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Hawkwind - Blood Of The Earth CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.68 | 126 ratings

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3 stars After a 4 year hiatus, Hawkwind finally released their 26th full length studio album in 2010. After a few line-up shifts, the space rock kings come back with a more synthesizer heavy album.

This one starts off with a mostly instrumental track "Seahawks". There are some vocals here, but they are intermittent and dominated by a synth washed track with a lot of spacey effects, a drum loop and a mostly subdued guitar. For most of the track, we get an upbeat, two chord space jam, but the last few minutes is a psychedelic and ambient soundscape. This flows almost seamlessly into "Blood of the Earth" with heavily processed spoken vocals by British TV personality Matthew Wright. The entire track is quite psychedelic.

A sudden burst of energy kicks off the next track "Wraith". This one carries more of the heavier sound of Hawkwind of the past. The guitar is solid in this one, but so is the synthesizer. In the middle of the track, we lose the percussion for a short period, but effects and psychedelia continue. A subdued base is played as more layers are built upon this. This one proves to be more improvised having a more organic and rocked-out sound than the first track.

"Green Machine" is a more ballad-like track, with a sustained-note synth repeated chord sequence and some nice occasional guitar. Effects are going off all around this. It is somewhat reminiscent of Tangerine Dream electronica, but with more effects. "Inner Vision" is written by Tim Blake, the keyboardist for Hawkwind and who also worked with "Gong". It is a very heavy keyboard/synth track with a kaleidoscopic feel, dark vocals and a slightly funky undercurrent.

"Sweet Obsession" seems a big disjointed to me and feels a bit weaker and somewhat corny. This is supposed to be an updated re-recording of a song from Dave Brock's 1984 solo album "Earthed to Ground". I haven't heard the original, but surely it must be better than this, and probably better left alone because this track is awful and a definite low point of the album. Next is "Comfey Chair" also penned by Brock, but original to this album this time. This is a slower track and quite psychedelic feeling. There is a nice build to the music on the second half of the track which is where the track gets interesting, but prior to this it is rather lackluster.

"Prometheus" is much more solid as it starts with a mid-eastern sitar style flair and comes in with a guitar establishing a melody before the vocals and a mid tempo rhythm starts. The feel is somewhat heavy, but with lightweight vocals. More sitar appears at the instrumental break along with a great guitar/synth solo. "You'd Better Believe It" is another new recording of an old track, this time one of Hawkwind's that appeared originally on "Hall of the Mountain Grill", one of the band's better albums. It starts out in a normal space rock mode, sounding much like the original, but at 3 minutes, it quiets down to a walking tempo with a keyboard and effects. There is a bit of guitar there too, but it's pretty much atmospheric. This goes on until 5:30, when things suddenly spring back into space rock mode again. Not bad, much better than the previous re-make.

"Sentinel" was the original album closer. It starts with sustained keyboard chord with shimmering synths, a mid tempo beat starts and a guitar melody. Harmonized vocals start soon after.

The vinyl edtion had 2 bonus tracks following this. The first of these is "Starshine"which features a different synth player, Jason Stuart. It is a 7-minute instrumental that sounds more like electronica than it does space rock as no real beat is established, it feels a bit meandering. The 2nd bonus track is a short, 2-minute "Sunship", featuring echo-y vocals and light instrumentation.

Overall, it's not a bad album, but it is nothing really ground breaking either. It is hard to compare this with their past efforts, since this is pretty much a different band than what they were in their heyday in the 70s, but the feel of the music is a lot the same. There are some weak tracks here, and the better tracks don't really pull the weight of the weaker ones, so you end up with a decent 3 star album. It's still a lot of fun to hear the band create the same style of music, but there really hasn't been a lot of progress over the years. The guitar is present in the album, but it seems to be somewhat pushed to the back, even during the solos. There is nothing wrong with it being a more synth-heavy affair, but I wish they would have emphasized the guitar solos that are here a little bit better because with them being pushed to the back, they seem a bit lack luster. It's nice but nothing really special.

TCat | 3/5 |


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