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Hawkwind - The Chronicle Of The Black Sword CD (album) cover

THE CHRONICLE OF THE BLACK SWORD

Hawkwind

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.40 | 113 ratings

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Modrigue
Prog Reviewer
3 stars "ElRocktronic" of Melniboné

After the aborted "Earth Ritual" project two years before, HAWKWIND preferred to release an entirely new concept album (mostly) based on Michael Moorcock's character Elric of Melniboné. First studio LP since 1982's mediocre "Choose Your Masques", the record alternates punchy space rock/metals songs with more or less anecdotal ambient electronic passages. Although uneven, the overall result is rather pleasant, due to the presence of the hard rock compositions typical of the Hawks.

The first half of the record is the most interesting. The space metal opener "Song Of The Swords" is quite ferocious and epic, in the style of "Night of the Hawks". The electronic dreamy "Shade Gate" displays a contemplative landscape, whereas the sharp and aggressive "The Sea King" is another catchy rock song of the record, with added aquatic sound effects. Calm comes back with the ambient "The Pulsing Cavern", followed by the nice "Elric The Enchanter", a space rock/metal piece with a slight FM feel, reminiscent of "Sonic Attack".

Released as a single, "Needle Gun" is a double intruder here. First, it does not refer to the mythology of Elric but to another character from Moorcock, Jerry Cornelius. Second, and more important, this quite repetitive and irritating hard rock'n'roll seems musically out of place compared to the rest of the album. The weakest track of the record. In contrast, the melancholic space ballad "Zarozinia" is refreshing and enjoyable. "The Demise" is another atmospheric transition for "Sleep Of A Thousand Tears", a cool powerful space metal piece. Finally, the short messy "Chaos Army" introduces the strange futuristic floating hard rock "Horn Of Destiny".

The bonus instrumental "Arioch" is in fact more interesting than these last tracks. Unusual from HAWKWIND, this hard jazz/rock tune has similitudes with RUSH's "YYZ".

This concept album is a little overrated: the composition quality is unequal and the electronic pauses are not always interesting. Despite these few negative points - and a slight FM approach - the space rock passages are powerful and (mostly) very cool. Furthermore, the general ambiance is quite unique for its variety and mood changes, mixing heroic fantasy pieces with science-fiction sonorities.

For all these reasons, "The Chronicle Of The Black Sword" remains one of HAWKWIND's best studio efforts from the 80's, an essential listen for every Hawkfan, as well as a welcomed ambitious surprise for the space rock lover in the deserted mid-eighties.

NOTE: Certain remastered versions of this album includes the 1983 EP "Night of the Hawks".

Modrigue | 3/5 |

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