Black Space Riders – D:REI (PR2014 SPOTLIGHT) – Since this one arrived right to my door from Germany, I’ve got to go in depth with this third album from the German space rockers, Black Space Riders. But to tell you the truth, this disc is one that I really have to go in depth with because there is so much unique content to be found within its eighty minute time-frame. Yes, these guys have made an album so bombastically huge that it literally took up every second of time on the disc. The album starts out with a subtle silence, which builds into the stoner rock influenced riffing of “Stare At The Water 7:35.” You can namedrop whoever you want as far as to who influenced these stoner riffs, but the part of this song that really caught my attention was the almost ritualistic chorus portion of the track. It also doesn’t feature the kind of whiskey throated vocal approach that you might expect from this sort of music, with JE’s vocal style quite subtle and different then what we might normally hear on this kind of music. This track is so unique from any other band I’ve heard incorporating this stoner rock style into their music that I was taken aback by it. Now the next song, “Bang Boom War (Outside My Head) 6:43″ sounds completely different, reaching into groove/doom and making me think a little of Killing Joke or The Clay People. The vocals are even different, having much more a gruff edge to them. In a way, it sounds like a completely different band. But the fact that it’s not, shows the bands versatility and pleases me greatly. The song has a brief piece of atmosphere, where subtle vocals take a turn into Type O Negative fare and follow up into capable groove riffs. The song changes completely to reflect this new structure and I’m quite fucking impressed. They’ve taken a song that hits heavy with the chorus and have built in into something much more than what most bands would have done with it. This is probably one of my top favorite songs of the year already. “Rising From The Ashes Of Our World 7:52″ involves warm riffing and drums that give off a ritualistic atmosphere. Then the sludge influence comes in. A memorable solo piece is also featured amongst the fuzz, which I didn’t expect; but am certainly glad to hear. Then JE really helps to bring the song home as it makes a turn into groove/thrash. The vocal style here is questionable, but the pounding riffs and second solo cannot be denied. This is fucking great.
Before we get to the next song, I’ve got to mention that JE doesn’t do all of the vocals on this album, as SEB and drummer CRIP also share in vocal duties. It’s quite easy to discern each approach (I’m guessing that JE is the subtle vocal approach, while SEB does the sludge/The Clay People style vocal but I’m not sure as to where the drummer is) yet I can’t really tell you what member is responsible for each approach on the album. If you want to see these guys in action, check out the video for “Give Gravitation To The People 4:55″ which is definitely one of the odder efforts on the album, as well as our next song. It features a warm, stoner-rock approach but with a filtered vocal that makes these guys sound like they’re performing it from a spacecraft. Also, there’s a Killing Joke vibe here insofar as the riff melodies and drumming goes; but you should notice that vibe apparent on most of the album. It’s a good thing though, as Killing Joke are truly master musicians and I like hearing them influenced every now and again. “Way To Me 3:39″ continues with the groove and features a different member on vocals than is normal (I’m guessing this is SEB) and his slightly beer-drenched vocal helps to give more of a traditional stoner rock vibe to the music. Though I like the musical portion of the track, the vocals aren’t so much my thing here. However, the solo works quite well and the melodies are rather bright. “Temper Is Rising 4:42″ comes next, with JE and his subtle approach to vocals actually going in line with the opening mechanism of the song. It warms up, definitely bringing back that Killing Joke vibe. “The GOD-Survivor 6:38″ punches up the groove a bit more, as both vocalists work well together (JE with his clean and SEB with his dirtier approach) in a song that would do well as a single, due to its catchiness. The second half of the song lightens the atmosphere and adds some middle-eastern melodies which only help to strengthen the song further. These melodies kick up, ending the song on an interesting note as they incorporate electronics and vocal chanting. Nice!
“I See 6:19″ seems to bring the mood down just a bit, as it changes the vibe back to the subtlety of the very first track on the album. But unlike the heavier tones that “Stare At The Water” would later take on, this track seems to be content with its light drumming, use of shakers and JE’s subtle vocal approach. I might as well take this time to talk about CRIP’s drumming performance, which I’ve found to this point very respectable. The man isn’t blasting the hell out of his kit, as he instead drums with a subtlety and precision that helps these songs to flow together properly. He’ll kick up the approach when necessary, but on lighter tracks like this, he proves that a simple approach can be just as effective as a machine-gun blast. “Leave 5:14″ continues that same drum approach, with middle eastern melodies slightly flowing through the piece as they slightly build into heavier sections. The song seeks to build up atmosphere and with JE’s approach, it works well enough. Then you’ve got SEB on the thicker vocal approach as soon as the track has built up. SLI then begins his solo (and I apologize for not having mentioned him quite so much, but there’s a lot going on the record and it’s tough to talk about everyone here) as the tempo returns right back from whence it came. Something can also be said about the bass riffs here, and SAQ is definitely doing a great job bringing the heat and fuzz to this disc. To be perfectly honest, there’s not one member in Black Space Riders who comes off as subpar to me and each of these gentlemen bring something unique to offer to the album.
The next song is the album’s longest and it is entitled, “Space Angel (Memitim) 10:18.” Starting out with the same notable subtlety, it warms into thicker atmosphere and fade in/fade out vocals. The song glides along atmosphere and dual vocal acrobatics for about the first five minutes, later cooling down to incorporate more of CRIP’s subtle drumming and lighter riffs. SLI breaks in with another solo and it definitely feels at peace here. The song thickens, allowing a great vocal element to punch things up and makes it all worthwhile. Yes, all ten minutes. Especially if you’re utilizing “herbal remedies.” Up next on the disc is “Major Tom Waits 4:57″ which is inspired by Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and the whiskey throated Tom Waits. It really does sound like Tom Waits singing over the top of fuzzy riff melodies, taking on a sort of otherworldly quality which will make more sense to you if you’re high. A subtle solo plays, as the bass begins to thunder and the Tom Waits emulation continues. (Or that could really be the great Tom Waits! it’s really tough to tell!) As we’re nearing the end, an indie rock influenced track called “Letter To A Young One 4:18″ now takes over with SEB on vocals. This might be the only track on the disc that doesn’t work well for me, despite the fact that I love the heavy eruptions on the piece. It works well enough, and at most; it is something different. The disc ends with “The Everlasting Circle Of Infinity 7:02″ which starts with a slow pace and JE’s almost spoken word vocal approach. It’s a song that’s bound to explode, and once it does; you can hear the crunch of doom riffs for miles. JE continues his subtle vocal approach throughout these heavy parts, making me think of Type O Negative again, and that’s a good thing. The track changes gears, as a high pitched scream opens to punchier doom crunch, and it’s at this point where the headbanging starts. Growls actually appear on this track, and they work so well with JE’s clean that it just comes off as fucking unreal. They don’t stay with this full-on sludge for long though; as some progressive tinkering begins and rolls into another one of SLI’s patented solos. And that’s where it is.
In conclusion, D:REI requires a lot of attention from the listener and is consumed of so many different little quirks that you’d really have to give it a few listens in order to soak it all in. It’s not a blazingly fast record and is more concerned with subtlety and thunder. Some parts are ritualistic, while others are electronic and everyone from Type O Negative to Killing Joke to your favorite doom or stoner rock band has been influenced here. Both vocal approaches work well together, including the drummer, who may have put the growls on for the disc’s finale. His approach is also quite memorable on the kit, showing that it takes more than blasts and frantic playing to win the day over. The bottom line is that you must get your hands on D:REI as soon as possible, as I really haven’t heard anything quite like it and would consider it one of my favorite albums of the year, if not ever. While not perfect, some of these songs will remain with me for many years to come. And yeah, I’m putting some of these on my personal playlist.D:REI is definitely recommended.
Highlights: Stare At The Water, Bang Boom War (Outside My Head), Rising From The Ashes Of Our World, Temper Is Rising, The-GOD-Survivor, Leave, Space Angel (Memitim), Major Tom Waits, The Everlasting Circle Of Eternity (13 Tracks, 80:00)