Tom Hayes 18-Jul-2006 Black Bonzo

New Swedish band who play an early 70’s influenced hard rock progressive sound. Think Uriah Heep mixed with some Caravan and early KC maybe? Definitely more of the former, warts and all. Opening track ‘Lady of the Light’ has the fat Hammond, driving rhythms, fuzz guitar, some progressive changes. Vocalist Magnus Lindgren even manages to nail that super cool voice that screams David Byron. Nicklas Ahlund plays an arsenal of analog keys including the aforementioned Hammond, mellotron, Moog and various other synths. ‘Brave Young Soldier’ sets a haunting tone, before breaking into a cool wah-wah bass, mellotron and Moog sequence. The vocals here even have a Pye Hastings touch and thus the Caravan connection is made. On ‘These Are Days of Sorrow’, guitarist Joachim Karlsson obtains some great wah-wah guitar sounds. ‘Sirens’ opens in heavy mellotron/organ mode, and comparisons to Anglagard are inevitable. And first era King Crimson also rings a bell. ‘New Day’ and ‘Freedom’ have more of a 70’s rock and roll feel as does ‘Jailbait’ though with a heavier, almost metallic sound. Tracks like ‘Fantasyworld’ and ‘Leave Your Burdens’ strike a balance between straight ahead rock and progressive breaks with moody acoustic guitar and the usual heavy analog ivory dose. Mellotron laced ‘Where the River Meets the Sea’ is an apt, if not melancholic, closer. Once again, the ghost of classic 70’s Uriah Heep is called for one more encore. It’s easy to do some band spotting throughout as each track has different influences, but the cool thing is they don’t really sound like anyone exactly - so they manage to open a new door. Certainly one of the best retro rockers I’ve heard. Proves there’s plenty of oil left in that well. It’s not a stoner thing either, or a tribute band. Just exploring a genre they like. I’d prefer more emphasis on their progressive tendencies, where the instrumentation and creative ideas explode with reckless abandon. Still a winning album that shows even more potential. Exciting.

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