German hard rockers Lucifer’s Friend have released a new studio album. The album, Black Moon, is the band’s first album since 2016’s Too Late To Hate. However, this is the band’s second album since reuniting in 2015- with singer John Lawton , guitarist Peter Hesslein and bassist Dieter Horns all in the line up. Black Moon is solid effort from the band and possibly a stronger album than its predecessor.
A little history
If you haven’t heard of Lucifer’s Friend before, you’re not alone. The band weren’t worldwide famous, nor did they ever tour the United States. In short, Lucifer’s Friend are a band that only avid rock music listeners will be familiar with. Lucifer’s Friend formed around 1969- with the original line up consisting of English singer John Lawton, guitarist Peter Hesslein, bassist Dieter Horns, drummer Joachim Reitenbach and keyboardist Peter Hecht. Their self-titled debut was released in 1970, featuring the hit single “Ride the Sky.” While mostly a hard rock/proto-metal band, Lucifer’s Friend dabbled in other sub-genres with the albums that followed. In their career, the band has dabbled in progressive rock, folk rock, blues rock and jazz fusion.
The band went through several line up changes- the most notable being Lawton’s departure in 1977 to join Uriah Heep- replacing original singer David Byron. Mike Starrs would fill in for Lawton, after which the band moved closer to an AOR sound. Lawton returned in 1981 but the band dissolved the following year. The band briefly reunited in the mid 1990s and then again in 2015. The band currently consists of Lawton, Hesslein, Horns, drummer Stephan Eggart and keyboardist Jogi Wichmann.
The album opens with jazz fusion flavored title track. Right off the bat, Lawton’s voice sounds great and very strong. The band is also in good form, as Hesslein’s guitar work weaves throughout the song. The song is surprisingly jazzy, acting almost as a throwback to the band’s 1974 album Banquet. In fact, a few of the songs here sound like they could’ve been written for Banquet. Songs such as the soul/R&B inspired “Rolling the Stone” and the tribal beats of “Freedom” are examples of this.
With ten tracks to offer, the band leaves plenty of room for some rockers. This can be found on the hard hitting Zeppelin-esque sounds “Palace of Fools” and the fast-paced mariner tale “Call the Captain.” The former is a mini-epic while the latter meshes Hesslein’s guitar riffs with Wichmann’s keyboard lines. The band also show off their prog rock roots throughout the album. Songs such as “Passengers” and “Behind the Smile” almost hearken back to Lawton’s days in Uriah Heep with their droning keyboards and heavy stomps throughout.
If the album had any downsides, it does start to lose momentum towards the end. Like most albums made today, the album’s production is a little loud at times. However, it is an improvement over the production on Too Late to Hate– which I felt hurt the album as the keyboards were a distraction at times. On this album, everything sounds fairly balanced and nothing sticks out like a sore thumb.
Overall, Black Moon is an impressive effort from Lucifer’s Friend. Now going back to Too Late to Hate, I personally think this is the better album. Don’t get me wrong: Too Late to Hate is a fine album. I think if anything kept me from going back to it, it’s probably because of the production. With this being the band’s second album since reuniting, I feel like they improved the production on here while also making the songs more diverse. With Black Moon, it offers a little bit of everything from the band’s earlier work.
If you are unfamiliar with the work of Lucifer’s Friend, I recommend checking out their earlier albums. For those who may have owned an album or two by the group back in the day, you’re going to enjoy this.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.