BLACK BONZO

"Sound of the Apocalypse" (The Laser's Edge / B&B Records / Proton; 2007)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter



Black Bonzo come heavily advertised as a breath of fresh air in the progressive rock genre. Hailing from Sweden, the paradox is that the bandís freshness isnít because they are contemporary but rather just the opposite Ė Black Bonzo are a classic sounding progressive rock band.

With "Sound of the Apocalypse," the band's second album, itís obvious that Black Bonzo are well informed in the history of progressive rock. The most obvious influence I hear is Yes Ė but in reality Black Bonzo have a much heavier sound than most progressive bands. In fact, it is a retro-progressive sound as Black Bonzo bring elements of classic rock into the fold: Led Zeppelin, Genesis, and Queen come to mind as strong influences. The band cites Uriah Heep and Gentle Giant as influences as well but -- given my unfamiliarity with those two bands -- it's a little hard for me to confirm. The band's ability to compose songs that are adventurous without losing the listener is stunning.

Vocalist Magnus Lindgren has a strong a voice Ė he never has to scream but he cuts through the music clearly and with a calm confidence. Musically, the band is strong. Guitarist Joakim Karlsson deftly weaves riffs, leads, and melody in the spirit of playing what the song needs rather than what he thinks he should do. The keyboards are as retro as you can get Ė analog sounds abound and give the music warmth rarely heard these days. The rhythm section is very strong Ė I hear a balance between classic rock and forward thinking progressive rock approaches.

"Sound of the Apocalypse" is truly one of the most satisfying progressive albums Iíve heard in a long time. This is true not just for its overall heaviness (relatively speaking), but for its ability to honor the spirit of progressive rock and general adventure-like oeuvre. 

"Sound of the Apocalypse" is a solid candidate for my year-end "Best of 2007" list.

"Sound of the Apocalypse" was produced by Black Bonzo.

Black Bonzo is Magnus Lindgren on lead vocals, Joakim Karlsson on electric guitars, acoustic guitars, bouzouki, and flute, Nicklas Ahlund on Hammond organ, mellotron, grand piano and synthesizers, Anthon Johansson on bass, and Mike Israel on drums, percussion and Indian chanting. Guests include Adrian Holmstrom on saxophone and Will Steffen on spoken word. 

For more information visit http://www.blackbonzo.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Oct 2017 09:17:42 -0400.