Updated: Jul 10
Maiden. Priest. Sabbath. Cooper. Lucifer Sam…?
Wait, you’ve never heard of Lucifer Sam? Whereas most heavy metal bands may have steered millions toward losing their souls, Lucifer Sam may be the only hardcore rockers who helped save souls.
Lucifer Sam by Leo Darke is a heavy metal horror novel that separates the poser bands from the truly evil bands. Kind of like Slayer vs. Mayhem. Slayer wore eyeliner back in the day, sported some inverted crosses, and sang blasphemous lyrics. But Mayhem members kill people and burn down churches. Big difference.
Cat O’ Nine Tails began their musical career with Ray Starling on lead vocals. Like so many other heavy metal bands of the era, Cat played at being “comic strip Satanists, reading Aleister Crowley books, and pretending to be bad.” After ditching Ray who boozed and smoked too much (ala Paul Di'Anno for Bruce Dickinson), the band began a search for true darkness. Flash forward to today, and the aging rockers may have finally found the key.
While flying over the Indian Ocean, the private jet carrying Cat O’ Nine Tails’ members mysteriously disappears. Rescue efforts and salvage crews turn up nothing. Six months later, the plane reappears, but when it lands, the band members seem…different. For starters, they look unbelievably youthful. Even stranger than that is their robotic movements, the slow speech patterns, and ambiguous answers given when interviewed about the incident—which they can remember nothing about. All the band is certain of is that they are excited to get back into the studio to record their new album. An album that will change the world.
When random acts of violence and tragedy erupt in the UK streets—killing spree at the office of a music magazine, fan running naked through the streets with a knife, suicides, etc—the only person who sees the connection is Kirk. Kirk is the lead singer of Lucifer Sam, a small rock band struggling to stay afloat in the dying music scene of pubs and back alley clubs. Kirk’s girlfriend Rose also happens to be obsessed with Cat O’ Nine Tails giving him extra incentive to find proof that while Cat is back, they are truly evil now.
The novel is fun and if you’re a rocker, I have a feeling you will enjoy the musical references and cliché plot, which you’ve probably already guessed… Cat O’ Nine has traveled to the ‘other side’ and come back with a sound guaranteed to drive fans crazy. Literally. The concept of a musical note driving someone into madness and murder/music to incite evil/conjure up something is probably as old as music itself. Even in medieval times, the tritone in the Locrian mode was nicknamed ‘diabolus in musica’ for its dissonance and the emotional frission it caused.
For me, I would love to see something new in the musical horror genre, but just because something is overly used, doesn’t mean it's bad. Leo Darke weaves good characters around the plot and everything crescendos to a nice climax at Wembly Stadium, where Lucifer Sam and original singer Ray Starling attempt to save the day.
Speaking of stadiums shows, some metal heads are diehard concert fans who listen to every band on the bill that night, while others refuse to take their seats until the headliner takes the stage. A bad opening act doesn’t ruin a concert, but it can spoil a book. My biggest complaint of Lucifer Sam is the opening prologue. My suggestion is to get a beer or stand in the restroom line and skip the intro of the novel titled ‘Promo Single’. I almost gave up on the book because of that intro, which would have been a shame.
If I had been mixing this album, I would cut that intro, done some condensing and turned the novel into an EP rather than an LP. Though that’s probably because I like my horror like I like my music: hard and fast, lol. I dislike extended drum solos and/or long instrumental interludes. However, lots of metal/horror fans love over-the-top imagery and instrumentals which will make Lucifer Sam a hit with them.
I give the novel three out of five drumsticks—er, I mean stars. So grab a beer, turn the lights down, and get ready to rock with Lucifer Sam by Leo Dark.
If you're looking for some more heavy metal horror, consider checking out the following books. I haven't read them all, but they come recommended from friends in the horror community!
The Scream by John Skipp & Craig Spector
Corpsepaint by David Peak
We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
The Kill Riff by David Schow
The Devil of Echo Lake by Douglas Wynn
One for the Road by Wesley Southard