Review & Track Premiere: Black Space Riders, Amoretum Vol. 1

Black Space Riders Amoretum Vol 1

[Click play above to stream ‘Lovely Lovelie’ from Black Space Riders’ Amoretum Vol. 1. Album is out Jan. 26 and available to preorder here.]

Persistently adventurous German astro-prog metallers Black Space Riders seem to be taking stock of the world around them with Amoretum Vol. 1. This was arguably the case as well in 2015 when they examined Europe’s refugee crisis with the Refugeeum (review here) long-player and subsequent 2016 EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here), but it’s a fast-spinning planet we live on and, frankly, there’s a lot to consider. Their conclusion seems to be it needs more love. One might advocate for universal sustainable income, an increase in the valuation of pubic education, free healthcare and a broad social safety net funded by a multinational corporate tax rate of 90 percent or higher enforced by a unified governmental body, but I suppose depending on how “love” is defined, they could well mean the same thing.

In any case, if the realization might lead listeners to think Black Space Riders — led, as ever, by guitarist/vocalist/organist/programmer JE and also featuring vocalist Seb, drummer/percussionist C.RIP, guitarist SLI, bassist SAQ and (more recent) bassist MEI — are making some grand turn toward sonic hippiedom, pushing into peaceful psychedelia to manifest and, well, spread the love, the assumption is simply incorrect. Even unto closer “Fellow Peacemakers” or the earlier “Come and Follow,” the titles of which sound innocuous enough, Black Space Riders maintain crisp, taut songcraft and aggressive execution. Their work, going back through 2014’s D:REI (discussed here), 2012’s Light is the New Black (review here) and their 2010 self-titled debut (review here), has only ever grown more complex, however, and as their fifth offering, Amoretum Vol. 1 is no different in this regard. It’s tough to guess where Black Space Riders will go sound-wise, but easy to know they’re always going to be pushing themselves forward.

That kind of reliability is rare, and five full-lengths deep into a prolific career, no doubt the band has elements of what they do that function as a core of their expression. Hooks abound throughout the cleverly-titled new album, arriving early amid the hard-driving riff of “Lovely Lovelie,” which soon enough complements its throaty opening lines with a responding guttural growl — dispelling any notions of adopting a laid back acid rock approach right quick — or the keyboard-fueled “Another Sort of Homecoming,” which is more melodically centered and upbeat in dance-ready fashion. Shifting between styles is familiar ground for Black Space Riders, and the core of progressive songwriting beneath — that synthesized line in “Another Sort of Homecoming” pulls my head right to Astrosoniq every time — is what allows them to tie aesthetically disparate pieces together across these eight tracks and 45 minutes.

black space riders

Transitions don’t always come easy, but there’s an underlying symmetry to Amoretum Vol. 1 that gradually reveals itself as an intention toward two vinyl sides, each comprised of four cuts, and sides A and B do manage to establish a flow of their own as they play through each toward their longest inclusion, first “Movements” (8:01) and later the aforementioned “Fellow Peacemakers” (7:29), which rounds out the album as a whole. Along the way, JE and company set a rich and diverse course, moving from the riffy push of “Lovely Lovelie” and side B’s leadoff “Come and Follow” into the wider breadths of pieces like “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” and “Fire! Fire! (Death of a Giant),” the two penultimate tracks of each half of the record mirroring each other even unto the inclusion of parentheses in their titles. There’s structure and then there’s structure.

That level of self-awareness and consideration has always kept me from thinking of Black Space Riders as a psychedelic band. They’re space metal, progressive and highly, respectably individual in their approach. The more complicated truth, however, is that despite the forward memorability of their hooks and the running keyboard lines throughout “Another Kind of Homecoming” or “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” and the maddening chug in the middle of “Movements,” the last push of “Fellow Peacemakers” and the almost hardcore delivery near the end of “Come and Follow,” the post-rock style of guitar on “Friends are Falling” and in moments of “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me),” the first half of “Fellow Peacemakers” and even the semi-reggae jangle near the open of “Fire! Fire! (Death of a Giant)” does add an aspect of flourish to Amoretum Vol. 1 that speaks to some measure of drift.

This, however, is one potent ingredient among many in their overarching sound, and Black Space Riders are no more limited by its confines than they would seem to be by any others, including the rigidity of the structures they impose on themselves. Reportedly, Amoretum Vol. 1 is to begin a series of releases functioning in the same thematic territory. One never likes to predict where a Vol. 2 might go in following a Vol. 1, if one surfaces at all, and a group with the scope of Black Space Riders makes doing so an even more potentially embarrassing opportunity to be wrong, but what has been true about their level of performance and craft all along has never been made plainer to see than it is here, and if that’s an expression of love as the band knows it, then it’s little wonder their output holds such resonance. Looking ahead to a New Year that will no doubt be filled with its shares of triumph and tragedy, Black Space Riders seem to have done well in capturing a richness of experience of at least a piece of this dizzying age.

Black Space Riders, “Another Sort of Homecoming” official video

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2 Responses to “Review & Track Premiere: Black Space Riders, Amoretum Vol. 1

  1. […] German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS have partnered with The Obelisk for the premiere of “Lovely Lovelie”, a song from forthcoming new album Amoretum Vol. 1. Check it out at this location. […]

  2. […] German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS have partnered with The Obelisk for the premiere of „Lovely Lovelie,“ a song from forthcoming new album Amoretum Vol. 1. […]

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