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Atomic Rooster

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Atomic Rooster Death Walks Behind You album cover
3.86 | 371 ratings | 35 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Death Walks Behind You (7:24)
2. VUG (5:03)
3. Tomorrow Night (4:02)
4. 7 Streets (6:47)
5. Sleeping for Years (5:30)
6. I Can't Take No More (3:36)
7. Nobody Else (5:04)
8. Gershatzer (8:01)

Total Time 45:27

Bonus tracks on 2004 remaster:
9. Play the Game (B-side) (4:45)
10. The Devil's Answer (1970 demo) (4:02)
11. Tomorrow Night (BBC radio session *) (5:31)
12. Shabooloo (BBC radio session #) (6:08)
13. Death Walks Behind You (BBC radio session #) (6:10)
14. The Devil's Answer (single version) (3:29)

* John Peel, 1971
# Mike Harding, 1971

Line-up / Musicians

- John Cann / acoustic & electric guitars, lead vocals
- Vincent Crane / Hammond organ, piano, bass, backing vocals, arrangements
- Paul Hammond / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: William Blake (1757-1827) "Nebuchadnezzar" painting

LP B&C Records - CAS 1026 (1970, UK)
LP Elektra ‎- EKS7409 (1971, US) Different cover art
LP Purple Pyramid ‎- CLP 1772 (2014, US)

CD Repertoire Records ‎- RR 4069-WZ ( (1990, Germany)
CD Castle Music ‎- 82310-72353-2 (2004, US) Remaster by Sean Cotter w/ 6 bonus tracks, new cover

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy ATOMIC ROOSTER Death Walks Behind You Music

ATOMIC ROOSTER Death Walks Behind You ratings distribution

(371 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

ATOMIC ROOSTER Death Walks Behind You reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars This album is (or should be) considered as a landmark and a masterpiece in the hard rock category by metalheads, progheads, and progmetalheads. The North American version came with a different cover depicting a rooster at atomic speed in fire. With Palmer gone to ELP, and Graham forming his own band, Crane had to restart this band from scratch and conVinced John (Du)Cann (formely of psych bands The Attack and Andromeda) and Paul Hammond to take the drum stool (since the organ seat was already taken), Vincent Crane soldiered on. The partnership between Cann and Crane was like cat and dog, but they did manage to pull off some classic early heavy metal for almost two albums. Every track here is a gem in its genre and Seven Streets is my fave although the public will remember mostly their outstanding single Tomorrow Night. Although this album is somewhat on the fringe of the scope of this great site, many progheads and progmetalheads will appreciate better their next album, but such is not my case.
Review by Philrod
3 stars Atomic Rooster's second album saw the band leader, Vincent Crane, suffer the loss of every other member of the group, even the highly talentd Carl Palmer, who departed to form a prog supergroup, Emerson Lake and Palmer. This abum is beautiful in its heaviness: you can hear the beginning of what would later on be called heavy metal. It has influenced some giants of the genre such as Iron Maiden and Megadeth. The title track is freakish and amazing: it starts up with a mid-tempo piano section that gives you goosebumps. It builds up from there, and mostly never stops. The only single from the album, Tomorrow night, reached the top 20 on the U.K. charts. There is only one filler here, as Sleeping for years does notstand up to the rest of the album. Fans of the hammond will be pleased, as Crane offers us a steady performance trhoughout. If you like Black Sabbath, Megadeth, you will absolutely love this. While not the most progressive of their career, this is still a great effort.
Review by Moatilliatta
2 stars Here we have talented musicians playing completely forgettable music. Forgettable, but relatively innovative. We do hear early signs of hard rock here, but the likes of Deep Purple and other related bands overshadowed this little known group and what they brought to the progression of that genre. Atomic Rooster didn't really deserve to be more popular than they were though, as none of their music was really good. I could barely bring myself to listen to this whole thing. Not because it was bad music, not even because I don't like this particular sound, but because the songs were just plain boring. The only track that I actually enjoyed was the instrumental "Vug" (the last track, also an instrumental, isn't too bad either). Still, I could get the same quality instrumental piece from plenty of other bands.

These guys are good musicians, and that's really where the strength (or lack there of) of this album lies. Some good solos and what not are throughout Death Walks Behind You, but it certainly does not do much to improve the enjoyability of the album. Don't get me wrong, it's not a terrible album by all standards; Deep Purple fans would probably enjoy this. I happen to not be one, that's all. Nevertheless, I still think anyone (or a majority of those) interested in this kind of music would still feel that this album is a bit bland.

They had some potential and innovative credibility, but could not bank on either here. I could give it 3 stars for said reasons, and I'm sure a fan of hard rock would enjoy this, but as I said, I am not one, and for this reason I will give them the down side.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This classic dark prog album has some very interesting qualities and is very recommendable, but it has also some slightly uninteresting moments included. Like the awesome title track, the end result would have been a bit better in my opinion, if the seven and half-minutes long song would have been shortened to five minutes instead, as the basic blues based theme is being repeated painfully long in the end. Anyway, the eerie opening with the horror-movie pianos and the chromatic verses are really marvelous. The instrumental numbers "VUG" along with the album closer "Gershatzer" have some qualities which make them different from the other songs of this album: I recall Vincent Crane told he thought playing less creates more interesting things than playing much, when his thoughts were asked about the band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, where Atomic Rooster's first drummer Carl Palmer had left. In addition of this approach, these bands differ from their fundamental style, as ELP tried to do more serious elitist art, and Atomic Rooster is more streetwise down to earth band. I like both of them, and maybe an exception makes a rule, and anyway these neurotic sounding instrumental songs are quite good in my opinion. About Vincent's playing, I'll have to give kudos for him playing all the bass parts with his keyboards and pedals. It's really nice that they didn't use a session bassists like The Doors did, making the record capturing totally their own sound and representing them with an authentic way. Also as the third member along with the keyboardist and the drummer isn't a bass player but a guitarist, their sound grows more wide and rawer, mimicking the conventional rock quartet perfectly.

From the other songs of the album, "Tomorrow Night" is a piano driven bluesy tune, which was also filmed to The German Beat Club television show. "7 Streets" follows the hazy echo-treated ending chaos of the previous number, and it begins with a church-music styled organ riff, soon morphing as aggressive rock sequence with characteristic descending melody pairing up with the neat riff. There's also a fine open jam part in the end with nice guitar and keyboard dialogues, before the track ending to a solemn organ chords. Then "Sleeping for Years" starts in similar smashing of the instruments like on Deep Purple's "Speed King", and there are also some other slight similarities in these band's sounds; The same sounding distorted guitar tone accompanied with vintage keyboard sounds and the early 70's blues rock based approach. Atomic Rooster doesn't though have so much macho boasting manners as the compared successful hard rock group did have. Another similarity with the early 1970's artistic hard rock albums are the small comments of each track by Vincent in the album sleeve. "I Can't Take No More" is then a nice groovy rocker sounding quite much Black Widow. "Nobody Else" begins with weird approaching chanting, then first bringing front a jazzy and relaxed piano theme accompanied by subtle guitars and singing. In the middle of the song drums jump in dynamically and the guitar boosts up making a more powerful rock passage inside the tune treating the early themes in a nice way, and making up a good song.

Though this music isn't very elitist, it's still clearly progressive rock with the innovative approach towards rock themes and creating unique realm of feelings. The band has used neatly the William Blake's drawing "Nebuchadnezzar" in the album cover, giving both classic and stylistically correct first impression of this record. If you should like album, check out Black Widow next if you haven't done that yet. Recommended for fans of dark pessimistic music and for those who like raw vintage keyboard drive hard rock of the early 1970's.

Review by debrewguy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I can't find the influences some have seen AR impart on groups like Iron Maiden or Megadeth, but this is a good "heavy" record. Not heavy metal, but what the early 70s called "heavy rock". The shared spotlight between the guitar & organ, neither overshadowing the other, but instead building the riffs with teamwork. The difference, though, between acts like Rooster & superstars like Purple is the quality of the filler. Take Streets & compare it to In Rock's Into the Fire. Both will never attain legendary status song-wise, but Into the Fire sounds forward & modern. Streets & I Can't Take No More, while good, still recall that 60s "heavy" sound. But when put up against Purple's 1970 effort, this album more than holds its' own. While I've only heard this one & In Hearing, I can see why Atomic Rooster would have been held in such regard. Because to these ears, if AR had matched songwriting-wise vs Deep Purple as time went on, as they do here, it would have been interesting to see what The Rooster's Machine Head would have sounded like.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I'm going through changes

Atomic Rooster's legendary second album saw the band already in turmoil. With Carl Palmer and Nick Graham both already gone from the trio which recorded the debut album, sole survivor Vincent Crane recruited Ric Parnell and Jon Cann. Drummer Parnell would not stay long however being quickly replaced by Paul Hammond prior to recording of this album.

Before the full release of the album, a single from it "Tomorrow night" had a surprisingly successful run into the UK top 10. The song, which is curiously similar to ELP's "Knife edge" from almost exactly the same period, is a wonderful example of the heavy pop which endeared itself to the British public around this time (Free, Ten Years After, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath etc., all enjoyed hit singles around this time).

"Tomorrow night" sets the tone for the album, which is generally heavy and dark. The opening 7+ minute title track has a strong progressive feel, while reflecting the metal based style of bands such as Black Sabbath. Crane's Hammond organ playing naturally dominates the sound throughout, coming to the fore on the two instrumental tracks ("VUG" and "Gershatzer") complemented all the while by Cann's guitar.

"Sleeping for years" continues the Black Sabbath feel, the prime differences being the dominant Hammond and the vocal sound. The mood is eased slightly for the more commercial "I can't take no more", but it is all relative, and this is still a heavy song. Finally we find true respite in "Nobody else" where Crane moves to piano John Cann adding an emotive vocal to Crane's intensely personal lyrics. Strangely, even this quieter song has Black Sabbath similarities, with a passing resemblance to that band's later song "Changes".

"Death walks behind you" is for me Atomic Rooster's finest effort. Here the band blended together a fine concoction of heavy rock and fledgling prog bathed all the while in a sea of Hammond organ.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Well Iīm not too impressed with this album. The debut album from Atomic Rooster wasnīt very good either but I had expected a little more from this one. I have known the title track for years, because the heavy metal band Paradise Lost covered it on their As I Die EP, but I must admit that I really donīt like the original much ( the cover wasnīt too good either), even though it is one of the better songs on the album.

The music is early seventies hard rock with lots of hammond organ. Not very imaginative or innovative in any way. There are hints to Black Sabbath, but be aware these are only hints, Atomic Rooster is not metal. John Cann is new in the lineup and I canīt say Iīm impressed with his voice or delivery. He sounds like a used Greg Lake trying to sing hard rock. Itīs pathetic at times, and it doesnīt have the humour of the first album from Atomic Rooster (I donīt think the humour was intentional, but they made me laugh and thatīs always something).

I can see that this album is generally rated pretty high in Prog Archives, but I must say that this album doesnīt impress me one bit. I will not spin this again very soon. 2 stars for this forgettable album.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Many new members of ProgArchives are somewhat baffled when they come across a subgenre that bears the intriguing yet unusual name of Heavy Prog. We all know about Heavy Metal, of course. but heavy PROG? Since this is hardly ever mentioned in books of the subject, it must be another of PA's preposterous concoctions...

Well, preposterous or not, if you really want to know what HP is all about, look no further than this album. A dark, haunting, Hammond-drenched effort which sounds like Black Sabbath meeting Deep Purple with ELP writing the soundtrack, "Death Walks Behind You" - from the brilliant title right down to the iconic cover (depicting William Blake's Nebuchadnezzar on a simple black background) - is THE blueprint for the heavier side of our favourite genre. It is an absolute feast for any self-respecting fan of the mighty Hammond organ, and a welcome respite from the pastoral soundscapes of the likes of Camel or Genesis. It is definitely hard-edged, occasionally oppressive, undeniably raw and unpolished, yet immensely powerful. As the previous reviews prove quite clearly, it is an album that can command unconditional love, or one that can leave the listener cold and unimpressed.

Personally, I was quite floored by my first listen of the album, and was hooked ever since. True, Death Walks Behind You is not perfect, but then very few albums are, even those normally hailed as masterpieces. Vincent Crane's highly effective, aggressive playing style, perfectly complemented by John DuCann's strong, expressive voice and blistering guitar lines, feels like utter delight to the ears of every Hammond lover. The third band member, drummer Paul Hammond (what a coincidence..), lays down a powerful backbeat, assisted by Crane's skillful use of both keyboard and foot pedals to replace the missing bass lines. This idiosyncratic take on the classic power trio unleash a massive volume of music that, while not as technically impeccable as ELP's or Deep Purple's, is possessed of intensity and power in spades.

There are a couple of tracks that relieve the tension and overall dark mood of the album - namely the catchy, almost upbeat "Tomorrow Night" (originally released as a single), and the heavy rock-goes-commercial "I Can't Take No More". Neither are favourites of mine - especially the latter could be scrapped from the album without doing a whole lot of damage. On the other hand, the slow, melancholy number "Nobody Else", dominated by Crane's piano, sees a remarkably emotional vocal performance by DuCann, providing a perfect foil for Crane's despondent, foreboding lyrics (he suffered from mental problems and ended up committing suicide, as did Hammond).

The real highlights of the album, however, are to be found elsewhere. The title-track is introduced by dissonant, menacing piano, and then explodes into a monstrous, hypnotic organ riff punctuated by the obsessive repetition of the title, "Death Walks Behind You"; while "7 Streets" is a more structured composition, based on the interplay between organ and guitar. "Sleeping for Years" is in a similar vein - both are excellent examples of heavy progressive rock, somewhat influenced by Black Sabbath, but with better vocals and lashings of keyboards replacing Tony Iommi's monstrous riffing. The two instrumentals, "VUG" and "Gershatzer", are probably the most progressive offerings on the album, showcasing Crane's skills as a Hammond player; the latter, which is almost 8 minutes long, has the slightly loose feel of a jam session, intensified by the presence of a short drum solo.

Even though I had thought about giving this album a five-star rating, I will settle for four - seen as we don't yet have access to half-star ratings. In any case, this is very, very highly recommended to Hammond fans, and anyone who likes their prog with a harder edge (though not necessarily metal). A fascinating, almost addictive album by an underrated, very unlucky band.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is so good it's not funny. John Cann's vocals didn't stand up to other major rock singers, nor did his guitar. The beautiful organ playing of Vincent Crane was easily overtaken by the other rising keyboard gods. And Paul Hammond's big, fumbling Keith Moon drums were, well, intense. But these guys could play like demons and didn't rely on the studio to make the magic. At their best, Atomic Rooster in 1970 was a great representative of what the darker side of British rock had achieved to that point and though not the best band in the world, they'd tripped over a very appealing hybrid of hard rock, melodic pop, classical elements and smart prog. Deceptive with their badboy sound and unshaven demeanor, the trio has flashes of greatness far more often than they're remembered for, full of earthy power and intuition and I would wager that in '70 they could have outperformed ELP on more nights than one.

Slow, creepy piano lines and a screech of guitar introduce the title, vintage hard rock showing a bit of finger but also influences going as far back as the Yardbirds and even the Kinks. Addictive riffs, building harmonies, the scurl of bagpipes, and solid timekeeping by Paul Hammond. Crane's swirling organ heads 'Vug' blending soul jazz with quasi-classical and hard blues and will appeal to fans of Keith Emerson's early work. So will foot-tapper 'Tomorrow Night', cool and smooth with Paul Hammond's steady cowbell. At nearly seven minutes 'Seven Lonely Streets' is overextended and doesn't hold much interest, 'Sleeping For Years' is somewhat better, 'I Can't Take No More' is derivative but okay, and genuinely nice 'Nobody Else' is just right, sophisticated for a bunch of mugs like these, a catchy vocal hook and a Traffic-esque vamp. And heavy organ pounder 'Gershatzer' is the big finish showing more of Vincent Crane's skill on the ivories and features a lively drum solo from Hammond.

Undoubtedly a great starter for this group, but this release will be even more gratifying for those who've gotten past most of the prog pretense and are ready to get back to the business of rock. You could say these boys are recommended. The expanded deluxe edition has six extra selections including a B-side, a couple demos and several BBC session takes; 'Tomorrow Night', 'Shabooloo' and 'Death Walks Behind You'.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Roosters are best made Atomic.

After losing someone like Carl Palmer after their debut album, most bands would simply crumble and die. Not was the case for this English 3 piece (formally 4) who would regroup and release a couple of stellar albums, the first of which being this opus, Death Walks Behind You.

As the name and eerie cover art would suggest, this is a heavy and dark album. Indeed, through most of the songs one gets the feeling that Death is walking behind them thanks to the whining guitar and creeping piano as the album opens. But while the album opens quite slowly the rest unfolds bombastically as soon as the riff for the title track finally shifts into gear and gets things rolling.

While the first track manages to set a very heavy and evil sound, the rest of the album makes sure that it follows closely. The other non-instrumental tracks on the album each follow in an either similar tone or something close to it. While a couple of the tracks prove to be quicker and more catchy such as the melody driven Tomorrow Night and the hard rocking I Can't Take No More, the album is at it's best when it's at that creeping death-like pace. This is accomplished by just about every other song on the album, but especially well by the mini-epic 7 Streets and the melancholic Nobody Else with it's hauntingly beautiful piano intro and almost stellar climax.

Of course, what would this album be without its instrumentals? The two instrumental tracks on the album, the organ driven Vug and the almost terrifying Gershatzer, both give incredible depth and life to the album with their winding passages showing how dynamic a band like Rooster can be.

Fans of heavy prog especially should get a kick out of this one, but it's recommended for everyone who just likes to rock as well. 4 stars, excellent effort!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars A legendary Heavy-Prog album if there ever was one. And a trio at that. These guys look so cool in the liner notes. Man you get Crane and Cann together and look out it's time to cook !

"Death Walks Behind You" opens with haunting piano lines before the guitar starts to make some noise. Full sound a minute in, vocals follow. A calm with piano after 3 1/2 minutes. It kicks back in. "Vug" opens with some very impressive organ by Crane as the guitar supports. Lots of organ 2 minutes in. The guitar is more prominant after 3 minutes. They're cooking now ! "Tomorrow Night" is a somewhat catchy tune. Nice organ solo 2 minutes in.Tasteful guitar a minute later. It ends on an experimental note. "7 Streets" opens with organ. Crane used a device to make his Hammond organ sound like church organ on this one. The drumming is excellent on this track but then so is the whole song. This along with "Nobody Else" are my favourites. Some ripping organ and guitar after 3 minutes as they trade solos. I wish all the songs were this dynamic.

"Sleeping For Years" opens with some cool guitar as heavy drums follow. Blistering guitar, then a full sound. More incredible guitar 3 minutes in. "I Can't Take No More" has a nice beat to it as vocals and organ come in. Guitar 3 minutes in is raw. "Nobody Else" is a pastoral song and a nice change actually. Reserved vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. I like the way Crane makes his organ sound like bass 2 1/2 minutes in. The guitar that follows is tastefully done. Great tune. "Gershatzer" is the other instrumental. It opens with a good drum / organ melody before piano takes over 1 1/2 minutes. It gets kind of crazy before a calm with piano 2 minutes in. Experimental is the word to describe what follows. It kicks back in before 5 minutes with a prolonged drum solo. Organ joins in around 7 minutes. Guitar ends it.

John Du Cann left ANDROMEDA to join this band, and I highly recommend you check that one out too.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Death Walks Behind You is one of Atomic Rooster's darkest albums that borders on a Gothic sound and features some incredible riffs that stay with you long after the album has ended. The album cover features William Blake's "Nebuchadnezzar" and looks like death warmed up, hence the album title.

The title track is quintessential Rooster and deservedly finds a place on all the 'Best of' compilations. It begins with Vincent Crane's chilling piano introduction that sounds a little like some of Van der Graaf Generator's early works. The hypnotic riff kicks in and continues throughout the first half of the song while the tortured vocals of John Cann speak of fear and morbid dread of death. With all these elements, the track acts as an example of all that encompasses the sound of Atomic Rooster: killer heavy chugging rhythm guitars riffs that interchange from slow to fast, sparse, minimalist piano, and morbid lyrics.

The second track 'Vug' is an excellent instrumental with a heavy shuffle rhythm that showcases the talent of Crane, and features some wild drumming from Paul Hammond. The bass on the whole album is actually produced, according to the album's credits, by Crane utilising a superb 'combination of strong left hand and foot pedal techniques, coupled with special sound reproduction devices fitted in his Hammond'. An interesting and unique sound is thus the end result.

This track is followed by 'Tomorrow Night', one of Atomic Rooster's famous singles and it's got a great hook. Interesting enough the track features the fade out from the original song but it keeps playing to give us a rare insight into what goes on after the song has faded out. In this case there are weird screeching sounds that actually add to the song structure.

'7 Streets' is a track that merges three riffs to create one great song. Crane's organ sounds as though he were playing in a church and is all the more effective due to this. It certainly packs a punch and is another highlight on the album.

'Sleeping For Years' has an excellent guitar solo from Cann and has become one of the band's most requested tracks live in concert, according to Crane. It has a killer riff that really gets into your brain.

'I Can't Take No More' was supposed to be a single from the album but was replaced by 'Tomorrow Night'. It has a nice little guitar riff that motorvates along nicely but for some reason it reminds me of Electric Light Orchestra's 'Don't Bring Me Down', although Atomic Rooster was certainly recording well before ELO. The track appears often on 'Best Of' compilations.

'Nobody Else' is the quietest track on the album and as such sounds very much like the type of sound on Atomic Rooster's first album, such as 'Winter'. However it is a nice change to all the guitar work previously on this album.

'Gershatzer' closes the album brilliantly. The longest track on the album at almost 8 minutes and thankfully one of the best the band has recorded. It is a strange track that is heavy on organ and drums. In fact Paul Hammond is allowed to really let loose and show off his percussion flourishes, and one has to admit he was one of the best drummers at the time.

This is an essential purchase for all prog fans who like their prog heavy with killer guitar riffs, vibrant keyboards, excellent percussion, and scintillating vocals. It is also a tribute to the legendary Vincent Crane who committed suicide in 1989 due to a deepening depression and heavy panic attacks that drove him over the edge. As a three piece, Atomic Rooster were one of the most intriguing and darkest prog bands of the 1970s. Their doom-laden lyrics about morbid fear and death paved the way for the black metal of Black Sabbath, Venom and beyond.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Some old f%ĩers (hope you got it) as I am, do feel some positive feelings in reviewing such an album from AR. Not because it is a masterpiece, no. Maybe because it is more of an album of certain era. The genuine and very early seventies. The best years of my musical life ... (well almost).

The great psychedelia of their debut is still to be noticed during the incredible opener Death Walks Behind You which sets the tone. And the band is really kicking your arse with a wild and instrumental track (Vug). This is the type of song which should immediately turn you on. A fabulous atmosphere, wild sounds. A gorgeous instrumental from another era. Maybe one of the best of its genre. Can't really remember a better one (not even Purple).

These two tracks are really phenomenal and to sustain this quality is almost impossible...

But the Rooster are keeping and rocking on. The whole of this album is a true hard-rock gem. One of the best that has ever been recorded. Of course the best ever was also released that same year (In Rock), but Death Walks Behind You holds several FANTASTIC songs that you should listened to carefully. On the edge of the hard-heavy style. But I loved both of them at the time (yes, I know: I am quite an old freak).

Streets is a true ANTHEM of rock music. You really have to listen to such a jewel of an organ solo to fully appreciate this track. A (nother) jewel. Don't forget that the band had to live with the departure of two key members (of which Carl Palmer) and they just performed incredibely.

This album is awesome, heavy, and gorgeous. It only lacks in true legendary tracks to be compared with the greatest ones of the genre. But you should have a listen to this very good album. It offers such a fine hard rock and intelligent music. Skilled musicians, exploding keyboards. You should listen to the wonderful drum solo during the excellent Gershatzer. An excellent musical experience.

I know that it was impossible to replace Carl, but have a listen to the closing number and its SUPERB drum solo. IMPRESSIVE my prog friends.

Four stars.

Review by The Quiet One
4 stars When you listen to this album, death doesn't walk behind you.....

Atomic Rooster's sophomore effort is no less than their establishment to either the Prog world or Heavy Rock world, I tend to think the later is more correct, though obviously not denying their prog sensibilities which are all due to hammond-organ master, Vincent Crane. With this album, unlike with their debut, they achieve a splendid fusion of Black Sabbath's heavy darkness from their debut and Deep Purple's power head-lined with a B3 Hammond-Organ.

The song that opens up the album is the title track which evokes this fusion of Sabbath and Purple I was talking about perfectly. You can easily recognise the ability of all members to pull off a splendid horror-movie soundtrack. Yet, there's one obvious flaw and that is John Cann's uncapable vocal range, it's very limited and by no means satisfying as Ian Gillan's, but if you are those are pleased with the limited vocal range of Ozzy, then Cann's should be no problem.

VUG is one of a kind, a heavy prog instrumental in which changes of time rapidly over and over again until the middle part takes off with a mind-blowing organ solo within a blues-based rhythm.

Tomorrow Night continues the straight-forward heavy rock style the title track anticipated. Catchy riff and chorus are the main features from this song, yet simple though effective organ and guitar solos are also high points from this hard rocker.

Then Seven Lonely Streets moves into a heavier and faster paced ground, somewhat like that from early Uriah Heep. This one goes through several heavy riffs both by the guitar and organ while the drums are constantly hitting, all making up a ferocious tune which culminates with the confrontation between John and Vincent.

The heavy mood follows up with Sleeping for Years with it's Sabbath-alike scary introduction which then quickly moves onto Rooster's classic riffing style compounded by guitar and organ with some nice bass pedals full-filling the rhythm with the drums. John Cann is the stand-out here with a 1+ minute guitar solo in the middle of the song with a beastly organ backing the solo up.

With I Can't Take No More the heavy rock ball still moves on. Very much alike the title track and Tomorrow Night, not much too add really.

Finally the mood changes completely with the next song, Nobody Else, the album's finest song. Opening up like a ballad, with Vincent's simplistic though gorgeous piano and soon to enter John's voice, this time very gently which works superb. In the very middle of the song it all changes in such a way that you can't believe it's the same song, in a more moving and rockier way, though never losing the song's marvellous mood. They could have extended it up for more development of the beauty this song presents, but still great, great song.

Death Walks Behind You ends up with a misplaced song, they should have ended with the soul-blowing Nobody Else with it's tranquil mood. Gershatzer is no bad instrumental neither a well-composed one though, it's mainly a show-off from band members, Vincent Crane with some pretty piano shots while some annoying organ runs also, while Paul Hammond delivers a entertaining drum solo.

Overall Death Walks Behind You is an excellent Heavy Rock record which I highly recomend for Organ and Heavy Rock fans.

Review by TGM: Orb
2 stars Atomic Rooster's best known effort, it seems, the darkly titled Death Walks Behind You, is clearly a bit less... bleak than the debut, and maybe a bit more musically diverse: even without the jazzness contributed by Palmer, it comes off with a bit of funk and hard rock that gels pretty neatly with the band's more obviously progressive moments. The musicians are certainly all talented figures, with Vincent Crane on piano, organ and bass pedals, John Cann taking vocals and guitar and the capable Paul Hammond (sure, he's not Carl Palmer... but he's no slouch, either) on drums. The best parts of the album, in my view, are generally created by Crane's twitching, spine-tingling piano parts and some of Cann's more assertive guitar parts. Unfortunately, Crane's organ parts don't always have the same grip (particularly on the instrumental bits), and the cleverness of some of the compositions is overshadowed at times by a lack of clarity and focus. Regardless, it comes off pretty well, it doesn't sound like anything else out there, and it's certainly a real 'heavy prog' album rather than just a hard rock album with long songs. A real must-have for the 'heavy prog' enthusiast, and a fair buy for anyone else.

Death Walks Behind You opens with the album's finest moment, a bleak, foreboding clockwork piano part which is promptly backed up by the cacophonic Cann guitar and some swiping bass pedals (I think). The fantastic intro falls nicely into the (perhaps overly) smooth, funky riff of the song itself, contrasted rather sharply with the verse's frantic guitar. Paul Hammond adds in some fastidious, but not particularly intense drumming, and a smooth piano rounds off the song proper. Thick blobby, ranting vocals ('Shout and scream/shout for help/there is no one by your side'), but it comes off as comical, rather than threatening. Contrast remains the order of the day, with a neat piano coming up against block-effect guitar, obvious, jarring dissonants meeting the song's smoothest bits. The piano is a continued, if barely audible, presence towards the song's middle, and is replaced by the organ as the track carries on in its slightly lunatic way. The first twenty, thirty seconds on this one are magical, the strongest of the album, but it's unfortunate that the track simply wallows on, albeit with plenty of clever compositional tricks, rather than keeping its icy tension.

The following VUG is not half as interesting, and in spite of the first really obviously neat use of the bass pedals, the organ just wallows in general funk, and takes about two minutes to metamorphose into anything worth listening to, when the hard rock kicks in and a wailing guitar under a bluesy organ keep the attention riveted. The Cann/Hammond combo remain thick and not immensely impressive for the most part... though I can't criticise them technically, I just don't particularly like the blanketing sound created by Hammond's drums and the bass pedals in unison. Though there's one very neat bit in the middle, the rest of VUG isn't much fun for me. No atmosphere, and musicality alone does not an interesting song make for me.

Tomorrow Night opens with a neat piano part, and some slyly funky guitar creates an intro to a surprisingly non-depressing song, complete with ambling vocals, an occasionally kicking organ and some neat production/effects jiggery-pokery on the part of Cann, including a blistering double-solo which winds the song down to a suitably negative close. Not bad, really, though the vibe doesn't come through too well after the cool opening.

Seven Lonely Streets opens superbly. A reverent organ opens up the song, before some understated rolling from Cann opens up the song into a classy full-on hard rock thing, before some more jerky organ and irksome vocals drag it down a bit. Crane's inability to settle on one thing to play is still frustrating at times. Very musical, perhaps, but it comes off as nervous rather than controlled. The instrumental mid-section is clear 'prog', with some intense guitar-organ interplay, both taking on layered effects and Paul Hammond coming out with some classy fills. A return to riffage and a whirling solo before a stadium-like, strutting conclusion from the whole band rounds off the piece. Again, great stuff in it, but still nigh-unlistenable at one point.

Sleeping For Years opens with very Hendrixian feedback/production messing with a guitar solo before moving onto a more assertive and violent hard rock track with some of Cann's better vocals, an absolutely great use of the bass pedals, some ultra-cool guitar licks and a thunderous multi-instrument riff. As always, the band's musicality is on show, with a shredding solo, some very well-directed hammond, and (sorry, but someone had to say it :p), some very well-directed Hammond. Comfortably the best thing on the album, early metal or hard rock or whatever you want to call it with a bitingly unique sound and vibe.

I Can't Take No More is another more funk/rock fusion number, with a murky/light vocal, some wonderfully crisp lower-range piano notes, a quirky little organ flourish thing, but otherwise, not a particularly distinctive creature. A Don't-Bring-Me-Down-like bass melody stands out a bit, but the song as a whole varies between awkward individuality and harmless groove.

Nobody Else opens with the crazed mutterings of something, presumably the Nebuchadnezzar figure on the album's cover, and features a very collected Crane piano with a little rolling addition on the end of its clearer lines. Reminds me a bit of Winter on the band's debut, I suppose, albeit less neat on the vocal side, until a full guitar and funking drums kick in to fill up the song. Pleasantly sad, and nicely structured, but a bit more tame than I'd like.

The closer, Gerschatzer is an instrumental, relying, in the band bits, more on sonic force than emotion, initially slamming a number of notes into the listener with a merely bemusing effect, no matter how good Crane's bass pedals are. However, Crane does get a full solo spotlight after the swamping opening, containing full, fluent, aggressive piano parts, fanatically driven organ and, at last, a use of his musical vocabulary to a full devastating effect for a couple of minutes in a well-rounded, intelligent and extremely individual solo. Another band reprise, albeit with a bit more punch, comes in, prior to a rather bluntly introduced, but nonetheless very enjoyable and capable drum solo from Paul Hammond, with a very measured and fastidious feel. Again, a band reprise of basically the exact same thing comes in before the song wails off into a superb conclusion. Two great solos, three annoying band moments, one great conclusion... pretty good overall, though.

About the bonus tracks: Play The Game is a more plain rock piece, which you'll probably like if the band's trademark sound is an attraction for you. If not, though, it's a harmless creature. The Devil's Answer is basically the same. A bit more memorable and on the funk side, but still not particularly stunning for me. Now, the version of Tomorrow Night on the other hand, has a fire that the studio version doesn't really... Cann's vocals, still, not great, but otherwise a killer rendition. Shabooloo has a similar treatment, and Death Walks Behind You, in spite of a less obviously neat piano, never sounded better. The finished take of The Devil's Answer, complete with brass, is actually pretty neat. Anyway, whether the remaster is worth getting solely for the bonus tracks, I don't know. Maybe for the live versions, depends on your tastes. All in all, not a bad selection for anyone, and an interesting style of progressive rock. Unfortunately, perhaps, not up to some of the accolades it receives, and the awkward vocals don't really help, even as someone who's mostly benevolent to vocalists, I find them actively irritating. I'd like a little more clarity from Crane, though admittedly, that wouldn't be his style. Dark, brooding, excellent in some respects (Crane's musicality in particular) but not as consistently rewarding as I'd like: 3 Stars.

Rating: Three Stars Favourite Track: Sleeping For Years

Edit: general rating enharshening leaves this one in the lurch. The words above probably still apply, but the contrast of how much I enjoy the debut compared to this and the fact that I just don't put the album on because the vocals and drumming don't really work for me left me thinking this is probably in 2-land.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Dark, heavy, bleak and rather brilliant!

Carl Palmer left Atomic Rooster after their first album, and from the drum perspective things were never the same again. However, this second album has other qualities and it is hard for me do decide which of the two first Atomic Rooster albums is their best. But there is no question that this is the heaviest, darkest and bleakest of them all. John Cann joins the band here and contributes lead vocals and guitars. While the first album had almost no guitars at all, there are some here, but not a lot still. The sound of Atomic Rooster was always primarily keyboard driven, Hammond organ and piano being the main keyboard instruments here as on the debut.

They can still be compared to the likes of ELP, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Beggar's Opera. But in honesty, they are quite unique. The really come up with some great songs and instrumentals here and the album flows very well. The only moment I don't like is the middle of Gershatzer that tends to drag a little. All the other songs are very good.

For those who like heaviness cannot go wrong with this album, but the debut is, I would say, the most progressive of their albums. Make your own choice, I choose both!

Review by Tom Ozric
5 stars 'Death Walks Behind You' is an album I've been acquainted with for over 20 years, longer than some, shorter than many more, and, at least to me, has withstood my ever-growing discerning tastes (mind you, at times that may be questionable...). I definately find Vincent Crane and his fellow bandmates much more interesting than their oft-said equivalent, DEEP PURPLE. The creative composition and relentless execution on their instruments always leaves me breathless. Breathless with their talent, not their dark aura. We all know now that instigator Vincent Crane was a troubled individual who suffered from manic-depression (don't most of us at some stage ??) and succumbed to the pressure of this debilitating condition (bless him, bless Jean). Fortunately for us, most of his work with Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster and Rory Gallagher (he also contributed some piano for the new-wave ensemble 'Dexy's Midnight Runners', too) are left behind to remind us of his contribution to the music world, 'Death Walks Behind You' being a superb example of this 'heavy' arrangement and immense talent. Cool sleeve notes have been left by Vincent on the back of the LP for each track - most pieces are long-ish and highlight extraordinary Hammond Organ and vibrant lead guitar interplay. Even drummer Paul Hammond puts in his share of hard work. One thing that's instantly noticable is the lack of a Bass Guitarist - bass duties are now handled by Vincent via 'strong left hand and foot pedal techniques' on his Organ (move over Ray Manzarek). The songs are really fantastic, dark and forboding, exciting and inventive, even complex. The title song kicks off the album, 7+ minutes of piano infused heaviness. Great intro, top riff and a bluesy piano interlude. The song is really good. There's one thing that gets me though - the 2nd track 'Vug' is clearly an instrumental, the sleeve notes say " For deliberate reasons, we mixed the vocals way back on this number " - what vocals ??? Anyway, it's a brilliant piece of music which shifts rhythms throughout and show-cases some rather complex organ and guitar lines. 'Tomorrow Night' is a song that reached the Top-Ten in England at the time, and is understandable why ; catchy melody, great design, memorable tune. Minus my ramblings, the next few tunes are all well structured and satisfying, even the ballad 'Nobody Else'. Album closer, the 8min 'Gershatzer', is an instrumental that rivals E.L.P. and Deep Purple at their boldest - absolutely *wild* organ inventions, fiery guitars and even a well recorded drum solo (better than many) lace this composition, designed as a 'stage number'. Some beautiful piano playing can also be noticed. This is simply a must- own album of progressively flavoured Hard-Rock and stands up proudly as one of my 5 star masterpieces - it may be one of yours, too.....
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Often neglected heavy rock trio showed real and powerful songwriting and performing capabilities on their second album "Death Walks Behind You". Packed with an attractive and evocative artwork, the album is an exceptionally strong effort that showed first-class keyboard techniques and songwriting skills of the leader Vincent Crane.

The title track is a powerful heavy rock classic with a timeless guitar and piano riff, followed by instrumental "VUG" which enriched a Purplesque hard rocking with an attractive organ solo. "Tomorrow Night" was a minor hit and is still probably the best known song by ATOMIC ROOSTER. After so many years it still rocks hard gives you a nice and groovy feeling. "Sleeping for Years" is another classic with excellent riff, powerful organ and catchy chorus, while the most brilliant track is perhaps a jazzy slow tempo song "Nobody Else". Easy feeling piano chords and lead vocals reminiscent of Donald Fagen bring this song close to STEELY DAN aesthetics. "7 Streets" is another very good progressive heavy rock number although the organ solo gets too boring at times. "Gershatzer" and "Can't Take You No More" are downplayed and unremarkable but decently performed in their own right.

If you are looking for a progressive side of heavy rock, look no more - ATOMIC ROOSTER on their most accomplished album will surely satisfy you. Absolutely recommended for any decent collection of the classic prog years.


P.A. RATING: 4/5

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Lately I've been reading way too many positive reviews of this so called hard-rock flavored masterpiece of progressive rock. It feels as though I will need to make a statement on this peculiar issue.

I've had Death Walks Behind You in my collection for a couple of years but never considered it a remarkable album in any way. Having said that I don't find anything particularly wrong with it either. It's one of the earliest incarnations of the heavy progressive flavored rock sound performed by a power-trio line-up. But all of this just bring a feeling of indifference on my part especially since another far more superior heavy prog release from that same year by Quatermass scores a whole lot higher with me. Unfortunately I find it difficult not to compare these two albums when listening to them. Both have blues oriented rock in its core but while Quatermass manages to make this work in their favor Atomic Rooster, on contrary, have chosen to go for a much more commercially oriented sound. This might not be apparent on the excellent intro album-titled composition, nor the instrumental called VUG which follows it. The albums middle section of the album which consists of four tracks is, on the other hand, filled with this problem. These compositions sound not only commercial but also very dated in comparison to the rest of the album. Only once we get to Nobody Else do we get a new wave of great material, but unfortunately the album is almost over by that point.

Death Walks Behind You might not be the classic that so many consider it to be, still it does contain a whole side of material which might be worth exploring therefore a good, but non-essential rating fits it quite well.

***** star songs: VUG (5:00)

**** star songs: Death Walks Behind You (7:23) Streets (6:45) Nobody Else (5:01) Gershatzer (7:59)

*** star songs: Tomorrow Night (4:00) Sleeping For Years (5:28) I Can't Take No More (3:34)

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The title of the album and the obscure cover art (from Wlliam Blake's Nebuchadnezzar painting) certainly prepare the listener for a rather pessimistic and possibly frightening listen... Not quite the same feelings develop while listening to this extravagant record, but some elements of obscurity and mainly heaviness are apparent throughout the 8 tracks of this 1970 creation.

It was not only Black Sabbath that produced dark and heavy riffs and lyrics at the time, and that is noticeable even from the first tunes of the title track. The main theme, of remarkable heaviness and ''darkness'', has definitely influenced latter heavy metal bands. The accompanying pianos and hammond give this overall majestic feeling to the creeping tempo of this memorable song. The "sinister" atmosphere is not maintained throughout the album, although it returns from time to time.

That initial dark feeling is usually replaced by virtuosic tracks flourishing in heavy rock passages filled with hammond - in the vein of Deep Purple works - like in the instrumentals (and highly challenging) VUG and Gershatzer. Otherwise, the late 60's heavy psychedelia takes control, particularly in the middle part of the record, with heavy guitars being the dominating element. Seven Lonely Streets and Sleeping for Years are the heaviest and "roughest" moments after the title track and within my personal favourites.

On the other hand, but still in the late 60's vein, there are more "joyful" and melodic moments, abundant in piano and keyboard work, like in the "hit" Tomorrow Night and the ballad-like Nobody Else. In these softer moments, the approach in the music of Caravan comes in mind. The extra tracks featured in the re-mastered version provide a few more minutes of enjoyable heavy prog riffs and some interesting (but not necessarily essential) outtakes of album tracks.

This release from Atomic Rooster is definitely an excellent moment in heavy prog music and takes a quite different approach when compared with bands of the same genre at that time (i.e. Uriah Heep). Caravan fans might also find some interesting moments here.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Vincent Crane had to rebuild his band from scratch since the debut, but in doing so he picked up the guitar talents of John Du Cann, whose arrival crystallises the band's sound on this second album. Whereas Crane's songwriting dominated the debut, this time around Crane and Du Cann share compositional duties more or less evenly, and between the pair of them they are able to carve out a distinctive and novel sound for the band.

The trio takes the dark and brooding themes unleashed that year by Black Sabbath, speeds the playing up, and enhances Du Cann's volcanic guitar playing with Crane's organ backing. The result is a fusion of prog-flavoured hard rock and proto-metal, with some doom metal spice (especially on the title track). Although the closing track is weak in points (it does sometimes turn into a showcase for Crane's organ solos), otherwise the album is solid from beginning to end. If Black Sabbath's two 1970 albums formed the blueprint for doom metal, this album has to be one of the foundational documents of more traditional metal (I particularly hear its influence in New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts of the late 1970s). Possibly the band's finest work.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Out of the proggy bands releasing two albums in 1970, I can't think a band that changed so much in sound like these guys did between those albums in the same year. Their first album was basically keyboard-led jazzy prog rock with little to no guitars. This follow-up brings the guitar heaviness to the fore, resulting in a band that essentially is juggling progressive rock with workingman's hard & heavy rock. They largely succeed here by sticking to their strengths and not going overboard in either direction. The instrumentals, while being showcases for the players, don't feel like structureless noodling; it's all tightly composed with a rough edge to keep the non-proggy fans interested. Straight up rockers like "Tomorrow Night" have enough of a prog sensibility in their sound (I dig the opening piano melody) to set themselves apart from your typical barroom brawlin' band.

The overall sound of the band leans more towards Deep Purple than Black Sabbath, but with a more sustained Hammond organ focus while not overshadowing the guitar. The vocals aren't gonna knock yer socks off, but they get the job done within its range and actually work quite effectively during the title track, which is one bad mutha. Prog influences also show up for numbers like the mellow but ultra cool "Nobody Else", although that opening backwards blabbering is a bit of an annoyance.

This was the right thing to do to keep the band alive. Vincent Crane didn't waste time finding replacements for the drums, and getting a loud guitar into the mix gave Atomic Rooster some added cojones. The drumming and guitar playing is, by the way, excellent. Hammond (the drummer, not the instrument) is more of a straightforward basher than Palmer, but it works perfectly within the context of these songs, and even though I'm no fan of drum solos, I actually kind of like his solo during "Gershatzer".

When I think of 'atomic' I think of something powerful and potentially destructive beyond belief, and when I think of 'rooster' i think of something screaming and waking up dazed families at the crack of dawn. This album is where the band lived up to their name.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of the most important prog records: dark, brooding and heavy with keyboards of Vincent Crane in evidence. It is often referred as the missing link between DEEP PURPLE and EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER.

It is also referred as the best offering by Atomic Rooster. The title track balances all the ingredients perfectly while "Tomorrow Night" provided an excellent hit single (UK # 11) that helped the album to established itself in the higher rankings of the charts. "VUG" showcases the amazing keyboard playing skills of Crane while "Nobody Else" discloses an unespected melancholic ballad. "Seven Lonely Streets" is probably the most complete and exciting number with dominating electric guitar (as in "Sleeping for Years").

All in all a wonderful record that is better not to be missed.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars The late 60s had been a tumultuous ride for Hammond organ wizard, pianist and bassist Vincent Crane who had ridden high as part of the whacky Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, however Brown himself demanded to be the center of attention which left a bad taste in the mouths of the supporting musicians who were keeping him afloat. Crane jumped shipped and took drummer Carl Palmer (yes, THAT Carl Palmer) with him to form their own version of heavy soulful rock with a few prog curve balls. The answer came in the form of ATOMIC ROOSTER after snatching up bassist / vocalist / flautist / guitarist Nick Graham to form the new power trio. However, this new vision only lasted a mere album when they recorded and released the debut 
'Atomic Roooster,' before Carl Palmer decided that Crane's musical vision wasn't a good match. It wouldn't be long before he would join Emerson, Lake & Palmer and become one of prog's biggest stars.

Unfortunately Graham would jump ship as well and join Skin Alley which left Vincent Crane scrambling for suitable replacements. After scouring the musical world for the right talent to align forces with, Crane ultimately settled on Andromeda vocalist and guitarist John Du Cann who would handle the triple duties as guitarist, bassist and lead vocalist. For the near impossible task of replacing the jazz-rock master Carl Palmer, newbie Paul Hammond joined the crew and the new triumvirate of talent had been christened and the creative process began to take root. This all led to the next phase of ATOMIC ROOSTER which released the second album DEATH WALKS BEHIND YOU a mere seven months after the debut in the same year of 1970 and the trio that appeared at this stage would be forever referred to as the 'classic' lineup.

This sophomore offering is what is known as the most critically lauded, most popular and well known album of the entire ATOMIC ROOSTER canon with its instantly recognizable cover art of the William Blake monotype Nebuchadnezzar, a character that according to legend was a former ruler who lost his mind through hubris and reduced to animalistic insanity. The cover art wasn't just a gloom and doom artistic photo op but actually provided inspiration for the darkened themes contained in the album's eight track run. While Crane had been the main compositional writer on the debut, DEATH WALKS BEHIND YOU finds an equal playing field with Du Cann writing and co-creating as much material as Crane. The result is a tremendously different sounding album that finds the balance of power working in favor of a more interesting and dynamic roster of musical treats. Sadly no songwriting from Hammond.

Despite the album residing on the heavier side of rock with progressive elements strewn about, the title track plays a beautiful mind trick by starting out with a creepy piano jingle accompanied by a weird series of guitar squeals which sets the darkened macabre tone of the album before it jumps into the more familiar guitar and organ dominated bluesy rock shuffles with the rather unorthodox songwriting procedures of the era. The immediate effect is that DEATH WALKS BEHIND YOU is immediately more mesmerizing than the debut album with much more interesting guitar riffs, a better mix of keys and drums and the far superior vocal style of Du Cann whose vox box was tailor made for the part. At a playing time of over seven and a half minutes, the band manage to craft exquisite twists and turns in their boogie based heavy rock antics.

While the opening title track establishes ATOMIC ROOSTER as a veritable heavy rock band with a wealth of sophisticated tricks up their sleeve, the following instrumental 'VUG' on the other hand showcases their prog chops with incessant time signature deviations, exquisite instrumental interplay and a flair of musical adventurism woefully absent from the album prior that only emerged a scant few months before. While primarily a rhythmic backdrop to showcase the supreme organ dominated gymnastics, scorching guitar solos are allowed to fire away unencumbered. The riff-laden hit single 'Tomorrow Night' follows and changes gears to an almost Santana-esque percussive frenetic pace but it's the intricate guitar parts that steal the show. The track made it all the way to No. 11 on the UK charts in 1971.

The secret to DEATH WALKS BEHIND YOU's amazing popularity is the diversity of the tracks. Every single one has its own personality and sounds completely different from what it just followed. 'Seven Lonely Streets' ('7 Streets' on some albums) is the most straight forward rocker although rich with Hammond organ stabs. 'Sleeping For Years' i starts with a blistering series of guitar tricks before erupting into another organ driven heavy rocker and has a rather Jethro Tullish vocal swagger to it actually. 'I Can't Take No More' reminds me of Jeff Lynne's future ELO track 'Don't Bring Me Down' in the guitar melody department. One of the lesser tracks here. 'Nobody Else' begins with freaky vocal effects before breaking into piano ballad territory. While clearly the mellowest track on the album, it has interesting time signatures and slight pauses between the piano notes. It picks up steam in the middle as it starts to rock.

The entire album really leads up to the impressive closer 'Gershatzer' up to which the band members hold back their avant-garde urges and let em all gush out in this eight minute prog behemoth of a track. While starting out as a rather familiar organ led heavy guitar, bass and drum rocker, it quickly finds Hammond's percussive drive taking on a new energetic level as he seems like he's become a hundred times more caffeinated. Likewise, Crane finds some stellar piano shredding which turns into a series of absolutely bizarre experimental organ riffs. The track hops, skips and jumps from frenetic musical outbursts to placid calming slower piano runs. Overall the track reminds me of some of the symphonic prog that Focus would latch onto with tracks like 'Eruption' on their second album, however much weirdness occurs on this grand finale which leaves little doubt that ATOMIC ROOSTER belongs in the prog universe.

DEATH WALKS BEHIND YOU is a major step up in quality from the decent but not mind blowing debut album. The so-called classic lineup gels perfectly together as they create some of the most pleasing musical interplay within the beautifully crafted compositions. There is not a boring track on this one and if you find yourself with the re-mastered 2004 edition with bonus tracks, you'll be treated to the B-Side 'Play The Game,' the 1970 demo 'The Devil's Answer' as well asa several BBC Radio Session tracks. While the album is utterly essential and cream of the ATOMIC ROOSTER crop, these extra goodies make a great album even better. Unfortunately the quality heard on this sophomore album wouldn't last very long. While the following 'In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster' is an excellent followup, the band would fall into the mediocrity club fairly quickly. For this moment however, they crafted one of the best heavy rock albums of 1970.

4.5 but i can seem to let myself round this one up

Latest members reviews

5 stars A re-posting of a review I published as "CheapPurple" on Sputnik Music, slightly edited: Review Summary: In one's search for the beginnings of prog and heavy metal, your quest will inevitably lead you here. In 1969, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was at the peak of its international populari ... (read more)

Report this review (#1425585) | Posted by PoolmanProgger | Tuesday, June 9, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Gothic and demonic. "Death Walks Behind You", is the second album of the Rooster, and is a big step forward from their debut work. It is a record of enormous importance because it will influence heavy music for years to come. The style is a hard prog with gothic tones, dominated by the organ ... (read more)

Report this review (#437891) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a band equally fundamental and underrated in my opinion. Leaded by the hammond sound played by Vincent Crane (already played on the seminal the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown), with guitars and voice from John DuCann and Paul Hammond replacing the great Carl Palmer (all of you surely know he ... (read more)

Report this review (#323383) | Posted by migue091 | Wednesday, November 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I got this album while I was on leave. The reason I bought it was because it had 2 big(long) songs on it and the band looked like they might be on the heavy side. Back in those days, I would buy many albums without ever hearing a song on the radio first. I was what you might call an "underground" ... (read more)

Report this review (#281213) | Posted by Keetian | Monday, May 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Big Blue Rooster For such a weighty cockerel, Atomic Rooster somewhat ironically, always represented a delicate balancing act for this rodent. Without Crane's progressive and ambitious musical sensibilities, I fear they would have been just another boxy metallic vehicle long forgotten from th ... (read more)

Report this review (#258895) | Posted by ExittheLemming | Saturday, January 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Here, we have a very enjoyable album from a very enjoyable band. There is not a single bad piece on this recording. The band plays with very much energy and rawness. This makes up some melodies or chord changes that might be a tiny bit predictable. It's incredible how Vincent Crane played all t ... (read more)

Report this review (#205975) | Posted by Foolsdrummer | Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The vocals here are not at the level of Vincent Crane compositions. Mr. Chris Farlowe would join later. That 70īs video with him is great! In my review about GRACIOUS "s/t", I made a rating list for some prog and prog related releases of the fundamental year: 1970. I gave the best Album "Osc ... (read more)

Report this review (#188264) | Posted by Prog_Veteran | Friday, November 7, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An album (and band) that would fall neatly between the prog and heavy metal categories. Most importantly, it should be noted that this album is an absoolute masterpiece. In my opinion one of the best LP's ever recorded. From the opening passages of the the title track to the last guitar licks ... (read more)

Report this review (#107105) | Posted by kingdhansak | Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second work released in 1971 "Death Walks Behind You". Work that became restart by new lineup. It is an album that contains a good collection of the good work enhanced compared with the first work that noisiness stands out. Music greatly surpasses the former work in variegation. It is a br ... (read more)

Report this review (#60548) | Posted by braindamage | Saturday, December 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What a great and underrated albums this is. It should be in every prog collection as well as in every 70's heavy metal collection. Vincent Crane is a genious!! My favorite Atomic Rooster album is "Made In England" However but "Death Walks Behind You" still is a masterpiece of heavy progrock. ... (read more)

Report this review (#39351) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The best Atomic Rooster album IMO and definitely the heaviest. Though the album has some progressive rock elements and can be put into that genre, it is done in a very heavy Black Sabbath-ish tone and is mostly considered Hard rock/heavy metal. Vincent Crane's keyboard playing is outstanding. ... (read more)

Report this review (#32375) | Posted by dalt99 | Thursday, October 7, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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