Lazarus Dream is a new project out of Germany backed by the talents of Markus Pfeffer and Carsten Lizard-Schulz. Markus Pfeffer is a multi-instrumentalist formerly of Scarlett in the 90s and currently of Winterland. Carsten Lizard-Schulz is a vocalist with a resume including Evidence One, Domain, Dead End Heroes, and Midnite Club. Markus Kullmann who has played with Sinner, Voodoo Circle, and Glenn Hughes is the guest drummer but seems to be an integral piece to this band. Other musicians on the album include percussionist Thomas Rieder, flute player Sabrina Roth, and Thomas Nitschke on Hammond and synths.
The strength of this album is in how it evokes images through the instrumentation, song structure, and lyrics. The opening track “Dawn of Time” immediately made me think of the opening scene of some dystopian movie. Think Escape From New York, or maybe some broken down, far older city from the dawn of time. You’re soaring over the city as the song opens, the keyboards draw you in, the beat of the monster drums crash and bring you closer. Finally, the song roars down to the streets with soaring guitars and you’re rockin with the local mutants and monsters. “Dawn of Time” is filled with interesting twists and turns and is among my favourite tracks of 2020. The guitar work is amazing, the drums crush it, and the vocals are rock solid.
The first single, “Wings of an Eagle” takes you on a trip to a wild land. The scream of an eagle kicks things off, while the jaunty music clearly sets the outdoors theme. And then, as many songs on this album do, Lazarus Dream takes another turn to a great rock song with an excellent guitar solo.
“Steam” is another track that paints a vivid picture. The song opens with the huff of a steam engine and closes with exhausted and exulting breathing. In between Markus Pfeffer transforms the plodding steam engine into a blistering bullet train.
Two songs on the album slow things down and threaten a trip to Ballad Land: “Listen” and “Visions and Sins“. Ballad Land isn’t usually my favourite place. However, each of these two gems transport you to a smokey room with grooves as smooth as silk. They’re funky and groovy and clearly a notch above your typical slow jam. “Visions and Sins” has some especially interesting instrumentation behind the well-played vocal arrangements.
These guys know how to build a song. Almost all of the songs on this album feel like they are built carefully, piece by piece, to lure you in and hook you. This is especially the case on a few stand out tracks like “Can’t Take My Soul Away“. The track begins with what appears to be echoing footsteps treading some damp, electric hall. A distant guitar enters the hall, heralding the ass-kicking that’s about to happen. It all leads to a thoroughly modern rocker that has almost a Dokken sound.
“Fleshburn” also benefits from an interesting intro. Sabrina Roth fills the first minute with her flute playing over a sci-fi vibe. The song transitions to a spoken word segment, but the tempo is clearly building. Ultimately you find yourself banging your head to a crunchy rocker that features some of the most thumping drumming on the record.
Finally, I wanted to talk about “The Healing Echoes“, which is another slow build to a rocking treat. The intro is less of a story than “Can’t Take My Soul Away” or “Fleshburn“, but it still effectively builds anticipation for the rest of the song.
I can’t say enough about this album. It’s filled with fantastic modern rock and roll. I didn’t even get a chance to mention other songs like the second single, “House Of Cards“, which is a solid, catchy rocker. “Desert Mind” is a treat with great harmonies and really showcases Carsten Lizard-Schulz.
Each song on this album is carefully crafted. Pfeffer‘s guitar work is amazing. While reminding me at times of George Lynch and Zakk Wylde, he still retains his own unique style. And when he goes for a slow groove, it sounds awesome. Of course, Pfeffer also put his talent to work on the bass and keyboard to round out the songs.
The vocals of Carsten Lizard-Schulz elevate the record. I can’t really compare his vocals to anyone else, but he sounds right at home among these melodic rockers. While the soaring guitars, keyboards, and great singing are ever-present on this record, what really stood out to me was the drumming. Markus Kullmann was brought in as a guest drummer, but his work is really impressive.
Overall, this is an excellent record. I’ll admit, it took a couple of listens to really get into, but once hooked I haven’t been able to put it down.