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Black Bonzo

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Black Bonzo Sound of the Apocalypse album cover
4.03 | 168 ratings | 15 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Thorns Upon a Crown (6:51)
2. Giant Games (5:56)
3. Yesterday's Friends (7:10)
4. The Well (6:18)
5. Intermission - Revelation Song (1:59)
6. Ageless Door (5:23)
7. Iscariot (7:22)
8. Sound of the Apocalypse (13:01)

Total Time 54:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Magnus Lindgren / lead vocals
- Joakim Karlsson / acoustic & electric guitars, bouzouki, flute
- Nicklas Ahlund / Hammond, piano, Mellotron, synthesizers
- Anthon Johansson / bass
- Mike Israel / drums & percussion, Indian chanting

- Adrian Holmström / saxophone
- Will Steffen / speech

Releases information

Artwork: Nicklas Ahlund

CD B&B Records ‎- BCD017 (2007, Sweden)

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BLACK BONZO Sound of the Apocalypse ratings distribution

(168 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

BLACK BONZO Sound of the Apocalypse reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars


In 2004 this Swedish formation released its debut CD entitled Lady Of The Light, it contains very pleasant work on Hammond and Mellotron and the sound is deeply rooted in the late Sixties/early Seventies, I love it! This new CD has an awesome lay-out, especially the fold-out cover (similar to Yessongs but unfortunately on CD size) featuring a mindblowing painting of the apocalypse with lots of nature violence, very dark and ominous but also fascinating. But how about the music?

Well, I have to admit that my first listening session was a bit disappointing but gradually it grew, just like good prog! Black Bonzo their sound on this CD alternates between melodic rock and Heavy Prog with echoes from Seventies Uriah Heep and Kansas but less obvious than on their debut CD, Black Bonzo has matured in writing and done their best to sound more original. In general Black Bonzo delivers fluent and bombastic songs but it's remarkable how many tracks contain interesting shifting moods and surprising musical ideas: Giant Games has a break with choir-Mellotron and xylophone, Yesterdays Friends starts with classical guitar and flute and in Ageless we can enjoy a typically late Sixties/early Seventies bluesrock guitar interlude. The long final composition Sound Of The Apocalypse (more than 13 minutes) sounds very strong: first fragile piano and warm vocals, from mellow it becomes more and more lush, than omonous and bombastic with wonderful classical orechestrations and after a great build-up with lots of tension, the grand finale is very compelling, topped by a sensitive electric guitar solo.

To me this sounds as a beautiful, very melodic CD with the distinctive and pleasant sound of vintage keyboards (Hammond, Mellotron and Minimoog), good vocals and tasteful compositions, a big hand for Black Bonzo!

Review by Menswear
4 stars There's no school like the old school.

That's actually the only expression that comes in mind when I listen to Black Bonzo. From the singing to the drums fills and the 2 tones guitar solo a la Kiss, everything here is from another era...except the production that provides crisp and crystallic sound.

There's some good songs, mostly based on a primary riff with many solos (Hammond and guitar alternates). My favorite is certainly the hommage to Gentle Giant on the second track. Done by GG itself would be very interesting to hear!

It's hard to describe Black Bonzo but there goes: take some of The Darkness riffs and in-your-face attitude, add a lot of Deep Purple Hammond, a pinch of Novalis (track 3), a tad of King Crimson Mellotron, a lot of Beatles Abbey Road period and some Gowan type singing.

I like the idea of doing it old school; making the challenge higher by having the task of creating acceptable songs AND trying to make you believe that was recorded 30 years ago.

Black Bonzo is joining with honors the very exclusive clique youngsters facinated by the 70's like Wobbler, the Darkness and Sloan.

In nomination for best underdog album of 2007.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Black Bonzo have produced one of the most exciting prog concept albums of recent years

This is an astounding prog album from a relatively obscure Swedish band that may be the Swedish answer to Yes. Certainly the first thing one will notice when hearing this album is the striking similarity of their style to the classic 70s eclectic prog of such artists as Uriah Heep, Kansas, Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP), Gentle Giant, Caravan, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Camel and Rush, to name a few. They are heavily influenced but are not mere imitations, rather adding their own inimitable style to the progressive genre. Every track is masterfully executed with technical precision and artistic flare all wrapped up in a concept album. The album artwork is sublime presented in a 3-gatefold widevision apocalyptic scenario. The imagery is sumptuous and compliments the conceptual material admirably.

The high-powered concept of an apocalyptic event from the pages of Revelation begins with 'Thorns Upon A Crown' that is driven by the hard pounding of an Emerson-like Hammond and Greg Lake-ish vocals. It ends with a backwards glass effect, perhaps we are sliding into the mirror of the future.

Track 2 is 'Giant Games' and sounds a little like Gentle Giant ironically enough. It is an excellent progressive rocker with a huge shuffle and shifting time signature changes throughout. The relentless Hammond and angular guitar riffing are exceptional. It even fades out in the tradition of 70s songs. The lyrics are about the 911 conspiracy, if such a thing exists.

The next track, Yesterday's Friends, is a 7 minute killer that speaks of loneliness, emptiness, alienation, lost friends and feelings of remorse. Somehow through the midst of this despair Black Bonzo's musical prowess injects a ray of hope, in a similar way Peter Hammill does in Van der Graaf Generator. The words are potent: "Why can't we be friends like we were yesterday? Sun was shining and you held my hand. Trapped in shackles, thrown to the jackals. I am struggling just to breathe." The vocals are similar in style to Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour and there is a jagged Robert Fripp-style guitar riff that crashes throughout. It's absolutely stunning and at 3 mins in, the track transforms into an off-kilter syncopated rhythm with Keith Emerson style staccatos on the Hammond. Yes, it's that good.

Could it get better? Absolutely. Track 4, 'The Well' is my favourite track because it sounds uncannily like a 70s throwback to the heavier side of Caravan with Pye Hastings type vocals. I love the lyrics: "The hammer is falling down so hard, it won't catch your very eye." powerful and emotive. The track is driven by a relentless heavy guitar and keyboard riff with swirling synth answers. The excellent melody is beautiful and it twists and turns in surprising directions. I admire the way the band has captured that eclectic 70s prog spirit, unashamedly, and they have hit it right on the head; not only paying homage to the classic prog sound but somehow reinventing it with their own original finesse.

Track 5 is a short intermission that reminds one immediately of Jethro Tull with flute and irregular vocals.

'Ageless Door' follows and send us back to the Hammond and aggressive guitar stabs. The off-beat drum patterns are similar to Bill Bruford's style, and they punctuate the track throughout as the more abrasive vocals are heard: "An echo in the corridor of time, a memory collapsed, a fainted will, a transcendent crime, spare me all hypocrisy and blame." The track rocks hard but never quite keeps rhythm, missing beats and jumping rhythm patterns. There are lots of double guitar licks, an interlude with strange effects over a lead solo from Karlsson, and Hammond stabs, sounding at times like early ELP; it is delicious prog bliss.

Track 7, 'Iscariot', is a fantastic song that moves in many directions. 3 mins into it the tracks changes gears into a psychedelic freak out. The thematic content concerns judgement day and sin and the consequences of the Judas kiss. Ahlund excels again on the scorching Hammond. Black Bonzo have stamped their authority on the use of the Hammond on this album.

How do you end such a brilliant album? Why, with a 13 min multimovement mini epic of course. 'Sound of the Apocalypse' is a scintillating excursion of musical virtuosity that includes mellotron, multi vocal harmonies and a wonderful vocal performance. It is broken into three sections in the tradition of such prog classic bands as Caravan. These meld together seamlessly to form a bonafide prog classic. Part 1 is 'Twins' (the Twin Towers?) that begins with a series of chilling minimalist piano chords, something like GodSpeed You Black Emperor's minimalist style. We hear a voice talking: "Changes to the chemistry of the oceans. of the atmosphere..." The Dave Gilmour style vocals begin and it builds slowly into a huge wall of sound with Mellotron and multi-part guitars. At 5 mins into the track, it suddenly changes time signature pace into part 2 'Towers Collapse' (Must be a reference to 911, though the lyrics are subtle). This is an instrumental with erratic piano and jazz drums. There are strange saxophone sounds and it reminds one of the off-kilter middle section of King Crimson's '21st Century Schizoid Man'. This is a showpiece for these musicians. Part 3 is 'The Boiling Point' and the track returns to the opening stanza but it is more of an irregular time pattern. The swirling keyboards build to the type of majestic finale as Yes's 'And You and I' - the soundscape of symphonic Mellotron is backed by Karlsson's searing guitar solos. The heartbeat of a bass continues underneath it all and it builds to the crescendo of finality, as good as I have heard, and then it is all over. And I immediately put the CD on again and listen to it knowing this is one of the best in my prog collection.

So there you have it. Overblown and curiously true to the retro 70s classic Golden era of prog, Black Bonzo have produced one of the most exciting and surprising concept albums of 2007.

Review by Kotro
4 stars What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

After a very promising debut, Black Bonzo apparently decided to pursue a more original form of composition and playing, drawing less on 70's inspirations than on their first work. What we have here is a more original album, keeping the respect for the past, but going for a more modern approach. The sound is heavier, the atmosphere darker, and the lyrics poignant, all resulting in a hard-driving majestic and gripping piece of music.

Not all influences were discarded - Thorns Upon A Crown opens with a typical Nice/ELP organ intro, to which heavy guitars and echoes are added. But it stops there. What follows is a martial- sounding rocker, pretty much Black Bonzo, with great guitar and rhythm section work, with the keyboard in the background for the remaining of the song, apart from great soloing somewhere in the middle, introducing the great guitar solo (something that I found lacking on the first album) and following it. Like a lot of the songs on the debut, this has a wonderful majestic and pompous feel to it. It is not as strong an opener as Lady of the Light was on the previous album, but still a good song. Giant Games starts calmly, with soft vocals over a gentle acoustic guitar - but it soon bursts into another majestic musical section before the gentle vocals reprise. Another section follows in this multiple themed track, full of changes in pace and time signatures. The final sections, briefly reminding us of Gentle Giant and Ange, are symphonic Prog bliss. Yesterday's Friends ensues, with a delicate acoustic guitar and flute opening, very medieval sounding, that again doesn't take much time to explode into another rocker with a martial beat (not a coincidence - war seems to be the prominent theme in the lyrics throughout the album), opened by a great guitar lick. And it is an excellent beat, with awesome rhythmic work by guitar and drums. Near the middle of the track, it develops into a jazzier section, with some interesting vocal harmonies and a stronger keyboard presence. A couple of minutes into it and we return to the boot camp. A softer, almost funereal section follows, with the adequate Mellotron accompaniment, that keeps building up before ending and immediately jumping into the next track, The Well. Again we are treated to some great chords, in this slightly more upbeat song. Keyboards sound a lot more modern in this track, but again it is a more guitar-driven track with piano and drums holding the not to fast pace. It gets slower midway, as the guitar goes numb and the piano is replaced by the Mellotron. After a quiet set of vocals, they all return in the form of a well conceived crescendo, that reaches climax in a guitar solo before ending as quickly as it began.

It is not an uncommon happening to find an album with very strong openers that ultimately disappoints in its second half, and this is especially true when the first part of the album is extremely enjoyable. Therefore, I was a bit weary going into the second half of Sound Of The Apocalypse , marked by the appropriately named Intermission - Revelation Song - how unfounded my fears were! If, like me, you were already happy after the first four songs, get ready for a treat. The small track that opens this half is a bluesy acoustic guitar and flute song, to which clapping, tambourines and very interesting vocal harmonies are added. Short and entertaining, but nothing like what's to follow - since its first note, Ageless Door is one of the most get-up-from-that-couch-and-JUMP rock songs I ever had the pleasure of hearing. It is probably the most perfect track in the entire album, with every instrument at the top of his game, but none stealing the show, rather working together to create one of the most exciting and battle-encouraging pieces of music I've heard in a long time. Both the keyboards and the guitars get a chance at soloing on this song, but the highlight is really on the sections where they work together. Iscariot follows, opened by a guitar solo, a quieter intro none like the previous. The song resumes the martial beat, but the sound is much more lush than on previous tracks, with a greater presence of they keyboards, both in front row as in the background. Again, the feel is very majestic, especially in the second section of the track, jumping between quieter, jazzier parts, and hard-rocking cavalcades (if I ever wanted to do a medieval movie with modern soundtrack, I would definitely hire Black Bonzo). We are even treated into a Bohemian Rhapsody-like break of the song into a single piano tune before a return of the rockier part. Again, the ending is very energetic but still quite moving. A single grand piano key opens Sound of the Apocalypse, and with that key alone you can sense something grand is coming up. Several other keys follow that one, before a delicately played electric guitar is heard. The drums bring in another martial beat and the warm and soft vocals offer a company for the piano. Soon we begin noticing a crescendo form, as the drums are better heard, and an acoustic guitar and Mellotron are introduced. The theme initially played by the piano is carried by the electric guitar in the chorus. The crescendo continues in a section that sounds darker and heavier, but then swiftly fades away into the opening section. A fast-paced jazzier section is opened (including brass), and King Crimson springs to mind when hearing this part. After a multiple explosion of sounds, the opening melody is reprised in a faster, funkier manner. The crescendo resumes, this time with a lot more might and vigorous energy, courtesy of the densely rich keyboards, topped by a guitar solo and an exciting ending that leaves one craving for more.

Gone is the obvious attempt to emulate Prog giants of the past, in favour of a more mature and idiosyncratic approach to composition. Black Bonzo took a great risk with their first album due to their emulation of classic 70's prog - but they survived in style, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. The result is a much more mature album, more original, more tightly performed and carefully built, but still keeping in mind te teachings of prog giants of past and present. While still not reaching masterpiece status, it is a step up from the debut (also very good) and an almost mandatory recommendation for any classic prog lover.

Review by progaeopteryx
5 stars I was surprisingly impressed with Black Bonzo's Sound of the Apocalypse. Having never heard anything by this band before, I was tempted to purchase this album after reading several postiive reviews for not just this album, but the previous and subsequent releases, both I will probably seek out in the not too distant future. The reason I chose this one is that it has more favorable reviews than their debut and it was cheaper at Amazon than the others (always a smart risk, particularly if it involves pricey imports).

The music on this album is very energetic and quite powerful in delivery. It shows much in the way of a combination of hard rock and symphonic rock. The organ work evens out the soaring and powerful guitar work. The drummer is quite exceptional, at times reminding me of an early Cozy Powell. There are some jazz/fusion leanings in places too. Unlike other reviewers, I'm finding it hard to pin down their influences. I sense the Deep Purple influence, but the music is way too complicated for Deep Purple. I don't sense the Queen references as much. I do sense some Gentle Giant influences, but the band is much harder sounding. I sense some King Crimson in the mix, but not anywhere near the angularity. Some Genesis/Yes in places. Some Spock's Beard and Echolyn in places, too. Jethro Tull for certain on the short Intermission/Revelation Song number. In other words, a lot of influences that blend together in such a way that they sound like something new, but akin to the spirit of 1970s progressive rock. That's probably the best way I can describe this wonderful work.

Easily one of the best purchases I've made in recent years. This one will continue living in my CD player for a long time to come. Highly recommended and well worth receiving masterpiece status to my ears. Five stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars BLACK BONZO's second album is an improvement over their debut but i'm still not completely sold. I keep thinking of fellow Swede's RITUAL who i'm not very fond of either. Sure there's lots to like here with the mellotron and organ getting the spotlight often but the vocals and overall sound just don't do it for me. I wish the music was like the album cover art and pictures inside. Darker and more serious.

"Thorns Upon A Crown" opens with synths then it kicks in and vocals arrive just before a minute.The organ floats in the background. Guitar solo before 4 1/2 minutes. "Giant Games" has this light intro then it turns powerful with organ before settling back again as contrasts continue. "Yesterday's Friends" kicks in quickly and vocals join in just before a minute. Again the contrasts between light and heavier continue as it calms down on the chorus each time. Mellotron before 5 1/2 minutes and then at 6 minutes. "The Well" sounds like a cross between DEEP PURPLE and QUEEN and surprisingly I like it. Mellotron in this one and I like when it kicks back in before 5 minutes with vocal melodies.

"Intermission-Revelation Song" is a short piece with strummed guitar, flute and vocals. "Ageless Door" is uptempo with passionate vocals. It sounds VDGG inspired. "Iscariot" is too light and wimpy early on but it turns heavier with organ before 3 minutes before getting mellow again. "Sound Of The Apocalypse" is the 13 minute closer and a highlight no doubt. Piano and spoken words early then reserved vocals arrive 1 1/2 minutes in with marching styled drums. It's slowly building.Then a calm after 5 minutes before kicking back in a minute later.The tempo continues to shift. Mellotron before 10 minutes.

Take my rating with a grain of salt because most prog fans really like this album. I think if your into RITUAL you'll love this band.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I honestly feel blessed. This is a band I just happened to come across by incident, and they instantly took a place on my top-5 list of favourite bands for the moment. Even though these young lads are men of my country, they are pretty unknown and anonymous around here. These are the guys that sou ... (read more)

Report this review (#218018) | Posted by Speedmouse | Sunday, May 24, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars - Dogs get fleas: fleas get poodles - (Scottish Proverb) Three years after the Bonzo's debut album, this second helping of Prog Smorgasbord appeared and although it follows closely the same menu as it's predecessor, I am glad to report that the band have moved significantly forward insofar as c ... (read more)

Report this review (#204177) | Posted by ExittheLemming | Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Excellent hammond organ driven rock that will appeal to fans of Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Kansas, Quatermass and Jethro Tull. This is a remarkable album considering that this is only Black Bonzo's second album. They sound like seasoned pros with a well-developed music style. This is a concep ... (read more)

Report this review (#204107) | Posted by proggesser | Monday, February 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This Reminds Me A lot Of Uriah Heep,Gentle Giant..The Beatles,We have here an amazing album,very progressive in all the senses.Black Bonzothey try to have the old sound,and they do it not a is something that a lot of bands around Here are missing..Some people are looking for s ... (read more)

Report this review (#200076) | Posted by JgX 5 | Wednesday, January 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After listening and reviewing the most recent Beardfish album, I wanted to go back and review an album that deserves MUCH more credit than it has received. Sound of the Apocalypse is a wonderful release with that vintage 70's style with great melody and excellent vocals. After about 20 spins, ... (read more)

Report this review (#179304) | Posted by cutsofmeat | Saturday, August 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This band and its most recent album was the surprise of 2007 for me. Excellent recording and musicians playing with a flavor of modern progressive rock, somewhat like Porcupie Tree, yet very distinct. Sounds like melodic King Crimson (if they would work at it), and yes I do agree that the Ger ... (read more)

Report this review (#162245) | Posted by rclevesq | Wednesday, February 20, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a good CD that I recommend its got lots of ideas and stuff I can't pigeon hole the sound of this band exactly but I hear what I consider to be lots of influences Gentle Giant, Spock's Beard, Echolyn, Genesis , Uriah Heep all come to mind but this sounds fresh and innovative, its definatly ... (read more)

Report this review (#149330) | Posted by Yorkie X | Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars On Sound of the Apocalypse, Black Bonzo's second album the band has undergone a slight musical metamorphosis. On their debut album the music was extremely inspired by Uriah Heep but on the new one they have moved into far more progressive territories. Many of today's progressive band's at times ... (read more)

Report this review (#133602) | Posted by bigredmachine | Saturday, August 18, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Black Bonzo has sure changed since their first eponymous disc! That was practically a Uriah Heep Tribute Album; _Sound of the Apocalypse_ blends quite a few other influences into the mix. Namely Eloy, Nektar, Deep Purple and Omega. Maybe even a little of Jethro Tull and The Nice. In other words, ... (read more)

Report this review (#128150) | Posted by Prof. JiBbLe | Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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