With their eponymous 2013 debut, Beelzefuzz pretty much set the bar for what those who also set sail on the good ship retro rock would have to live up to; an album that was simultaneously cutting edge and timeless, it was one of my musical highlights of the year. Then, before I had the chance to see them live, things went a bit weird in the band’s camp, and it looked like they were no more, only to apparently be reborn under the name The Righteous Bloom. After some unfortunate spats played out via the modern public arena of social media, the reinvigorated Beelzefuzz now return stronger than before with ‘The Righteous Bloom’, again produced by knob twiddler extraordinaire Richard Whittaker.
‘Nazzriff’ starts the album in suitably a suitably psych-rock style, Dana Ortt’s soaring vocals being carried aloft by a new twin guitar attack and a rhythm section given new power by the addition of bass man Bert Hall, his pounding style adding a harder proto-metal sound to the mix, the iron fist wrapped within the velvet glove of lilting harmonies. ‘The Soulless’ follows on hard and heavy, with a chugging riff to slap around the faces of those hippies who were just hoping to chill out in their flares to the normally laid back delivery of the band, a more doom tinged sound that runs into the slightly sinister creep of ‘Hardluck Melody.’ Things then get seriously retro with ‘Rat Salad Parfait’, a title that could easily have floated on a THC fog through a time warp from 1970, easily matched by the relaxed trippy music, a blissful combination of the California Rock of Captain Beyond, mixed with the twin guitar lines of classic Thin Lizzy; I’d be happy to call this my favourite track on the whole album, but as each new song plays out, it in turn becomes my new favourite, the whole process starting again with a hit of the replay button. It’s not that I’m a fickle creature, rather it’s a testimony to how good the album is.
Track after track plays out with nothing but sheer quality, from the gentle meander of ‘Eternal Waltz’, through the hard rock of ‘Within Trance’, and onwards with proto-doom crusher ‘Nebulous’, and into the centrepiece that is the classic rock title track ‘The Righteous Bloom’, a number that really does invoke an era where flares would be worn without irony and white men with Afros and kaftans were at the cutting edge of fashion. Some may use the retro style of Beelzefuzz’s music as a reason to criticise them, but each number on the album is delivered with such skill and sincerity that it is obvious that the band are not just slavishly reproducing the sounds of a bygone era, rather being honest in their influences, delivering an album that whilst it could easily be a rediscovered forty year old classic that had emerged from a time locked vault, is equally filled with a fresh energy that will appeal to a new generation of music lovers who have yet to hear the classic acts that are ingrained into the very DNA of this Maryland four piece. Yes, it’s obvious that they love Uriah Heep, equally throwing a good dash of only the deepest Purple into their sonic brew, but every track is played out with a love and conviction that just shines through. Expect Beelzefuzz to go from strength to strength, and surely appear high up the bill at such shows as Desertfest or Freak Valley, where their fuzz worship will be lapped up by a devoted audience. Hopefully, I will now get to realise my ambition of catching this band live, I eagerly await my copy of the CD that I pre-ordered from the band long before being sent a review copy for Ave Noctum.