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There Is No Land Beyond the Volga
LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Double vinyl LP pressing of this album from the Sludge Metal band. Jucifer's 2013 concept album tells the history of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) from the perspective of it's people, it's soldiers, it's children and the very land itself. And the music? Sonic S&M for the modern, corroded soul; untouchable epithets of beauty; grim odes to all that's heavy - some of the best songwriting to emerge in modern Extreme/Heavy music today. There's Sleep, there's the Melvins, and there's Jucifer. It's that simple and strong. A hot oil bath of riff after vicious riff. Massive, distortion-soaked stoner sludge Sabbath worship - down-tuned, skin-curdling, infectious, head banging riffs beaten into submission by the unmistakable, power-hungry rhythm of Lucifer's custom hard-hitting kit.
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Based on the strength of their Hunger album I picked up their back catalog including their concert DVD and loved all of it. The two-piece band had a surprising variety of sound and always managed to keep things interesting.
The follow-up to the mighty, If Thine Enemy Hunger, was a concept album about the French Revolution, L'Autrichienne. The album was good but not as good, in my opinion, as ITEH.
Subsequent releases, Throned in Blood and There Is No Land Beyond the Volga, find Valentine inexplicably abandoning her singing voice in favor of a death-metal growl. Well, no one can accuse Jucifer of selling out! Unfortunately, this change of direction will probably alienate long-time fans of the band while the extreme metal crowd is unlikely to dig Jucifer's lo-fi proto death metal sound because other bands do it better. In fact, listening to Jucifer's new disc I am reminded of Hellhammer, Tom Warrior's early 80's pre-Celtic Frost outfit! I just don't get Jucifer's sound shift. There Is No Land Beyond the Volga would have been a more effective album had Valentine sang the lyrics.
The contrast of Valentine's sweet voice, biting lyrics and the band's sometimes brutal but varied sound is a winning formula. I'm still hoping for a return to form although after touring their last two albums with Amber doing her best Linda Blair imitation, I'd be surprised if she could still sing. Somebody give that girl a cough drop.