Written by Kirk
Lucifer Star Machine – Satanic Age
> Garage rock/punk
> Released April 14
> The Sign Records
It’s something that gets said a lot, and it’s something that I’ve been coming to terms with more and more: rock & roll is dead. And you know what? That’s fine. The emergence of punk rock in the ‘70s may not have been enough to kill it completely, but between the emergence of soft rock, yacht rock, and the genre’s overall shift away from its blues roots was the beginning of the end. Once grunge reigned supreme in the ‘90s, that was pretty much it. Sure, we have to suffer through legacy acts like The Rolling Stones going on tour for the 9,000th time, tickets costing more than a fresh kidney on the black market and all that jazz, but the bones of rock & roll are laying out in the desert somewhere, bleached white from years of wind and sun. But there’s a new generation of musicians who’ve found those old bones, dug them up, and infused them with new life. So, maybe rock & roll isn’t really dead after all. Maybe it’s UNdead!
It was sometime in 2002 when Lucifer Star Machine entered the scene in London. Tor Abyss had relocated from his home in Germany and decided it was time to resurrect those old bones and infuse them with equal parts punk rock and hard rock—think the Misfits and Ramones meets Motörhead. After releasing a single and two albums, Tor headed back to Germany while the rest of the band stayed in London, and they released 2013’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Martyrs. But the distance proved to be too much, and so Tor reformed the band in 2014 and based it in Hamburg, Germany. After releasing a few singles and re-releasing some of their earlier albums, the band signed to Sweden’s The Sign Records in 2019 and released The Devil’s Breath the following year. And then COVID happened, forcing the band to put all tour plans on hold until pandemic restrictions were lifted. But the spent their time in lockdown wisely, writing and recording Satanic Age until it was safe to unleash it upon the world.
And unleash it they have! Satanic Age is all swagger and attitude, the perfect fusion of punk and hard rock. And this style of rock & roll revival isn’t really all that new; bands like Calabrese have been touring and releasing records since shortly after the turn of the century clad in leather jackets, plastic vampire fangs, fake blood, and everything else that comes along with it. Hell, Social Distortion did it in the early ‘90s mixing punk with outlaw country, and I think we all know how well that worked out for them (HINT: it’s been going really well). Needless to say, it’s a formula that’s proven to work, and Satanic Age is just another example of its success.
Once you get through the spooky faux Vincent Price opener, “Inauguration of Lucifer”, hold on tight, because the ride won’t slow down till the last stop. The title track and “Psychic Vampires” are more than enough slick your hair back and light your cigarette, the former coming in hot with the gang chorus vocal:
“Hey man, I think the time has come / Hey man, it’s overdue to make it come undone / Satanic age, satanic age has come / Yeah, you are the one!”
Seriously, though, I challenge you to to sing along to the chorus on this album. These songs are so much fun! It seems pretty obvious that Tor is having an absolute blast; meanwhile, Mickey Necro and Mighty Ramon are ripping it up on guitar while Benny Zin and Captain Fettsau are controlling the low end like seasoned pros.
“Cunt of Destruction” and “Black Axe” are pure Motörhead worship, no bones about it. In fact, I’m almost positive there was either an extensive photo collage or an altar dedicated to Lemmy in the studio while these songs were being recorded, because I swear I can almost hear his whiskey-soaked rasp on both of these songs. “I Wanted Everything” is more punk ‘n’ roll fury, a song about what it’s like to grow old without ever growing up:
“Memories—it feels like yesterday / I’m just this kid with all these crazy dreams / These moments seem to slowly fade away / Ain’t nothing but horrendous evil schemes”
“Censorshipped” is a great big middle finger to the establishment, a response to the rights and freedoms that seem to be stripped away from us day by day. The message stands strong with “Purgatory Souls,” driven home with that Motörhead-like fury. The tempo slows down (barely) for “Hard Luck Mary,” and Tor is joined by Kit Swing for another punk ‘n’ roll rager.
Rounding out the album are “Live Another Day”, “Naked City”, “The Life You Dread”, and “Till Death”, the oversized wheels on this super-charged street machine of an album, belching hellfire and brimstone at every rev of the engine. The first opens with a killer bass intro, a brief but poignant reminder that Benny Zin and Captain Fettsau are masters of the low end. The remaining three songs keep pace with the songs that preceded them, not an ounce of time wasted whatsoever. The closing track slows things down a bit, but only insofar to inform the listener that it’s almost time to press play again.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Rock & roll, whether you believe it or not, has woven itself into the fabric of everyday society. It may have lost its seat at the head of the table, but its influences are still very much a part of everyday life. But just because it no longer sits at the head of the table doesn’t mean rock & roll is really and truly “dead”; it’s enjoying life in the underground and absolutely thriving. It’s bands like Lucifer Star Machine that keep the spirit of rock & roll alive. They eat, sleep, and breathe it, basking in its history and relishing in its vibrance. Because Tor Abyss and his colleagues know the real truth: ROCK & ROLL WILL NEVER DIE.