Jucifer – If Thine Enemy Hunger

If Thine Enemy Hunger

I have to start this review with an apology. Not just to our readership, but also to Jucifer and Relapse Records. I received this album way back in October 2006, and I would have to assume that the above mentioned people were hoping to have it reviewed before the street date, or somewhere close to it. However, due to circumstances beyond my control (like getting carjacked at gunpoint and losing everything I had in my car), I was not able to make that happen. I was remiss in replacing my copy of this new album until recently and therefore have not gotten around to this review; until now. That being cleared up for everyone, I now present you with the review of Jucifer’s new album If Thine Enemy Hunger:

After Jucifer’s last release, War Bird, I wondered what they could possibly bring to the table. I mean, Jucifer always sounds like Jucifer. Unmistakably. Unapologetically. Heavy and crushing at times, melodic and subdued at others. A sonic behemoth travelling this great land’s breadth searching for the blood of non-believers; the carnage continues with If Thine Enemy Hunger.

The fifteen songs on this album are all winners, to be sure; though some tunes transcend the rest of this release. Whether in tone and composition, or for lyrical content; a few rare gems stand out from the rest of the incredible pieces on Jucifer’s newest from Relapse Records.

If Thine Enemy Hunger opens with Amber Valentine’s haunting and breathy vocals over top of a minimalist chord progression before Edgar joins in on the skins on “She Tides the Deep”, an ode to the search for a counterpart, no matter the trials and tribulations that threaten to destroy one in the course of that search. This song does not change in tempo, but this is no detriment to the compostition. In fact, the sludgy tones add an incredible depth to the feel of the song. It is a droning ballad of sorts, after all. A bit further down the road you’ll find “Lucky Ones Burn”, a slightly more up-tempo ditty that nevertheless leaves you feeling like you’ve just been crushed under the wheels of a giant tractor, although you can still see the sun. “Antietam”. Where else are you going to find a heavy act like this who can write a song from the perspective of a teenaged Civil War nurse? Nowhere. Frantic and panicked, the subject of this song lashes out in despair at anyone within earshot of the field hospital, lamenting the impossible task of saving these men who gave it all for the sake of their country. Strangely relevant in these trying times…

Track nine, “Backslider” is another favorite of mine from this album. Another more up-tempo track, and not as sludgy as other tunes, this is one of those tracks that just hit me lyrically. Observe: I can’t touch what I desire/and I can’t reach to get up higher/and I can’t be the way I’ve been/but everyday I slip again. Next up is “Luchamos”, a song that Amber sings completely in Spanish. The cadence of the lyrics fits so well with Edgar’s beats and Amber’s guitar; it is just an incredible tune. Filled with imagery of the struggle of the poor and downtrodden, the language works perfectly with the subject matter. To round out my personal picks from this album would be “In A Family Way”; another one that stands out to me from a lyrical standpoint rather than for the instrumentation on the song: I bring the mattress/from the room where they slept/I watch your fire rise/can I learn to forget/will I learn to forget/can I ever forget. Stark and haunting.

It is often easy to forget that you are hearing a two-piece act when listening to Jucifer, especially when they bring the heavy hammer down. I would have to say that this duo is still near the top of a very short list of two-pieces that really know how to craft a thick, heavy, unforgiving sound whilst being able to retain the ability to tread into more melodic and delicate songwriting when circumstance calls for it. All in all, a great effort from the Georgia by way of the rest of the continent duo, Jucifer. Oh, and if you have the means,
do not hesitate to check these kind, cool folks out live. They have a
stage presence like no others…