originally written by Chris McDonald
Despite their horrible moniker and played-out cover art concept, 21 Lucifers have released one of the most flat-out visceral albums I’ve heard so far this year. In The Name Of… is a textbook example of thrashy death/grind that accomplishes about all you could ask for in an album of this style. If blasting drums, buzz-saw guitars, and short songs are your thing, read on…
Right off the bat, it’s clear that 21 Lucifers have a firm grasp of one of the most underrated elements of grindcore–dynamics. I’m not necessarily talking about tons of tempo changes and dozens of different influences; more about writing songs that feel like cohesive compositions rather than short bursts of noise. Sure, most people think of grind as nothing more than a barrage of blast beats and grunting, but the real legends of this genre knew that it was the compositional strength of the songs, not just the velocity, that was key to making a record with both intensity and staying power. 21 Lucifers weave in and out of different passages like they’re trying on pants at the thrift store, throwing in surprisingly melodic hooks and lighting fast choruses to make everything stick before dipping back into more blazing furor. Erik Skogland’s vicious snarls are as memorable as they are entertaining, and the riff attack is just relentless. Crusty, intense, and uniformly well written, these incredibly tasty licks are the stuff great metal is made of. These guys even manage to squeeze in some twin-guitar, Gothenburg-like melodic twinges amidst the grinding maelstrom (though they’re gone almost before you notice them). And the razor-sharp production job renders every instrument with deadly precision.
While the whole album fucking smokes, I especially want to single out track nine, appropriately titled “Despair.” Damn, did this one catch me off guard after the songs preceding it. The longest cut on here (at just over three minutes), “Despair” is a slow, emotional song that I definitely didn’t see coming from this band. Nothing too complicated here, mind you, but incredibly well executed; the uplifting tremolo melodies and passionate yells (think Gorjira) make for a genuinely powerful track that serves as way more than a mere breath-catching opportunity. In fact, it’s easily one of the three best songs on here. While just about any band can string some “brutal” riffs and blast beats together, it takes real talent to compose and pull off a track like “Despair.” As much as I enjoy the rest of the album, it’s this song that really makes me interested to see where these guys go next.
About the only complaint I can muster is that I think the songwriting skill these guys possess almost eclipses the style they play in. I was a tad disappointed at times at the short length of the songs, as it’s clear that 21 Lucifers (damn it if that name doesn’t keep getting worse by the second) are up to their eyeballs in quality riffs and a few of them are simply over too quickly for my liking. I’m all for keeping songs unpredictable (this is metal, after all), but some of those riff passages are just too good to be as short as they are. Don’t get me wrong, I love grindcore and have never been one who condemns the style for its brevity. But considering the large thrash influence that’s present here as well, I think some portions of the songs could have been a little more fleshed out.
But hey, that’s what the repeat button’s for, right? And if you’re like me, you’ll be hitting that button often when listening to this little nugget of extreme metal goodness. I confess that I didn’t expect much of In The Name Of… when I signed up for it, but 21 Lucifers have gone way beyond my expectations with a veritable slam dunk of a debut album. If you like your metal fast, infectious, and more fast, then I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t have a whale of a time with this gem. Check it out please.