Words: Craig Hartranft
Hailing from Germany, Black Space Riders say they're part of the New Wave of Heavy Psychedelic Space Rock. Yeah. I know. I'm scratching my head too. When did this happen? Well, just because I've never heard of it, it doesn't mean that Black Space Riders can't make it up and drop themselves into the same category.
They deliver their fourth album, Refugeeum, with a commanding and interesting theme. Visually and lyrically, the album looks at the troubling matter of the many displaced people who, whether by war, racial, or other political issues, have lost their homes and many family members only to become refugees in another country. It's nice to see a band with a U2-like moral conscience for a change. Of course, BSR takes their little jab: the Western world is to blame for these things. Hello? Ever hear of ISIS? And what has their precious Germany, the most prosperous country in Europe, done to help the human suffering. But I digress. On to the music.
That aforementioned description is probably dead on. Black Space Riders play a melodic hard/heavy rock mixed with elements of psychedelic, space, acid, and maybe even some progressive rock. Their sound can be bold with large repititive riffs or etheral and atmospheric in compostion. Often this is found in a single arrangement, like Run To The Plains or Curtains of Death. Other times their songs seem merely to drone along, sounding both vaguely purposeless and curiously hopeless. Melek's Lament, Walking Shades, and Ritual of Inner Strength, at the end of the album, form a triptych of this meandering pyschedelic space rock mission. Using two vocalist, sometimes the vocals seem uneven. Mostly they have this benign monotonous, yet melodic, tone. That's except on the occassion they go screamo as within Universal Bloodlines. But it fits with abrasive riffage that drives most of the song. And if I recall it is one the few songs that has a guitar solo, at least of some note. By way of conculsion, I'm reminded of my first listen of Refugeeum. I take notes and looking at my scribbling, I find these words about the album: "generally boring" and "some nice guitar." I think I can bump up the former to "mildly interesting and somewhat entertaining." I will probably be in the minority with my assessment, so check out Black Space Riders for yourself. You may feel differently as the appreciation of the variety of music is a personal thing.
I'm reminded of my first listen of Refugeeum. I take notes and looking at my scribbling, I find these words about the album: "generally boring" and "some nice guitar." I think I can bump up the former to "mildly interesting and somewhat entertaining." I will probably be in the minority with my assessment.
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