Black Space Riders - D:REI (BSR/Cargo)

Expand your horizons with the BSR...
Release Date: 
23 Jan 2014 - 11:30pm

German prog metallers Black Space Riders really are an intriguing bunch. Metallic butterflies to a man, they flit from each dark corner of metal’s many generic recesses in turn, coming up with an always interesting melange of styles and sounds that leaves the listener simultaneously disorientated yet wanting more…

Maybe disorientation is a bit strong, as the band always keeps a firmish grip on reality by basing their attack on what you’d probably call prog/stoner metal; but, that said, they never stay in that pigeon hole long enough for you to roll a fat one and settle down waiting to be enveloped in the morass of bass-driven grunge that that soubriquet might indicate. In fact they seem to be at their best when keeping it more straightforward and riff driven, as they do on the grindingly alluring The GOD-survivor (which has an air of Amorphis about its crushing conclusion); that’s not to say their more reflective moments aren’t effective, for they surely are. It’s just that when everyone in the band fires simultaneously the resultant, gloriously overbearing noise brings the album’s most fulfilling results from a listener’s perspective.

That said, the hypnotic Leave is very effective, weaving in and out of your consciousness without you even really realising it, and leading into the albums magum opus, the ten-and-a-bit minute Space Angel (Memitim), a song which probably deserves a review all of its own given its ambition and ultimate success.

If Leave was hypnotic, then Space Angel... is barely perceptible, at least for the first couple of minutes, before the band begins unfolding it’s tales on the back of first a clean, then droning and churning version of the same riff. The vocals, rising from a clean whisper to an impassioned roar that somehow sounds like Jaz Coleman without ever making you think of Killing Joke, reel the listener in. But that first wave of anger dissipates quickly, and band subsides back down into quiet, scarcely audible noodling while their gather their resources for the next assault. This comes in the form of a superbly understated guitar solo (I wish I could tell you who from – the liner notes supplied with the promo copy of the album are sadly too scratchy to equivocally state who’s doing what here) and then an excellent, muted cacophony of voices leading into the song’s final crescendo – kind of like Tool jamming on Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk but without the hysteria of the latter or the pretension of the former. It’s heady stuff.

Interesting stuff, then, and more than worth your attention, especially if rock of a more cerebral fashion gets your juices flowing. But even if it doesn’t you might find yourself enjoying this excellent album anyway should you decide to give it a chance – go on, take a punt!