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Hawkwind: The Chronicle of the Black Sword (remastered)

A concept album based on the character Elric the Melnibone from science fiction author Michael Moorcock, The Chronicle of the Black Sword was originally released by Hawkwind in 1985 and was their fourteenth studio album. Founding member Dave Brock (guitar, keyboards, vocals) is joined on this outing by Huw Lloyd-Langton (guitar, vocals), Harvey Bainbridge (keyboards, vocals), Alan Davey (bass, vocals), Danny Thompson Jr. (drums), and Dave Charles (percussion). This remastered edition from Atomhenge also includes the the 1984 EP The Earth Ritual Preview.

At this point in time, Hawkwind were firmly in the middle of their 'space metal' period, which basically saw their space rock style mesh with some of the more upbeat heavy metal sounds of that decade. "Song of the Swords" is an immediate heavy rock anthem with bits of spacey prog thrown in for good measure, and "The Sea King" sees crunchy riffs from Brock & Lloyd-Langton saddle up next to some catchy vocal harmonies (the song oddly enough sounding very 'Blue Oyster Cult-ish' ). Lovers of the bands penchant for synth soaked instrumental tracks will appreciate some of the shorter, ominous numbers on this album, like "The Pulsing Cavern", "The Demise", and "Chaos Army", but for the most part it's the more metallic, straightforward songs such as "Elric the Enchanter" and the irresistible "Needle Gun" that are the highlights of this album. Floating, mesmerizing, melodic space rock is the name of the game on the enchanting "Zarozinia", featuring alluring synths and Brock's yearning vocal, while "Sleep of a Thousand Years", co-written by Moorcock, is another space metal number with scorching lead guitar courtesy of Lloyd-Langton. The closing epic "Horn of Destiny" is like a meeting of Blue Oyster Cult and Pink Floyd, with Brock's powerful vocal soaring over big riffs, slashing lead guitar, and intricate drums & percussion.

This edition features some very cool bonus tracks, including the exciting B-side "Arioch", an uptempo instrumental that approaches jazz-fusion, a pretty complex little song that sees the band attacking with Return to Forever or Tony Williams Lifetime styled intensity. For many the inclusion of The Earth Ritual Preview EP will be reason enough to purchase this reissue, as these four songs are quite strong. "Night of the Hawks" is a driving heavy rocker with some super crunchy riffs and tasty lead guitar, while "Green Finned Demon" sees the band drop back into dreamy space rock mold, Brock's haunting vocals surrounded by layers of liquid bass lines and undulating synth patterns. "Dream Dancers" is a creepy ambient piece written by Brock & Bainbridge, utilizing synths & sequencers to the fullest, and Lloyd-Langton's "Dragons and Fables" finishes things off, a melodic hard rocker with memorable riffs and strong vocals.

Play this one loud and proud, as the remaster treatment from Atomhenge is quite good, and there is a great booklet stocked with artwork, live & studio photos, and info on the album for you to peruse while you are enjoying the music. Perhaps the pinnacle of their '80s period, The Chronicle of the Black Sword remains one of Hawkwind's most accomplished efforts, a sci-fi concept album that everyone can now enjoy once again, or for the very first time.

Track Listing
1) Song of the Swords
2) Shade Gate
3) The Sea King
4) The Pulsing Cavern
5) Elric the Enchanter
6) Needle Gun
7) Zarozinia
8) The Demise
9) Sleep of a Thousand Tears
10) Chaos Army
11) Horn of Destiny
Bonus Tracks
12) Arioch (single B-side)
The Earth Ritual Preview EP
13) Night of the Hawks
14) Green Finned Demon
15) Dream Dancers
16) Dragons and Fables

Added: November 14th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1918
Language: english

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