Genre: Art Rock
Year of Release: 2011
Record Label: Snapper
Recommended for fans of: Steven Wilson, Aviv Geffin, Porcupine Tree
1. Glass House
2. Go To Hell
3. Rising of the Tide
4 . Waving
5 . Far Away
6 . Dissolving With the Night
7 . Blood
8 . On the Plane
9 . Oxygen
NB: This review contains swearing…
I felt compelled to write this review due to unfortunate passing away of Steven Wilson’s father whilst the band were touring North America. Indeed testament to Steve as he performed the show in Toronto knowing this fact and many fans (who were unaware of the events at the time) have commented saying that he and the rest of the band put on a fantastic show.
The rest of the North American tour has been postponed whilst Steve flies back to the UK for more than obvious reasons, so my maximum condolences go to Steve and his family at this time and I write this review in honour of Steve’s father.
This album marks the first time where Aviv has been responsible for most of the songwriting, in fact Aviv wrote all but one of the songs. The reason for this seems to be that Steve has been very busy working on his 2nd solo album. I’d say that the album sounds quite different to the first two entirely for this reason.
The album opener ‘Glass House’ lacks the punch that ‘Once’ did on the Blackfield II, and for this reason it’s one of my least favourite songs on the album, I always tend to skip it. It’s a rather slow and laborious affair that builds up but never seems to reach the grand heights it perhaps could of. It does feature some rather splendid strings though, what seems to becoming fast a Blackfield staple.
‘Go to Hell’ is next, and in complete contrast to the first song we have something far more edgy. Musically this song is fantastic, I have no complaints, the guitars sound fantastic and the build-up pays off; it’s the lyrics that bug me on this one.
I’m not totally against profanity in songs, the rare use of a swear word can be very effective in conveying the songs message, for example how Roger Waters from Pink Floyd might throw in the occasional ‘Fuck’ to make a point particularly poignant, it works. What I’m not a big fan of is when it’s everywhere. (See generic RnB/Hip-Hop/Rap for prime examples of how to sound like a moron)
The lyrics in ‘Go to Hell’ consist entirely of one line repeated over and over:
‘Fuck you all, fuck you, I don’t care, anymore, go to hell, go to hell’
Well, seeing as I’ve already thrown the word around as above, can I just say ‘What the Fuck?’
Was there any need to have the lyrics like this?
The problem is that Blackfield aren’t a teenage angst emo band, so when they write lyrics like this, it sounds unnatural and forced. I think we’ll chalk this up to some experimentation, and like I say I love the music on this one, just a shame the lyrics ruin it for me everytime!
‘Rising of the Tide’ is classic Blackfield that showcases a nice Wilson guitar solo near the end, and the vocalisations are decent especially when Steve and Aviv harmonise with each other, they really are getting good at doing this.
‘Waving’ is the only song on the album that Steve wrote, and (probably as a result) is my favourite on the album. A gorgeous acoustic guitar leads the piece accompanying Steve’s vocals, the chorus is sublime and electric guitars enter the fray midway into the song helping to pick up the piece. Love the outro, sounds like something Kula Shaker might have written!
‘Far Away’ is a quiet melancholic number that’s obviously about loneliness, features one of my favourite bit of lyrics on the album, love this:
‘Maybe I’m free, but freedom just means that I’m lost, it feels like I’m driving, without ever arriving, I really don’t know what it means to put my smile on…’
‘Dissolving Away with the Night’ is another highlight. Aviv starts off singing over some sparse sounding piano as the song builds up into what could be described an orchestral climax blitz; you need to hear it really, but conjures up the orchestral pieces from the James Bond films believe it or not!
‘Blood’ is very middle-eastern sounding, punctured with distorted guitar chords, this is the most metal sounding song that Backfield have written and I like it a lot, has a real energy to it, the band have been opening their sets with it at the moment and makes perfect sense why. Has some excellent drumming and riffage!
‘On a Plane’ is more classic Blackfield, not quite sure what the lyrics are about ‘Daddy’s on the Plane?’ but nevertheless the guitar solo is pretty chilled and overall the song keeps the flow of the album going.
Up next is ‘Oxygen’ which is screaming out for a single release, this should be on mainstream radio. It’s a great pop song that was actually produced by Trevor Horn. It’s slightly dreamy and distant sounding.
‘Zigota’ starts off sounding like a No-Man reject but soon turns into something so much more satisfying with some great sections intertwining each other, and features the best outro of any Blackfield song to date. The main problem being is that I think it closes the album perfectly, or at least what I’m trying to say is that ‘Zigota’ should have been the last track on the album.
As it turns out ‘DNA’ is the last track, and I would have switched the running order around because whilst DNA is a good song it doesn’t have that closing track feel to it, it’s a very mellow quiet affair and then the album just finishes…
When I reviewed Blackfield II a few years ago, in my closing remarks I mentioned that I thought the 3rd release would be the one to get them the recognition they deserve, do I still think this?
Well the answer would be Yes, I do think their fan base will increase based on the success of this album, however I don’t think it’s their strongest album to date. I think that this is largely due to the fact that the song writing duties have been weighted heavily towards Aviv on this one. He’s a good songwriter, but the beauty behind Blackfield is when Steve and Aviv write material together and I think the 4th release will need to go back to this format to hold my attention.
Good album, but weakest one yet to summarise my thoughts on this one.
- Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, keyboards
- Aviv Geffen – vocals, guitars, keyboards
- Eran Mitelman – piano, keyboards
- Seffy Efrat – bass
- Tomer Z – drums