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Hawkwind The Xenon Codex album cover
3.25 | 115 ratings | 14 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The War I Survived (5:24)
2. Wastelands Of Sleep (4:16)
3. Neon Skyline (2:19)
4. Lost Chronicles (5:21)
5. Tides (2:59)
6. Heads (5:00)
7. Mutation Zone (3:55)
8. E.m.c. (4:53)
9. Sword Of The East (5:25)
10. Good Evening (4:38)

Total time 44:10

Bonus tracks on 2010 remaster:
11. Ejection (Live) (4:29)
12. Motorway City (Live) (6:47)
13. Dragons And Fables (Live) (3:19)
14. Heads (Live) (3:52)
15. Angels Of Death (Live) (5:36)

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave "Dr. Hasbeen" Brock / vocals, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer
- Huw Lloyd-Langton / guitars
- Harvey Bainbridge / keyboards, synthesizer, vocals
- Alan Davey / bass, backing vocals
- Danny Thompson Jr. / drums, percussion, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Bob Walker with John McGill

LP GWR Records ‎- GWLP 26 (1988, UK)

CD GWR Records ‎- GWCD 26 (1988, UK)
CD Atomhenge ‎- ATOMCD 1022 (2010, UK) 24-bit remaster by Ben Wiseman with 5 bonus Live tracks recorded At Rock City, Nottingham on 7th December 1988

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HAWKWIND The Xenon Codex ratings distribution

(115 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

HAWKWIND The Xenon Codex reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Undervalued

Released in 1988 "The Xeon Codex", is somewhat undervalued.

The album starts inauspiciously enough, with a typical Hawkwind lead off track, "The war I survived", which pounds along in pretty much the usual fashion. While bearing the familiar Hawkwind trademarks, the track is rather prosaic.

The pace is soon slowed down though for "Wastelands of sleep", a haunting, ambient piece with a distant vocal. Skip past the nondescript "Neon skyline" and you arrive at "Lost chronicles", with its superb piano then guitar sections. These lead into an upping of the pace again for the "Lives of great men" ("Palace Springs") type conclusion.

Things drift a bit after that, although "Tides" is a pleasant ambient piece, until "Sword of the east". This is a soft centred piece of driving rock which raises the needle on the quality assessment meter once more. "Good evening" is an amusing piece of pop filler to close.

Three great tracks here, which in terms of length account for a fair bit of the album. This "The Xenon Codex" is one of Hawkwind's better offerings.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars One of HAWKWIND's best studio albums from the 80s' with "Levitation"

Not often cited by the fans, this underrated record is pretty energic and futuristic. "The Xenon Codex" shows a genuine revival of the english space rockers since "Chronicles of the Black Sword".

The album opens with the powerful "The War I Survived". This track is a very good overture to the album, its pounding rythm and guitars make it rock. "Wastelands" is a more electronic and ambient oriented moment, with its vocals seeming to die far away in space. Back to life with the heavy riffs of "Neon Skyline" and the melancholy of "Lost Chronicles". The first half of the disc is really inspired and truely proves that the band is still alive. This side finishes with "Tides", a short but pleasant ambient tune.

Mystery and science fiction introduces the second side with the spacey "Heads". The next track, "Mutation Zone", is maybe the oddest of the record with his strange vocals and bizarre sounds. Following this idea, reminiscence of good old days from HAWKWIND's 70s' improvised pieces can be perceived on the freaked-out "E.M.C". The magic heavy space song "Sword of the East" and the unequal "Good Evening" concludes well the disc.

Despite a very dated production and loud flat drumming typical of the recording period, "The Xenon Codex" is rather a good surprise from HAWKWIND in the late 80s'. From progressive seventies bands, there we not many good releases at the time. Dynamic and trippy, this album should please all space metal fans!

NOTE: "Xenon 2 Megablast" is a cult retro shoot'em up released by the famous Bitmap Brothers one year later. The artwork and sci-fi theme of this video game are quite similar to HAWKWIND's album artwork. A coincidence?

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars After the parenthesis of the dreadful "Out & Intake" which was an album made of some left over and live songs, this album was the true next studio album to "The Chronicle Of The Black Sword" released some three years ago.

The whole stuff is very much known by the time: hard-rockish tunes of which the opening track is a pretty good example, some heavy-spaced track like "Wastelands Of Sleep" to remind their splendor and we won't escape the punkish / psyche one either. "Neon Skyline" is pleasant (or not). Depending on what side you are positioning yourself.

So far, the true prog lover has very little to appreciate and most of you should have left the listening of this album by now. And it is a shame because "Lost Chronicles" is a great track. A wonderful instrumental introduction just brings you to another planet. Delicate and hypnotic for two minutes, and then. another FANTASTIC guitar solo.

The sort of passionate song that just leaves you breathless. One like only the masters can deliver. The finale is purely new wave oriented and reminds me the best moments of a band as "Devo". (Gut Feeling). A highlight with no doubt.

Weak moments appear with both "Tides" and "Heads" but this is more in line with their latest production since if you would except "The Chronicle", the band didn't produce great stuff in the meantime (and including) this album.

Some experimental and useless ones ("Mutation Zone") won't add any quality to this work which is kind of weak so far. The dual structure of "E.M.C." doesn't really thrilled me. I guess that the recurrent beat might please some of us, but I can't be overwhelmed by such thin inspiration.

This album is just on par with a work like "Zones". Lots of average (at best) tracks. The final part of this album holds another very good song ("Sword Of The East") which is maybe a kind of wink to their "Chronicle".

Anyway, this album is rather a deception. Hawkwind didn't release a lot of average albums so far although the eighties were not at all their best creative period.

Two stars.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Xenon Codex is appreciated by many fans as a return to form. For me it's a "no, not really". It's a flat and dreary album. Being quite the Hawkfan, this would banish it to that one desolate star. But I think I'll reserve that one for the 1982/1983 albums if I ever get to review them.

The problem is not in the intention. I'm sure the band had the ambition to do a good space-rock album that stayed true to all spaceship commands. But they decided to make it sound up to date, and that wasn't a particularly good idea in 1988. Before the Pixies and Nirvana restored the rock sound and before thrash metal surfaced in the mainstream, a deteriorated plastic pastiche of the early 80's new wave sound was the flavour of the day. For a rock band like Hawkwind that is a let-down. The synthetic drums are so devoid of life, it's painful.

But also the songs aren't much to write home about, too much rock clichés with repetitive vocals that make each track sound like 20 other Hawkwind tunes. There are songs with some potential though. The War I Survived can surely be made into a lot of fun in a live setting. Wastelands of Sleep has a nice spacey guitar that washes over an electronic pulse. Also Heads resides in similar droning trances, but a much better version appears on Palace Springs.

That's all there is to it for me; the remainder pretty much passes me by completely unnoticed.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Having enjoyed a fairly stable lineup (by their standards) for a few years was clearly beneficial to Hawkwind when they went into the studio to record The Xenon Codex, because whilst it is still a long way from the standards of their top-rank albums it was their strongest studio effort since Levitation. With a particularly effective opening number - The War I Survived - the tracks on the album do an excellent job of combining the classic Hawkwind sound with a few of the metal-influenced riffs they'd been dabbling with in the 1980s as well as some influences from the electronic experiments of Church of Hawkwind, and overall the album continues the journey of the good ship Hawkwind in fine form.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Xenon Codex" is one of the better 80s Hawkwind albums with very spacey atmospherics and some excellent compositions. The iconic album cover art is striking and overall this has great packaging. The musicianship is well executed here with Harvey Bainbridge's terrific synthesizers, Dave "Dr. Hasbeen" Brock's guitars and synts, Alan Davey's bass, Huw Lloyd Langton's fabulous lead guitar and Danny Thompson's percussion. As with all Hawkwind albums of the 80s the synth dominates but on this album never becomes as tiresome, in fact the lead guitar of Langton is incredible, some of his best work. Having said that, the album still has a lot of medicore moments marring an otherwise excellent album.

'The War I Survived' and 'Wastelands of the Deep' has a familiar sound with trademark echoes on Brock's vocals and very spacey textures and effects. The instrumentals on this album are actually very good such as the keyboard driven melodic 'Lost Chronicles'. The melody resonates well and is one of the better Hawkwind instrumentals especially when the guitar chimes in after the main melody is locked in. The rhythm is moderate tempo and quite relaxing.

'Tides' is an instrumental that begins with waves crashing and seagulls and is a slow paced vehicle for Langton's guitar work. The tranquillity of the piece is quite nice but one longs for the heavier side of Hawkwind.

'Heads' follows with thunder crashes, and meanders along steadily with some odd vocals. Brock sounds great on lines such as "needles are in their flesh" and the repeated "no use for you to weep". The spaciness is everpresent as always, building to an effective sonic crescendo. The distorted guitar sound is very good. 'Neon Skyline' is another highlight with Brock harmonies and a truck load of spacytronics.

'The Mutation Zone' is more hyper weirdness, voice overs, psychedelic textures and tons of sequenced synths. The phased vocals and odd percussion driven music is more like The Residents' style. It is really a techno filler with nothing much to offer becoming wearisome after a while, though the sound at the end is decidedly creepy.

Next is 'E. M.C', and it begins with strange effects, like switching through radio channels, until a synth and guitar riff locks in. This brings the pace back with some innovative riffing and typical layered vocals. One of the best tracks on the album it has the trademark chugging repetitive riffage, but the alien voices could have been replaced by Brock's vocals as they seem rather sparse on this album. The last few tracks in fact are too other worldy to be of interest to music listeners apart from the legion of Hawkwind freaks.

'Sword of the East' is definitely an album highlight with Brock sounding as good as ever, and the rhythm is strong with some innovative horse braying effects that have a creepy effect. The melody is simple but infectious and definitely this is the style that Hawkwind should focus on rather than all that ambiance in the instrumentals. So once again this is a mixed bag as far as Hawkwind go, another album with too much filler and not enough killer. Overall there is enough here to recommend to the Hawkwind space cadet, others may be quite disappointed.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Bad evening?

The previous The Chronicles Of The Black Sword was a return to form for Hawkwind after a few weak albums following the excellent Levitation. The Xenon Codex is certainly a lesser album in comparison but with some good moments. This album is much better produced than anything the band did in the 70's and much of it is surprisingly subtle. Typical Hawkwind rockers rub shoulders with tasteful New Age-like soundscapes with superb lead guitars and also some misguided experimental tracks. As such, this is an uneven affair.

The actual songs of this album are based on hard rocking riffs and vocal melodies and as such it is similar to its immediate predecessor, but it is quite different from it in other respects. While on the previous album, the instrumental interludes contributed to make that album varied and diverse, on the present album they seem to take over. The closing track, Good Evening, is a total embarrassment and should have been left off the album altogether.

Uneven, but with some good moments

Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars I honestly believe I started out in the wrong end of the Hawkwind legacy. I truly struggled with the classic 70's output, all the way through the first half (in particular) and all the way up to "Quark, strangeness and charm". The previously named album I kind of liked but I wasn't hooked. So, accordingly I put Hawkwind on hold and headed elsewhere. Until I found "Levitation", possibly one of the greatest albums ever made and I was hooked instantly. After that I have discovered Hawkwinds 80's output and finding it to suit my taste.

If "Levitation" was a stroke of genius, bordering on five stars, "The xenon codex" is a four star album. The songs are truly mesmerizing. Apart from "The war I survived" (a song I struggle with) the album is filled with atmospheric, harsh, delicate, moving, surreal, dreamy, spacey, groovy stuff. The opener is more of a 80's heavy metal, kind of song. Not bad, just not as great as the other tracks. "Wastelands of sleep", "Tides", "Sword of the east" and the rest of the songs (although those named being somewhat the highlights) are all amazing.

A part of me wonders if the ambiance of the album leads me to rate it as high as four stars. Is it really an album worthy such high praise as four stars? Well... Yes, i do think so. I do belive it is. It is such a great album, well crafted and well played I can't see anyreason not to rate it like I do. Great stuff!

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars For their 15th album, 'The Xenon Codex', released in 1988 , Hawkwind had the same line up that they had for three years. It would seem that the band line-up would finally settle down, but after the release of this album, Danny Thompson Jr, drummer, would leave the band. The quality of Hawkwind's music was suffering at this time, but they still managed to peak at # 79 on the UK charts.

The album starts out with the track 'The War I Survived' which featured lyrics written by a Hawkwind fan by the name of Roger Neville-Neil, who also wrote the lyrics for 'Heads' also on this album. The song starts with the ticking of several clocks and a spacey build which intensifies until the band establishes the rhythm and foundation. The song is your basic space-rock rocker with a nice guitar solo and serves as a great opener. 'Wastelands of Sleep' doesn't follow up to the opener like it should however. The promise of greatness from the previous track ends up getting washed out by this mellow track that just sort of sits there and meanders along.

'Neon Skyline' really doesn't deliver either as it is quite substandard. It is actually the first part of a trilogy that continues into the following track 'Lost Chronicles', which begins with piano effect and synths. This actually makes for a nice slower tempo instrumental section that comes across as a spacey ballad. A guitar solo improvises on the melody. At the 4 minute mark, the last part of the trilogy starts with a return to the 'Neon Skyline' theme.

'Tides' is written by Huw Lloyd-Langton, on of the band's long time guitarists. The track is another slow instrumental ballad which features, well, nothing really. The track is quite bland and the most exciting thing about it really, is the sound of sea gulls. 'Heads' is the 2nd track with the lyrics written by fan Neville-Neil. This time the vocals are in a more spoken style, eerily similar to a bad imitation of the band 'Current 93'. There are a lot of atmospheric synthesizers here that don't really do much, and not much else until a lackluster guitar solo comes in for a short time before the vocals start again.

'Mutation Zone' starts with sound effects and terrible processed vocals. At this point, it is obvious that the band's songwriting skills are suffering horribly as it is obvious that they have run out of fresh or interesting ideas. If you make it through this track which ends sounding like someone drowning in a bathtub, you might continue on to the next track 'E.M.C.' A keyboard drone begins with various field recordings in the background, then what sounds like a foundation increases in volume. The only thing is that the only other thing you get are goofy effects and another track that fails to deliver anything interesting. Atmospheric boredom in the form of cheap sound effects ensues.

'Sword of the East' written by Alan Davey, another long time band member and bassist, is the only other good track on this album. Returning to the formula the band is best know for, you get out of the stale effects of the previous tracks and back to a real space rock tune that actually feels like it could have belonged on one of their better albums from the 70s. The middle section breaks down into a psychedelic style before returning to the main theme from the song. Unfortunately, the lack of a long instrumental section is really felt here. 'Good Evening' closes the original album with a song credited to the entire band. Using the old radio tuner trick, it starts with someone searching for something to listen to, a phone rings, and someone answers and says 'Good Evening'. Then the music tries for a rock n roll vibe followed by stupid sound effects again. By the end of this track, you get the feeling that they were just pasting things together to take up time on the album.

Definitely one of their worst albums, the only real saving grace is the opening track and 'Sword of the East' but even with those tracks, you yearn for something better. It is obvious that the 80s were not the best of times for Hawkwind and the ideas had run dry. The bands songwriting skills were suffering badly, and this album is an embarrassing reminder that even the best bands can be really stinky at times.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Quite a mix of music styles is contained here. The usual Hawkwind space rock and grind rock such as the first song, along with ambient music, punk, techno drone, and even an ending Frank Zappa-type novelty rock song. However there are really only a couple of very good tunes-"Wastelands of Sleep ... (read more)

Report this review (#645719) | Posted by mohaveman | Sunday, March 4, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of the top few Hawkwind albums, The Xenon Codex is superb. Heavily psychedelic, if you like Hawkwind, this is a must get. Opens with 'The War I Survived', a heavy weird track, involved in a bizarre set of paranormal happening for me. 'Wastelands Of Sleep' is dreamy and features some lovel ... (read more)

Report this review (#278270) | Posted by James Cameron | Saturday, April 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ah, this is a fine Hawkwind album. It powers up immediately with The War I Survived, a truly top driving rock track. Next comes the beautifully melancholy Wastelands of Sleep. Neon Skyline, Lost Chronicles and Tides are excellent too. It fades a bit after that, apart from the mighty rocking Swor ... (read more)

Report this review (#158280) | Posted by memark | Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars It was the second album which I found of Hawkwind and this is called Xenon Codex. It does not seem to have anything to make with the manuscripts or the ancient coins or nothing to make with inert gas of xenon. I think that they selected the title because the two words seemed ordered together or t ... (read more)

Report this review (#85585) | Posted by drain-o | Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This recording ,is a little different to typical hawkwind,the songs are shorter but still retain that hawkwind element.i feel that most of the tracks are very well constructed,with really no weak link at all,its quite a very powerful recording .The last track is a liitle bizzare,i wish it was ... (read more)

Report this review (#25644) | Posted by Heidi | Monday, April 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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