Awakening is the outstanding follow-up to The Search, which of course was the sizzling 2016 debut from Texas heavy rockers Blues Funeral, and the guys have put together six songs that take their love of music from the 1960's and 1970s and bring it together with their own modern flavors. Kicking off with the weaving organ/guitar interplay of "Shadow of the Snake", it's apparent that Blues Funeral are taking their Krautrock & proto-metal influences one step further here on Awakening, with images of vintage Scorpions, Eloy, Budgie, Deep Purple, and Uriah Heep all floating below the surface quite effectively. Heavier riffs permeate the engaging title track, and again those glorious organ tones compliment the riffs and soaring multi-layered vocals, with plenty of tasty Uli Jon Roth-meets-Michael Schenker styled guitar solos flying about the mix in grand fashion. Just an incredible song that bridges the gap between classic early metal/hard rock and prog-rock. The band kick the grooves into high gear for the upbeat "Illusions of Reality", kind of like The Rolling Stones on steroids with a bit of Grand Funk Railroad thrown in for good measure, the rhythm section cooking on overdrive underneath some effective riffing, powerful vocals, and plenty of blazing guitar solos. Let's not forget that Blues Funeral can also bring the doom as well, which they certainly do on the crushing "Firedrake", as lumbering, heavy riffs plod and destroy everything in their path, the high pitched vocals and screaming guitar solos adding the perfect touch to this stellar track. Lush acoustic flamenco guitars and herculean lead guitar work kick off the atmospheric "Casimir", a tune that sounds like a lost remnant of a late '60s time capsule, quite proggy, a bit of psych, as well as vintage hard rock. Once again, the vocal harmonies are superb, and the muscular bass lines are also worth mentioning. "The Gathering Dust" closes out the album in fine fashion, as crunchy, dueling lead guitars & weaving riffs pound the listener, Jan Kimmel's creepy Mellotron sounds floating in between for an extra dose of drama. For lovers of quality lead guitar work, there's plenty to be savored on this ominous finale, as images of Cream, Candlemass, and Roth era Scorpions (how's that for a combination!) echo through your senses.
Though Awakening is slightly on the short side, the material is so strong it doesn't overstay its welcome one bit. While you can say this album is a perfect continuation of their debut, for my money Awakening is a grand leap forward, as they showcase their instrumental virtuosity even further, embrace their influences more closely, and taken their songwriting skills easily to the next level. Honestly, if you love '70s hard rock, Krautrock, prog, and doom metal, this is an album I highly recommend you get your hands on immediately.
Jan Kimmel (El Janni) - Guitar, Nord, Vocals;
Maurice Eggenschwiler - Guitar, Vocals;
Cory Cousins - Drums;
Gabriel Katz - Bass
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1) Shadow of the Snake
3) Illusions of Reality
6) The Gathering Dust