Jucifer - _L'Autrichienne_
(Relapse, 2008)
by: Daniel Cairns (9 out of 10)
In an interview recently, Matt Pike said that Jucifer were the loudest band he'd ever toured with. Considering the man played in Sleep and now makes an unholy apocalypse of a racket in High on Fire, it'd be folly to question the fact.

Forget the White Stripes. Jucifer are easily the best two-piece band around, and _L'Autrichienne_ is ample proof of their supremacy. In the course of its sixty plus minutes, we're treated to more genres than a Mr Bungle album. When you listen to the record, you'll be subjected to a heady dose of grunge, pop, indie, sludge, doom, folk and (I shit you not) power-violence. It's initially an overwhelming, difficult listen. However, stick with it, and you'll slowly find that you've got one of the most compulsive albums of the year. It also helps that singer Amber Valentine has the sultriest, most seductive voice since Jennifer Charles purred her way through the Nathaniel Merriweather record (look it up, it's basically aural Viagra).

_L'Autrichienne_ is also a concept album about Marie Antoinette, and Valentine graciously provides pig-ignorant thickies with extensive liner notes about the lady and her plight. If you're familiar with your history, you'll know she met with a somewhat messy end. As such, the record, even in its sprightliest moments, has an overbearing air of gloomy inevitability about it. It's even bleaker than a My Dying Bride record, which is truly saying something. My Dying Bride is also an apt comparison, as this record is equally steeped in good old-fashioned romanticism. _L'Autrichienne_ is essentially a love story, albeit one where the love interest gets brutally decapitated at the end. Eli Roth would be getting a boner about now.

However, even without the concept, this record would comfortably hold its own; such is the strength of its tunes. "Blackpowder" is the catchiest song Kurt Cobain never wrote. The title track sounds like Radiohead, before they took a ten year long journey up their duodenum. The sludgy misery of _The Mountain_ meanwhile, recalls prime Eyehategod. Radiohead and Eyehategod? On the same record? Why yes, but through sheer excellence, the album melds these influences seamlessly, and the whole thing becomes unmistakably Jucifer.

There's a gloriously raw production here as well. The record has the best organic drum sound this side of a Steve Albini record, and the guitars sound heavier than all hell. It sounds like ten people are playing these songs, let alone two.

In an age where we're inundated with bands that proclaim abject brutality without brain cells, Jucifer are a bright, shining iconoclast. Brave, intelligent, engaging, challenging and at times heartbreaking, _L'Autrichienne_ is easily one of the best of 2008, and immediately worthy of investigation. Also, Amber Valentine sometimes sings in French, and there is nothing sexier than an attractive hippie singing in French.

Je t'aime!

Contact: http://www.jucifer.com

(article published 24/2/2009)


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