Black Space Riders are a German quintet of dual guitars, bass, drums and vocals, who play a mixture of Metal and Stoner rock, played in a carefully developed narrative style. D:REI is their third album and like last year’s Light Is The New Black, the “Space” is mostly thematic, though there is ambience and effects to be heard throughout the album that inject a cosmic edge into the music. D:REI is a concept album and I think it’s worth sharing the summary from the band’s web site:
A lonesome way out of a somehow doomed world: Retreat! A voyage into the deepest inside, into a galaxy of inwardness, called the ‘Inner Space': Peace, freedom, depressioin and deepest isolation.
Almost lost in the caverns of subconsciousness… then finally: A way back to the outside. A staggering return: A world battered down – ashes and ruins, grey in black! Destroyed by mankind, finished by the “Memitim”. Old prophecies and meaningful predictions… just in case mankind failed to extinguish itself.
A couple survivors leaving a devastated world. Drifting on their way to find a new beginning.
A voyage, primarily an escape, later a search, meaning and an end in itself. The journey as a transformation. Total destruction as the root of a new beginning. The destination had become meaningless…
The album consists of 13 songs, grouped into four sections – Defiance, Ruins, Escape, and Beyond. Stare At The Water opens with waves crashing on the shore, ambient bass and guitar melodies, an oscillating swirl of effects, and then BAM!!… a full blown metallic rock ‘n’ roll assault. It’s got a cool 70s dual guitar hard rock feel, plus the metal and stoner-ish vibe, but also receding into quieter yet intense atmospheric segments. Bang! Boom! War! (Outside My Head) takes us from rock ‘n’ roll to something far more brutal, with a thudding stoned metal march and warlord-like vocals. One of Black Space Riders’ strengths is their attention to thematic development, so nothing sits still for long and the music veers through tension laden quieter moments between the onslaughts. Rising From The Ashes Of Our World features blasts of stoned guitar, with chords sustained in drones that are momentarily hypnotic until interrupted by the next burst. The song alternates between intense ambient metal, a contemporary brand of metal, Black Sabbath styled stoner sludge, and blazing metallic rock ‘n’ roll. These guys are continually shifting gears as they tell their story of war and destruction.
And on we go throughout the set. There’s lots of variety and it all flows seamlessly. There’s the spaced out punk-metal of Give Gravitation To The People. Way To Me consists of dense rock ‘n’ rolling theatrical metal with brief bits of classic 70s twin guitar solo. The GOD-Survivor reaches orchestral levels of metallic intensity. I like the meditative, ambient tribal march of I See. Leave is alternately steamroller heavy and ambient, punctuated by trippy Middle Eastern bits. The 10 minute Space Angel opens with spacey drifting soundscapes, before settling into a stoned groove that is simultaneously lulling and crushing. I dig the psychedelic doom of Major Tom Waits, as well as the space-doom and punishing rock ‘n’ metal roll of The Everlasting Circle Of Infinity. And going off into a slightly different direction is the quirkily New Wave-ish Letter To A Young One.
I really liked last year’s Light Is The New Black album, and while D:REI is very much in the same mold, it’s a far more ambitious effort, showcasing a band who is clearly learning and improving all the time. Very impressive.
For more information you can visit the Black Space Riders web site at: http://www.blackspaceriders.com
U.S. readers should find the at Heavy Ripples as of the end of January: http://www.heavyripples.bigcartel.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz