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Black Space Riders
Released: 2015, Cargo Records
As our beloved genre of heavy metal continues to experiment and grow, there will always be two types of bands: those that adhere to the established tropes of the genre and those that look to expand its borders. Britain’s Black Space Riders definitely fall into the latter camp, as their three previous albums were mind-bending space trips delving deep into droning stoner rock.
Despite the hyperbole that accompanies album releases these days, it’s rare that an album truly captures the feelings discussed at length in bios and interviews. Happily, REFUGEEUM sees the enigmatically named band members leaving the stars and getting a little bit closer to home, focusing on, as the album implies, refugees, wanderings, and ultimately refuge, both lyrically and musically. It’s more than lip service as well. Cuts like “Born a Lion (Homeless)” and “Run to the Plains” are aural representations of the desolation, isolation, and also determination experienced by migrants, and is quite the trip.
What does that mean though, musically? Like I alluded to above, Black Space Riders take a rock solid base of stoner rock and inject wandering shoe-gazing progressiveness along with occasional bursts of pure metal fury. A perfect case is the spot-on Middle Eastern, Melechesh-inspired riffing of “Universal Bloodlines”, easily the most aggressive track on the album. While the vocals never approach anything near black metal rasps, both JE and SEB add several layers of texture to the music with their expressive singing. Elsewhere the band evokes wilderness and deserts with four 8+ minute dirges that move from moments of rage to moments of peace.
As with most drone-influenced music, there are too many long wandering passages for my own personal taste but on the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall immediacy and power of this album. For fans of this style, REFUGEEUM is like finding a refreshing oasis in the Sahara.
1. Vortex Sun
2. Universal Bloodlines
3. Born a Lion (Homeless)
4. The Lure (Come with us…)
5. Run to the Plains
6. Curtains of Death
7. Melek’s Lament (Yazidi Tears)
8. Walking Shades
9. Ritual of Inner Strength
JE: Vocals, Guitar
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