Saturday, June 6, 2015

Black Space Riders - Refugeeum

Not often does a band come around unleashing not 1, but 2 stellar albums within 18 months time. Black Space Riders have ridden their way into that category with their latest album Refugeeum. I was a huge fan of their last album D:REI as evidenced by my review here, which was originally published on The Sludgelord blog. Due to technical difficulties it was lost to the airwaves. Later I put it up at my short lived blog that I just had no time to keep up with. This go round the Ripples can be felt again.

With D:REI's success last year, and my complete lack of knowledge of a new release until the day it came through the promo pipeline, I was somewhat blindsided and devoid of expectation for a brand spanking new Black Space Riders album. What I did know however, is that I was instantly excited.

The album definitely has the same spacey atmospheric haze, combined with the same heavy groove oriented rhythms of D:REI and, really, all their previous releases. Perhaps a little more on the creepily enchanting side of the spectrum, Refugeeum maintains a completely esoteric vibe throughout its 60 minute duration. A latent energy presents itself lurking between psychedelic meanderings and hypnotic vocal chants. The mildly distorted rhythm and bass lines palpitate like an industrial revolution transforms a nation. Gargantuan riffs linger in the background while a cryptic theme washes away your mind.

Midway through one of the album highlights "Run to the Plains", a 10+ minute monumental journey to the bowels of the brain, slowly builds at an epic pace with intermittent jabs of monster riffage and vocal assaults. Seamless layers of atmospheric harmony, tribal groove and metallic rhythm collide to create a sonic avalanche of emotion.

Overall the album is pretty dismal from a thematic context. The album cover is depressing, the song titles and lyrics suggest hopelessness, yet the music remains intriguing on all fronts. It's a bit more diverse than D:REI and at this point it's tough to tell whether I like Refugeeum over D:REI or not.  D:REI was a masterpiece which made my top 20 albums last year, and is still available in the Heavy Ripples store on a super heavy 2LP vinyl gatefold edition with CD. While you're in there you might as well pick up "Light is the New Black" also on 2LP Gatefold. That said, with more listens I may find myself gravitating towards Refugeeum, as the progression is evident, the sophistication is further developed, and the range is magnificent. Refugeeum is a terrific release and will no doubt be receiving critical acclaim from a wide range of audiences. Be sure to pick this up as it is released on July 24th of this year. More details on their website. Take a listen the their discography on bandcamp if you are new to the band.

-The Huntsman

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