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Ripped by: ChriGoesRock
There’s no talking about Blind Golem’s first full-length album without mentioning Uriah Heep. The Italians initially began as a Heep tribute band and desired to write their own music in a similar Seventies Rock style, going so far as to give the artwork that Demons and Wizards aesthetic and even getting Ken Hensley himself to record keyboards and slide guitar just months before his tragic passing. A Dream Of Fantasy (MaRaCash Records) makes for an inevitably derivative listen with that established, but it is also an undeniably infectious labor of love.
Right off the bat, the musicians absolutely nail the tropes for the style at hand. The guitars and keyboards in particular are dead on; the former mixes in an array of wah effects and acoustic minstrelry with its Classic Rock grooves as the latter chimes in with period perfect washes of organ and piano. The vocals don’t attempt too many of David Byron’s signature falsettos but deliver the melodies in a husky but pleasant timbre. Top it off with an extra vibrant, retro friendly production job.
The songwriting also does a good job of conveying the different vibes that made classic Heep so beloved. Songs like the opening ‘Devil In A Dream’ and ‘Scarlet Eyes’ hit the upbeat spirit of ‘Easy Livin’ while others like ‘The Ghost Of Eveline’ and ‘Star Of The Darkest Night’ expand on the ominous Proto-Doom of ‘Rainbow Demon.’ Their softer side also finds different ways to express itself as ‘The Day Is Gone’ is a somber slow burn, ‘Night Of Broken Dreams’ and ‘The Gathering’ are lighter-worthy power ballads, and ‘Carousel’ tries out some pleasant acoustics. The only thing that seems to be missing is a pastoral rocker on par with ‘The Wizard’ or a ‘Salisbury’-style epic.'
The bands of the early and mid-seventies still hold a very special place in my heart. The musicianship of such artists as DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW, LUCIFER’S FRIEND, MAGNUM and URIAH HEEP is legendary; and a cut above much of the work that has been produced since. The lyrical content of these artists, particularly with LUCIFER’S FRIEND, URIAH HEEP and early RAINBOW, was filled with mystic imagery and tales of medieval, possibly even Tolkien-esque, quests; overflowing with stories of wizards and kings flowing through their songs.
While there isn’t a great deal of that imagery at work on BLIND GOLEM’S debut release “A Dream Of Fantasy”, there seems to be some, and the record has the sound and feel that it has come from that same era; and from a band that would have been right at home amongst those artists. The band comes by their sound honestly, as they are made up of members of the blues band BULLFROG and FOREVER HEEP, who were dedicated to the continuation of the music of URIAH HEEP; and who have worked in the past as the backing band for the late Ken Hensley (URIAH HEEP). It was indeed with Hensley’s blessing that the band was formed, and that, in and of itself, was enough to gain my immediate interest.
“Devil In A Dream” opens this fourteen song, seventy minute opus with a sweeping Hammond organ and vocal harmonies unlike anything I have heard recorded in years. The musical work on this song was amazing, with the entire band indeed showing their passion through the notes they play. Vocally, they were equally impressive. The heavy hitting “Sunbreaker” follows; and follows suit. As a matter of fact, the deeper I dove into this album, the more absolutely enamored with the band’s ability I became. By the time I got to “The Day Is Gone”, which features Ken Hensley (in one of the last recorded works he was part of, before his passing in November of 2020) on slide guitar and keyboards, I was 100% all in for the ride.
Every song on this release is its own highlight. The record took me places I have not been in a long time, in a musical sense; and by the time I got to the hauntingly beautiful “A Spell And A Charm”, I found myself wanting for more, and digging through my own vast vinyl collection. This band is not a “parrot act”, by any stretch of the imagination. Their works here are entirely original; and astounding in their presentation. I wish more artists today felt the passion these five gentlemen possess. Rest in peace, Ken, with the knowledge that you have once again been part of something amazing.
♦ Andrea Vilardo, lead vocals
♦ Simone Bistaffa, Hammond Organ, Piano, Keyboards
♦ Silvano Zago, Guitars
♦ Francesco Dalla Riva, Bass, Lead & Backing Vocals
♦ Walter Mantovanelli, Drums
01. Devil In A Dream 04:05
02. Sunbreaker 03:41
03. Screaming To The Stars 05:24
04. Scarlet Eyes 04:22
05. Bright Light 06:10
06. The Day Is Gone (featuring Ken Hensley) 05:11
07. The Ghost Of Eveline 07:39
08. Night Of Broken Dreams 03:03
09. Pegasus 04:37
10. The Gathering 05:49
11. Star Of The Darkest Night 05:05
12. Carousel 04:50
13. Living And Dying 05:52
14. A Spell And A Charm 03:51
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