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Heyoka: The Spirit of Revelation

Love classic Styx, Kansas, Rush, Triumph, and Jethro Tull? Well, wait till you get a load of The Spirit of Revelation, another archival set of recordings from the Texas vaults of ShroomAngel Records. Heyoka hailed from the San Antonio area and opened for many major acts that came through the state in the late '70s & early '80s, like Rush, Van Halen, Budgie, Judas Priest, Moxy, and others. The Spirit of Revelation contains a host of recordings from 1978-1980, and for most folks who have never heard Heyoka before, this CD will indeed be a 'revelation'.

Heyokah refers to the Lakota concept of a contrarian, satirist or sacred clown, and the band were comprised of Michael Grothues (vocals, flute), Gerardo Ramirez (drums, keyboards), Dito Garcia (guitar), David Alcocer II (guitar), and Pat Hood (bass). Much of the album contains Native American themes, which you can hear right off the bat on the powerful opener "Thunderdreamer". Ethnic vocal chants eventually give way to bombastic guitar riffs, keyboards, and soaring flute on this vibrant opening rocker. "Wooden Birds" has more of a folky feel, thanks to alluring acoustic guitars and wispy flute, and this one is just a great Jethro Tull influenced piece. Heavy guitar riffs and soaring vocals make up "The Quest" a hard hitting marriage of vintage Kansas & Styx, while the more textured "And the Pessimist Fled" sees some early '80s Rush elements creep into the mix. Lush, pastoral prog can be heard on the lovely "Metamorphosis", with shimmering acoustic guitars, layers of vocals, flute, and soaring Moog lines. A must hear for Grand Illusion era Styx fans. The band then delivers the heavy "The Monotony of Change", a somewhat rootsy, hard rocking prog number that recalls late '70s Kansas, and follows that up with the equally heavy "Change My Ways", a crisp rocker with some great guitar riffs and catchy vocals.

Of course, for many the real centerpiece of The Spirit of Revelation will be the three part, near 24-minute epic "The Trilogy". This one is a grand mix of bombastic prog and adventurous hard rock. Images of Jethro Tull, Kansas, Styx, and even a little ELP, Rush, and Yes pop up on this well put together epic suite. Grothues really showed the full range of his vocal prowess here, but also look for some incredible guitar passages, melodic lead bass, intricate drum fills, and plenty more on this stellar track. Once you've had a chance to recover from that gem, the band hits you over the head with the crunchy hard rock & boogie of "It's All Gonna Be Alright", then launching into the equally raucous "Video Madness", which ironically was a minor hit for the band and originally slated for a run on the very early MTV before getting banned due to a sound effect used in the song that some company claimed they had the copyright to. It's a shame, as you can hear the potential this heavy rocking tune had, much in line with what Styx were cranking out in that same time period. "Disco Sux" closes the album on a humorous note, poking fun at the oncoming dance craze but also delivering some hard rock punch.

Looking back, it's puzzling how Heyoka ultimately failed to become major players and break out into the mainstream hard rock charts. This is very strong material, and a band who not only could play with the best of them, but had the songwriting chops and a killer lead vocalist to back it all up. Kudos to ShroomAngel for once again making some long lost but essential recordings available for all to enjoy. Highly recommended!

Track Listing
1. Thunderdreamer 6:24
2. Wooden Birds 4:48
3. The Quest 3:46
4. And the Pessimist Fled 3:47
5. Metamorphosis 6:36
6. The Monotony of Change 3:30
7. Change My Ways 4:41
8. The Trilogy 23:46
9. It's All Gonna Be Alright 4:01
10. Video Madness 4:08
11. Disco Sux 4:35

Added: February 2nd 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Shroom Angel Records Facebook Page
Hits: 3043
Language: english

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