ON MARCH 17, 2014, Johanna Sadonis' band the Oath released its highly anticipated, self-titled debut. The album was extremely well received by critics and the metal scene alike, and big expectations for the German band's future quickly ramped up.
Forty-four days later, the Oath was done.
"It was quite devastating for me," says Sadonis. "I had lots of plans for that band. I did not want it to end. But I thought instead of being depressed about it, the best way to move forward was as quickly as possible with the wind that I had from the Oath at my back."
It would appear that the wind was quite swift. The singer formed Lucifer with a few stragglers from the Oath, and released a single less than a year later. After struggling with some issues with guitar players, Sadonis took a suggestion from Lee Dorian, the former Cathedral vocalist and owner of Rise Above Records.
"I was looking for the last puzzle piece, and he suggested Gary [Gaz] Jennings, his former bandmate and good friend. I asked, and he was on board right away."
According to Sadonis, that was when Lucifer really started to take hold. She and Jennings worked together on what would become the band's debut album. Sadonis provided suggestions for the direction she wanted Jennings' riffs to go, hoping to summon the vibe of classic records like Scorpions' In Trance, Pentagram's Be Forewarned, and the oft-forgotten Black Sabbath gem Technical Ecstasy.
"He sent me tons of stuff. I got to kind of cherry pick for the album. It's a 50/50 arrangement between us, songwriting-wise."
Sadonis' silky yet haunting voice and Jennings' creeping, crawling riffs go together like fire and brimstone on Lucifer I. Like the Oath, Lucifer leans less on the heavy-metal side, delving into spooky doom. With esoteric and occult themes throughout, the record's eight tracks are fit for any grim, candle-lit ritual.
Despite the dark subject matter, Sadonis is not drinking the blood of any goats or sacrificing virgins. "I get all kinds of strange questions like, 'Are you a Satanist?'" she says, laughing. "I'm not a Satanist. I am just interested in all kinds of different religious views, perspectives, and philosophical angles. It's hard for me to become dogmatic and attach myself to one belief. I just try to read a lot, gather information and knowledge, and pull out what I can apply to my own life. It's certainly interesting to flirt with the Devil when you play this kind of music, but that is very one-sided. I think you have to take everything into account. The Devil and his opposites."