D-Rei. Doremi Fasol Latido? Maybe I’m over thinking the title of this album but when opening track ‘Stare At The Water’ hits its stride and Black Space Riders heavily Hawkwind influenced space rock bursts out it really was my first thought. Not to confuse you, but there is way more to this lot than just a fetish for those in search of space. There’s Monster Magnet in there too, an affection for stoner boogie and… Maiden-esque twin lead duelling (seriously. Yeah it shocked me too). With weird lyrics, mentions of sonic wars and a driving style it’s a great opener and really gets my hopes running away with themselves.
Varied too. Second track ‘Bang Boom War (Outside My Head) ‘ is a gravelly stomp of a song at first (the kind that too often stoner fans think of as doom) that slides into a more bulldozing bass ‘n’ space workout. And more sonic war lyrics (concept album ahoy!) With repeated listening this is where I realise the huge strength of the band lie; in these great space rock rumbling, driving riff workouts. ‘Rising From The Ashes Of Our World ‘ on the other hand showcases their weaknesses; despite some effectively used vocals crying out, the song kind of flounders in ineffective fury until about halfway in it mellows out. Then it rides some great guitar lines into a melancholy but determined break that ends in a maelstrom of space warped goodness. The first part set no scene and added no narrative and so simply wastes time for me. Note that. It’s important.
We then get four minutes forty seven seconds of on-a-nod, heads down tripped out hypnotic buzzing brilliance. ‘Give Gravitation To The People’ is a time warp head fuck gravity tunnel sucking you in and never letting go. The riff just spirals and turns and pulls and disorientates and the like Cathedral’s ‘Ride’ is the best riff Sabbath never wrote, this is the best one Hawkwind never wrote.
Which makes this album, and potentially this band so utterly annoying and frustrating. They have a borderline brilliance for involving, emotional melodic space rock gone stoner boogie on the fine ‘Temper Is Rising’ for example (and a surprising Iron Maiden touch for guitar breaks, again surfacing on the rather good ‘Way To Me’.) Their touch perfect quiet songs like ‘I See’ is exemplary. Oh, and a varied vocal approach that touches on Front 242 territory at times really works for me too. They also have an unfortunate habit of flabby song-writing. Some tracks are throwaway or forgettable (‘Major Tom Waits’, though the title is at least amusing), or even irritatingly pointless (the closing ten minute track ‘The Everlasting Circle Of Infinity’ I guess at least feels like the title…).
I feel I may come across as overly harsh, but that’s because when they are good, Black Space Riders are just about one of the best Space Rock Bands I’ve heard in a goddamned age. They have a feel for the riff and the gravity, well pull the slingshot into high tempo, the placid waters of deep space calm. They have it all in their hands. All. But here they smother forty five minutes of potential brilliance in an album Seventy Five Minutes Long! Seventy five. You need a bloody good reason for an album that long and Black Space Riders don’t make that case here. The last album I heard approaching that long that needed it was The Axis Of Perdition’s ‘Urfe’ and a) most people would virulently disagree that it justified it and b) even half those of us who do might argue it isn’t exactly normal music. Basically if they were a writer, Black Spare Riders would need a good editor, and this is therefore a reason, for once, against what is essentially a self-release. A record company might, just might, have suggested restraint.
So there you go. Take your choice. A band who can be (and I’m sure in the future will be) truly exceptional. Just here too much leaves me too bloated to fully enjoy the excellent parts.