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Bram Stoker - Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] CD (album) cover


Bram Stoker


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3.83 | 52 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars "Extensive corrosion, of body and mind...!"

What a terrific lyric to start off this review! The sole Bram Stoker album `Schizo-Poltergeist' (at least that's what it's called on my version) is a wonderful heavy-prog stunner with endless waves of dazzling Hammond organ, fuzzy guitar and a good mix of instrumental virtuosity and varied melodic vocal tracks. The easiest similarity I could offer is along the lines of Atomic Rooster (and like the above quoted line, many of the lyrics have a slightly sinister tone with vague occult references), but with more classical influences like The Nice worked in as well. But anyone who enjoys similar early prog albums from Bodkin, Rare Bird and Beggars Opera will likely find much to enjoy here.

Like the spooky gothic mansion depicted on the front cover, the identity of the players who performed on this album is shrouded in mystery, which just adds to the slight unease of the music. More research on the net offers the player details as Tony Bronsdon - Organ, Pete Ballam - Guitar, Rob Haines - Drums and John Bavin - Bass. Going by the strength of this album, all the players should be immensely proud of what they achieved here, as they have something of an obscure and underground near-classic with this work. So much potential, so it's a shame we only received this one sole release.

Of the vocal tracks, the stomping opener `Born To Be Free' kicks the album off in pure winning Atomic Rooster style, a fuzzy guitar/humming Hammond organ rocker about a girl `born on the wrong side of town, her every word was spit and bile'! With a killer chorus, the track is insanely catchy and gloriously upbeat, which contrasts strangely with the downbeat lyrics - something that Rooster did frequently themselves!

`Blitz' is the most serious and striking of the vocal pieces, a rather somber and unsettling tale that asks `Does anyone know about Mary, does anyone know where Mary is, she went to rescue the children...'. Throughout there's some moody plodding bass that highlights the kind of creeping loneliness and reflective tone of the words, with some dark murky Spanish guitar worked in to stirring effect later on.

`Idiot' has a slightly cheesy chorus, but fans of the first Beggars Opera album `Act One' will enjoy this one, as it shares that same kind of maniacal circus-like loopy energy and charm. The finale `Poltergeist' is all bombastic Hammer-horror drama, but the booming and kitschy repeated chorus is a little lazy.

`Ants' gets the first of three instrumental pieces off to a grand start, with classical ELP/Trace/Nice- style dazzling organ work, by way of a ghost story/horror house setting, plus some nice rapid fire drumming too. `Fast Decay' carries on the same way, while incorporating sections of Bach's Toccata In D-Fuga (sure to either dazzle or infuriate some listeners!), but the relentless bass galloping away throughout is a real highlight. `Fingals Cave', apparently another classical interpretation, works wonderfully too, all spiraling organ, commanding drumming and searing electric guitar runs. There's a lovely jazzy lightness to parts of it as well.

So you've got eight tracks, three superb instrumental pieces overloaded with pure Hammond fire, and five vocal tracks, three of which are terrific, and two that are a little daggy but still very enjoyable. As the album is beautifully produced too, taking all of these things into consideration you have a wonderful LP that is well worth tracking down. Any fans of the above mentioned bands will greatly enjoy this one, and it can proudly be placed alongside those same artists/albums to complement them perfectly.

An easy four stars, please try and track down a copy!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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