OK so where do I start! I’ve seen the name Evil Blizzard for a while now, especially in Psych Rock circles but to be honest never got round to checking them out so when someone sent me a link to their latest album I came to it pretty ignorant. A bit of reading up on them and, first surprise, found them listed on the Rebellion Festival line up for this August! Second surprise, they’ve played there several times before. So I fished them out of the Psych drawer and decided that maybe I should give writing a review of their new album a go.
Practicing the Situationist method of appropriation and detournement Evil Blizzard have taken a critic’s description of one of their gigs (1) and called their new album The Worst Show on Earth-and any review is going to start off inevitably with the cover, a disturbing photo montage which to be honest put me off them initially. It’s like an abject art take on Moby’s 18, the one where Moby is standing in front of a bright blue sky, astronauts helmet under his left arm. Evil Blizzard’s cover is like a shock rock equivalent, similar blue sky, similar sandy terrain but in this artwork a sinister clown stares down at you, horse head tucked under his arm. This is a band who understand the power of the visual so I’m sure they won’t mind that it had the predictable effect of making me a little wary of them, was this going to be some tedious Slipknot/Alice Cooper retread trading in horror shtick? However onwards-’You can’t judge an album by the cover’ as they say, and any band who have opened for Ruts DC, Sleaford Mods and Bo Ningen (2) deserve a listen in my eyes/ears.
The Worst Show on Earth is composed of 8 diverse tracks-if you can imagine falling into a post modern cement mixer with Hawkwind, PIL, Gnod and bizarrely early Genesis (but that might be the masks), miscellaneous heavy riffing and more bass guitarists than you can shake a stick at then you may be near to the general feel of this album, although it is not without it’s subtle, more nuanced moments as well. Apparently they went into the studio with a couple of road tested tracks and then just went for it (1), so I guess this is a fair indicator of their live show.
First track ‘Hello’ starts off with a keyboard intro reminding a bit of ‘Tron’ by Gnod before it gradually evolves into a full on rocker, ‘Who are we, we are we. Who are you, you are you?’ Great riffs, headbangers could well end up in hospital-be warned!
Second track ‘Fast Forward Rewind’ is almost like ‘Hello’ Part II in tempo and feel, a continuation of the full out assault on your musical senses-excellent!
‘Unleash The Misery’ changes the feel, drums, keyboard, Tom Waits style vocals, completely different rhythms going on before the guitars kick in, nice change of textures. No one trick pony. Really like this musically. ‘Those You Left Behind’ is another heads down rocker with echoes of glam swirling around in there somewhere! ‘Like A God’ is next up and another slight change of feel, probably the best start so far for me, brooding, building-you know something is coming…very Doremi Farsol Latido, then it shifts again, really great, interesting track, loads of Hawkwindish stuff going on here. Back into tense…on a very good album this stands out. A bit like ‘Fast Forward Rewind’ kept the ‘Hello’ vibe going ‘Tell Me’, keeps the energy of ‘Like A God’ going, maintaining that slightly edgy feel, good stuff. Just when you think you’ve got The Worst Show on Earth sussed it metamorphosizes, changes direction again and becomes a far more moody piece of work, and I’d say they’ve perfectly timed it. Glimpses of early Bowie are half caught out of the corner of your eye as the penultimate track progresses with a child’s voice reciting in the background that all (original) artistic expression has happened, that we have found our truths to be lies (I think). Self deprecating, self aware comment? Commentary on the cultural state of late capitalism? Final track ‘The Worst Show on Earth’ revisits and redeploys the Intro from ‘Hello’, with the voice of German poet Arne Wald over keyboard (1) before the track builds atmospherically into something truly magnificent. Great work.
Evil Blizzard seemed to have managed to synthesise early metal riffs, punk and psych (and a touch of Prog?) into a very coherent, satisfying whole, with for me the most interesting tracks coming at the end-great album. Really interesting to see a flow going on between the psych and the punk scene, it will make both richer. Gnod and The Oscillation playing Rebellion next year?! The Ruts DC and Truth Equals Treason at Raw Power?!
John Lydon has never made any secret of his pre punk appreciation of Hawkwind and with PIL playing Rebellion this year keep an eye out for him in the queue for this band’s gig!
Photo courtesy of Division Promotions.
(1)Little, A. (2018) ’Review:Evil Blizzard-The Worst Show on Earth’