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Blue Öyster Cult

Heaven Forbid

Review by Gary Hill

Although the cover art leaves a bit to be desired, Heaven Forbid can certainly be looked on as a rebirth for BOC. This album seems to take the best of old BOC and bring up to date, while still staying true to those original concepts. Some of the more recent BOC albums have seemed to lack direction a bit. This one really feels very much like a solid and well thought out venture. The lineup on this CD is Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma, Allen Lanier, Danny Miranda, Chuck Burgi, Bobby Rondinelli, and Jon Rogers.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
See You In Black
This track calls to mind the hard-edged rocker side of older Blue Oyster Cult, while adding in some stylings of more modern darker heavy metal. These metal influences really seem a new face of BOC, but do not feel at all contrived. This track deals with coveting the wife of another, but more importantly with spousal abuse. "I`d like to see you in black, It`d make me feel like your husband`s dead". "You can`t lie to me, Ann, You can`t pretend he`s not beating you up, I say the marks on your hand, I saw the blood on your coffee cup."
Harvest Moon
Harvest Moon can be looked on as a new BOC classic. This one feels like a nicely haunting tale. It builds a history in the lyrics and a dread of a vague evil. "I sense the darkness clearer, I feel a presence near, a change in the weather, I feel some Evil here, I hear some frightful noises, I don`t go out at night". Containing many elements of The Cult of old, this is a considerably powerful number featuring quite a potent and quirky instrumental break, and is nicely arranged and performed.
Power Underneath Despair
Again in an older Cult tradition, this track is a competent rocker and a substantial tune. This is a story of revenge for someone being setup to take the fall for a crime.
X-Ray Eyes
A very effective piece, X Ray Eyes is pleasantly progressive song based on the `50`s Ray Milland film "Man With The X Ray Eyes". This one is my favorite cut on this album.
Hammer Back
This song addresses the problems of our gun-happy society. Hammer Back is another straight ahead rocker which combines the old BOC traditions with newer metal sounds.
Damaged
Damaged is a quite strong song, in a nice hard rocking manner. Seriously reflecting older BOC themes, this is one the more substantial cuts on the album, at least as a good solid rocker. Some of the instrumental breaks really call to mind very old Cult music.
Cold Gray Light of Dawn
"In the cold gray light of dawn, you can`t lie to yourself anymore, In the cold gray light of dawn, You can`t hide the truth". Cold Gray Light of Dawn is another potent number that deftly takes old BOC traditions and updates them.
Real World
This song seems to alternate between a nice bluesy sort of progression and guitar feel and classic rock hooks. Some of the guitar tones and progressions here are quite intriguing.
Live For Me
Live For Me is about the idea of living your life for yourself, but also for someone who has passed on. This track seems to call to mind the Fire of Unknown Origins sort of Blue Oyster Cult and really features so many classic BOC textures. One really gets the feeling that you have known this piece for a very long time.
Still Burnin'
Seeming somewhat like a sequel to Burning for You. The feel here reminds me a bit of a BOC reworking of the Rainbow classic Man on the Silver Mountain. That feeling comes more from the guitar sound and structure than from any other factor.
In Thee
A live rendition of the BOC standard from the Mirrors album, this is a very nice acoustic ballad and has always been a favorite of mine.
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