Local CD spotlight: Jucifer

Coming a year-and-a-half after the re-release of their acclaimed doomsday debut, Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip, Athens' sludge-rock heroes Jucifer return with The Lambs EP, 19 minutes and 57 seconds of unrelenting torture, rock-hard ecstasy and oblivion. While Calling All Cars was a somewhat experimental affair in which guitarist/singer Amber Valentine and drummer Ed Livengood laced Black Sabbath riffs and hydrogen-bomb drum attacks with quirky keyboard, turntable scratches and acoustic pop, Lambs is mostly a recreation of Jucifer live — all thunder and release, no frills, only the essential evil.

Although divided into seven songs — including the four-part "Lambs Suite" — the EP plays like one extended, fever-dream meditation on alienation and desire. Singing along to her bass-heavy guitar riffs, Valentine communicates mainly by her emoting. Quiet and breathy equals sadness and vulnerability; a mid-range drone is at once bored and sexy; the full-on metal-goddess shriek is rage and catharsis. Snatches of phrases rise up: "That little girl's got a new black dress"; "I've got nothing to give you." With her impressionistic beat-up poetry and trashy bad-girl style, Valentine draws comparisons to Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Royal Trux's Jennifer Herrema.

Much has been said of Livengood's bone-crushing drumming (legend has it he once actually fractured his arm performing), it's Valentine who's calling the shots, at times punishing her partner with abrupt leaps of faith — from slow-motion baby-doll lullabies to triple-time blitzkrieg attacks. The effect is jarring and exhilarating. She seduces the listener with her brutal examination of the battered psyche. The lingering image is of a little girl who desperately needs to know everything's going to be all right. But, of course, the only real assurance is pain and the knowledge someone is going to pay.

Jucifer plays the Echo Lounge Thurs., Aug. 9.??