Luciferion – The Apostate (First Step to Salvation)

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“The Apostate”, the second of two albums that Luciferion released in its decade-long existence, finally arrived nearly a decade after its awe-inspiring debut. It is more of a glorified EP than an actual genuine full length release. While most of the new material of this record was written in 1995-96, it wouldn’t be recorded in earnest until 2001. A few superficialities differentiate it from the band’s musically impressive, but lyricaly rather corny debut of 1994. “The Apostate” in essence is a more refined, polished and ambitious take on what “Demonication (The Manifest)” already did 9 years prior.

On the visual end of things a few notable differences have occured in the interim. The prominent pentagram is removed from the logo in order to emphasize the band’s lyrical maturation. Accordingly “The Apostate” abandons the anti-religious sentiment of “Demonication (The Manifest)”, and replaces it with lyrics about individualism, self-realization and liberation from dogmatic thinking. The lyrics avoid the trappings of the anti-religious ramblings of the previous effort – and are much more interesting for that reason alone. Sprinkled through out the new tracks are samples from the 1998 science-fiction thriller “Dark City”. The artwork, rendered this time around by Dark Tranquillity member Niklas Sundin, is redolent of Salvador Dali’s “Christ Of Saint John Of the Cross”.

2e526d29da53Most of the line-up from “Demonication (The Manifest)” make their return here. The vocals are once again handled by Michael Nicklasson. All guitars, keyboards and backing vocals were done by founder Wojtek Lisicki. Rounding out the line up is bass guitarist Martin Fürangen, an original member of the band who wasn’t able to partake in the “Demonication (The Manifest)” recording sessions due to education obligations in the US. Making his record debut with Luciferion is drummer Hans Nilsson. In comparison the preceding record the keyboards feature more prominently than before, and the increase in speed is notable. None of it ever hampers Lisicki’s musicality or fluency in combining several aspects of different genres at a whirlwind pace. The title track alone is over 9 minutes long, and divided into six chapters. That “The Apostate” sounds impressive would be an understatement, even though it isn’t a fitting eulogy to the band.

The project was put together at Metalking Domain, Lisicki’s home studio, over a four month period during 2001 and 2003. “The Apostate” was completed in various intervals over a three-year period. The drums, rhythm guitar and bass guitar were recorded in 2001, guitar solos and synthesizers followed in 2002, lyrics and vocals were finalized and tracked in 2003. The band split in 2003, shortly after the release of “The Apostate”. After amazing the world with its stunning debut “Demonication (The Manifest)” it is rather unfortunate that Luciferion exited the metal world by what appears to be a contract filler release. “The Apostate” had the potential to be so much more than it actually ended up being. Part new album, and part demo compilation it attempts to be a fan package of sorts, but only when one is feeling particularly charitable. What many fans rightly pined for was a full-blown second album, and not this bit of random odds and ends. The new material of “The Apostate” cannot redeem its archival second half.

LUCIFERIONWojteksolo“The Apostate” consists of two parts. The first are four new songs constituting the “The Apostate” concept. The second and final part is a remastered version of the band’s independently distributed 1994 demo tape. Separating these two chapters is an absolutely terrible and unnecessary rendition of the Celtic Frost classic ‘Circle Of the Tyrants’. This space would have been better used for a new original song. While the new material is impressive on its own the haphazard construction of the record takes away much of the initial impact that the new material has. Luciferion has always had a knack for covering classic metal bands, and the Celtic Frost cover is no different – but it begs the question of whether its presence here is wanted, or warranted. Surely there must have been other avenues to compile these renditions in a more fitting manner. A posthumous compilation of cover tracks, demo – and promo material would have been more than ideal to celebrate its decade-long career, with or without a visual counterpart.

An entire record was written in MIDI format during 1996-98, but it is unclear where that pre-produced material ended up. As internet lore has it the material was too technical, over-the-top and difficult to play for the seasoned veterans Lisicki worked with in past sessions. During the band’s hiatus Wojtek Lisicki had also written and arranged (but not finalized) an astral symfo black metal album in MIDI format. In all likelihood the latter probably was featured on the Against the Plagues’ independent 2007 debut “Architecture Of Oppression” (later re-issued in 2010 as “Decoding the Mainframe”), of which Lisicki was part. It sounds very close to this Luciferion album in terms of music, lyrics and overall imagery/philosophy. Concludingly, Lisicki had for the most part completed a third album, a grindcore album in vein of “World Downfall” Terrorizer, also in MIDI format. What became of that grind-oriented effort remains a mystery to this day.

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