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Blue Öyster Cult - Tyranny And Mutation CD (album) cover


Blue Öyster Cult


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3.48 | 179 ratings

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3 stars In the early 1980's, Blue Oyster Cult was proclaimed to be one of the heaviest bands among my friends who had older brothers who brought home heavy metal cassettes. After being blown away by Judas Priest, I bought 'The Revolution by Night' and heard that heavy rocking first track 'Take Me Away' but was disappointed with the rest of the album. In fact, after having purchased four BOC albums in my time and a compilation album, I have come to the conclusion that they were never really that heavy. Though original manager Sandy Pearlman wanted them to be America's answer to Black Sabbath, I think they are in a different league. BOC managed to incorporate heavy metal guitar riffs and solos it's true, but they just as easily shifted to boogie rock, blues-based barroom rock, and even naturally blended some more progressive tendencies sometimes all in the same song. Never really too metal; never exactly true prog. But during the 1970's, Blue Oyster Cult established themselves among the rock band elite.

While checking out proto-metal albums from 1969 to 1973, I decided to order 'Tyranny and Mutation' to see if there wasn't any really good example of early heavy metal. What I found was that most songs include some great heavy guitar sounds, riffs, and solos but never stay heavy throughout. There's often some more radio friendly verse that lightens the mood or perhaps a blues rock segment, some piano, etc. Furthermore, the vocal delivery of the various lead singers is often quite theatrical in a tough-guy-from-New-York-singing-about- science-fiction kind of way (English has no adjective for that). The music of BOC seemed more geared towards entertainment than head banging.

And therein laid the charm of the band's music. This was a point that I seemed to have missed all these decades. BOC were not about serious doom metal or hard rock. They were about science fiction, about ghosts and aliens, about fighter aircraft and urban legends. They were about rock, sometimes just feeling good hard rock, sometimes about heavy rock, sometimes about a progressive journey focused more on the story than the machinery that got you there. And this album has really begun to connect me to the music of Blue Oyster Cult.

Side one is the more rock and roll part of the album and side two the more progressive; however both sides lean toward the other at times. Some of the heavier riffs occur on side two in 'Wings Wetted Down' and 'Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)'. But 'The Red & The Black' and 'Hot Rails to Hell' give us the rock and roll approach of the band. Side one's closer, 'Seven Screaming Diz Busters' (love the title) crosses the rock and roll approach with the progressive side of the band. Overall, the album has a fair bit of variety. Having three or four lead vocalists and various external contributing writers also helps to make for an album that doesn't get stale.

One of the things that has really caught my attention with this album is the music composition. The band make good use of two guitars and use keyboards effectively when they deem it essential to the music. The drumming is also very clever and I find myself really following the drums in a number of the songs. Thank you, Albert Bouchard!

This is not a really heavy album but it has its heavy moments. It's not progressive like Yes or Genesis but it has its share of creative music composition. And once again, there is a certain charm to the vocal delivers that give it a theatrical feel. Blue Oyster Cult is about intelligent heavy metal with a sci-fi slant and with an attitude of artful pretense. Based on my appreciation for this album, I have now ordered three more classic albums with the confidence that I will enjoy them for what I know to expect this time. As a prog album this is not spectacular. However as a rock album this could well deserve nearly five stars.

FragileKings | 3/5 |


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