By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Lucyfire is a side project of Johan Edlund, leader of the Swedish dark-metal band Tiamat, a band that inspires the question "What's so darkand what's so metalabout dark metal anyway?" In general with Tiamat the "darkness" seems to derive from the belief that ponds and glades and mists and forests that by day are merely picturesque become eerily pretty in the sadness of night. In the mid '90s Tiamat played what was essentially a mood music, bordering on New Age except with guttural vocals and more dolorous sounds, which as I said can be quite pretty, Prélude à l'apres-minuit d'un faune and all that. My favorite couplet is "All I asked for was a little love/ But through my hands flew the maiden dove," a lyric that, no matter the melancholy of Edlund's intent or the despair of my heart, has never failed to make me laugh.
Lucyfire, on the other hand, is fun on purpose. The music is built around clean ZZ Top blues chords over bouncy ZZ Top beats. Edlund farmed out the guitars and keyboards to producer Dirk Draeger, who not only plays the sharp ZZ riffs but also inserts typically beautiful Eurodisco melodies in the background and typically catchy synth-pop melodies in the foreground, so with Edlund's guttural singing you get a cross between Depeche Mode and Aqua and Alphaville (and ZZ Top of course). Also, since Edlund's officially having fun (took me a while to notice the pun in the band's name), he makes his lyrics a lampoon of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll songwriting: "Don't want to hear you talk at all/Just want to see your dress fall," and "I'm a roaring V8 in a rusty Chevelle/Give me one night and we'll rock it to hell," with synth bubbles popping all around him. In an interview on the Lucyfire Web site he says, "If I'd ever tell someone that I'm a roaring V8 in a rusty Chevelle, I'm sure I'd regret it in the morning." (I take it that "maiden dove" goes over better?) He's still doing some doom-and-gloom kitsch: "Oh, I'm the nail in the coffin, I'm your cyanide," but this is almost Ramonesy in its humor. The song is called "Automatic," implying sex-machine-type dependability, yet in the lyrics he's comparing himself to tempests and pools of blood and so forth. "A decapitated horsehead on a virgin bed." Like a death machine.
The Cutthroats 9
This Dollar Saved My Life at Whitehorse
So, while Brooks & Dunn play country that sneaks counterrhythm into the mix, and the Cutthroats 9 play thrash to old boogie beats, Lucyfire play raunch-rock verities that are actually raunch-rock parodies and are a pretext for Edlund to prove that his talents are closer to Max Martin's than to Ozzy Osbourne's, and good for him. Moral: Just because you're in one genre doesn't mean you shouldn't loot all the others.