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War Bird

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Album Review

Jucifer is still trying to kill your brain. The 2002 LP I Name You Destroyer their shifty enemy at the gate, ready to roar its arrival to your pineal or pad slinky and curvaceous into your unsuspecting frontal lobe. Didn't matter which; either way, your sleep was getting interrupted. The War Bird EP still roars. However, it's a more measured sound, clarifying each side of the duo's three-way dynamic — drums, guitar, voice — rather than just amplifying everything and rocking it at one loud yawp. Amber Valentine's vocals aren't just keening window dressing over the instrumentation — accentuated by double-tracking and a cappella breakdowns, her voice is the most distinctive thing about "Ides of Light," and this is a song that growls and tumbles in typical Jucifer style. "Day Breaks on the Field of Battle" and "Seth" again lay sacrifices at the foot of the dark Sabbath altar. But "Battle"'s a brief, tensile instrumental, while "Seth" slows everything to a stoned snail's pace — it becomes a warped and sly Pixies outtake, lost in the desert and looking for water in all the wrong places. War Bird's most powerful weapon is its knack for further defining Jucifer inside the references, in front of the back line. Valentine and drummer Ed Livengood (those names!) have been at this a long, long time — it's not novelty. They're causing visceral crap like sex and death inside their speaker cabinets, and twisting the evidence until it's as unrecognizable as anything but a come-on. Go ahead, try and run from the "Shape of Texas." It's final flails of distortion and drum fill will chomp your legs like a backhoe. If all of that wasn't enough, Valentine gets powerfully personal at the end of War Bird, turning in a tribute to her band's Southern roots with the gothic pluck of "My Stars." "In the tall grass and Queen Anne's lace/I began to love America," she sings, almost to herself and over the threatening lilt of her banjo. But as she sings about the country's soft scents and stark contrasts, her heartfelt clip turns ashen. She sees the American scriptures she learned as a child cowering in the shadows, sees the powers making their case, and the anger she channels in her hearty wail and banjo is louder than any distortion rig.


Formed: 1993 in Athens, GA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Rising out of a new wave of independent music from Athens, Georgia, sludge metal duo Jucifer produced a sound that resembled R.E.M. about as much as the New York Dolls resembled Barry Manilow. Alternating between atmospherics and frantic punk metal, the boyfriend-girlfriend team of Ed Livengood and Amber Valentine began impressing locals with their performing skills in 1993. Their first album, Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip, began getting airplay at the end of 1998 and was released that same...
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War Bird, Jucifer
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