Not to be confused with Black Star Riders, the band fraudulently (to my mind) trading under the Thin Lizzy name until recently, this quintet from Munster, Germany are a much more interesting proposition. I don’t normally like to quote from a bands biog but ‘Heavy, psychedelic, hypnotic, metallic, acid, groovy SPACE-ROCK from far beyond.’ does sum them up very nicely.
This is not your typical space rock though. There are no oscillations, blips, saxophone skronks or any whiff of marijuana. Black Space Riders sound like crash landed astronauts a la Charlton Heston at the end of ‘Planet of the Apes’. Bitter and furious they are shouting into the void.
“D:REI” doesn’t start very promisingly though – ‘Stare At The Water’ has Iron Maiden-esque riffs and duelling guitars with soft semi-spoken vocals from singer Je. It’s spirited but decidedly earthbound and utterly predictable.
But then ‘Bang Boom War (outside my head)’ massive heavy bottom end kicks in, like a mix between Korn and Celtic Frost and as percussive as it’s title suggests. It’s huge in every way. That is waaaay heavier than you’re expecting and preconceptions truly smashed you are ready for more.
‘Rising From The Ashes Of Our World’ is all Ministry nihilism and morbid chug. Space rock? Hardly? The song does open out and become less claustrophobic but scarcely less pessimistic…and the explosive closing crescendo is brutal and almost celebratory.
‘Give Gravitation To The People’ is stonerish with clattering drums and conjures Therapy‘s ‘Teethgrinder’ as played by teutonic robots learning to swing. And so krautrock comes to the party. I knew it would.
There are a lot of styles at play during this very long album, and not everything works but the intelligence and imagination of the band shines through. This is rock played by bright and playful minds.
One of the nicest surprises is ‘I See’ – with it’s warm tribal drums, it is mellow and contemplative and recalls the calmer parts of “Come Midnight” by Adrift For Days. Also impressive is next up ‘Leave’, a heavy trance/psych/krautrock bruiser which once again proves the band to be masters of the quiet/ loud dynamic.
The ten minutes plus of ‘Space Angel’ is indeed space rock, but with hardcore aggression. It grinds on with a grim determination and it’s epic but desolate vibe shares something with recent works by Neurosis. It’s deep stuff, but never impenetrable or especially difficult to listen to, and there is a spark and a tongue in cheek humour at play at times which make each listen a rewarding experience. See for instance, ‘Major Tom Waits,’ which kind of does what it says on the tin. A pretty convincing Waits-ish gravelly vocal ruminates over an angsty, psychedelic shuffle. It doesn’t quite live up to it’s title but is more evidence of the bands wit and invention.
So apart from that rather ill chosen opening number every track here is worthy of your attention, especially if you like your noise to come with brains as well as balls. Once heard you won’t be confusing them with any Thin Lizzy off shoots.