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PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars The band took some time, five years anyhow, to work out something new. 'Blood Of The Earth' is a space rock album which will certainly please many lovers of this genre, but probably not every HAWKWIND music fan over the course of the complete length. It somehow sounds close to common band songs which bear a straightforward garage rocking orientation. But you will also find a neat proportion of mellow, ambient, raga and experimental impressions.

I'm quite sure that Niall Hone has a large share here. At the end of 2008 he joined, coming from the band 'Tribe Of Cro' which I really liked, especially to name their last official album 'Virtual Vinyl'. Was surprised when I noticed Niall's change and thought that he was only filling a temporary gap for some gigs. However, this stands for nearly two years in the meanwhile. Although I'm not a HAWKWIND expert, my opinion is that you can hear his influence ... and this is surely meant as a positive statement.

Well, I'm writing about the single CD version, one can also purchase this album as a double vinyl or even the extended digital version including a live CD. First of all a limitation - not all the songs are completely new. Written by Dave Brock You'd Better Believe It for example was originally released on HAWKWIND's 1974 album 'Hall Of The Mountain Grill'. Don't know the original and therefore can't compare. A hollow doomy bass is striking but so much the more the jamming inner part ... wonderful melancholic guitars, Rhodes piano, percussion and soaring synths are interacting whilst moving away from the heavy mood for some time.

Sweet Obsession in addition derives from Dave Brock's first solo album 'Earthed To The Ground'. Not a groundbreaking composition, provided with a drum work which needs getting used to. Now coming to the real new stuff the dramatic Seahawks is convincing with a stomping cosmic groove close to TOC. Comprising the following tile song HAWKWIND offer an intriguing mixture of samples, synthesizer input, narrations. And this means they begin to open a surprise bag in fact. Wraith is another example where you are first confronted with this heavy attacking, yeah, nearly hardcore or punk attitude ... but then they suddenly fall into a mellow spacey mood like competing with the 'Oresund Space Collective' - spiked with some new age tinged beats/electronics.

The pastoral ambient coloured Green Machine follows and Inner Visions even shows them on a tightrope walk when including a strong ethno tribal direction. Very interesting I must say and the fantastic Comfy Chair perfectly fits as the next song ... if not this unforced break would occur. Sorry, I'm not convinced that this is the perfect track order - the aforementioned 'Sweet Obsession' seems to be misplaced here. Never mind, back to this comfy chair - charming, comfortable, melodic, my album highlight. Acoustic guitar, violin nuances ... the organ/synth work is simply impressing - a wondrous track by all means and nothing what I normally would expect from such a band.

'Blood Of The Earth' is partially drifting away from the band's inherent heavy space rocking behaviour. Provided with a good mixture of retro and modern elements, plus some new surprising facets ... at least for me. As it could be expected the vocals are not the strongest point, lyrics turn on fantasy and sci-fi themes as usual. Main attraction are the varied guitar and keyboard/synth contributions though. Overall this is an entertaining album - well done!

Report this review (#287301)
Posted Saturday, June 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Forty (!) years are gone after their debut, but guitarist and vocalist Dave Brock still manage to have Hawkwind alive and ... spacey. I am far not a best expert on their music, and am familiar mostly with their earliest albums (incl. Lemmy's period).

Their new release attracted my attention mostly because of my interest to hear how did they changed during all these decades. Before I started listening, I was ready to all possible surprises.

But to be honest main surprise for me was the band still could play good music! It's far not the same psychedelic dreary spacey endless jamming, but competent and very modern spacey prog without loosing its roots.

Album contains more song-oriented compositions, no long jams, but it is not radio -friendly product. Songs have better organised structure, and main musical attraction is clever use of spacey electronic effects in combination with keyboards and guitars sound. No way revolutionary changed music, it is enough modernised to sound as product of XXI century, not a re-release from the vaults.

The only song I am not happy at all on this album is keyboards-based AORish "Sweet Obsession". All other compositions are competent, sounds fresh and not boring. Yes, this release will be more interested to Hawkwind old fans (even if not everyone of them possibly will be happy with the sound). But for me some new elements added in band's music, are only for good. They refreshed the sound without changing music radically.

Not a masterpiece, but very competent album from old school band. Interesting and pleasant to listen.

My rating is 3+

Report this review (#288429)
Posted Sunday, June 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Blood Of The Earth' - Hawkwind (4/10)

A psychedelic voyage through space and time... Ironic that something like this would mention 'Earth' in it's title. For a band that's been releasing music for decades, it's surprising that this is my first real experience with them. Having defined 'space rock' in it's infancy, Hawkwind have had an undeniable impact on rock music. However, while I don't doubt for a second that the band has had much better days, 'Blood Of The Earth' still ends up coming out feeling a bit unpolished and shallow in it's execution; proving that alot of neat, spacy production techniques can't mask uninspired songwriting.

Being of a younger generation myself, I was first reminded of the more modern 'Ozric Tentacles' when hearing this, although Hawkwind obviously was the one that did the influencing on that part. While the album as a whole isn't greatly convincing, there are some great atmospheric sections to dive into here, typical of the space rock genre they emerge from. At any given time, you're bound to have some sort of psychedelic weirdness churning about underneath the actual music. While it may seem superficial, this is in fact, one of the highlights of 'Blood Of The Earth,' and a surefire way of enhancing the ambience and intended vibe of the music. The musicians themselves are also obviously very talented, gracing the record with complex rhythms and soaring jam sessions to keep things interesting. An exception on that note however, are the vocals which at times feel undercooked, or even strained at the most energetic points.

The songwriting seems to be the low point of this album. It feels like without all of the fun 'space' effects and the great jamming sections, the album would be all-too bare and empty. Moreover, it is clear that alot of the tracks here are meant to be listened more so as 'ambient' pieces as opposed to being actual tracks with structure. Of these more ambient tracks, the highlight has to be the closer (or a bonus track, to some listeners) 'Starshine,' which really gives the lonely feeling of what it must be to be floating alone in space. Of the more structured songs, 'Wraith' and 'Sentinel' seem to stand out; the former being a good hard rock number whereas the former is a more subdued, 'ballad' of sorts.

Listening to this, Hawkwind obviously has a niche in the science-fiction category for lyrics, which fits in perfectly with their sound. However, the execution of the lyrics doesn't hold much depth to it, although there are some narrative sections (such as the spacy ramblings in the title track) that have a profound, poetic vibe to them. Mind you, there are also lyrics that concern themselves exclusively on 'smiles' and 'rainbows,' so it all seems to balance itself out in the end!

'Blood Of The Earth' is probably not the best place to start out listening to Hawkwind, but I am definately interested in hearing more of what this talented group has to offer. Late into their career, it's impressive that they are still releasing music that is enjoyable to listen to. However, if I were an existing fan myself, I would not be too pleased having waited four years in anticipation for a new album and hearing this.

Report this review (#288518)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hawkwind is a band I have ignored for a long time. But a link to a promo copy of this album arrived in my inbox and I therefore feel obliged to review this album.

Space rock is not my thing and my only experience with Hawkwind is the excellent Silver Machine track from around 1975. I am therefore pleased to add this band to my "must investigate further" list on the basis of this, their brand new album. The music on Blood Of The Earth is a mix of space rock, garage rock and the Brit rock bands like Radiohead do. This album have some good songs interluded with spaced out bits. That means Hawkwind stays true to what I believe is their identity throughout. The sound is good and the musicians does their job. This is not my kind of music. But I have to admit that, despite it's flaws, this album is a rather good album which may appeal to a lot of people. Not only the Hawkwind fans. A good three stars album, it is.

3 stars

Report this review (#288600)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I got a very big collection of Hawkwind.

This band started as psychedelic heavy space rock . Then a time of symphonic space rock...then a quite commercial heavy prog....

They were inspired times and they were uninspired times.

This album is in the vein of their best albums.

This album shows a very mature space rock ,with beautiful well played melodies ,with the touches of modern prog rock.

A so good band like this ..These monsters of prog... always should take to life a different work as the other space rockers...a strong work to be remarkable from the others.

Fortunately they made this album(a perfect mix of their best historical moments) in where the music is a space rock that proof to us Hawkwind(with their high moments and down moments) IS THE BEST PSYCHEDELIC SPACE PROG ROCK BAND OF ALL TIMES.

In the psychedelic space rock vein this is a 5 stars album. In the general prog rock a 4 stars.

But because of the emotion of..finally...a very good album from HAWKWIND a general 5 stars mark.

Report this review (#288750)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Great return of this legendary band!

It is very common to link the term of "space rock" with Hawkwind, a band whose first album was released back in 1970, that's a lot of time. Anyway, the band is still composing and creating very good songs and albums. Their last one had been released in 2006, but now after four years they returned with "Blood of the Earth", and believe me, it is nice to see a veteran band creating stuff like this.

The album is composed by ten tracks, with a total time of almost one hour, so fasten your seatbelts and prepare to this musical journey. "Seahawks" has since the very first moments those spacey effects that create a fascinating atmosphere. This is actually a great introduction to the album, it is like a movie trailer or at least I though that since the first time I listened to it. Vocals are just nice, but the music in general is pretty cool. I like both the guitars and synthesizer. "Blood of the Earth" is a short track in which just a spacey atmosphere sounds, if you close your eyes, you will find yourself floating in a galaxy, waiting for the next episode.

After that calm passage, "Wraith" begins all of a sudden with a faster and heavier sound, this reminds me totally to this same band, but in their seventies, so their style and quality remains despite forty years of difference. This is a cool song; the best are the keyboards and its effects, really good.

Now a contrast, after that fast Hawkwind song, here we have "Green Machine" which is an instrumental track that really moves me. It has a calm and peaceful atmosphere that sounds very emotive thanks to the guitar solos. The ambient is gentle all the time, a moment of tranquility where one can take a deep breath and think. Though this may not be a song that clearly defines the band's sound, I can say that it is one of my favorite tracks here (if not my fave).

"Inner Visions" is a pretty catchy song that suggests movement, I mean I cannot help but moving my head and body while listening to this. I like the bass and of course as usual, the synth effects. "Sweet Obsession" is another fast time that reminds me to some of their 70s moments, and the vocals actually, remind me to some krautrock passages, it is odd I know, nice song. "Comfy Chair" calms down the rhythm, after those rockier moments here I found a thoughtful one, with great musical elements created by all the instruments, I like the bass and of course, the keyboards.

"Prometheus" is a nice track with an eastern flavor. It has some kind of sitar at the beginning, but sadly that does not sound again until the last part. The rhythm is the same all the song, but it is quite enjoyable to my ears. "You'd Better Believe it" , I'll be terribly honest, this song at first reminded me to a certain U2 song, I know you'll kill me but I can't omit this part. The song is actually another example of that space rock ala Hawkwind, but there are much better songs than this one.

"Sentinel" seems to be alike to Green Machine due to its softness and peace created, but later with the addition of vocals and some guitar notes, that road changes and that beauty is shown only in passages, not in the whole song. Anyway, this is actually one of my preferred moments on this album. And it finishes with "Starshine" which is an instrumental song. A track that suggests tranquility and peace, seven minutes of soft and calm sounds, a nice way to end this album.

Well, I listened the album several times before writing this review, sure thing is that I really liked it, but in moments I felt it a bit uneven, I mean it is not as strong as I thought in my first listen, that is why I will rate it with three stars (3.5 would be more accurate). But in the end, it is fascinating to see a band like Hawkwind still alive and sharing their quality.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#290465)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Welcome aboard the starship Hawkwind, prepare to be mesmirised by the surreal Masters of the Universe as they return to the future-past.

"I will become master of the universe," the narrative voice begins on this latest offering from prog space rock legends Hawkwind. This is your captain speaking: We are on our way; the Hawkwind starship has left planet earth on its way to unchartered galactic territories. Have a pleasant flight.

First I was delighted to be able to review this album from one of my favourite prog bands. I have always been enamoured by the spacey themes and repetitive hypno riffs of Hawkwind and here is no exception. From the outset the band are crossing the boundaries with a revenge; returning to what we love about them, that is their unabashed trademark style of blending mesmeric riffing and conceptual themes with some rather off kilter vocals and lyrics.

There is an unsettling starkness about the music on the album. The narrations are hyper strange but work well in the musical framework. The melodies are simple but effective as usual. The Dik Mik "Space Ritual" style effects are an omnipresent force permeating the tracks. 'Seahawks' is a virtual exploration of musical ideas and stylised experimentation, almost an instrumental, but including estranged narrations which make little sense on the page but make perfect sense with the mesmeric music. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Waves washing on a beach end the track providing a calm serene atmosphere of isolation and barren landscapes.

This segues immediately into 'Blood of the Earth' with a cosmic musicscape similar to the strange choral trip on "2001". The cold starkness of space is emulated in the arrangements consisting of sustained keyboards taking us to a distant galaxy; perhaps an icy glacial planet devoid of life. There is no time sig, this is Tangerine Dream meets Godspeed You! Black Emperor; perhaps one of Hawkwind's most bizarre tracks. The narration is a deranged poetry offering, similar to the 70s poetry of Calvert; "as crust quakes and earthquakes.... burning dust fills river and lake... people wail, into the coffin drives the final nail." It is not 'Sonic Attack' but still remains a disquietening intro to the next piece.

'Wraith' blazes with a killer riff and the comforting wail of Dave Brock. It is the first real song and has enough Hawkwindisms to please even the most discerning addict. It is no surprise to hear those soaring lead solos and furious distorted riffs, but the real treat here is the synthesizer solo which is brilliantly intense and outstanding. The lyrics are appropriate to the frenetic pace and riffing; "no escape from reality, no escape from the beast inside... he's an animal, he'll be the only one left, victims of the future, crowned him undisgraced". When it settles, the space effects lock in with a curious retro feel and improvised splicing of soundbytes of the spacey kind. Even the riff here is familiar Hawkwind and that's what makes this one of the great tracks of the album; it is familiar territory and this is a welcome thing for Hawkwind addicts who do not want to hear new approaches but are accustomed to classic Hawkwind music. The riffing is inspirational, with metal blasts and a driving bassline, and dynamic pounding percussion with classic drum fills and cymbal splashes. This track fits comfortably with anything from the Hawkwind catalogue of the 70s. I rate 'Wraith' as one of the best tracks over the last 2 decades for Hawkwind; a true masterpiece.

'Green Machine' begins with symphonic pads that are calming after the carnage of the previous track. There is a strange creaking effect over the strings and an echoing motif. Then the beauty of the clandestine guitars chimes in. The synthesizers are incredible trading off with the guitars. This has to be one of the great Hawkwind instrumentals. I would have loved to hear some vocals but this is still a powerful track that has a depth of emotion and musical substance.

'Inner Visions' has a moderate tempo and some heavy multilayered space effects with trademark chirps and trills. The vocals are different that usual, almost chanted in places. The riff is infectious and it is consistent. The showpiece of the track is the instrumental section with heavy keyboard injections and a constant sequencer rhthym . At times the music is synth driven and off the scale as far as the melody is concerned, using motifs that are repeated in various ways. The crystalline synths and power riffs are a wonderful combination. There is a veritable wall of sound and I have not heard Hawkwind so creative for years. Another highlight of the album that is worth returning to often.

'Sweet Obsession' fades in after a crashdown, and there is the constant presence of a lead guitar burning up the frets as a string driven keyboard plays. Brock's vocals are strong on this with a familiar style of performance. The song speaks of the future and an obsession with a girl, "all the times we spend together memories from the past, a future holds the key forever let's make our future last, I receive your message though the information's clear, I want to keep the feeling you're not there to disappear. Your confession, my sweet obsession..." The music is hard driving on this, a chugging rhythm with a repetitive verse and chorus; a simple structure that Hawkwind pride themself on. Once again this is a highlight of the album with some great hooks and a cool driving riff.

'Comfy Chair' has a sequencer effect of spacey motifs and a much stranger vocal style. The performance is laid back and off kilter, as if the voice comes from the distance, and it is even multi tracked by Brock in a high and low part. The violin sounds are a bizarre touch, and there is no real release from the tension until the instrumental break which is a time sig change and a synth solo with vibrant percussion. The sound builds into a foreign sounding melody, almost Egyptian or Spanish in flavour. I particularly like the repetitive figure as the Hammond sound crunches in. The effect creates a hypnotic groove that finally is broken into a haunting melody that fades gradually.

'Prometheus' has a Mystical feel helped by an Ancient sound, of psychedelic guitars. Even the vocals here are hyped into psychedelic territory and the sonic shapes. You have to love those lyrics; "The sound and fury of a sonic solution, upon a seer he's a master of time, mandrake messiah on a gravity wafer, he's an exotic he's a man of machine, Prometheus rises in a rush of sound, the power of the ancient light he found, the secrets of the stars act in his space, defies the laws of physics to continue the race". It a fantastic melodic space romp. I love the way it drives along only to shatter half way through with an Indian Sitar. It revels in a psychedelic mood here and simply blitzes in true Hawkwind style.

'You'd Better Believe It' is a track that has featured on the classic "Hall of the Mountain Grill" album and been performed live on Hawkwind albums in the early phase of the band. It begins with a strange effect and then the familiar melody crunches along, the chord structure is fabulous. It is a new version of the mesmirising classic and I always loved this and so this is no exception. I am already in love with this album so to hear this is just another reverent throwback to Hawkwind at their best, and I am all for that. The chug a chug riff over spaced up spiralling guitars is a treat. The track breaks away in the middle with some innovative space effects and an electric piano has a chance to shine. This is where the track really grabs me; I am in awe how the band have returned to their roots the retro feel is unmistakeable but it is so fresh. The instrumental section continues for a time, with no discernible structure but a rather repetitive riff with improvised notes. Soon it returns to the riffing guitars accompanied by huge blasts of sci fi laser effects, and then onto the verses. It's a 7 minute version of the lengthy classic and another highlight for sure.

'Sentinel' begins with gentle keyboarding and a very slow beat, quite tranquil and the spacey effects are everpresent. Brock's vocals are far more subdued and melodic. He does a good job of singing in a balladic style though this is a Hawkwind ballad and far removed from standard arrangements form ballads you may be used to. There is a sombre almost melancholy feel on this. The chorus has some reflective lyrics; "How many more times can we hear the echo of the future, screams in the night how many more times must we watch or write." The quieter more pleasant approach here is welcome, particularly the ethereal quality of the keyboards and clean guitars, and I hoped after this there would be a real rocker to end the album on a high note.

'Starshine' is another 7 minute track. It starts with very quiet pads, and tom toms over a soundscape of spacey sound effects. The very long sustained pads are broken by nocturnal effects, like alien insects screeching and twittering on a distant planet. It feels like an instrumental from the outset, though I felt here that vocals would be needed to end the album. As usual Hawkwind breaks convention and ends on an instrumental housing very strange effects.

In conclusion the album does not have any weak tracks and in fact contains some of the best Hawkwind material for years. Some of it is similar to "Alien 4" or "The Xenon Codex" in the type of music presented, but it is so much better. In fact this latest album is one of Hawkwind's most vibrant approaches to music for years. For that reason the album is highly recommended. Who says the Hawkwind spaceship has crash landed. If it did at one stage it certainly is airborne again. As far as this reviewer is concerned the spaceship is cruising at warp speed. The journey is complete, the silver Hawkwind spaceship is returning to the atmosphere and on its way back to the solar system. Who am I to complain? It has been a pleasant experience and a return to familiar terra firma.

Report this review (#291572)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For me this is the best Hawkwind album since "Love in Space" live record from the mid 1990's. I think "Blood of The Earth" album draws together the most pleasant key elements I appreciate in this band; Ambient soundscapes, shimmering frequencer voice carpets, futuristic aural textures enriched with poems and dictations, pulsing hypnotic space rock grooves, oriental scales and raw riff-oriented psychedelic rocking. All this synthesizes as a fine thematic album, which is finished with a very good production quality and taste.

Many tracks appear like bands 1970's-era songs performed with modern sounds, and this philosophy has been realized most strongly in the modernized version of "You'd Better Believe It". Jokes have mostly been left aside, and this record dives to more serious and threatening themes. Overall feeling is full with tension and sorrowful, released in a while with powerful space rock anthems, and soothed with sequences of abstract aural flows. Sounds are great, having very low bass frequencies, making this album a pleasure to listen with proper gear. The intensive musical trip is enhanced by good judgement used when building the song order selection. Distorted guitars have also really nice raw but not too tight tones, and all instruments are well heard after the mixing. Playing performance is also fine, drums rolling really energetically, supported by firm bass, and the guitars shine awesomely in solos and power riffs, mystified by rich cloaks of various synthesizer sounds. As an unnecessary anecdote, some of these pulsing sounded quite much like the sounds left familiar from Commodore 64 classic game Wizball.

I consider this as a very recommendable album for listening, whilst enjoying "the days we made", as the predicted future has became the truth like foretold by the band's seers earlier. I found all elements here pleasing and nothing annoying, and after a week of listening I would coronize it among my own personal favourites of this band, along with "Doremi Fasol Latido", "Hall of The Mountain Grill", "Space Ritual", "Warrior on The Edge of Time" and "Love in Space". It is both accessible, thought provoking and emotionally touching non-elitistic cosmic progressive rock music from a classic group, which introduced me to the psychedelic progressive rock music. I see it as a huge leap forward when compared to the other 21st century recordings of this band, in my most humble opinion.

Report this review (#293498)
Posted Thursday, August 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Return of the Mighty Hawkbrand

Forty years on, Hawkwind could be viewed more like a brand than an actual musical group. As one of the oldest continuous-running rock groups out of England, it's a small miracle that they still exists. The band has sufferred as much turbulence as it has clear sailing, surviving more lineup changes and record labels than one could possibly remember let along count. Of course, it's not quite the same band today as it was in 1970, but Hawkwind's status as true legends is undeniable, just as their legacy as psychedelic pioneers is now part of Rock-n-Roll's history. And with any group with that long of a history, there's quite a story. Listen up...

Back in 1969 Dave Brock, with Mick Slattery, Terry Ollis, John Harrison, Nik Turner and Michael "Dik Mik" Davies, formed what would eventually become Hawkwind. Signed to United Artists, the early 70s saw the band quickly rise from a gate-crashing underground mystery to a full-powered space machine through a series of exemplary albums, including the classic Space Ritual and the perennial out of print Warrior At The Edge Of Time. All rose into England's album charts' Top 20s, with the single "Silver Machine" b/w "Seven By Seven" driving all the way to the UK No. 3 in June of 1972. Even the likes of science fiction author Michael Moorcock and future Motorhead supremo Lemmy Kilmister logged into the band's ranks. Their notoriety however was due more to their fantastic live set, which remains the penultimate definition of British psychedelic space rock. Forged by a driving-rhythm, the band would explore the psychedelics of inner and outer space with primal uses of electronics, hard-driven guitar, and a nude dancer, Stacia; a kind of repetitive, pre-metal groove set to science fiction, yet one adored by Hawkfans the world over. Lineup changes though plagued the band, and by the mid-70s Hawkwind had morphed again, with the eccentric Robert Calvert now front and center. This edition of the band was equally relevant, issuing another round of slightly more musical albums for the legendary Charisma Records, all again charting in the band's native UK.

The constant throughout Hawkwind's first decade was guitarist Dave Brock, the so-called "Keith Richards of acid rock". Never one for flash, his solid rhythm guitar and distinctive voice helped define their sound, but foremost he reigned as the band's primary songwriter. By 1980, Brock was firmly in control. For the excellent Levitation, the band added synthesist Tim Blake, formerly of Gong and friend from the old Ladbroke Grove days, and oddly enough, Cream's Ginger Baker. Turbulence would define this decade for the band, yet with each lineup change, Brock continued to steer the group through album after album of competent Hawkwind music well into the late 80s, drifting closer and closer to heavy metal, and picking up bassist Alan Davey and drummer Richard Chadwick along the way. Members left and returned, and Hawkwind would even front a female vocalist for short time, performance artist Ms. Bridget Wishart. Released in 1993, Electric Tepee was a strong set, but the music had by now moved into a trance/techno direction. Several albums later, singer Ron Tree was added in an attempt to return to the band's hard rockin' roots, but by the end of the 90s, new music was no more and the Hawkwind franchise was born.

Brock, along with Davey and Chadwick, would henceforth rely on their laurels, gearing up the Hawk machine for annual jaunts across England's countryside in the summer, and often culminating in an annual December tour and Christmas show at London's Astoria Theatre. Relations with past members soured to the point of lawsuits following a disastrous "Hawkestra" gig in 2000, prompting Turner, Ollis and Slattery et al. to launch the parallel Space Ritual brand. Take Me To Your Leader, an album of mostly new material, appeared in 2005, but by most accounts it was just a little less than okay... Brock still forged on, touring with Chadwick, an itinerant Blake, guest vocalist Arthur Brown and a host of other Hawks, both past and present. Yet throughout the 2000s, the band's fans remained loyal, more than satisfied with an annual fixation of nostalgia, and even without new music, the Hawkwind franchise continued to prosper.

Forty years on, we land in 2010, with a new album entitled Blood Of The Earth. So it's not without trepidation that we meet its arrival. Here, Brock, Chadwick and Blake are joined by bassist Mr. Dibs and guitarist Niall Hone, a lineup that spent the last two years touring the Hawkship across England's green and pleasant lands, and one that spent the last year and half making this record. (There's even rumors they may come to the US in 2011.)

The album opens with a throwback sample and immediately we're reminded that this is Hawkwind. The electronics begin to percolate and bubble, until a firm bass line and solid beat launches "Seahawks" on its way. It certainly has the Hawkwind vibe, and as it plays out, there's little doubt that this is the Hawkbrand of old. Next, the title track transcends into atmospheric washes, over which UK television personality and Hawkfan Matthew Wright mumbles an atypical apocalyptic science fiction, until the track blasts into the excellent "Wraith". Here the band kicks into high gear, alternating their classic quick tempo rocker with something that sounds much closer to Gong's psychedelics! The open chords of "Green Machine" present an elegiac number, but it's Hone's graceful lead guitar that gives the track its beauty. Blake's "Inner Visions" lays down a heavy groove, revealing the sonic depth of the album's immaculate recording. He's a mercurial figure, no doubt, yet it's hard to believe that it's been thirty years since he's graced a Hawkwind studio album; a very welcome return.

"Sweet Obsession" is a Brock solo number from 1984 and certainly a throwback; fortunately it's just a little off-kilter from the rest of the album. On the other hand, Brock's "Comfy Chair" tone poem really plays out. He's has always had a way with those melancholic acoustic numbers and this new offering is no exception. In addition to provide the deepest sub-bass, Mr. Dibs (Jonathan Derbyshire) offers a vocal to "Prometheus", with Hone again providing some real grit on guitar. It's got a eastern flavor that really bounces over its funky little groove. The track is part of the new stuff to the Hawkwind fold and it certainly works, though "You'd Better Believe It", originally on 1974's Hall Of The Mountain Grill, continues the trend of rebranding a Hawk track from old. Why it's included is anyone's guess; to gauge the rest of the album? So we revist the original? Or just to remind us, after all that this is, dammit, Hawkwind? Regardless of the intent, it's a brighter, uptempo rendition, with a nice funky breakdown that rides an electric piano and gurgling synths. "Sentinel", like "Wraith" and "Prometheus", is another track from the "new" songwriting team of Darbyshire, Hone, Chadwick and/or Blake. Hone again shines, as does Chadwick's deft drumming. The track starts the album's final descent, resting the Hawkship return from this latest journey. Continuing the downward glide, the closing track "Starshine" (a bonus on some versions of the album), features former keyboardist Jason Stuart, who sadly passed away at an early age in 2008.

Throughout Hawkwind's long and torturous history, the band has flirted with metal, punk, techno, and whatever forms of music one can imagine, yet all the while maintaining something distinctly Hawkwind. It's a tried and true brand, and one that we're quite fortunate to still have with us. On the new album, the band's past and present have converged into something that's right here and right now. Sure it sounds like Hawkwind ? but would we want it any other way? Blood Of The Earth is a triumphant return to the studio for the band and the brand. Enjoy the journey.

Charles Snider Author, The Strawberry Bricks Guide To Progressive Rock

Report this review (#296556)
Posted Saturday, August 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars It was actually a relief to see Eetu Pellonpaa's five star review of this album here although my mind was made up to give this 5 stars anyway. Let's just say i'm in good company considering he's part of the Psychedelic team along with Rivertree (Uwe) who gave this 4 stars.This album has completely blown me away and there's so much variety too and it all sounds incredible.There are no weak links here as far as i'm concerned. Having Tim Blake (GONG) back after a long time certainly is a huge benefit. I said to Tom Ozric that maybe they quit taking drugs in the studio this time and came up with one for the ages. I don't know it's just that everything is so well done. Studio album number 26 for the band is quite the accomplishment.

"Seahawks" opens with someone speaking these words "I will become master of the universe".Then spacey and experimental sounds take over with samples. A heavy beat comes in before a minute. More spoken words 3 minutes in as the heavy soundscape continues. It all stops after 5 minutes then the spacey sounds return. A killer opener. It blends into "Blood Of The Earth" where spacey sounds continue.This turns haunting quickly.Very spacey. Sampled words 2 minutes in. Love this stuff. "Wraith" hits the ground running and the vocals join in quickly. Classic HAWKWIND. Kicking ass and taking names ! It settles 2 1/2 minutes in as it becomes spacey with samples. It's building then it kicks back in around 5 minutes. Nice. "Green Machine" is another fav of mine.The atmosphere is simply beautiful to start. Gulp. Guitar, synths and a beat eventually join in as the atmosphere continues. Incredible. "Inner Visions" has some crazy sounding synths on it. This is fairly heavy.Vocals come in early. Cool song.

"Sweet Obsession" is a cover of a Dave Brock track from his 1984 solo album called "Earthed To The Ground". It opens with a loud sound then the music kicks in.This is uptempo with the guitar grinding away.Vocals before a minute.Great sound ! Guitar to the fore 3 minutes in. Great track. "Comfy Chair" is a laid back psychedelic tune with "out there" lyrics.The vocals are lazy and we get some flute when the vocals stop then keyboards. Gorgeous ending. "Prometheus" has an Eastern vibe to it with what sounds like sitar.Vocals join in. Love this stuff.The guitar after 4 minutes sounds fantastic.Vocals are back 5 1/2 minutes to end it. "You'd Better Believe It" is a re- worked version of the same song from "Hall Of The Mountain Grill". And it sure sounds like classic HAWKWIND here. Killer track.This is catchy and uptempo. It settles after 3 minutes then kicks back in after 5 1/2 minutes. "Sentinel" is the perfect song to end the album. It's laid back and simply gorgeous.There's a PORCUPINE TREE-like atmosphere when the vocals stop.Tasteful guitar 3 minutes in and late.

This will be in my top five of 2010. A must for fellow space freaks !

Report this review (#377418)
Posted Sunday, January 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Good old Hawkwind. Just like like a Nordic warrior, Dave Brock will meet his end while wielding his sword in battle, in his case that will be while performing yet another surging live gig. I just hadn't thought he would deliver such a coherent studio album again, the best since Alien 4.

For sure, the band spent more time on writing good decent tunes this time. The obvious result is an attractive album and that listens away easily. The disadvantage is less experimentation then usual and songwriting that remains very old-school and predictable. In fact, most songs sound like they could be on any other Hawkwind album released since 1990. An exception comes from the interesting opener Seahawks.

A nice surprise comes with new recruit mr. Dibs on bass/vocals. His voice has a bit of a new wave/post-punk quality to it and in combination with the stark mechanical rhythms, tracks like Wraith and Prometheus almost sound like Killing Joke-light. Not a bad thing of course, both are amongst the better tracks on the album, together with the space ballads Comfy Chair and Sentinel.

On the downside, some of the material is Hawkwind by the numbers: new-age like Green Machine, Aor-punk like Sweet Obsession and the mandatory remake track You'd Better Believe It. We've heard that type of material so many times already. The sound has found a good balance between the solid grooving rhythmic basis (drums, bass and guitar) and their lush synth carpets and electronic sounds. The only thing missing to bring it all alive is the energy boost that the band gets when performing live. So rest assured, if the band performs this material in their live set it will rule.

A welcome return for Dave Brock and cohorts but it all pales a bit against the younger bands that took over galactic space in the last decade. This album is a nice addition for fans but no match for the many excellent releases of 2010.

Report this review (#380379)
Posted Saturday, January 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Still masters of the universe

At time of writing, "Blood of the earth" is the latest studio album from Hawkwind. Released in 2010, the album sees the return of keyboard player Tim Blake to the line up, and the arrival of Niall Hone on guitar. Sadly, keyboardist Jason Stuart passed away between the previous album and this, but he does appear on one track recorded prior to his death.

The majority of the songs are new, but there are a few which are not. "You'd better believe it" is a revival of a song which first appeared way back in 1974 on "Hall of the mountain grill" and "Sweet obsession" was originally a Dave Brock solo number. On the bonus disc, "Long gone" is a cover of a Syd Barrett song recorded for Mojo magazine, and "Tide of the century" was the title track of a fine album by Tim Blake.

In terms of sound, we have all the usual Hawkwind characteristics (or clichés depending on your take). For example, although "Wraith" is one of the few tracks not written or co- written by Dave Brock, it could have been lifted straight from and album such as "Palace springs" or "Electric teepee".

The Niall Hone composed instrumental "Green machine" is one of those all too rare reflective Hawkwind instrumentals, clearly designed to display his credentials on lead guitar. Tim Blake adds some fine spacey keyboard effects to the track too. The influence of the band members other than Brock is further emphasised by the following Tim Blake composed "Inner Visions", which is very much in keeping with his solo material. The strong riff on which the track is based will surely make this a live favourite. The only disappointment with the track is the rather abrupt fade.

"Sweet obsession", feels like a remake of "Sadness runs deep", Brock's constantly repeating lyric being as close as Hawkwind get to a love song. The consistency of this album when compared with its illustrious peers from the band's early years is perhaps most apparent in the way the re-recording of "You'd Better Believe It" fits in so well with the tracks which surround it. The song has been spruced up for 2010, but it is instantly recognisable. The fine instrumental passage which is at the core of the track (is that a theramin?) reassures us that the band's prog credentials remain firmly intact too.

The standard album closes in surprisingly downbeat style, with what might be described as a space rock power ballad, "Sentinel". The vocals here are among the most refined to appear on a Hawkwind album. When combined with some sympathetic lead guitar and floating synth, it all adds up to a highly effective piece.

There are various editions of the album, each featuring different additional material. The single CD and vinyl versions contain a 7 minute Jason Stuart number called "Starshine". This is a dreamy, ambient instrumental which acts as a sort of coda to "Sentinel". The LP has a further brief bonus track called "Sunship".

The 2 CD version contains a second disc with live versions of songs old and new, plus that Syd Barrett cover. Tim Blake steps up to the mike for his "Tide of the century", a song which for me is the highlight of the live tracks here. The interview which appends the set is appropriately, zany/off-the-wall, with plenty of back chat and psychedelic noises.

Overall, a superb return of this legendary band. There is something reassuring about a band who can embrace their past, rather than disowning it.

Report this review (#444546)
Posted Sunday, May 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The other reviews giving great appreciation to this Hawkwind recording are accurate.

It is close or even better that what is considered classic Hawkind in the early 70's to early 80's.

That stated in rating any Hawkwind recording I always look for reviews that comment on the sound/production which is excellent and not bad bootleg quality.

In looking for any reviews on any prog rock recording I look for any indication of any boring instrumental noodling/jamming whose musicians neither have the professionalism of the Allman Brothers, Phish or other quality bands to do this and still make is interesting music , nor have the improvising talent of many Jazz musicians to do it well, or if they do, they have not shown so because they are either stoned, drunk or zonked out, and the producer likewise.

This is not the case, instrumental passages are well thought out and done beautiful.

Likewise in any prog reviews I look for indication of trying to gain mainstream radio airplay and subsequently sound like a boring pop band

This is not the case with this Hawkwind recording

Report this review (#532057)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is like: HAWKWIND is back, and they went back in time. When you listen to this album is kinda 'retro'. The sound maintains space and psychedelic prog in most of the album. However, it contains a couple of beautiful new age instrumental melodies that make a complete contrast with the rest of the album, and believe me, they work excellent as transitions from one song to the other, or in the case of "Starshine" (considering the original format CD where this song is the last one) to close the album. The rest of the songs are full of seventies sound of psychedelia and that hypnotic chant and playing by the band. Really recommended to all space prog fans!
Report this review (#1024354)
Posted Monday, August 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
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.

Report this review (#2079468)
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2018 | Review Permalink

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