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Blue Öyster Cult - Secret Treaties CD (album) cover

SECRET TREATIES

Blue Öyster Cult

 

Prog Related

4.17 | 165 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The peak of a career of evil

While best known by most for their immortal smash hit (Don't Fear) The Reaper of their best selling Agents of Fortune album, fans will almost always shrug that one off and point at this as their favorite Blue Oyster Cult [BOC] album. The third and final album in the band's opening trio (the black and white era), this album epitomizes everything that made those albums great and takes the entire being of their music to the stratosphere. Propelled by rocking riffs, haunting keys and very evil lyrics (and vocals), this is a decidedly non-prog album (but close! So close...) that no prog fan should miss out on.

What puts this album so high above it's brethren is a number of things. Almost every BOC album will have everything that was mentioned in the previous paragraph, but this one is a paragon of everything their other albums did well. While their debut disc showed a band with promise and the sophomore showed a huge lean towards the heavy, fast and dark with a great maturity in lyrics this album is a greater leap. The playing is tight, the lyrics are chilling and well thought out and there's not a weak track to be had on the album (something BOC are usually guilty of). In fact, this album hosts a multitude of songs that (while lesser known) are probably the best in the band's entire career.

In my review for the band's debut I noted that Eric Bloom had not yet found his ''voice'' yet. Well, while he found it on their second outing, it's very clear that here the man knows what he's doing. In the rare case of Bloom voicing just about every track on the album (Only Laneir steps in for a moment on the third and fifth tracks), but while other members definitely had voices for specific types of songs, Bloom's was certainly the best choice for this album. Emotional, powerful, moving. Bloom really decided to let loose here, as evident on songs like the chilling tale of Subhuman

Synths pack an extra punch on the album behind the trio guitars of Bloom, Lanier and Dharma, another thing that separates this album from their others. This is also a big thing that will entice the prog heads! Yes, they use this instrument quite well on the album as evident with the pressing yet almost floating keys that open Career Of Evil. Another part where these keys really make an impact is after the stellar drum wailing that opens the terrifying Flaming Telepaths.

As usual, the band excels when heavy and fast, laying on the rock. As evident in songs like the jet-powered ME 262 with its frantic pace in the harmonized vocals, and the rocking riff of Dominance And Submission is only made better by the breakdowns which have Bloom's voice (effectively and dissonantly) cutting off the backing vox.

And while the first half of the album is very very strong the second half simply blows the first half out of the water. Cagey Cretins is a scorching opener with tight playing and solos from one mr. Dharma, but that's only the start. Harvester Of Eyes is a surprisingly upbeat considering it's lyrics are some of the most twisted ever written by a human being. Or a harvester of eyes for that matter. Flaming Telepaths takes that evil, however, and just makes it all the more scary. Bloom's vocals are soft and emotional to open the frantic piece of work that is the track but soon move into the darker territories. Those synths don't let down and the backing piano only adds more mood to something that just keeps getting better until it reaches its climax which is inhabited by a wonderful tradeoff piano-synth solo along with the repeated hook (''And the joke's on you!'').

Astronomy is likely the most ''progressive'' song the band has ever record and its caliber is right up their with the more catchy The Reaper. A 20+ minute epic captured in a mere 6:28 with it's soft and peaceful piano opening leading into it's spine chilling end in which Bloom's vocals punch as hard as being hit by a bus, this track is simply put - stunning.

Though perhaps not progressive this album comes pretty darn close. Regardless, this album is completely essential to anyone who likes anything even slightly heavy. The material on the album also warrants enough of a prog feel thanks to it's many layers, complexities, mini-epics, synths and wonderful writing. 5 stars! Recommended to each and every person who fancies music.

Queen By-Tor | 5/5 |

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