Within any genre, there are various approaches to a similar idea. Sea Wolves of the Atlantic, helmed by sole member “Sea Wolf” himself, blends a love for neofolk with the stylistic tinge of punk completely through the standard guitar-and-bass folk structure, with some of the electric breed of the instruments thrown in for good measure. The songs on Lucifer’s Light are all loosely related, ranging from subjects such as battles between the WWII Axis and Allies powers, dying at sea, and haunting the streets of London all after he is dead. Contained within is a wanderer’s attempts at wanting to express his thoughts on various subjects, all the while desperately trying to get you to sing along with his tales.
The music is straightforward and driven, written to enhance lyrics that are simplistic yet quite catchy. He explores themes such as the permanence of death through lines like “the dead are never coming back” and “what it means to be dead / no one lives through this,” which makes me wonder if he just now grasped the concept of man’s mortality. Many of these lyrics are repetitious in nature, with added layers of vocals that have been utilized in such a way that an old-school, almost anthemic punk charm comes to light—one that I certainly appreciate. If the measure of a good song comes down to being able to recall it to yourself days later and accurately sing that tune in your head, then Lucifer’s Light is assuredly a job well-done. “I Will Die in London” features an excellent traditional acoustic guitar performance, and if someone else were to cover this song with stronger vocals, it could easily be a classic.
It may be hard to believe given a name like Sea Wolves of the Atlantic, but Lucifer’s Light is enjoyable, even as humorous as some of the themes explored are and the way “Sea Wolf” forms his lyrics. Much of the album is quite confusing though, as his supposed aim is to create music from the Allies’ perspective to combat the supposed common Fascism found within neofolk, although none of the songs talk about that subject in particular. Some of the tracks are war-themed, but that’s as far as the comparisons ever get. This is along with what could be confused as, comically enough, a pirate theme between the name and some of the song themes. Combine this with the seemingly out-of-left-field reference to Lucifer in the album title, and it becomes glaringly obvious that coherence wasn’t a particular concern for “Sea Wolf” when putting this album together. I—as well as likely anyone else who may come across this album—would rather see Sea Wolves of the Atlantic just stick with one topic and focus on that objective, as silly as I think the accusation of a massive prevalence of Fascism within neofolk may be to begin with.
Still, I can’t help but enjoy many of these songs. The instrumental “Black Paintings” is irrelevant, but title track and album closer Lucifer’s Light is a fun song to sing along to. I can only imagine singing along to this album drunk with a group of friends while laughing and having a good time though. In other words, although I have been enjoying this, I don’t take it very seriously, which in its own way again represents that punk spirit. I think what is presented here is an excellent blueprint for other contemporary neofolk artists to build on for a unique approach, and that kind of contribution is needed in a scene that some would say has grown stagnant. Sea Wolf, however, is more of a songwriter than a song performer. His vocals are decent enough, but the compositions themselves have a lot to work on. Beyond the catchy, repetitive, anthemic chants, there is not a lot of substance.
01) The Days Were Blue and the Nights Were Black
02) Brown Bread
03) I Will Die in London
04) The Mouth to Hell Is the Atlantic Ocean
05) Black Paintings
06) Lucifer’s Light