Perhaps it’s just the subject matter – Lucifer in all his deceitful guises – but things with Fjoergyn have definitely taken a more aggressive and unexpected turn. These guys have always been known for their avant-garde take on black metal and with a melodic twist. Previous albums have indeed been heavy when necessary but have also had an almost dreamlike quality and have been heavily laced with progressive touches. Fjoergyn may be from Germany but they’ve always had as much common with broadminded Icelandic bands – the name mean ‘earth’ in Icelandic mythology – such as Solefald and Solstafir, as bands from their native country. This time round there’s a much more direct take on the Fjoergyn sound which only loosely sounds like the band that many fell for when they first heard debut Ernte im Herbst back in 2005 (and a sound they more or less stuck with on the three albums since. This time there’s a distinctly Rammstein edge to the music (and, quickly reading the release notes, the band even – strangely – admits this….). Perhaps even the slightly in-your-face, shouty vocal style of Subway To Sally – and very high in the mix.

So if you’re into that German metal, almost nu-metal, sound then this should be totally fine with you. For others I would imagine that the new vocal turn could emerge as a bit of a deal-breaker. But, reading between the lines, taking a peek behind the vocals, is this essentially the same band ploughing a more edgy furrow? Well, no. The black metal is still there, and so, broadly, is the progressive style. But it’s a more chunky, thrashy intensity, more death metal than the previous blackened thoughtfulness. Unfortunately I think the end result is a slight loss of identity. Yes, there are still some melodic passages – the violin makes an appearance in fifth track Blut Samen Erde and lifts off nicely at the end. But Lvcifer Es leaves the band beginning to sound like a lot of German bands – neither one thing nor the other. A melange of death metal, black metal and heavy metal all spliced together in a production style that feels both like a compromise too far and a little disjointed at the same time.

There are some nice flourishes in here – the title track isn’t bad and is lifted by some interesting samples. But the attempts at evil-sounding headbanging intensity on tracks like Dinner Mit Baal and Terra Satanica hit very wide of the mark and left me thinking that what once was a solid band with a huge amount of potential seems to have gone sharply down the wrong path. It’s certainly not a badly made album – well produced and everything played and delivered with skill. But there are too many failings on this record for me to be lenient. As an experiment, this has failed, in my view. Final track Freiheit rescues things a little but again the vocals just aren’t doing the job for me and, either way, by then it’s too late even if those guitar solos in the final minutes reminded me not to give up on these guys just yet.

(6/10 Reverend Darkstanley)