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Iron Butterfly - Metamorphosis CD (album) cover

METAMORPHOSIS

Iron Butterfly

Proto-Prog


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3 stars By this time the Butterfly's wings had started to wilt, but this is really not a bad album. Eric Brann left the group to be replaced by not one but two guitarists. Larry Rheinhart and from Blues Image (famous for the hit "Ride Captain Ride") Mike Pinera. Founder, keyboardist and lead vocalist Doug Ingle finally upgraded from his tinker-toy Vox organ to the beefier sounds of the Hammond and added a clavinet as well. The results are bit of a mixed bag but it does have it's moments.

Aside from the FM radio hit Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay The Way), the biggest standout is the 14 min. Butterfly Bleu. An interesting experimental blues piece with some of IB's trademark psychadelic sound and what I think (and don't hold me to this) the first use of the talk-box well before that curley-haired-prettyboy-guitar star from Humble Pie who made the girls squirt by growling Show Me The Way into it.

All in all it's a pretty good album with a few interesting moments but nothing too essential or groundbreaking. IB had potential, but decided to just let In-A-Vida-Da- Gadda be the cash bag. Too bad. 'Nuff said: 2 1/2 stars.

Report this review (#72777)
Posted Thursday, March 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars IB's fourth studio album is somewhat of a return to form after their disastrous ball album, but by then guitarist Erik Brann had left to form another goup with other ex- IB members. He was replaced by two guitarist Mike Pinera and Larry Reinhardt, thus return the Butterfly to a quintet again. The fact of adding two guitarist will not alter their sound too much, though. If the album was well received critcally and artistically much better also, it sold quite poorly causing the IB to fold its wings. Compared to Ball, the album is much more rock-sounding (with a touch of blues) and in itself is this is vast improvement and there is a more political/rebellious anti-war sense in some of their tracks. After a small intro that is to raise our hopes for a more adventurous album, New Day and Shady Lady are still your distinctly IB numbers with some soul influences but this time sounding a bit like fellow LA band Steppenwolf. Worthy of note, four track's lyrics were written by a certain Edmondson from that particular group. And this might be the problem, actually, IB sound completely empty of inspiration at least in songwriting dept. There are still a lot of tracks with a definte Motown influences, such as the less than good Stone Believer or the poignant Soldier In Their Town. The second last track Easy Rider is again a wide call to the wolf from the steppe with its screeching guitars. Not completely absent from their earlier albums, there is a good dose of Blues influence on this album as can be heard in the lengthy 14-min finale Butterfly Bleu, which will be a likely exit for the group and the highlight of the album with its psyched-out middle section.

As I wrote above IB will break up around mid-71, but will reconvene for a further two albums in 75 and 76, but both Scorching Beauty and Sun And Steel will not make much an imact on the public for one evident reason: IB had said everything in their first two albums. I, myself only heard once or twice those albums in the 70's and they certainly left me no lasting impression. IB has again reformed in the 80's and later in the 90's. Up until now, the group still tours the club scene around the globe, much to the joy of nostalgic fans. But if IB was ever of interest to progheads, it was because of their embryonic days were they were certainly among the head of the pack of groundbreaking groups that helped Pop metamorphose into ROCK.

Report this review (#73636)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars OK everybody else has given you the specifics, such as: Erik Braunn (Brann) was replaced by Mike Pinera of Ride Captain Ride fame and Larry Rheinhardt "el rhino". What they've neglected to point out is that THIS IT THE ABSOLUTE BEST BUTTERFLY ALBUM ever. First off the songs are great. Most important is the production by Richard Podolor which is full and lush. This is the album Doug Ingle had always wanted to make. The awesome rhythm section of Dorman and Bushy combined with a 2 guitar attack, plus Ingle and Pinera's AWESOME vocals. THIS IS A MUST OWN, NOT JUST FOR BUTTERFLY FANS, BUT ANYBODY INTERESTED IN WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON IN 1970. This is the one and only "earth-shattering" album the Butterfly ever made !!!!! Don't neglect it just because it doesn't contain InAGaddaWhatEva.
Report this review (#89202)
Posted Thursday, September 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Metamorphosis sees Iron Butterfly expand their early bluesy sound witnessed on 'Heavy' into a more Steppenwolf-ish direction (maybe with hints of Hendrix as well). There is a clear 'Easy Rider'-vibe noticeable throughout the album and no wonder since one of the record's standout tracks is named Easy Rider (though it really has nothing to do with the movie of the same name). The most memorable tracks for me here are New Day, Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pave The Way) and the somewhat epic & beautifully moody Butterfly Bleu. Rest of the tracks remain consistantly good as well, ranging from bluesy rockers to relaxed and mellow tunes.

Supposedly this is the band's last 'good' album but I have not heard the later ones. It is a great rock album, though not necessarily quite what you'd expect from the band based on 'In-a-gadda-da-vida'. Iron Butterfly's most experimental album for sure.

Report this review (#133339)
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars When you discover the opening number "Free Flight", you are probably going to think of a huge joke. Some fifty seconds full of emptiness.I really wonder how it was possible in the early seventies to have such a stupid short number open an album.

You know, in these ancient times, one went to the disc shop and usually listened to the first song and made his judgement to buy an album or not. Needless to say that with such a poor track, the temptation to drop it and find some more interesting stuff was easily recommendable.

What's available on this album, is just another heavy-soul work. Pretty much in line with their previous Motown oriented Ball. When I have to bear such a poor "Best Years Of Our Lives", I am just voiceless. These are definitely not the best musical moments of mine.

It is quite difficult to determine which is the poorest song from this offering, but let's take for granted that "Slower Than Guns" is going to be on the podium. Even if this album has been rated with the masterpiece status by one fellow reviewer, I won't be as generous.

This album doesn't hold a second of prog feeling. It is all funk and soul stuff ("Stone Believer"). OK, on the heavy side, but still.If I am willing to listen to some "Temptations" recordings (which is a very, very rare temptation of mine), I would just have an ear to "Papa. " and that's it. If you want to play some extra time, you can always borrow this album and listen to it endlessly on your CD player. But I'm not buying this.

Nothing prog, nothing interesting, nothing actually. Except the long and fine closing number!

"Butterfly Bleu" is a good song; still in the heavy blues department but with a great feeling and a superb guitar work. An obvious psychedelic obedience, a strong rhythmic section, a certain improvisation atmosphere are such a fine combination! Why the hell didn't "Iron Butterfly" built on more of these type of songs?

It is the one track which prevents me to rate this album with one star. Be prepared though to some really weird passages which are close to native Indian incantations and pretty boring. Experimental and improvised are the words.

In all, this is a very average album. Two stars.

Report this review (#188467)
Posted Saturday, November 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is to me, the best of Iron Butterfly. I enjoyed the whole album, with one exception. That is, "Slower than Guns." It wasn't really a prog related tune like the rest of the album. I remember skipping over it a lot. The best of the bunch, of course, is "Butterfly Bleu." The band took a giant leap into prog land with this masterpiece and threw a lot of new musical ideas at the audience. I just love this tune to no end.

Other standouts are "Soldier in our Town," "Stone Believer," "Best years of our Lives," and "Shady Lady," as well as the classic "Easy Rider."

This one gets 4 stars.

Report this review (#281135)
Posted Sunday, May 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars 1970 was like a dark amorphous cloud that roamed across the musical landscape seeking out rock bands singing about flowers & beads to absorb, consume and spit out the bones. Iron Butterfly saw the cloud approaching, and weren't going down without a fight. The cloud did eventually win, but the Butterfly's attempt to undergo metamorphosis was nothing to be ashamed of and in retrospect they released a pretty solid piece of work that deserved more notice, considering the band was one of the biggest selling acts in the game just two years prior.

With this effort, Iron Butterfly ditched the fuzzy guitar tones and embraced a funkier and bluesier approach to rock music, basically following the tide so to speak. There's a bit of Grand Funk, a sprinkle of Three Dog Night, some lingering tripped-out acid rock and Doug's mighty baritone telling us that shady ladies are cool. His voice has improved technically and suits the music well. The man is absolutely drenched in soul, sounding like a more earnest and less obnoxious Michael McDonald with no fear of rockin' out.

Musically the band is pretty tight, and the production values for its time sound crisp and surprisingly stellar. These dudes may not have been the big cheese anymore, but they still had a sweet budget to lay down these tracks. There's no real "hooky" tune to latch onto as a potential big single release, but what's bad for the casual rock fan can be good for the prog fan as there's some interesting things going about this disc musically. A song like "Shady Ladies" shouldn't be as complex as it is, but...there you go. In fact, I really dig this tune with its cute keyboard ditties & surprising shifts from happy grooviness to haunting space rock and back again. The opening main track "New Day" (after a silly intro) sounds like a sort of Steppenwolf number, which isn't a bad thing, but keep listening, and eventually you'll get to some 'out there' music, especially the final juggernaut "Butterfly Bleu". As a long track, it doesn't meander too far away from the rest of the album's overall arch, but man at one point things do get pretty weird with the goofy vocal chants, mumblings and interactions with a guitar voice box whining "help me!" It's silly and dated, but fun as a one-off listen.

Metamorphosis requires a few listens to get into (at least for me it did), but if you're not looking for something too proggy but with talent and some great manly vocals, this bugger may do the trick.

Report this review (#624555)
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Whilst history shows that Iron Butterfly were an extraordinarily success in their own time, for many they will always be known as the group that produced the mammoth, twenty-five minute long heavy-psych epic 'In-A- Gadda-Da-Vida',a track that defined the album of the same name. This epoch-defining piece would prove to be both a blessing and a curse, providing Iron Butterfly with a worldwide reputation that lasts to this day, yet also overshadowing almost everything else they did, including this fourth release from 1970. Seen by many as the group's last truly decent effort, 'Metamorphosis' would fare slightly better than it's underwhelming predecessor 'Ball' simply because it wasn't the follow-up to 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida'. Whilst 'Ball' pointedly eschewed the grandstanding that had been such a feature of the group's success - shorter, simpler tracks were the order of the day - 'Metamorphosis' did at least see Iron Butterfly re-embrace their psychedelic roots, the album topped off with an impressive fourteen-minute epic entitled 'Butterfly Bleu' which provided glimmers of the group's old creative fire. An otherwise rather uneven affair, 'Metamorphosis' blends up-tempo rockers, bluesy-numbers, Beatles-esque psych-pop and occasional organ-and-guitar-laced heavy rock that almost comes across as a kind of potted sonic trawl through the previous three studio releases. Some tracks grate - 'Stone Believer' is trite and light - others impress without breaking any new ground, though an added instrumental depth which sees sitars, extra percussion and steel guitars added to the mix does enliven otherwise run-of-the-mill tracks such as the poppy 'New Day' and 'Best Years Of Our life'. Hardly inspired stuff then, but at least 'Metamorphosis' avoids the pitfalls of 'Ball', though if this album proves anything it is that this a group with a rare talent for writing long, complex numbers, the best track on this album the final, lengthy, atmospheric epic. Pity then - a real pity - that they only wrote two extended pieces during their initial burst of activity. They could have been so much better.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

Report this review (#644639)
Posted Saturday, March 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
Progfan97402
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Many people turned their backs on Iron Butterfly by the time this album came out, because it's not like In-a-Gadda-da-Vida. What they did was go a more heavy, bluesy direction. No more "flowers and beads", after flower power looked rather ridiculous by 1970 (in fact, flower power was already looking silly by the end of 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, not to mention the Vietnam War becoming uglier. I associate flower power with the Summer of Love in 1967). Erik Braunn is now gone, replaced by Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt and Mike Pinera. It seems they were looking for biker cred, after all, the gatefold depicts Lee Dorman on a motorcycle, and one of the songs is called "Easy Rider (Let the Wind Pay the Way)". The music now brings to mind Steppenwolf, as it has a more bluesy feel, not to mention the Vox Continental organ was replaced by a Hammond organ. So in 1970 Iron Butterfly is still stuck in 1968, but not of the "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" variety, but of the Steppenwolf variety. Even Doug Ingle vocals remind me of John Kay. "A New Day" is a pretty typical song for this album. Heavy bluesy rock that fans of Steppenwolf could relate to. "Shady Lady" also has a bluesy feel, but Doug Ingle uses a Hohner Pianet on this piece, and a pretty interesting use of it. "Best Years of Our Lives" and "Stone Believer" shows more of this heavy blues-influenced rock side, but "Slower than Guns" is extremely different, an acoustic piece with sitar. Makes you wonder why Iron Butterfly was not using a sitar during the "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" days, when every other psychedelic band was using one. "A Soldier in Town" refers to a soldier actually being Cupid. It's a rather slow piece but Doug Ingle really shouts here. "Easy Rider" was apparently a minor hit for the band, but I was too young to experience FM rock radio when it was still "progressive FM rock" radio (that format pretty much went defunct by 1975 in favor of commercial AOR) who would favor album cuts over hit singles (including "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" in all its glory, and not the 3 minute edited single version as heard on commercial AOR FM rock radio post-1975). That meant I never remembered hearing that song on the radio, so it was brand new to me buying this album. "Butterfly Bleu" is really a divisive cut for many. It's over 13 minutes long. Starts off bluesy, but you'll notice elements of space rock as it continues on, some more bluesy passages, and perhaps one of the earliest uses of the talk box through the guitar (which Joe Walsh and most notably, Peter Frampton were most famous for using a few years later). But some of the experiments might seem over the heads, it does seem a bit disjointed in places. It's strange, maybe not the best way to end the album. Regardless, this album took me by surprise. Didn't expect them to sound like this, but I like it. Iron Butterfly was never exactly a darling of rock critics, and I seriously doubt this album would help them change their attitudes. Don't expect another In-a-Gadda-da-Vida, but recommended for those who don't mind bluesy heavy rock.
Report this review (#1270908)
Posted Saturday, September 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Every time I've seen Iron Butterfly's history, their profile has a whole, and the music they've created, I've always thought of them as steadfast. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, for all intents and purposes, should not have been as successful as it was. An 18-minute long acid trip jam? Many others at the time tried to achieve the same thing and failed, but these Californians somehow managed to turn such a product of the times into a product that stands the test of time (and made a boat-load at that). Something as miraculous as this is hard for anyone to followup, let alone a half-stoned [&*!#] rock band like Iron Butterfly was. They managed it though, the following album Ball (1969) charting even higher than it's predecessor in the U.S.

Iron Butterfly managed to make magic happen twice. I guess the obvious question that should and was asked was: "can they do it again?" Yes and no.

There's a difference this time around. Metamorphosis, released the following year after Ball, charted at 16 in the U.S. Now, in any other circumstance this would be laudable, because obviously it's not easy to whip up a record that charts in the first place. But for Iron Butterfly, this was practically dismal. Granted, 'Easy Rider' did chart 66 on Billboard, being I.B.'s biggest hit since 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida', although I personally owe this more to the success of the latter and name recognition as opposed to song quality (who knows, the 70's were easily pleased). So, financially-wise, Iron Butterfly were sort of able to hit the gold once more. However, musically-wise, Metamorphosis is different from all of it's predecessors, even including Heavy. A sense of fragility (that granted plagued many bands during transitional periods) comes into play here, because the band slowly started going downhill after their monster-hit, and Metamorphosis was the last album regarded at least decently by critics. On this particular album, the original line- up is broken, with guitarist Erik Brann parting ways due to band conflicts. Replacing him, flatteringly enough, was four different session guitarists. Mike Pinera of Blues Image and Alice Cooper (as well as Ramadam, a supergroup formed with Mitch Mitchell of Jimi Hendrix Experience), Larry Reinhardt (future Captain Beyond along with Dorman), Bill Cooper, and even producer Richard Podolor on the twelve-string.

Metamorphosis is really the culmination of Iron Butterfly's slowly building up musical consistency since In-A-Gadda- Da-Vida. This applies for musicianship (because honestly they weren't the greatest players), production, and songwriting. The production is much higher, and allows for a more dynamic sound in both the experimental and traditional departments. Speaking of experimental, critics tend to refer to Iron Butterfly post-Vida as being more and more musically adventurous, and I would tend to agree. Metamorphosis puts a much greater emphasis on the progressive/space rock side of the band, something I've always found remarkably endearing when it comes to them in particular. Mostly this is on the smash epic 'Butterfly Bleu', a masterpiece of proto-metal and prog music that rivals even I-A-G-D-V (except is much more structured and, dare I say, intelligent?). Still retaining a spaced-out, pseudo complex attitude, 'Butterfly Bleu' manages to be heavy, emotional, and eclectic all in on package. It also funnily enough features one of the earliest uses of a talk-box (yeah, that thing Bon Jovi used on 'Livin' On a Prayer' to make his guitar go "rwoworwowrwow") during a gritty section on the latter half of the epic. Of the traditional we have 'New Day', a Steppenwolf-esque song headed off by a disarmingly good catchy riff. 'Shady Lady' is, at times, your standard brand of funky blues-rock, but it delves into extremely dark tonal shifts at certain areas. The rest of the album is rather expected of Iron Butterfly, being basically cheesy rock n' roll tunes molded by quasi-hippie zeitgeist ('Soldier In Our Town'), but I suppose the big single 'Easy Rider' has it's moments as well.

The band itself does very well for itself on this particular album. As aforementioned, four different multi-talented guitarist make themselves well-known on Metamorphosis. Mike Pinera's (presumably) part on 'Butterfly Bleu' with the talk-box always makes me smile ever time I hear it. It really makes the song have a bigger personality (of course his vocals on the rest of the song is good as well, putting on a zealous, emotional performance). The Iron Butterfly themselves are nothing to scoff about of course, But it's clear that the talents of Ingle, Dorman, and Bushy are not without merit. The band's made their abilities clear ever since 'Vida' in '68, and here they meld almost perfectly with their session musicians.

Some may get turned off by Iron Butterfly's material, but for me Metamorphosis is nothing short of a wonderful surprise. People wanted the Butterfly, and they got the Butterfly.

Report this review (#1665750)
Posted Thursday, December 8, 2016 | Review Permalink

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