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Blue Öyster Cult

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Blue Öyster Cult Heaven Forbid album cover
2.90 | 90 ratings | 10 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. See You In Black (3:17)
2. Harvest Moon (4:55)
3. Power Underneath Dispair (3:29)
4. X-Ray Eyes (3:49)
5. Hammer Back (3:35)
6. Damaged (4:22)
7. Cold Gray Light Of Dawn (3:53)
8. Real World (5:11)
9. Live For Me (5:19)
10. Still Burnin' (3:37)
11. In Thee (live At Millbrook) (3:40)

Total time 45:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Eric Bloom / guitar, keyboards, lead vocals (1,3,5,7), co-producer
- Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser / guitars, keyboards, lead vocals (2,4,6,8-11), co-producer
- Allen Lanier / keyboards, guitar
- Danny Miranda / bass, backing vocals
- Chuck Bürgi / drums, backing vocals

- George Cintron / backing vocals
- Tony Perrino / keyboards
- Jon Rogers / bass (2,3,10), backing vocals
- Bob Rondinelli / drums (9)

Releases information

Artwork: Rob Prior

CD CMC International Records ‎- 06076 86241-2 (1998, US)

Thanks to MANDRAKEROOT for the addition
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BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Heaven Forbid ratings distribution

(90 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (23%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Heaven Forbid reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I have to second Mandy's opinion here. Blus Oyster Cult finally return after a break of ten years but what we have? This is not their music. Classic metal that always failed to catch my attention. I've tried many times to aprreciate this work but I'm sorry, I do prefer Curse of the Hidden Mirror than this one even though it features a live acoustic version of classic radio friendly "In Thee" by Allen Lanier.

This is not Cult. Fortunately there are some sparkling moments as in the opener "I See You in Black". Not much more than that, though.

Clearly only for fans.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars They're back.

1998, ten years after their last album, some one decides to make a Frankenstein version of Blue Oyster Cult [BOC] and unleash it upon humanity. This is nothing like the BOC of old, and while some of it is rather good in terms of modern metal (showing the young 'uns how it's done) this is nothing progressive at all, where their old works at least had a hint of progginess. Most easily compared to the 90s material of Aerosmith with some Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom vocals and some double kick as well as some songs clearly trying to make light of previous success.

Kicking off the album is the heavy-as-hell SEE YOU IN BLACK. Great heavy metal, with some cool lyrics that sound amateurish at times but still manage to keep the audience. This is likely some of the heaviest stuff BOC has done to date. After that we have a complete turnaround on the song HARVEST MOON. This i likely the only track that's even slightly progressive oriented, telling the tale of a land invaded by Spanish from the viewpoint of it's native inhabitants. Buck takes the vocal helm and does so well, making the best of his voice. Coming up after that is the heavy POWER UNDERNEATH DESPAIR (The title of which is misspelled on the back cover). Interesting track that starts off slowly and eventually makes it up to full speed. Again, another good heavy metal song.

After the first three songs we encounter what is referred to as a mixed bag. Songs like X-RAY EYES and LIVE FOR ME are a little bit too soft to fit on the album and while each does get heavy they're just not standouts. X-RAY EYES in particular is fairly weak thanks to it's choice of lyrics that, while interesting, simply can't be repeated as much times as they are. DAMAGED is a song that has an interesting beat and vocal delivery, but prog fans will likely vomit at the sound of it. This is where the comparisons to modern Aerosmith really come in.

What else is there to mention? Well...

COLD GREY LIGHT OF DAWN is a track with some great melodies and backing vocals, this one is actually far too short and could have been extended if they knew how to do it right. REAL WORLD is a track that is really standout, Buck's vocals saying the real world is bizarre enough for me with the guitar over top is really satisfying for the listener. As well, the double kickin' STILL BURNIN' is a really big highlight, even if they are blatantly trying to relate the track to their '81 hit 'Burnin For You'. The acoustic live rendition of IN THEE is another highlight, even if the speed of the song sounds stupidly out of place on the album.


Is this an album for symphonic Prog-Heads? No, you'll hate it. 2 stars -- skip to their next studio album or rewind back to '88. Is this album for metal heads? Yes. In fact, raise the horns and scream I'd like to see you in black! because thats what they're doing here, rocking the house. This may be a surprise to some but this is a great metal album deserving no less than 3.5 stars. Great great great heavy metal, if simple at points.

I recommend this album to the metal heads who love to lose brain cells in head banging (as I still do), but if yo want something progressive, you're in the wrong place. I'll repeat, the PA rating of this album is 2 star. There is nothing even prog-related on this album. Maybe HARVEST MOON will catch a progger's ear, but again I refer you to their 2002 live album A Long Day's Night. To summarize this album in a few words: Not for Prog-Heads.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars At times there are great come backs and at times they would have best been avoided. This album definitely belongs to the latter category.

This work is a sub-par heavy metal promenade: second-hand stuff really (it all starts with the average opener ''See You In Black''.) Was this all relevant after a ten-years break? I guess not! Even if some great beat and wild guitar can be experienced during ''Harvest Moon'' which is my fave by far from this weak album.

At best, some numbers are bearable even if popish like ''X-Ray Eyes'' but the overall mood is not really great (cf. the funky ''Damaged'') and ''Cold Gray Light Of Dawn'' sounds as an average Alice Cooper song, no more. It is shining thanks to some very good guitar work (just like ''Real World'').

Some friendly AOR characteristics for ''Live For Me'' aren't too bad, given the very average of the whole; but it is not what we could have expected from this sort of come back. It is not the last couple of tracks that will save this album, I'm afraid; even if the acoustic ''In Thee'' breaks the metal rock atmosphere.

This album is best avoided IMHHO. Don't even think to get some prog notes out of this (but this hasn't been the major trade mark of the band).

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Shockingly good, catchy & heavy

It took me nearly two decades to finally listen to this album, because frankly, I don't expect much when it comes to new "hard rock" by the geezer set. Thus I tend to ignore albums by bands I feel should have retired gracefully, favoring to spend my time on more youthful artists. Most of the time this geezer apathy has served me well. This time, despite the horrendously bad album cover art, I was wrong.

If you love hard rock, this late 90s offering from Blue Oyster Cult, minus the Bouchards no less.... absolutely, certifiably, kicks ass.

And I mean it kicks ass in a way which pays homage to the much worshipped Black/White trilogy days. Not that it has the exact same aura of 1970s and young blood that those albums did. But it certainly has the "spirit" of those early albums. Geezer context notwithstanding, "Heaven Forbid" is HEAVY, riff-ragin', rowdy, energetic as hell, and....engaging, interesting, yeah that's has a pulse. It sounds like they cared. That is not always the case with 50 year olds trying to do what they did at 25. There are some repetitive verse/chorus/verse sections that give some credence to the "stock hard rock" formula charge but BOC has always had some songs like this-if they're done with passion and the song actually does rock and is fun, it is not a problem. This album has a couple tracks that are pedestrian but it has more of the kind of charm that keeps me coming back for more. The guitars have lots of growl and snarl, the overall production vibe is meaty and in-your-face.

There is groove to Heaven Forbid and the musicianship is as good as you'd expect, especially when Buck tears it up. There is mood, soul, and a little something special when Roeser's pop sensibility and melodic instincts make the material instantly enjoyable. The Bloom vocal tracks are heavier and rowdier while the Roeser-sang tracks a bit more reflective and diverse. "Harvest Moon" is a classic Buck Dharma song with an ethereal feel and soothing vocals, haunting and lovely. "Real World" featured funky acoustic guitar and gorgeous lead work. Some of the Bloom songs get close to Metallica intensity, very tight and gripping. The album leaves room for humor (listen to Buck's playful vocal on "Damaged") and unintentional homage-while Allen Lanier was just fine at the time of this album's release, his passing in 2013 makes the placement of a live "In Thee" a coincidentally beautiful closing number. Normally I'm not in favor of tacking on live stuff to a studio album but in this case it really fits and adds a feather to an album that surprised the hell out of me. In a good way.

This album has many low ratings with some reviewers talking about its failure in the context of "prog", which one need not consider when reviewing prog-related albums. Site Admin have changed the rating definitions for prog-related albums so that that no deduction for "prog quotient" is necessary or desired when reviewing the "related" section. The ratings definitions listed at PA all specify "rock" in lieu of "prog." So listen, love, and review all of our "prog related" titles as *rock* albums and quit worrying about the connection to prog.

Love, it makes strangers of us all / When we part oh, so thoughtlessly / Well, I'll wrap myself in cities I travel / I'll wrap myself in dreams / I'll wrap myself in solitude / But I wish I could wrap myself in thee

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars I've openly admitted several times that I am a big Blue Oyster Cult fan, and I still am. Even though they may not be the most progressive of bands, their music has always been appealing to me, mostly because they have found this line between popular metal and original style that has way too often eluded artists. They never really caved to the pressures of being another hair metal band even though they were around long before that craze, lived throuhg it and survived long after. There is just that certain something about them that has intrigued me, whether it's the appealing sound of heavy guitar mixed equally to cool keyboard riffs and solos, or their crazy and original lyrics, or the feeling of the mystic surrounding them. Maybe it's a combination of everything. But they've always been a favorite.

I'm not saying that they've always made perfect choices though. Though I don't hate "Mirrors" as much as some, I still find that there are some great songs on it and "Club Ninja" also has enough redeeming qualities to keep it on rotation for me, they are admittedly their weakest moments. Add "Heaven Forbid" to their weaker efforts, though, again, it still has it's redeeming qualities nonetheless.

"Heaven Forbid" came along during after a long hiatus where we hardly heard anything from the band, a period of time that started after the underrated and amazing progressive album "Imaginos", so it was a nice surprise when it came out. The band was considered to be a thing of the past because it had become one of those revolving door bands that see members come and go, changing as often as you'd change a pair of socks. They had resorted to playing 2nd rate outdoor concerts in fairs and such. When they got together to make this album, at least they had somewhat solidified their membership again with the amazing Buck Dharma, Eric Bloom, Alan Lanier and (for the most part) Danny Miranda returning. The only "stranger" was drummer Chuck Burgi, who had played for just about everyone from Michael Bolton's band to "Rainbow" to Enrique Iglesias, however, he held his own here. They also recruited the help of sci-fi/horror writer John Shirley to help on most of the lyrics. They had used lyrical guests in the past, like Patti Smith and critic Richard Meltzer, so this was something to help bring back the original feel of the band. Well, for some reason, it didn't work out quite as well as it should have.

The album starts off sounding very promising with the 1-2-3 punch of excellent tracks; the heavy metal rocker "See You in Black" that will make you sit up and listen thinking, wow they are back with a vengeance. This is followed by the excellent "Harvest Moon" which reminds one of the complex lyrics and sound of the band that once was, and if that's not enough, "Power Underneath Despair" is solid, dark and mysterious. At this point, you might be wondering, how is it that this is such a bad album. You'll be convinced that this is one of their best albums, like I was. But following this, the music gets a bit lighter and poppier, the lyrics get repetitive and even corny sometimes and the music less interesting. It's not all a loss at this point as Dharma gets to play more of his excellent solos, and there is a bit of variety, but the lyrical content suffers along with some boring and repetitive choruses. After this point, the only salvageable songs are "Damaged" which is a fast rolling track that speeds up even more on the coda, somewhat similar to "Moon Crazy" from "Mirrors" album, and "Live for Me" which returns to better lyrics and even reminds one of the excellent song "Perfect Water", the best track on the "Club Ninja" album. It's not enough to bring back the excitement of the first part of the album after the remaining so-so tracks in between it all. The album tries to bring back the glory days with a sequel to "Burnin' for You" and a live version of "In Thee" that sounds rushed, but neither one of these are that great.

Overall, this was a disappointment, but it still has enough on it for the true fans of the classic band to be happy about. Just the first 3 songs are almost enough of a reason to pick it up. When weighing out its value, it still manages to come out with 3 stars as the great songs are really great, even though most of the songs are definitely not their best effort. There is probably less prog than normal with this album too. Most of their albums usually have some progressive songs on them, but in this one, the prog seems to be missing. Yet, the great songs are still great, so overall, it's an average album.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I see many reviews here not thinking this was a good comeback album after 9 or 10 years off. I would disagree.This album has something about it that keeps me making the occasional listen many years after I bought it.I think the songs are good enough.Iwould have preferred a trip back to the early ... (read more)

Report this review (#1136126) | Posted by Jzrk | Sunday, February 23, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What a comeback album this was! I remember hearing Harvest Moon on the radio and thinking, "Yes, they are back!" And with a vengeance they were, giving us a terrific studio album that is on par with many of their best albums. Hammer Back stands out as the clunker of the bunch, but everything e ... (read more)

Report this review (#802431) | Posted by Biff Tannen | Friday, August 10, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is NOT one of the better BOC albums. It was 10 years since their last release, and I thought they may have accumulated some really good stuff. Nope. I love about everything they have done, but this release is a mix of boring heavy rock (Damaged, Power Underneath Despair), and softer ... (read more)

Report this review (#280421) | Posted by mohaveman | Monday, May 3, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars with this album again blue oyster cult made a good album, with a lot of hard rock, and sometimes it sounds like a heavy stuff and metal album, but obviusly with the BOC style. Nice vocals, good melody, and good solos by dharma roeser. This album is very dark, very hard, and the the production in t ... (read more)

Report this review (#196924) | Posted by JgX 5 | Friday, January 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Three stars for "Progs" but a good Four Stars for rock fans. What a surprise! I had avoided this album on the basis of poor reviews here and elsewhere but having finally bitten the bullet I've been pleasantly surprised by this. Its full of crunching riffs and excellent melodic songs which bl ... (read more)

Report this review (#141654) | Posted by ozzric | Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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