Steely Dan would sound like if they were to flex their hard rock muscle --- another sterling track!! "Glory Days" closes off things in fine style with its brisk pace and catchy chorus.

To wrap, Black Moon is another great album from an even greater band that sounds like it still has many miles left in the tank.

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