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BLACK BONZO

Heavy Prog • Sweden


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Black Bonzo picture
Black Bonzo biography
Formed in Skellefteċ, Sweden in 2003 - Disbanded in 2011

From the ashes of Swedish hard rockers The GYPSY SONS OF MAGIC, BLACK BONZO rose again as an art prog band by adding depth to their sound through the use of mellotron, piano and Hammond organ. The intense drumming, the intricate guitar work, the firm but steady bass lines, the complex song structures, the overall pomp and their vocalist (who sounds like David Byron resurrected) all spell URIAH HEEP, big time.

Their album, "Lady of the Light" (2004) is filled with 70s pomp reminiscent of A.C.T. mixed in with early KANSAS and a bit of QUEEN. The classy arrangements and harmonies, the heavy organ, the impressive guitar work and the Byron-like vocals may sound all too familiar to HEEP fans, but these guys do what they do extremely well, with just enough personal touches to remind you they're not the HEEP. A great album in its own right that will grab your attention from start to finish. Powerful stuff and excellent production.

Certainly recommended if you're into high-octane art rock, and particularly to fans of URIAH HEEP.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

See also: WIKI

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BLACK BONZO discography


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BLACK BONZO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.84 | 112 ratings
Lady Of The Light
2004
4.02 | 164 ratings
Sound Of The Apocalypse
2007
3.46 | 85 ratings
The Guillotine
2009

BLACK BONZO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BLACK BONZO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BLACK BONZO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.80 | 5 ratings
Greatest Hits
2016

BLACK BONZO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

BLACK BONZO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Lady Of The Light by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.84 | 112 ratings

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Lady Of The Light
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars When I heard the first tones of the album, it immediately catapulted me to that good old sound from the classic heavy prog bands.

Lady Of The Light really reminded me of the classic Uriah Heep era, a mix between Demons and wizards and The magicians birthday which is not a bad thing at all.

I always say it does not matter if you hear the influences of some bands as long the album is greatly done and this album is a fine example of how great the classic sound with incredible modern production can be delivered today.

This album is filled with a great Hammond organ, Mellotron, synthesizers and guitar work. While listening to this album just let your mind free and drift away to the mysterious lands of Black Bonzo.

 The Guillotine by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.46 | 85 ratings

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The Guillotine
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

3 stars The last album from Black Bonzo "The Guillotine" was released in 2009. The album starts with Guillotine Drama and is a really powerful peace and straight in your face heavy organ prog rock, great riffing filled with fantastic organ and guitar solos. The rest of the album looses that prog feel and continues in a more straight forward hard rock. How do you feel and Supersonic man is a return to their more prog sound and really great written songs.

This album delivers some of the feel from their Sound Of The Apocalypse album, but all in all it's leaning to a more hard rock oriented sound, there are still roaring Hammond and guitar sounds but for me it lost that prog edge of their previous album.

 Sound Of The Apocalypse by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 164 ratings

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Sound Of The Apocalypse
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Black Bonzo was a band from Sweden formed in 2003 and unfortunately disbanded in 2011. Sound Of The Apocalypse is a sophomore album from the band released in 2007. It really brings fantastic heavy prog.

I can hear a lot of influences from Uriah Heep, Atomic Rooster and more progressive bands, but what is important to say and what makes this band great is that all of the sounds are combined beautifully, more complicated than your average organ based band and with their own interpretation.

This album is very energetic and filled with great Mellotrons, heavy organ, strong bass, loud guitars, and quite exceptional drumming, heavy prog with elements of symphonic rock. The songs are constructed greatly and the entire album is a brilliant prog ride.

 Lady Of The Light by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.84 | 112 ratings

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Lady Of The Light
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars One of the real good bands of the new decade,Swedish prog/art/heavy rockers Black Bonzo come from the cold city of Skelleftea and were formed in 2003.Heavily influenced by the heavy rock acts of the 70's,they enter the studios to prepare and record their debut ''Lady of the Light'',which was ready just after a year.The albums was released on B&B Records,a label created exclusively for the distribution of Black Bonzo albums.

This has to be one of the best retro-sounding albums on market,everything in this album recalls the golden era of the 70's and you could even bet this album was made back then.Hints of legendary names like URIAH HEEP,DEEP PURPLE,ATOMIC ROOSTER but also KING CRIMSON and BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST are all over the place.Additionally this album contains it all.From complicated Art Rock/Prog with lots of changing moods to powerful heavy rockers with high enery and will please any fan of Progressive Rock music.Even singer Magnus Lindgren sounds a lot like David Byron of URIAH HEEP.The overall style is on the heavy side of prog with plenty of rhythmic parts,rich content and expressive vocals with also a touch of Symphonic Rock on the instrumental passages.The constant use of analog keyboards,mainly strong Hammond organ but also loads of mellotron,is absolutely magnificent and professional and this is one of the best keyboard performances to listen to today,without any kind of virtuosity or self-indulgence.Most of the tunes here are quite accesible,the listener can follow the album from the start to the very end easily and a full hour of extremely pleasant dynamic Prog Rock is in front of you.

A surprising debut by a band without big experience,''Lady of the light'' is propably among the best retro-sounding efforts of the modern Progressive Rock scene,it comes highly recommended by my side,but do not expect something really original.Just powerful Heavy Prog music of the highest quality.

 Sound Of The Apocalypse by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 164 ratings

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Sound Of The Apocalypse
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Lady Of The Light by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.84 | 112 ratings

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Lady Of The Light
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by CCVP
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Lovely lady

Since the early 2000's, there have been a huge array of bands and artists that have provided an interesting revisiting of the classics in many genres of music and progressive rock is mo exception. The so-called retro-prog bands have, for quite some time, brought back the music from the lost decades of when progressive rock was at its peak and Black Bonzo is one of those bands.

Borrowing inspiration from the hard rock bands of both the traditional rock and the progressive rock scenes, Black Bonzo manages to, at the same time, make some kind of music that is familiar to many but is still fresh and intriguing. Through all of Lady of The Light you feel as if this music came straight from somewhere between 70 and 75, due to the combination of vintage instrumentation, the compositions themselves and the lyrics.

The carefulness of trying to sound as a classic progressive rock band, however the questionability of its quility or lack of thereof just by the way the band itself sounds, becomes a secondary issue as the music begin to play. The level of compositions surpass any issue I have with the Black Bonzo's decision of sounding old. The sheer quality of the progressive rock they present in the debut album should serve to quiet those who dislike this class of progressive rock.

Besides sounding as if the music is 40 years old, the lyrics also appear to be plucked from somewhere back there. The fantasy and epic lyrics are a perfect match for the band's music, playing a considerable part in their retro outfits.

Bonzo's style of progressive hard rock can be described as some kind of mixture between Byron-era Uriah Heep, Mark 2 Deep Purple, King Crimson around 1969 and 1970 and Rainbow. In fact, all those bands influenced Black Bonzo both in the intrumental section and in the vocal department, with the exception of Rainbow because Dio's vocals are simply impossible to mimic. Of all of those influences, Uriah Heep is the most proeminent of them all. Every song has some Heep touch and the vocals, specially, are similar to Byron's singing style.

Although the album a whole is very well balanced, round and most songs are very good, some stand out more than others. Those highlights of Lady Of The Light are the opening (and title) track, Brave Young Soldier, These are Days of Sorrow, Fantasy World, Leave Your Burdens and Where the River Meets the Sea. In the band, the highlights are, without a doubt, the keyboards, specially the organs and the mellotrons, which are placed perfectly in every song.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Black Bonzo's first release is one of many exaples of retro-prog done right. The music is familiar, but it is not the exact same thing as some other band or artist. If you like hard rock as it were back in the 1970's and progressive rock, look no further than this band.

 The Guillotine by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.46 | 85 ratings

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The Guillotine
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Black Bonzo Guillotine Drama - Black day as Black Bonzo Blows it Big time.

After hearing the incredible 'Sounds of the Apocalypse' that was astounding music on every level, a masterpeice hearkening back to the 70s but reinventing the style, I was eager to get hold of more Black Bonzo. Unfortunately they have completely adopted a new style and it is nowhere near as progressive, nor is it is as innovative. In fact this album was an outright disappointment.

There are no standout tracks and the instrumental virtuosity so prevalent on 'Sounds...' is all but absent. This is such a shame as the band really have incredible potential. This album is 5 steps backwards from their previous one. I just could not get in to this at all. And it doesn't grow on you but more infuriates you as you want it to be great but it never delivers.

Listen to any track from 'Sounds' and you will be astounded at how good they are. On this album however, each track is short, non progressive and not up to the musical excellence and standard of previous material. It is all so commercial and there is no sense of adventure, and the concept behind it is lost on me, it feels like a sub standard rushed attempt at a failed idea. It may have sounded good on paper but the songwriting is mediocre and the music is so below par. It sounds like a different band, and not a very good one at that.

I don't mind it when a band try something new, Porcupine Tree are a prime example of making it work, but it at least has to hold the attention. Unfortunately, 'Guillotine Drama' is dull from end to end. There are perhaps 2 or 3 decent tracks in there somewhere, but I can't even recall which ones at this point. It will rarely trouble my CD player and is definitely for completists. **

 Sound Of The Apocalypse by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 164 ratings

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Sound Of The Apocalypse
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by progaeopteryx
Prog Reviewer

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.

 The Guillotine by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.46 | 85 ratings

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The Guillotine
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars It sounds very heavy. More heavy than their previous albums I've encountered. But nothing to be worried about. Nice old sounding keyboards here (How Do You Feel) with acoustic guitar (War Machine). In these keyb driven tunes it reminds me one similar group, "Bigelf". But "Black Bonzo" (first I had to overcome some kind of prejudice, Bonzo means quite bad offend in my language, but hell, what they could know) does it in not so pathetic way. Overall, it's hard to describe, but for sure interesting modern approach to prog music.

4(+) is fair enough by my opinion. I flirted with masterpiece rating, but there are things that brings it down.

EDIT: This is seriously music, where you can do quite a lot headbanging. Everything you always wanted since Deep Purple (and others, but these fits probably the most) using modern sound methods (clean sound - if they want) with more, much more prog elements. Melody is most usually not so complex, heavy dependent on riffs with more acoustic passages, however, notice the instruments and these little things that makes prog music so interesting. Not exactly sure what it is, but it's there. After all, something was responsible for my rating here, I don't give these things for cheap. So it's like "enhanced" Purple, even it's not entirely true.

 Sound Of The Apocalypse by BLACK BONZO album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 164 ratings

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Sound Of The Apocalypse
Black Bonzo Heavy Prog

Review by Speedmouse

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 sound like they traveled from the 70's in a time machine, along with their equipment, to treat us with the art of true music making. That's why I feel blessed... A group of people that takes this kind of music seriously and bringing it into the current century.

This is the second album from Black Bonzo and the sound has taken a step in a slightly more modern direction from the first album, wich was more "pure 70's" to the sound, bringing your thoughts back to bands like Uriah Heep and Purple.

Opening track is called Thorns Upon a Crown, wich is a good tune for a starter... It starts of with a cool keyboard intro and soon developes into a catchy tune with a high pitch chorus.

After the first track, setting the standard high, we are introduced to one of the albums top tracks. Giant Games is both catchy and mellow, inspired by the sounds of Van Der Graaf Generator and Gentle Giant, with a touch of the fab four as well.

Yesterdays Friends is a beautiful piece with mellow and nostalgic lyrics. The melody is drifting between mellow and more up-beat, keeping a good contrast troughout the whole song.

The album continues with The Well, wich is the first track of this album where I lose some attention. What saves this tune is the excellent guitar work, wich is superiour!

We now move on to the so called intermission, Revelation Song, a short pseudo Jethro Tull wich is driven by (yeah, you guessed it) flute. This is a track that, in my opinion, never should have left the mixing studio. But this is no reason to turn the CD off or stop reading this review, 'cause after this short break we are introduced to one of the top-3 tracks of the album.

Ageless Door was the first Black Bonzo song I heard, and is still one of my favourites! After a random intro, we are given one of the most tasty Hammond riffs in modern prog music! The melody is excellent and the drums give you the chills and make you wanna jump up and down your couch (or whereever you spend time listening to CD's) to the ride work at the end of the song.

The bombastic Iscariot is taking the sound a step further with the stunning guitar work and folk inspired melody. Again, one of the albums top-3's.

The album is closed with the title track, Sound of the Apocalypse... There is only one word to describe it: Epic! At the end of this tune, you just want to listen to the album again from top.

Even though there are a couple of question marks during half time, this album deserves a lot of credit. A fair rating would be something like 4.3 stars, so I give it a 4.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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