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Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.48 | 1985 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Scorched earth. That's all that's left.

Van Der Graaf Generator [VdGG] have always been one of the lesser known (to the outside world anyways) progressive mammoths of the classic 70s era. Their blend of darkness and chaos have long inspired young and upcoming proggers as well as forced listeners to take cover and/or run for their lives as the black clouds gather overhead when a VdGG album starts. This album came as a surprise to many since the band had broken up after their previous album, Pawn Hearts which was deemed a masterpiece. This one, surprisingly, surpasses the previous album by miles! Even if it don't have a leviathan track to support it like A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers it does have four powerful monstrosities that will beat you up and leave you as a bloody pulp if you're not expecting it. But Peter Hammil and VdGG would have it no other way.

For those who are not familiar with the band - these guys are very unique. to say the least. Instead of a guitar as the lead instrument they use their masterfully played organs and the killer saxophone of David Jackson to lead the fray. This makes for a very interesting listen if you're not used to anything but a guitar being at the front, but if you're up for something different this is probably the way to go. Also, as mentioned before, these guys are evil. Peter Hammil's malevolent voice is one of the main features of the band as he screams, shouts and serenades his way through the tracks. He's really got a way with instrumentation and conducts the band accordingly. When he wants you to be scared, you'll be scared.

I'm sure there's been so much said about the four tracks on the album that I really couldn't add anything that would be unique, but here's a shot. The first side has the two shorter tracks, the somewhat calm Undercover Man and the cataclysmic Scorched Earth which work in tandem with one another to create one coherent, solid side of vinyl. They play as yin and yang as the opener creates a false sense of security and the second punches you in the face with Hammil's screaming chorus. It's very true when Hammil screams, ''Scorched earth - that's all that's left when he's done!'' The second side is arguably the more powerful of the two, being that it hosts what could be called the two best songs in the VdGG catalog. Arrow is a maniacal powerhouse led once again by Hammil, driving the song as the song would once again suggest, ''As swift as any ARROW!'' As the song picks up after that line it's hard not to feel a chill down your spine. Sax and Organ mix into a fine paste and it almost sounds like a very powerful and distorted guitar for a moment, well, that's the effect anyways. Sleepwalkers codas the album with VdGG's finest 10 minutes between the grooves. Chilling keys open the track as Hammil comes in once more, and as you can expect - things don't stay calm for long. This track is a furious maelstrom, which will never, ever die off. Fantastic! This is what Prog is all about.

Being considered one of THE essential prog albums of all time in just about every progressive circle it seems redundant to say that this one is really, really highly recommended. 5 scorched Earths out of 5 - an amazing, simply amazing album. May this review go on the already very large pile of reviews praising this album as though it were some kind of God - It deserves every word of praise it gets.

Queen By-Tor | 5/5 |


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