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THE CHRONICLE OF THE BLACK SWORD

Hawkwind

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Hawkwind The Chronicle Of The Black Sword album cover
3.37 | 87 ratings | 11 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1985

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Song of the swords
2. Shade gate
3. Sea king
4. Pulsing cavern
5. Elric
6. Needle gun
7. Zarozinia
8. The demise
9. Sleep of 1000 years
10. Chaos army
11. Horn of destiny

Bonus tracks on 1986 cd release.
12. Arioch
13. Assault & battery
14. Sleep of 1000 years (live)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Harvey Bainbridge / keyboards, synthesizers, voice
- Dave Brock / vocals, synthesizers, guitar
- Dave Charles / percussion
- Alan Davies / bass, backing vocals
- Huw Lloyd-Langton / lead guitar, vocals
- Danny Thompson / drums

Releases information

Lp. Flicknife SHARP 033 / Cd. Griffin Records GCDHA 0142 (1994)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to SouthSideoftheSky for the last updates
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Hall of the Mountain GrillHall of the Mountain Grill
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HAWKWIND The Chronicle Of The Black Sword ratings distribution


3.37
(87 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
11%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
42%
Good, but non-essential (40%)
40%
Collectors/fans only (7%)
7%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

HAWKWIND The Chronicle Of The Black Sword reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars How dare I be so beautiful?

"Chronicle of the black sword" is one of Hawkwind's most creative albums, thanks in no small part to Michael Moorcock's "Elric" stories, on which the album is based.

Many of the tracks feature the familiar sound of Hawkwind's driving pace, and monotone vocals, "Song of the swords", "Sea king", and the wonderful "Needle gun" to name but three. "Zarozinda" finds the band in a much slower, more reflective, are I say beautiful mood.

Of the many Hawkwind albums available, this one stands out as falling in to the recommended listening category. Many of the tracks are included on the excellent DVD of the same name, which offers a superb document of their stage show at the time. The DVD also includes a promo video of "Needlegun".

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#25564) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 15, 2004

Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
4 stars Hawkwind's last true progressive rock album; although the emphasis here is on the word 'rock', indeed, this could possibly be cited as the first true 'progressive metal' album.

In a way going back to their '70's roots, and picking up their previous collaborations with Michael Moorcock, this is Hawkwinds first (only?) concept album, dealing with the trials and tribulations of Elric of Melnibone, and his bane, the demon possessed black sword.

Brock's masterstroke here was bringing in unknown youngster Alan Davey on bass guitar, and moving Bainbridge to token synthesisers/backing vocals; Davey's writing input is unknown, but lyrically, this album is more focussed and tighter (no mean feat, given the vast source material of Moorcock's many Elric novels), and apart from my own personal bane 'needle gun' (the only reason I give this album 4 stars, not 5), this is the first Hawkwind album for a long time where you will find yourself listening all the way through time and again.

The tour which accompanied this album saw Hawkwind going into the area of stage shows, dancers, actors, occasional visitations from Moorcock himself on stage to read excerpts from the books, and being able to incorporate many old songs into the story (most notably from 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time) - for this, you need to check out the live album 'Live Chronicles'

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Send comments to Jim Garten (BETA) | Report this review (#25565) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 30, 2004

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There were some time now that Hawkwind didn't release a decent album. Four years since "Sonic Attack" which was IMO their latest good album.

This "Chronicle" takes up with the good old energetic rock for which the band is known. And this is for the best even if this album sounds very much metal ("Song Of The Swords", "The Sea King"). But the band hasn't forgotten about their spacey music. Of course, these tracks are scarce, but they have the merit to exist ("The Pulsing Cavern", the sweet "Zarozina").

With this effort, "Hawkwind" reviews several of their inspirational genres. Some heavy and psychedelic savours during "Elric The Enchanter" (which doesn't enchant me a lot), pure hard-rock ("Needle Gun") their energetic and so typical space rock music ("Sleep Of A Thousand Tears")

But frankly there isn't anything here to write home about. This album just brings back "Hawkwind" in the family of bands who can still produce good albums. In terms of prog, there is very little to remember.

A solid hard-rock album, that's what you'll get. And to be able to listen to one of the best song, you have to wait until the final track "Horn Of Destiny".

Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#168193) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 20, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars The chronicle of Hawkwind

Hawkwind is one of the very few classic bands that were actually better in the 80's than in the 70's. I have always found Hawkwind's 70's releases noisy, simplistic, and generally sloppy; badly produced, often lacking in melody, and most of the time settled in a repetitive beat with some dull electronic experimentation on top. There are a few exceptions though, and the Levitation album from 1980 is the prime example. I was impressed with Levitation and its well-performed, well-produced, melodic tunes. While nothing else in the vast Hawkwind discography can come even close to the high quality of Levitation - which stands head and shoulders above any other Hawkwind album in my opinion - The Chronicle Of The Black Sword is my second favourite Hawkwind album and a good one in its own right.

The songs of this album are based on hard rocking riffs and vocal melodies and this is actually more of a pure Hard Rock album with spacy interludes than a Space Rock or Prog Rock album per se. The interludes make this album varied and the conceptual lyrics make it interesting. The quality of the music remains pretty consistent throughout and no single track stands out as more powerful than the others.

One of Hawkwind's best and most memorable albums

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#229453) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 01, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
2 stars Hawkwind Goes ZZ Top

A few experiments aside, Hawkwind was always most enjoyable when they just flatly rocked out. On this album everything is sacrificed for that. They go through the motions by a bunch of 4-minute 4/4 songs and bring off something that sounds familiarly close to how ZZ Top sounded in those days. Check out Needle Gun...

I actually disliked this album for quite a while; all songs are fairly predictable blues-rock tunes in a glossy 80's production. There's also little or nothing of the Hawkwind trademark spacey feel about it. Horn of Destiny would be the only track where they take a little time to expand the narrow approach of the album by adding some typical Gong slide guitar.

So, there's little of interest here for people who like their music more complicated and elaborate. Nevertheless, this is their most enjoyable studio album since Levitation from 1980. With the right mindset and expectations, chances are you might enjoy this.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#243248) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars After a tumultuous period of lineup changes, Hawkwind returned with another stab at a concept album based on the writing of Michael Moorcock, a long-time pal of the band who'd returned the favour by having them pop up in his stories from time to time. The band had tried such a thing before with Warrior On the Edge of Time, but whilst that album had focused more on exploring the general themes of Moorcock's work, this time around the band went with a more narrative route, telling the story of one of Moorcock's most famous characters - Elric of Melnibone.

However, the album suffers badly in comparison to the delivery of similar material on Live Chronicles, which documents the accompanying concert tour. On this disc, the songs are subjected to the cold space metal treatment which had hampered the band's sound on the preceding albums Sonic Attack and Choose Your Masques, whereas the live version presents warmer renditions of the songs and in general sees the band moving back to something closer to their classic sound than this sterile offering. The fact is that if you have this album, you'll almost certainly find Live Chronicles to be more interesting, and if you already have Live Chronicles you'll almost certainly find this studio disc a disappointment.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#583841) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars "Chronicle of the Black Sword" is another killer album with weird conceptual content from the creative mind of Michael Moorcock, and remains a fan favourite. Much of the material is available in live format on "Live Chronicles", but the studio album has garnered a cult following over the years

'Song of the Swords' is a fiery start with strong vocals and lyrics about the main concept of the sorcerer and the swordsman; "Take up the sword and take up me, the Chaos Lord's answer is to be, Your path is chosen, you have no choice, Come join us now! thus spake the voice. It's paradise".

'Shade Gate' is an instrumental with 80s retro synth melody ending on a zither sting. 'Sea King' has good echoed vocals and pulsing rhythm, spacey effects and a distorted guitar riff. The lead break is effective and the Hawkwind interstellar sound effects.

'Pulsing Cavern' is a transitional piece with ambient mellotron and a heartbeat rhythmic pulse. It leads into 'Elric the Enchanter'. The strong beat and echo on vocals is classic Hawkwind. The lyrics are terrific telling the tale of Elric's exploits; "Sprawling in a Ruby Throne, His head cupped in his hands, The Lord of Dragons, Elric's thoughts, Were of quests to far-off lands, The Black Sword was at his side, Murmuring in its scabbard cold, Waiting for the moment to arrive, To drink the very essence of souls." The instrumental lead break is spacey guitar and weird effects. The riff changes into a delightful half time feel which is ominous and doomy; "He did not know that the sword he'd hold, Would turn his priceless empire into fool's gold, The truth, the shadow of the sword will hide, 'Til it's too late, a traitor at his side." The harmonies are excellent and this is perhaps the highlight of the album.

'Needle Gun' is one of the more popular tracks featuring on compilations. It was strange hearing this in context of the other tracks rather than on compilations. The sound is a straight 4/4 guitar rocker, with infectious melody and anti-tattoo lyrics; "Hear my laughter in your head, It's a pity, it's a shame nothing's been said, It's a vaccination joy with the ultimate death toy, It's gonna make you run, needle gun." It feels more like a typical heavy rock anthemic song than a space rock epic, but still fits in well with the album content.

'Zarozinia' features Brock's great vocals on the slow space ballad, with wavering synth tones, minimal bass and refreshing wind effects. The lyrics are quite beautiful; "Fire of destiny, Fire of reality, Zarozinia, The burning of flesh, Flames loving caress, Zarozinia, Water from a thousand tears, Feeling of a thousand years, Flow over me." One of the highlights of the album.

'The Demise' features a weird whispered narrative and otherworldy screams sets the scene. The preternatural soundscapes segue into 'Sleep of 1000 Years' with Brock's familiar multi-tracked vocals and a driving riff. A thumping bassline and spacey lead guitar augment the atmospherics.

'Chaos Army' begins with motorik pulsing sonics and weird percussion, until it breaks into a riffing guitar for 'Horn of Destiny'. Brock's vocals are sung in trademark style with some gruelling lyrics; "Many with madness in their eyes, stare gibbering at the white-hot skies, foul birds circle overhead shadowing the living and the dead." The lead guitar swells and sporadic percussion are effective in the lengthy instrumental section.

This is a concept album in the same spirit of classic Hawkwind of the 70s and is a welcome return to form. It is one to seek out though not easy to find. The search will be worth it as it is one of Hawkwind's greatest 80s albums.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#606565) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars At the time this was probably HAWKWIND's best album since "Levitation" from 1980. "The Chronicle Of The Blacksword" was released late in 1985. Nik Turner left the band early that same year after band members grew weary of his stage act. His departure brought a focus to the concept album that they decided to do on Michael Moorcock's "Elric" series of books from the 60's. Dave Brock read through them more than once in order to come up with a story-line that would fit into a single album and be performed live in an hour and a half stage show. Alan Davey would later comment : "We mixed the sound of "Warrior" with the technology of "Church Of Hawkwind" and came up with something very special." If there's one complaint from yours truly it's that this music is often too accessible. "Needle Gun" is a song that I told Tom Ozric that I was tired of after one listen.

"Song Of The Swords" kicks into gear quickly as the vocals join in. The bass is fantastic throughout this uptempo rocker. "Shade Gate" is an instrumental of spacey sounds as the birds chirp. Synths come in and pulsate. "The Sea King" is such a good song with that heavy sound as the vocals join in. "The Pulsing Cavern" is an instrumental with deep pulsating sounds and the sound of water can be heard dripping. It becomes quite spacey over top.

"Elric The Enchanter" is another great track. Very catchy with vocals. I love the instrumental section before 3 minutes and the vocals that follow. The guitar is so good as well. "Needle Gun" is way too accessible for my tastes. My least favourite by far. "Zarozinia" makes up for it. Spacey waves can be heard as mournful vocals join in reminding me of early HAWKWIND. "The Demise" Is very short as we hear an explosion and spoken words. "Sleep Of A Thousand Tears" is a catchy and energetic song with vocals. A nice prolonged instrumental section takes us to the end. "Chaos Army" is a short piece with deep pulsating sounds and more. "Horn Of Destiny" ends it in an uptempo manner with vocals. Gotta love the beat here. It's building after 2 minutes and the vocals return. Nice. Lots of percussion 4 1/2 minutes in after the vocals have stopped.

A low 4 stars no doubt but I really enjoyed this.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#639329) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review by GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I have to declare something and that is the fact that I am not what you'd consider a true Hawkwind fan. I'm more of an occasional fan, delicately tipping my toes into the pool of Hawks and then diving in head first but only in certain areas. I have discovered that I am a fan of Hawkwind's 80'soutput. I do consider Levitation being one of the greatest albums ever made and I adore The xenon codex, thoroughly enjoying every second of it.

Now, that being said I fins The chronicle of the black sword not disappointing but not up to par with some other albums of the decade's recordings. As a whole I love the album. Everything visible about it is really, really thrilling and intriguing. Everything from the great cover with it's different shades of blue, to the albums's fantasy themes and the titles of the songs and well, the whole package. Visually meaning. Then there's the songs in themselves. The rockier side of TCOTB I do not love. I like the songs, for sure, but it's liking more than loving. As far as I'm concerned I could skip them everytime and go for the softer, gentler, more ambient stuff. On Levitation the spacey hard rock seemed truly vibrant and committed, energetic and really entertaining. On TCOTB they're sometimes on the verge of being slightly easy, meaning they are (at least at times) kind of boogie-ish in a way Whitesnake do it, filling the album with excellent rockers and then finishing off with a couple of tired boogie or blues numbers. It's not quite that bad, actually. The worst I can say about the rock-songs are that they're not the best Hawkwind ever made but at least they entertain in that 80's sort of way. And to top things off the vocals seem to be sung by a german. Not that it really matters but I get the feeling I'm listening to Eloy (which is great thing in itself) and not the truly british Hawkwind when listening to Song of the swords, for instance. Let's put it this way, they are alright but nothing more. Except Needle gun which is a storming track I really enjoy.

The ambient songs, like The pulsing cavern or Zarozinia, gets my votes though. There is something about the way Hawkwind (or Brock) seem to stir up a brew of electronic landscapes able to really get my mind going far into the vast galaxies of my imagination. Just like on the later Xenon codex it's like floating through space, visualising everything from reality to fantasy, history, presence and future all wrapped up in one. The pulsing cavern is a great travelling song, along with Zarozinia, setting music to your journey in the most excellent way. I guess that the ambient side of Hawkwind bears resemblence to Tangerine Dreams output from the same time.

In short I'd say that the album is really good, just not great. It has highs and lows but it never reaches the abyss. It's interesting, entertaining and the lyrics are great.

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#906018) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 04, 2013

Latest members reviews

3 stars Although not as profound, Chronicle Of The Black Sword echoes Hawkwind`s 1975 tour de force Warrior On The Edge Of Time a decade later and brings scifi / fantasy master Michael Moorcock back into the fold. Based largely on the exploits of anti hero Elric of MelnibonÚ on an alternate Earth who f ... (read more)

Report this review (#247253) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Friday, October 30, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The last trully excellent album. Carries on the sword and sorcery theme of 1975's Warrior album. Based loosely on one of Mike Moorcock's Eternal Champion Incarnations; The albino sorcerer king Elric of Melnibone. A more mainstream rock album than most of HW's albums, it also contains some excellent ... (read more)

Report this review (#25563) | Posted by | Sunday, January 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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