Blue Öyster Cult, The Symbol Remains review (Frontiers Records 2020)

The iconic rock band Blue Öyster Cult releases its first full-length studio album in nineteen years.

Here is where I am coming from as far as Blue Öyster Cult goes. The first three albums are unassailable. As far as I am concerned, nothing serious can be said against them. After that, I have unpopular tastes with regard to the catalogue. Agents of Fortune (1976) is a classic, true, but I never really connected with Spectre (1977) or Mirrors (1979). I absolutely love the sequence of albums from the early 1980s: Cultosaurus Erectus (1980), Fire of Unknown Origin (1981), and The Revolution By Night (1983). Also Imaginos (1988) – an excellent reimagining. The other albums are good, and I listen to them still, but not as much as the ones on my list. Blue Öyster Cult has created a large catalogue of amazing music and some song or another of theirs is always in my rotation. They are one of my all-time favorite bands.

I’ve been waiting for The Symbol Remains anxiously, wanting new music I would really like to listen to. With so much great work that had come before, a reasonable person faces new music from a band that hasn’t put anything out in a long while with some trepidation. Like when Black Sabbath released 13 (2013). They had not released a full-length studio album as Black Sabbath for almost twenty years. I sweated that one, but 13 was excellent, and the band supported the album with a great tour. Fingers crossed, then, for the new Blue Öyster Cult. The band is Eric Bloom (vocals, guitar), Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (guitar), Richie Castellano (keys, guitar, vocals), Danny Miranda (bass), and Jules Radino (drums). With the two originals Bloom and Roeser, and the longtime bandmates Castellano, Miranda, and Radino, the lineup is rock solid.

The hour-long album starts with a banger, the single “That Was Me.” It has the kind of sound I was hoping for, from the crisp guitar work to the distinctive vocals. This is Blue Öyster Cult. The next two songs (also released as singles) show a tonally lighter side to the band, demonstrating their musicianship and compositional prowess. Throughout the album, their creativity is on display from the amazing guitar work on “Nightmare Epiphany” to the theatrical Danny Elfman-esque “Edge of the World.” “Florida Man” is a quiet song with a lyrical lead break and rich harmonies. “The Alchemist” is dark and heavy, pushing out heavy threatening riffs and a wicked fantasy narrative. “Secret Road” is a desert driving song that will make you see rattlesnakes in your sleep. The variety is intoxicating.

Having listened to The Symbol Remains three times in a row, I know now that I was wrong before – there was never anything to worry about. This is an excellent album. This is Rock and Roll. Highly recommended.

The new BÖC album is out now. You can listen on Spotify and buy on Amazon and other places. The important thing is to here it.

Band photos snagged from the official website.

Links.

Band website, www.blueoystercult.com/

Frontiers Records, http://www.frontiers.it/index.php

Blue Öyster Cult, The Symbol Remains review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Blue Öyster Cult, 45th Anniversary Live In London review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Recorded live at The O2 (Indigo) in London during the Stone Free Festival on June 17, 2017, this concert is a complete retelling of the band’s first album, Blue Öyster Cult, plus a couple of extra favorites for the fans.

Blue Öyster Cult has been releasing notable live sets this year like Hard Rock Live in Cleveland 2014, iHeart Radio Theater N.Y.C. 2012,and 40th Anniversary Agents of Fortune Live 2016. Now the best of the bunch so far is out, a recording of the band playing their entire first album, 1972’s Blue Öyster Cult. That trilogy of the first three LPs BÖC released in rapid succession are absolute hard rock classics, the self-titled one first, then Tyranny and Mutation (1973), and finally the monstrous Secret Treaties (1974). After these seminal works, the band achieved enormous commercial success with Agents of Fortune (1976), and the music turned a little toward the pop direction. These early ones had the killer tracks that still raise the hairs on your neck like “Cities On Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Hot Rails To Hell,” and pretty much every song on Secret Treaties. I have a particular affection for the 1972 original because of its stark originality so this new release was a hot grab for me.

I watched/listened to the Blu-ray version. The band is: originals Eric Bloom (since 1969) and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (since 1967), with Richie Castellano, Danny Miranda, and Jules Radino. The sound on the Blu Ray is excellent – you might remember, BÖC fans, that the recording of the original album was very muddy so this performance actually sounds better. The playing is crisp and sharp, and there is a lot more guitar on these versions than there was on the 1972 release, including an epic ten and a half minute version of “Then Came The Last Days Of May.” After the original ten songs, they played on with the “Buck’s Boogie” jam fans have come to expect from their live performances, the hits “Godzilla,” “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” and “Hot Rails To Hell,” plus the surprise “Tattoo Vampire” – I didn’t see that one coming. It was a great show and I wish I had been there. I was REALLY looking forward to seeing BÖC at Psycho Las Vegas this year. Fingers crossed for 2021.

Available now from Frontiers Records, pick up whichever version you like best and don’t wait too long. The supply of these live albums from BÖC has been a little spotty this year. The Blu-ray looks and sounds great, but it has essentially no extras except for a five minute green room video. Digital streaming is always there if you miss out on the physicals so there are no excuses – give it a listen and breathe in the cult.

Band photo snagged from the official website page.

Links.

Band website, www.blueoystercult.com/

Frontiers Records, http://www.frontiers.it/index.php

Blue Öyster Cult, 45th Anniversary Live In London review (Frontiers Records 2020)