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Blue Oyster Cult - 1998 - "Heaven Forbid"

(46:04; Frontiers Music [2020 Edition] )


Back in 1986 BOC went on hiatus. By this time the band only featured two original members, Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser (vocals, lead guitar) and Eric Bloom (vocals, stun guitar – okay, so he wasn’t an original member but he has appeared on every album), and the future was unclear. However, they received an offer to tour Greece in the early summer of 1987, so a new line-up was pulled together with Allen Lanier (guitar, keyboards) returning to the fold. The following year saw the band re-record some parts on ex-drummer Albert Bouchard’s solo project ‘Imaginos’ so it could be released as a BOC album, but apart from a soundtrack that was the only new material until this album was released in 1998. By this time the line-up also included Danny Miranda (bass, vocals) and Chuck Burgi (drums, vocals) and they looked back to their science fiction roots by working with author John Shirley who provided lyrics to all but two of the songs. There are ten studio recordings, plus it ends with a live version of "In Thee" which originally appeared on ‘Mirrors’ nearly 20 years earlier while "Still Burnin'" is a sequel to "Burnin' for You" from ‘Fire of Unknown Origin’. It is somewhat surprising that it had taken the band to get back into the studio, but like a few others in the hard rock/metal community (most notably Uriah Heep) here was a group who were happy to live on the road and ply their trade onstage. While some songs, such as “Hammer Back”, could have done with much more work on the lyrics, which are somewhat repetitive, musically here is a band who are full of energy and buzzing to be back in the studio. Songs such as “X-Ray Eyes” are commercial belters, while “Damaged” could have come from the classic period with wonderfully dated organ from Lanier tying in with superb lead guitar from Roeser. They are incredibly tight, which only comes from the countless hours of playing together, and there is freshness to the sound which belies that this release is actually more than 20 years old now. I, and I guess many others, somewhat lost track with BOC over the years and to be honest I hadn’t even realised this album had come out as back in 1998 I was full on involved with the progressive scene but certainly don’t remember this even being mentioned in the UK press and have no recollection of ever having even seen the cover. That is somewhat of a shame, as this album certainly stands up alongside some of their far more well-known albums and is one I have enjoyed investigating immensely. All power to Frontiers Music for re-releasing all these albums and also get the band back into the studio for a new one.

Progtector: August 2020

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